A Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia has officially stopped offering abortion services, leaving a St. Louis facility as the only place in Missouri still performing the procedure.
The decision comes just a few days before the Columbia clinic was set to lose its license to perform abortions over a decision by the University of Missouri to revoke “refer and follow” privileges to a Planned Parenthood doctor.
Under state law, a doctor can only perform abortions if he or she has privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where the abortions are taking place.
Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said a meeting with University of Missouri interim chancellor Hank Foley was supposed to take place Wednesday to discuss the situation. She said she was informed Tuesday the chancellor was too busy for a meeting.
Christian Basi, a spokesman for the university, denied that a meeting with Planned Parenthood officials had been scheduled or canceled.
“We had received a recent request to meet with interim chancellor Foley, but that meeting has not been scheduled,” he said.
Because of the Thanksgiving holiday and Missouri’s 72-hour waiting period for women to get an abortion, the clinic performed the procedure for the last time Monday.
University of Missouri Health Care ended its relationship with Planned Parenthood’s doctor after facing political pressure from Republican lawmakers who questioned whether the publicly funded university should be associating with an abortion provider.
Anti-abortion advocates praised the decision, but supporters of abortion rights held out hope that a recent change in leadership at the university would lead to a reversal.
McQuade said Planned Parenthood is actively pursuing other physicians who already have privileges at the university or who would be able to attain privileges. They also hope that privileges can be reinstated for their current doctor, Colleen McNicholas, an obstetrician and gynecologist who serves on the faculty of Washington University with privileges at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.
Beyond that, getting clinical privileges from the other hospital in Columbia or filing a lawsuit are also still on the table, McQuade said.
“We are likely to pursue legal action if we don’t have a physician that meets the privileging requirements of” state law, she said, noting that it can be difficult to find a physician willing to perform abortions in a “politically hostile environment.”
Supporters of Planned Parenthood plan to hold a vigil Monday on the Mizzou campus.
Medical abortions have been performed two days a month at the clinic since August. Each day, 20 to 25 abortions were performed, McQuade said. Missouri women seeking an abortion will now need to travel to St. Louis or leave the state.
A Planned Parenthood facility in Overland Park offers abortion services.
Looming on the horizon is a U.S. Supreme Court case regarding a Texas law that, like Missouri, requires doctors have clinical privileges at a local hospital.
A federal appeals court ruled a similar law in Wisconsin unconstitutional this week. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled there was no medical benefit to the admitting privileges requirement.