Missouri down to 1 abortion clinic after Columbia stops them
Nov. 25, 2015
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia has stopped performing abortions, leaving only one clinic in the state still offering them.
The clinic on Monday stopped offering non-surgical abortions, which are induced with a pill, because a clinic doctor was set to lose a crucial hospital privilege on Dec. 1.
State law requires physicians or centers providing abortions to have certain agreements with local hospitals for patient care, although lawmakers and health department officials are at odds over what specific privileges meet that requirement.
A panel of University of Missouri Health Care medical staff voted in September to stop offering so-called refer-and-follow privileges that Planned Parenthood used to obtain approval from the state health department to perform pill-induced abortions. The Health and Senior Services Department has said the Columbia Planned Parenthood will lose its license to conduct abortions without the needed hospital privileges.
Now, Missouri's only abortion clinic is in St. Louis, which performs both surgical abortions and pill-induced ones; women in western Missouri can visit a Planned Parenthood facility in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, Kansas.
A legislative investigation into the disposition of fetal tissue in Missouri also put a spotlight on the relationship between the university and Planned Parenthood, the Columbia Tribune reported. The investigation came after videos were released, starting in mid-July, by anti-abortion activists who posed as representatives of a biomedical firm. They sought to negotiate the purchase of fetal organs from some national Planned Parenthood personnel.
Planned Parenthood has denied seeking any payments beyond legally permitted reimbursement of costs. The Missouri investigation found "no evidence whatsoever" that the St. Louis surgical abortion facility sells fetal remains.
Former Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin initiated reviews that brought about the cancellation of contracts for students to do clinical work at the city's Planned Parenthood office and the committee's decision to no longer offer the "refer and follow" privileges.
Abortion opponents released balloons outside the clinic on Monday, one for each abortion performed since the license was reissued this summer, said Kathy Forck of the 40 Days for Life campaign.
Planned Parenthood supporters, meanwhile, plan to hold a vigil Nov. 30 and then march to a University of Missouri administration building, said Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.
She said they're hoping to pressure interim Chancellor Hank Foley into canceling or delaying the end of the "refer and follow" privileges. The university and medical board didn't respond to phone or email from The Associated Press seeking comment.
An extension through the end of February would provide enough time for the clinic's abortion provider to apply for other privileges or for Planned Parenthood to hire another physician with admitting privileges, McQuade said.
McQuade noted that a Texas law requiring clinical privileges for doctors and licensing as an ambulatory surgical center for abortion clinics is before the U.S. Supreme Court.
"If they are declared unconstitutional in Texas, depending on how the court rules, there may be implications here," she said. "We are watching that case very closely."
Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, http://www.columbiatribune.com