Debate continues over Missouri’s last abortion clinic facing potential shutdown Friday

ST. LOUIS - A fight for Missouri’s final abortion clinic in the state as its Central West End location could end abortion services on Friday when its current license expires.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will decide whether to renew the clinic's license to provide abortions. Planned Parenthood filed a suit in Circuit Court Tuesday to stop that from happening.

The licensing dispute centers on the investigation of an unspecified complaint against Planned Parenthood.

“We here in Missouri have been dealing with restriction after restriction for years,” said Dr. Colleen McNicholas, OBGYN with Planned Parenthood. “We have found from year to year a practice that we were using in our delivery of care was no longer acceptable.”

The Central West End facility is the last abortion clinic in all of Missouri. If it shuts down, Missouri would be the only state in the country with zero abortion clinics.

''It certainly is a dark day,” said Alison Dreith, Deputy Director of the Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City.

Dreith said the changing laws are something the facility in Illinois has been keeping an eye on.

“I think it’s a very scary time for a lot of folks to be thinking about the criminalization of abortion providers and even patients, that we have seen all across the country,” she said.

The Planned Parenthood suit comes on the heels of Missouri governor Mike Parson signing a bill that bans abortions after 8 weeks of pregnancy.

The debate has ignited arguments on both sides of the issue including Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis.

“There are rules and you have to abide by them, we do,” said Carlson. “The state has a responsibility, the clinic has a responsibility, and so, as a citizen of Missouri, I want to make sure that both parties are responsible.”

Dreith said the Hope Clinic is already seeing an influx of women coming in from Missouri.

“We will be here for any patient who needs us as one of their options,” Dreith said. “100 percent absolutely we are here for you today and we are going to be here for you, for years to come.”

Carlson said that even though the church takes a pro-life stance, they want women to know they have a place to turn to when in need.

“I work with those who choose to bring a baby into the world and certainly walk with those who have made a choice before they came to see me about not bringing a baby into the world,” Carlson said.

Meanwhile, U.S Congressman William Lacy Clay released a statement saying, in part:

“I am appalled that the Missouri Department of Health is willing to jeopardize the health and wellbeing of thousands of women in my congressional district and across our state.”

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