ST. LOUIS – Hours before Missouri’s only abortion clinic was set to lose its license to perform abortions Friday, a St. Louis judge extended that license by issuing a temporary restraining order.
After the ruling, supporters of Planned Parenthood-St. Louis, the state’s only abortion clinic, unveiled a giant banner off the side the building reading, “Still Here.”
Had St. Louis Circuit Judge Mike Stelzer refused to act, abortion services would have stopped at midnight.
As Planned Parenthood officials put it, Missouri would be the first state in America to “go dark,” with abortions services no longer being available anywhere in the state.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is investigating Planned Parenthood-St. Louis for reported “troubling incidents.” Governor Mike Parson cited three recent failed abortions and one patient needing emergency transport to a hospital.
A week ago, he signed new restrictions into law to take effect in August, banning abortions in Missouri after eight weeks of pregnancy.
Pro-life supporters gathered to pray outside Planned Parenthood-St. Louis Friday morning. They had high hopes the judge would side with them.
Dr. David Eisenberg of Planned Parenthood called the ruling a “huge victory.”
The state has the option of immediately closing Planned Parenthood if legitimate health concerns existed, he said. That has not happened because the staff hasn’t been doing anything wrong when it comes to providing abortions, he said.
The governor issued a statement promising “a prompt legal review of serious health and safety concerns regarding Planned Parenthood’s abortion facility.”
He made no mention of appealing the ruling, which is not a ruling on any safety concerns.
It only keeps the state from refusing to renew the license until a hearing Tuesday on Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit for a preliminary injunction to protect the license for the duration of the DHSS investigation.