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The court is considering Missouri abortion clinic license case

FILE – In this May 17, 2019 file photo, Teresa Pettis, right, greets a passer-by outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis. Pettis was one of a small number of abortion opponents to protest outside the clinic on the day of the Missouri Legislature passed a radical measure as a ban on abortion in the eight weeks of the pregnancy. Planned Parenthood says Missouri’s only abortion clinic would be closed by the end of the week, because the state is threatening to not renew its license, which expires Friday, May 31. (AP Photo/Jim Salter, File)

ST. LOUIS – St. Louis court the decision whether to grant an order that would allow Missouri’s only abortion clinic to keep the license for performing abortions past Friday.

Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer heard an hour of arguments Thursday on Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary restraining order that would prohibit the state from allowing of the St. Louis in the clinic’s license to expire. It is not clear when Stelzer will prevail.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has said that the non-renewal of the license, which expires at midnight on Friday. The agency cited affected the safety of the patient and violations of laws and regulations.

Planned Parenthood officials say Missouri is “weaponizing” the licensing process. If the license is not renewed, Planned Parenthood officials said Missouri would be the first state without a functioning abortion clinic since 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

The ministry of public health, said inspections in March unsecured deficits. The agency cited “at least one incident in which the safety of the patient was seriously compromised.” Also cited what it called the “failed surgical abortion in which women remained pregnant,” and an alleged failure to obtain “informed consent”. The department did not elaborate on the allegations.

Planned Parenthood lawyer Jamie Boyer told Stelzer that the state problems are solved, but the ministry of public health non-renewal of the license, unless interview five contract doctors, and the seven instances of care for the patient are highlighted by the inspection. Boyer has said that both the staff of physicians at the clinic have been interviewed, the contract doctors refuse to do that, partly out of concern they say something that could lead to criminal prosecution because of Missouri’s restrictive abortion laws.

“Planned Parenthood, with the exception of the interviews, has bent over backward” to work with the state, Boyer said.

Assistant Attorney General John Sauer said the request to have a conversation with the doctors is reasonable.

“The facility has the ability to say,” You have to work with,'” Sauer said.

The session is done, such as the right to abortion supporters rally elsewhere in the city of St. Louis Thursday.

The nearest clinics performing abortions in Kansas suburb of Kansas City and Granite City, Illinois, across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. The Kansas clinic is about 260 miles (420 km) of St. Louis.

Missouri is one of the half dozen states that have passed sweeping anti-abortion measures in recent months. The republican Gov. Mike Parson this month signed the bill banning abortion at or after the eighth week of pregnancy, without exceptions for rape or incest. Missouri already had some of the most restrictive abortion regulations in the country, including the requirement that a physician performing an abortion have partnerships with nearby hospitals.

A total of 2,910 abortions taken place in 2018 in Missouri, according to preliminary data provided by the ministry of health. That includes 433 abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy, and 267 six weeks or earlier.

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Ballentine reported from Jefferson City, Missouri.

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