Judge Rules Missouri Planned Parenthood Clinic Cannot Offer Abortions

Faith Castro
March 1, 2019

The Columbia clinic in question, which is operated by Planned Parenthood Great Plains, has been unable to get a physician with those privileges after a panel of medical staff at the University of Missouri Health Care chose to stop offering the privileges in 2015.

A sign is pictured at the entrance to a Planned Parenthood building in NY on August 31, 2015.

Judge Brian Wimes said that the admitting privileges requirement did not affect enough women to constitute an undue burden.

"It's really just forth more barriers for women and again shaming abortion providers and shaming women for something that really has nothing to do with medical care", she said. It also would rescind previous regulations that require providers to give women with unintended pregnancies "nondirective" counseling about all their options. The only clinic meeting requirements is in St. Louis.

The Trump administration's new mandate could direct federal family-planning money to faith-based, anti-abortion groups. So if you are a woman who goes to a health center that receives public funding, you can not be referred to abortion care, even if your life depends on it.

HHS contends that "this separation will ensure adherence to statutory restrictions, and provide needed clarity for the public and for Title X clinics about permissible and impermissible activities for Title X projects".

Specifically, Trump's rules would forbid family planning providers in nearly all cases from referring pregnant patients for abortion.

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Clinic staff would still be permitted to discuss abortion with clients, but it would no longer be required.

"In a country where racism and discrimination have caused rampant inequities and disparities, an attack on Title X-a program for patients with low incomes-is an attack on poor women and people of color".

HHS said the rule "amends the Title X regulation, which had not been substantially updated in almost two decades, and makes notable improvements created to increase the number of patients served and improve the quality of their care".

Planned Parenthood provides more than 40 percent of Title X services in the U.S. It is already illegal to use Title X for abortion services. New Jersey received $8.8 million through the program this year, which was distributed among 47 family health programs.

Wimes concluded in the decision that "the record does not provide a basis in evidence to approximate the number of women who will forego or postpone surgical abortion incidental to the inoperability of the Columbia Facility". "The Trump/Pence gag rule needs to be challenged; it prevents providers like me from being able to refer patients for safe, legal abortion". The draft final rule was published Friday by HHS' Office of Population Affairs. It's not official until it appears in the Federal Register and the department said there could be "minor editorial changes".

As expected, the Trump administration has moved ahead with a federal rule that will make it more hard for women, especially poor women, to obtain family planning services, including abortions. It's the first of several legal challenges expected to be announced by Democratic-led states.

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