A judge has blocked Missouri's government from closing the last abortion clinic in the state. The Planned Parenthood clinic was scheduled to be shut down tonight at midnight.
What's the story?
The Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis was ordered closed after it failed to comply with existing laws regulating abortion. Its license expires at 11:59 p.m. Friday. The clinic did not agree to a request from the state government to interview its seven physicians to ensure that they were adhering to existing legal guidelines. Planned Parenthood argued that these physicians are not its own employees, and cannot be ordered by the clinic to submit to interviews.
On Tuesday, Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit to keep the location open.
This location became the last abortion clinic in the state after another location in Columbia Missouri failed to meet the requirement of employing physicians with admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and was forced to close in 2018.
On Friday, just hours before the clinic's deadline that would have forced it to close its doors for good, Judge Michael F. Stelzer from Missouri's 22nd Judicial Circuit Court ordered the clinic to stay open until next week. There will be a hearing Tuesday to consider a preliminary injunction against the order to close the clinic.
Stelzer wrote in his order blocking the clinic's closure that Planned Parenthood had proven "that immediate and irreparable injury will result if petitioner's license is allowed to expire." Stelzer was appointed by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon in 2014.
If the Planned Parenthood clinic is closed, Missouri will be the first state since the Roe v. Wade ruling to have zero legal abortion clinics in the state. While this clinic is closing because it failed to meet regulations, Missouri also recently passed a law that bans abortions after the eighth week of pregnancy.