A federal judge has ruled that Planned Parenthood cannot resume abortions at its Columbia, Missouri, facility. The ruling is the latest in a lengthy legal battle in which the abortion provider is battling the state for the ability to commit abortions.
Missouri law currently requires physicians at abortion facilities to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The Columbia facility has not been able to meet that requirement since 2015. In an effort to skirt the law, Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which manages the Columbia facility, filed a motion in December asking for an exception.
U.S. Western District Court Judge Brian Wimes ruled that the physician requirement did not affect enough women to constitute “undue burden.” He also found that requiring women to drive further for an abortion was not enough of a burden to rule in Planned Parenthood’s favor.
The Columbia Missourian reports that Wimes wrote in his ruling, “The record does not include evidence of the other relevant burdens associated with (admitting privileges). In particular, (Planned Parenthood did) not present evidence of attempts to find physicians with hospital privileges willing to provide abortion services at the Columbia Facility, or evidence of fewer doctors, longer wait times, and increased crowding at (the clinic in St. Louis that provides abortions).
Wimes went on to say, “Finally, 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.”
Missouri Governor Mike Parson took to Facebook to hail the ruling, calling it, “A huge victory for the right to life.” Parson spoke of the importance of the Missouri law in a press release, saying, “It’s sad that Planned Parenthood continues to fight against ensuring that a woman’s abortion provider has privileges to a nearby hospital when complications arise.”
Dr. Randall Williams, the state’s Director of Health and Senior Services, echoed the importance of the law, saying, “We appreciate the District Court’s ruling that permits the same standards of care for women that is associated with other surgical procedures.”
The Planned Parenthood facility has been at odds with the state since 2015 when a physician at the Columbia facility lost her hospital privileges and the facility had to subsequently cease abortions. The most recent ruling followed Planned Parenthood’s third injunction request, which it filed in December 2018, in an effort to resume abortions.
With the ruling, Planned Parenthood of the Greater St. Louis Region — a dangerous facility which sends women to the hospital an average of once every six weeks — remains the only facility in the entire state that currently offers abortions.
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