U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey, a Clinton appointee, has ruled that a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Columbia, Missouri, may keep its abortion license. The ruling follows two temporary delays after state health officials’ attempted to revoke the clinic’s abortion license in the beginning of December.
Although the facility still needs to find a new abortionist with local hospital admitting privileges before it can resume abortions, Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri is still hailing the ruling as a “huge victory” which affiliate CEO Laura McQuade claims has proven that the dispute was always “political gamesmanship” rather than “about health and safety issues.”
In her ruling, Laughrey declared that because the state had only revoked one other ambulatory surgical center’s license, and worked with the clinic for three months to solve its safety issues before revocation, she believed the Planned Parenthood clinic was being held to different standards.
“The evidence submitted to the court indicates that DHSS’s unprecedented hasty actions were likely the result of political pressure being exerted by Missouri legislators,” she wrote, “and the Department’s perception that if it did not act in accordance with the legislature’s desires, its budget would be cut.”
In response, Campaign Life Missouri director Sam Lee declared it “ridiculous that a federal judge would prevent state health officials from protecting the health and safety of Missouri women,” while the Attorney General’s office has said it is reviewing the decision.
Earlier in the dispute, state Solicitor General James Layton denied Planned Parenthood’s objections that health officials were acting too quickly by noting that “they’ve known for years that the statute requires privilege. They’ve known at least since sometime in September that their doctor was going to lose the privilege.”