Judge rules Missouri Planned Parenthood clinic cannot offer abortions

A federal judge has ruled that a Planned Parenthood in Missouri cannot offer abortions. 

U.S. Western District Judge Brian Wimes ruled last Friday that the state's restriction for clinics giving abortions were not an “undue” burden for women seeking them, according to The Associated Press

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The ruling came just months after Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which manages a facility in Columbia, Mo., filed an injunction in an attempt to begin offering abortions again, The Columbia Missourian reported. The facility has operated without those privileges because it doesn't meet state mandates requiring clinics to have physicians with admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. 

Wimes ruled Friday that the admitting privileges didn't impact enough women to register as an undue burden, according to reports. He also argued that requiring women to travel farther to get to a facility that offers abortions didn't constitute an undue burden. 

The only clinic that offers abortions in Missouri is in St. Louis. 

“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 said. 

"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," Wimes said in his ruling. 

Dr. Brandon Hill, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, criticized the ruling, telling the AP that the Missouri law was “virtually identical” to one the Supreme Court struck down in 2016. 

“Let’s call this what it is — politicians ignoring medical evidence to push sexual and reproductive health care out of reach for people across Missouri,” Hill said. “Abortion is incredibly safe, yet politicians continue to pursue restrictions that defy medical experts and make abortion as inaccessible as possible. Missourians deserve better.”

The AP noted that Missouri and Planned Parenthood have been in a legal dispute since 2016. The organization challenged the state's mandates for ambulatory surgical center licensing and admitting privileges at the time.

The FBI announced earlier this month that it was investigating a fire at the Columbia clinic as a possible hate crime.