Missouri's only abortion clinic expects to be shut down this week

Missouri's only abortion clinic expects to be shut down this week
© Greg Nash

Missouri's only abortion clinic expects to be shut down by state authorities this week.

Planned Parenthood said Missouri's health department is "refusing to renew" its annual license to provide abortions amid an ongoing investigation.

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If the license is not renewed, Missouri would become the first state without a functioning abortion clinic since the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.

"This is something we have never seen before," Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen told reporters Tuesday, calling the investigation a tactic to intimidate doctors who provide abortions.

The state is demanding interviews with seven doctors who work at the clinic before the expiration of its license May 31, citing an investigation into "possible deficiencies."

Planned Parenthood made two of its doctors available for interviews, but the other five are not considered employees of the organization and have not consented to interviews.

The state hasn't given specifics about the investigation's focus but told Planned Parenthood officials that it's "not off the table" for it to result in criminal referrals.

Planned Parenthood sued the state Tuesday for refusing to renew its license without interviewing the doctors who work at the clinic. The first hearing will take place Wednesday afternoon.

"We think this has nothing to do with patient care, and is inappropriate and unlawful under Missouri's statutes and regulations, so we have asked the court to rule on that," said Dr. Colleen McNicholas, an OBGYN at Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region.

McNicholas said the clinic is working with partners in Illinois to ensure patients can still get abortions.

Planned Parenthood would still be allowed to provide non-abortion health services in Missouri, the organization told CBS.

"We're going to make sure every single patient in Missouri that needs access to abortion care will still be able to get it," McNicholas said.

Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

The expected closure comes amid a wave of anti-abortion laws being passed by state legislatures.

Updated 1:17 p.m.