Planned Parenthood in Columbia to keep its license, but abortions aren't currently being performed

While abortions are no longer being performed at Planned Parenthood in Columbia, the clinic will maintain its license, at least until the end of the year.

Several weeks ago, U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey extended a temporary restraining order that will allow the clinic to keep its abortion license until Dec. 30. This stems from a lawsuit Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri filed last month against the Department of Health and Senior Services, to prevent the department from revoking the Columbia clinic’s license.

“Judge Laughrey acknowledged what Planned Parenthood has always known — that the State of Missouri has treated PPKM’s Columbia facility differently than other ambulatory surgical centers,” Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri President and CEO Laura McQuade said in a statement.

State law normally requires an abortion clinic to have a physician on staff with hospital privileges. The Columbia clinic has been without an abortion doctor since earlier this month.

Dr. Colleen McNicholas, a St. Louis-based abortion doctor, is reapplying for state-required physician’s privileges to perform abortions at the Columbia clinic. MU Health Care originally granted “refer and follow” privileges to Dr. Colleen McNicholas, who had been performing medication-induced abortions. But in September, MU Health Care voted unanimously to discontinue “refer and follow” privileges at its facilities, effective Dec. 1.

People in the pro-life community continue to urge the University of Missouri to stay out of the abortion business. The Missouri Catholic Conference (MCC), the public policy arm of the state’s bishops, has issued an action alert, asking people to contact MU’s board of curators and interim chancellor Hank Foley. To send a precomposed email, visit www.stlouisreview.com/Tf8.

MCC executive director Mike Hoey said there’s a distinction between the clinic’s abortion license and the doctor’s privileges. “We’re keeping our eye on what’s happening in the courts … but what we can do is to make sure MU doesn’t do anything to facilitate abortions by providing privileges,” he said.

Hoey said he’s looking forward to proposed legislation in the next session that would further regulate abortion in Missouri. Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, already has prefiled a bill that would further regulate fetal tissue donations, pathology reports from abortions, physician privileges, ambulatory surgical center licensing procedures and abortion clinic inspections. The next legislative session will begin Jan. 6.

Onder is a member of the Senate Interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life, which is expected to issue a report this month on its investigation of Planned Parenthood’s activity in Missouri.

“I think lawmakers recognize that there’s strong pro-life sentiment in the state,” said Deacon Sam Lee, a pro-life lobbyist with Campaign Life Missouri. “Even though abortion is legal, there should be no state support for it. The leadership of the Missouri House and Senate is committed to cutting off taxpayer-funded support for abortion in a variety of ways.”

But for now, the most important news, according to Deacon Lee, is that abortions — at least for now — are not allowed at the Columbia clinic. That means Planned Parenthood in St. Louis is the only abortion clinic left in the state.

“It’s clear Planned Parenthood is continuing to fight this,” he said.

Upcoming events

The Project Rachel spiritual support group will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17. Project Rachel is a healing ministry for women who have been affected by abortion. Contact Marisol at (314) 792-7451 or ihnpfaff@swbell.net for information.

The Defenders of the Unborn will host an "empty manger" prayer vigil at 10 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 19, outside Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, Forest Park and Boyle avenues. For more information, contact Mary at defenseless68@gmail.com.

The annual Roe vs. Wade Mass and rose procession will be held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

Registration is open for the Missouri Life Caravan to the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. The bus trip will take place Jan. 21-23. For more information, visit www.missourilife.org or call (314)434-4900. 

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