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St. Louis Planned Parenthood Clinic Regains Abortion License After Yearlong Battle

Supporters rally outside Planned Parenthood on Forest Park Ave. on Friday after a St. Louis Circuit Court judge issued a temporary restraining order that keeps the clinic's license valid.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Supporters rally outside Planned Parenthood on Forest Park Avenue in 2019 after the MIssouri Department of Health and Senior Services denied the clinic its license to provide abortions.

Planned Parenthood has regained its license to perform abortions at its St. Louis clinic.

The Missouri Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday issued the clinic a one-year license, ensuring that the state’s sole abortion provider will remain open.

It caps a yearlong battle between state health officials and Planned Parenthood. Last year, state officials declined to renew Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services’ license, setting off a legal battle in which clinic workers accused Gov. Mike Parson and his administration of attempting to limit access to abortion.

The new license “still cannot undo the harm that longstanding medically unnecessary policies in our state inflict on patients,” said Yamelsie Rodriguez, president and CEO of Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region. “Gov. Parson should use this episode as an opportunity to refocus himself on setting policies to improve the myriad public health crises ravaging Missouri, including COVID-19.”

State law requires state officials to annually inspect the clinic and renew its license.

When state health officials withheld the license, they cited evidence of dangerous medical practices at the clinic. Commissioner Sreenivasa Rao Dandamudi ruled last month that the department improperly denied the license and that the facility was safe.

A previous order from Dandamudi has kept the clinic operating while the battle played out in court and before state commissioners.

Regulators inspected Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services on Forest Park Avenue after Dandamudi issued his decision and awarded the license Thursday morning. Clinic workers said inspections in the past were contentious, but this one was “prompt and cordial.”

State officials have until early next week to appeal Dandamudi’s decision to the Administrative Hearing Commission.

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Sarah is the health reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.