Justice Stelzer extended the functioning of the sole Planned Parenthood clinic in Missouri

Judge Michael F. Stelzer of St. Louis’s Missouri State Court ruled on June 4 that non-staff doctors at the Planned Parenthood clinic in the city have no obligation to comply with any or all subpoenas when it comes to them testifying at a hearing scheduled to be held on June 12. The hearing will decide whether health officials in Missouri state can force the sole abortion clinic in the state to shut its doors.

The last week of May witnessed the St. Louis branch of Planned Parenthood filing a case against the state after the Missouri health department refused to renew the license of the clinic. The health department in the state did not renew Planned Parenthood’s license on the context of performing abortions during the last week of May. It cited the discovery by health department inspectors of multiple health violations like “failed abortions” and several legal violations like the avoidance of state needed pelvic examinations.

The Planned Parenthood clinic at the center of the storm held a license which expired on May 31. The clinic was however, successful in securing a valid restraining order from the judge. The latter permitted the clinic to operate temporarily past the shutdown date. Missouri state had subpoenaed five doctors who had worked inside Planned Parenthood premises, although they are not clinic employees, for interviews to be given in ongoing investigative hearing. Judge Stelzer dismissed this subpoena as “undue burden” imposed on those doctors. He wrote that the non-parties have displayed that compliance with subpoenas would be an undue hardship and an unacceptable burden on the physicians concerned. The subpoenas should, therefore, be quashed. Missouri state had previously declared that Planned Parenthood’s license renewal would depend on the outcome of interviews conducted with these doctors.

Planned Parenthood previously spoke of it complying with all demands made by the state and even consented to remove all trainees from abortion procedures held at the clinic. The organization alleged that the state had targeted it and Missouri is one of nine U.S. states to enact a restrictive and controversial abortion bill.

This Planned Parenthood clinic is considered the last provider of abortions in Missouri. In a technical sense, another private surgical abortion facility is present near St. Louis, just on the opposite bank of the Mississippi River. Another Planned Parenthood clinic located 20 miles distant in Belleville, Illinois, provides abortion induced by medication services.

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