A few hours before the expiration of his license, a judge ordered the continued operation of the Saint-Louis clinic in the center of the country.
Missouri women still have access to abortion … at least for a while. The American justice system granted a respite on Friday to the only Missouri clinic performing abortions, a few hours before the expiration of its license.
Judge Michael Stelzer has ordered the continuation of the clinic in St. Louis, in the center of the country, pending a decision on the merits in the conflict between him and the Missouri authorities. “It is a victory for the women of Missouri, but the struggle is not over,” immediately commented Leana Wen, president of the powerful Planned Parenthood organization that manages the structure.
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“We must not dream, it’s not over,” added Melissa Tschampel who came to celebrate the decision in front of the clinic with dozens of pro-abortion activists relieved. “We must continue to fight and be heard,” added the 48-year-old hairdresser, who had recourse to abortion in her youth and believes that this choice does not concern anyone.
New audience from Tuesday
Opponents of abortion, who gathered in front of the health center on Friday morning, evaporated when the decision was announced. “I’m very disappointed,” said before leaving Mary Maschmeier, of the group Defenders of the Unborn. “But it’s not over, we will remain mobilized,” she also promised.
The next stage of the battle will not be long: the judge scheduled a new hearing on Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood noted that “access to abortion remains vulnerable in Missouri and the rest of the United States.”
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Several conservative states have launched an attack against the right to abortion, which has been guaranteed since 1973 by the United States Supreme Court. High jurisdiction allows states to regulate the practice of abortions, provided that they do not impose an “unjustified burden” on patients.
An establishment that catches the wrath of the governor
This provision is interpreted very differently from one state to another. Several central and southern states of the country have over the years imposed new conditions on clinics, so that six of them have only one structure performing abortions, against more than 150 in California.
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In Missouri, lawmakers notably demanded that doctors be affiliated to a hospital and perform perineal examinations, even in the case of abortion by medication. Republican Governor Mike Parson now accuses the St. Louis clinic, the last in office, of having “willfully and repeatedly violated state laws”.
Health authorities say they found “gaps” during a routine inspection in March and demand to interview all doctors who have performed abortions in the past year in the facility. They refuse to renew the clinic’s license, which was to expire at midnight Friday, until these doctors have been heard. But some refuse to comply without knowing what they are accused of.
“I have met them but I still do not know the reason for their concerns,” noted during a press conference Doctor David Eisenberg, head of medical teams at Planned Parenthood in the Saint-Louis region.