Judges Steps In to Planned Parenthood Dispute in Columbia

(AP) – A judge on Monday temporarily blocked Missouri’s health department from revoking the abortion license held by a Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia as its physician loses hospital privileges required under state law.

The clinic stopped terminating pregnancies last week, but Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit Monday in hopes of retaining its abortion facility license from the state Department of Health and Senior Services while its physician regains privileges or the clinic finds a new doctor. U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey issued her order at the end of a hearing by telephone conference call.

Laughrey’s order will remain in effect only until Wednesday to give attorneys a chance to address several legal issues. The judge scheduled another telephone conference call for Wednesday afternoon.

Missouri law requires a physician who performs abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Amid an investigation of abortion by the Republican-controlled Legislature, a University of Missouri Health Care system medical staff panel voted in September to discontinue the form of privileges granted to Planned Parenthood doctor Colleen McNicholas, effective Tuesday.

That action prompted the health department to notify Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri that the abortion facility license for its Columbia clinic would be revoked, also effective Tuesday. Missouri now has only one clinic performing abortions, in St. Louis

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