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Planned Parenthood CEO accuses Missouri of trying to “weaponize” abortion clinic inspections

Posted: 7:44 AM, May 29, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-29 09:44:11-04

Missouri’s  last abortion clinic could be shut down  this Friday, meaning it would become the first state to effectively end all legal abortion services since Roe vs. Wade was established back in 1973. Missouri’s health department is refusing to renew its license, an effort that Planned Parenthood CEO Dr. Leana Wen called an attempt by the state to “weaponize” abortion clinic inspections with the aim of outlawing the practice.

This comes just days after  Missouri’s governor signed a bill  into law banning abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest. The law, which would go into effect in August, makes performing an abortion a felony, punishable up to 15 years in prison. Missouri is one of six states to pass similar laws this year although none have taken effect yet.

“This is a real public crisis that’s happening right now,” Dr. Leana Wen told “CBS This Morning.” “Because we could face a situation where by the end of the week more than 1.1 million women in Missouri will not have abortion accessible in their own state.”

Planned Parenthood is suing to keep providing abortions at that clinic, with an emergency court hearing Wednesday.

“We hope that the court will see exactly what’s happening, which is that over the last 10 years the state of Missouri has imposed regulation upon regulation that has no basis in medicine,” Wen said. “We’ve complied with all of them because we want to keep our health center open. These are things like making our hallways extra wide, forcing women to wait 72 hours – even having unnecessary, invasive pelvic exams.”

On May 20, Missouri’s health department notified Planned Parenthood of three issues that could impact its license renewal, according to documents reviewed by CBS News and provided by Planned Parenthood. On May 22, Planned Parenthood said it would address two of them: adjusting who at the clinic provided the state-mandated counseling and adding an additional pelvic exam for abortion patients.

Wen called some of the measures requested by the state “traumatizing for women,” especially those who have suffered sexual abuse. She said that staff at the St. Louis clinic have “seen this coming for years.”

“Because they’ve been on the front lines of having all these requirements imposed upon them that they’ve had to meet. And now this is coming. This is a warning to everyone in the country that this is not a drill,” she said.

For Wen, the Missouri health center in question holds personal meaning.

“I was a medical student at Washington University in St. Louis. I volunteered at that health center and I’ve seen for myself the women who already travel hundreds of miles to access essential health care and now to see that health care literally being taken away that will endanger women’s lives, in particular women with low income, women who have to travel from rural areas. This is what’s happening around the country. This is the real impact of these terrible laws that are being passed.”

CBS News reached out to Gov. Parson and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, but they did not provide a comment.