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Missouri Judge Allows Planned Parenthood to Perform Abortions Until Friday

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Updated: | Originally published: ;

A Missouri judge has extended a preliminary injunction that allows the state’s only abortion clinic to perform abortions through Friday, June 28.

The order from St. Louis Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer gives a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis the chance to appeal its case to renew its license to perform abortions with the state’s Administrative Hearing Commission.

Last Friday, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) announced that it had denied the license that would allow Planned Parenthood to continue performing abortions. The St. Louis affiliate is the state’s only abortion provider, making Missouri one of six states that have a single abortion clinic.

Planned Parenthood can keep providing abortions through the end of the week. Per Stelzer’s ruling, the clinic will have to take its case to the Administrative Hearing Commission, an independent panel that conducts hearings and oversees cases involving state agencies and private citizens or businesses.

“The terrifying reality is that access is hanging on by a thread with a narrowing timeline,” said Dr. Colleen McNicholas, a physician at the clinic, in a statement. “The truth is, if the Administrative Hearing Commission does not act by Friday, abortion access in the state of Missouri will be gone.”

Health officials last Friday cited concerns about patient safety in declining to renew Planned Parenthood’s license. DHSS Director Randall Williams told reporters last Friday that Planned Parenthood only corrected four of 30 “deficient” practices filed in a report in court, some of which included abortions that failed after they were improperly performed. Williams said the license renewal was denied because Planned Parenthood left the remaining deficiencies uncorrected.

Planned Parenthood said in a statement last Friday that Williams and Gov. Parson “weaponized a regulatory process” to ban abortion access in Missouri.

“Parson and his DHSS Director Randall Williams spent weeks changing goalposts, piling on nonsensical excuses, and parading around medically inaccurate reports,” Planned Parenthood wrote. It did not respond specifically to TIME’s request for comment on patient safety matters.

Planned Parenthood said last week that it would refuse to comply with state regulations requiring pelvic exams during initial consultation appointments, which take place 72 hours before an abortion procedure. Doctors said they would only perform pelvic exams on the day a patient is set to undergo an abortion.

Williams issued an emergency rule regarding pelvic exams last Friday, changing regulations that required Planned Parenthood to perform them before a surgical abortion by leaving their timing to doctors’ discretion.

McNicholas said Monday that Williams “has already proven himself to be harmful to Missourians.”

“His admission that he forced women to undergo medically unnecessary pelvic exams is proof that this state is on a destructive path against Missouri women,” she said.

Missouri’s decision continues a dispute that began last month, when Planned Parenthood officials said the state’s health department was not expected to renew its license required to provide abortion services ahead of the May 31 expiration date. Following a preemptive lawsuit by Planned Parenthood before the license expired, court orders allowed the clinic to continue providing abortions. The St. Louis clinic’s closure would leave Missouri without any legal abortion providers.

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Write to Mahita Gajanan at mahita.gajanan@time.com