"The construction of this new facility was a strategic business move – certainly not a defense of women."
Planned Parenthood constructed its new abortion clinic in secret just 13 miles from the St. Louis clinic. It used a shell company to hide that the facility would become one of the nation's largest abortion clinics.
Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, told CBS News in October that abortion facilities in other areas had faced public outcry and protest during their construction, hence their decision to build the clinic in secret.
Missouri authorities, however, could have final say over the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic.
According to the Missouri health department's "Statement of Deficiencies," Planned Parenthood went back on its agreement to perform pelvic examinations as a "preoperative health requirement." Several doctors at the clinic refused requests to provide interviews with the health department, and the clinic would not have been prepared for a case of a woman who suffered "severe hemorrhaging" at a hospital before being referred to Planned Parenthood.
For its part, Planned Parenthood has accused the state of weaponizing the regulatory process and claimed the state has admitted the pelvic exams are "medically unnecessary."
Some states have seen strong trends in favor of restricting abortion and providing legal protections to the unborn, expecting possible changes in U.S. Supreme Court precedent.
Missouri enacted a comprehensive abortion ban in 2019, which Republican Gov. Mike Parson signed into law. The legislation was supported by Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis.
Missouri's law set up a multi-tier ban on abortions after eight weeks, 14 weeks, 18 weeks and 20 weeks, as well as bans on abortions conducted solely because of the baby's race, sex, or Down syndrome diagnosis.
The law was crafted to be able to survive in the courts, but a federal judge in August 2019 struck down all of the bans related to the stages of pregnancy. At present the court left intact the disability, race, and sex-selective abortion bans.
In contrast to Missouri, Illinois law has moved further in a pro-abortion rights direction. In June Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois signed legislation to expand vastly access to abortion in that state.
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The Reproductive Rights Act ended a ban on dilation and evacuation abortion, removed regulations for abortion clinics, and ended required waiting periods to obtain an abortion. It also lifted criminal penalties for performing abortions, required all private health insurance plans to cover elective abortions, and eliminated abortion reporting requirements, as well as regulations requiring the investigation of maternal deaths due to abortion.
The legislation was strongly opposed by Illinois' Catholic bishops.