By Brian Henry
A Missouri judge issued an order ensuring the state’s only abortion clinic can temporarily continue operations. The decision came just hours before the St. Louis Planned Parenthood’s license was set to expire, allowing the clinic more time to resolve a dispute with the state health department.
“Its an enormous relief to women, more than a million women of child bearing age in Missouri. But this is only a temporary stay," Cecile Richards, former president of Planned Parenthood, said to Cheddar reacting to the news. "I certainly hope that the state sees that women need access to the service and that Planned Parenthood has been a trusted provider for more than 100 years.”
Abortion rights activists took the streets in the days before the decision was made to keep the clinic open. It came weeks after Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed a new restrictive abortion law making it illegal to perform an abortion after eight weeks. Richards stressed to Cheddar the importance of today's decision.
"Because of all the restrictions that exist already in that state, it is the only remaining provider of safe and legal abortion in the state."
While the outcry over a slate of new anti-abortion laws has been heard across the country, states have continued to pass legislation like the so-called "heartbeat bill" that would ban abortions for pregnancies as early as six weeks.
"It comes on the heels of the state of Alabama, the state of Georgia, the state of Louisiana that are basically trying to end access to safe and legal abortion all together. This is a right that women have had in this country for more than 40 years," Richards stated. "The important thing to remember, Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision, abortion existed before that. It was simply illegal, it was unsafe. Young, healthy women died all across this country. We can never go back to those days."
Richards says she believes those lawmakers have been emboldened by President Trump.
"Some of these legislatures are seeing that they have an opportunity because of the appointments by President Trump to the Supreme Court. He pledged when he was running for president that he would only appoint judges that would overturn Roe vs Wade. He’s obviously now had two appointees confirmed. The latest being Judge Kavanaugh, by the slimmest margin in decades. It's now obviously not an intellectual issue of whether Roe is at risk. It is a serious issue."
Bearing this in mind, the former head of Planned Parenthood, along with activists Ai-jen Poo and Alicia Garza, co-founded Supermajority, a political action organization aimed at mobilizing women to move, act, and vote by the 2020 election.
"We don’t have equal representation in these states. In Alabama it was 25 people who voted to outlaw abortion, and the one thing they all have in common is that they will never be pregnant, because they are all men," Richards added.
The Missouri clinic decision comes on the day of the 10th anniversary of the murder of Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider who was shot by an anti-abortion extremist at the doctor's church in neighboring Kansas.