JEFFERSON CITY • The state of Missouri appealed this week a decision blocking Missouri's health department from revoking Columbia Planned Parenthood’s abortion license.
That decision to block the revocation was handed down last month by U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey. Abortions still cannot be performed at the Columbia clinic until a physician affiliated with it has hospital privileges. That makes the St. Louis facility the only legal abortion clinic in the state.
The appeal of that decision by Attorney General Chris Koster is the latest development in a months-long battle over abortion rights in Missouri. It began in July, after Republican state lawmakers decided to investigate allegations that the abortion and health care provider sold fetal body parts.
Koster, a Democrat running for governor in 2016, found no evidence of wrongdoing in Missouri and a Texas grand jury recently indicted anti-abortion activists who shot the videos.
Through their investigation, lawmakers looked into the Columbia facility’s license from the state to perform nonsurgical abortions induced by a pill. The doctor performing abortions, Colleen McNicholas, had “refer and follow” privileges at the University of Missouri Health Care System.
Shortly after the legislative inquiry, the system voted to end the privileges granted to McNicholas, effective Dec. 1. The state moved to revoke the facility's abortion license Nov. 30, but Laughrey blocked that action until the case is resolved.
Bonyen Lee-Gilmore, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and mid-Missouri, said they are not surprised by the state's action.
They "will continue vigorously fighting to keep access open to safe, legal abortion in mid-Missouri," she said.
Koster's office did not respond to a request for comment.