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Missouri rejects license renewal for lone abortion clinic

The Missouri state flag flies outside of the Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, the state's last operating abortion clinic, Friday, June 21, 2019. in St. Louis. Missouri's health department said on Friday that it won’t renew the abortion license for the state’s lone clinic, but the St. Louis Planned Parenthood affiliate will be allowed to temporarily perform the procedure under a court order. (Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

The American Public Health Association has long held that “access to the full range of reproductive health services, including abortion, is a fundamental right.” As a professional entrusted with protecting the health of all Missourians, I cannot stand idly by as this right is stripped away — by the very institution charged with protecting the health of the state’s residents, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. I call on all Missouri health departments, health professionals, lawmakers and the greater Missouri community to advocate to keep the doors of St. Louis Planned Parenthood open, permanently.

Planned Parenthood of St. Louis provides critical family planning, cancer prevention and comprehensive reproductive health services for thousands of men and women in St. Louis and Missouri.

Closure of the clinic would have dire public health ramifications. These harms would be particularly felt by uninsured and underinsured residents who rely on the safety net these services provide.

Beyond irreparable harm to health care, the closure of St. Louis Planned Parenthood would have enormous financial ramifications. Those denied services will become a burden on the state’s already strained health systems. Even among proponents of closing the clinic, this alone should cause pause. Let us do what is best for Missouri women, please support Planned Parenthood.

Will Ross, MD, MPH • St. Louis

Professor of Medicine, Division of Nephrology

Washington University School of Medicine