The state of Missouri is appealing a judge’s decision blocking it from revoking the abortion license of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia.
The appeal comes nearly a month after U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey ruled that Missouri health officials likely violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause when they moved against the clinic.
A spokeswoman for Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, whose office filed the appeal on Tuesday, did not return a call seeking comment.
Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri had sued to halt the license revocation and on Dec. 28 Laughrey found in its favor, ruling that state health officials had treated Planned Parenthood differently than “similarly situated institutions.”
Missouri health officials acted shortly after covertly recorded and highly edited videos surfaced last July purporting to show that Planned Parenthood clinics illegally sold fetal tissue for profit.
Twenty states, including Missouri and Kansas, launched investigations of Planned Parenthood after the videos, which were made by a group calling itself the Center for Medical Progress, began dribbling out last summer. None of the investigations thus far have found any wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood or its affiliates.
On Tuesday, a Houston grand jury convened to investigate Planned Parenthood instead indicted two of the anti-abortion activists involved in the making of the videos. David R. Daleiden, the director of the Center for Medical Progress, and Sandra S. Merritt, an employee of the center, were charged with tampering with a governmental record, a felony. Daleiden also was charged with a misdemeanor count related to purchasing human organs. The grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood.
Missouri was one of 19 states that recently received a failing grade from the Population Institute for their records on reproductive health and rights. The report cited Missouri laws making it difficult for a woman to obtain an abortion, among other factors. The Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis currently is the sole provider of surgical abortions in Missouri. The Columbia clinic provided abortion services until Nov. 23, when the University of Missouri, bowing to political pressure, discontinued the hospital privileges of its abortion doctor.
Abortion remains a top agenda item in Missouri’s Republican-dominated Legislature. A state Senate committee heard testimony today on a bill that would prohibit abortions based on prenatal screenings for Down syndrome. And two House committees today called for additional regulation of abortion facilities.
Dan Margolies, editor of the Heartland Health Monitor team, is based at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.