Missouri formally refused on Friday to renew the license of the last clinic in the state to perform abortions, but the structure remains open pending a court decision.
If the authorities’ decision were validated, Missouri would become the first US state without access to abortion in nearly half a century.
“Today, Missouri health officials hijacked an administrative process to deny permission to perform abortions” at the clinic in St. Louis, in the center of the country, tweeted Planned Parenthood, which operates the facility. “The fate of access to abortion is now in the hands of a court”.
The clinic opened before the state’s decision
The Missouri authorities had let the Saint-Louis clinic license expire reached its end on May 31. A city judge, seized urgently, had authorized her to continue the voluntary terminations of pregnancy (abortion) pending an examination of the case on the merits.
In order to make a reasoned decision, this judge, Michael Stelzer, had ordered the state to pronounce clearly for or against the renewal of the license before a hearing on Friday.
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The Missouri authorities waited until the last minute to formulate their refusal and the substantive debates began in the morning in court.
While waiting for the judge to draw the conclusions of these debates, the clinic can remain open. “Access to abortion is, for the moment, protected in Missouri, ”Planned Parenthood noted.
US law leaves room for interpretation
The right to abortion has been guaranteed since 1973 by the Supreme Court of the United States as long as the fetus is “not viable”, i.e. around the 24th week of pregnancy.
However, the high court authorizes states to legislate to regulate the practice of abortions on condition that they do not impose an “unjustified burden” on patients.
This provision is interpreted very differently from state to state.