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St. Louis Abortion Clinic Will Flout State Pelvic-Exam Requirement

A Missouri State flag waves outside of Planned Parenthood St. Louis Region, Missouri’s sole abortion clinic, in St. Louis, Mo., May 28, 2019. (Lawrence Bryant/Reuters)

Missouri’s lone abortion clinic has called a requirement that patients seeking an abortion undergo a pelvic exam days before the procedure “disrespectful and dehumanizing” and said it will refuse to abide by the requirement.

A spokeswoman for the St. Louis Planned Parenthood said the clinic no longer performs the “unethical” pelvic exam at least 72 hours before an abortion as required by the state health department, but does administer the exam immediately prior to performing the abortion. The clinic has insisted that the exam is not required by state law, while the state has argued that it is.

“We believe continuing to force an additional invasive and uncomfortable vaginal exam on patients at least three days before her abortion procedure, when it is not medically indicated, and when she will have the identical exam on the day of the abortion procedure, is not patient-centered; it is disrespectful and dehumanizing,” said Dr. Colleen McNicholas, an abortion provider at the clinic.

Missouri’s Republican governor, Mike Parson, signed a law last month prohibiting abortions after eight weeks, one of a number of extremely restrictive state abortion laws designed to spark court challenges that could potentially lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court.

The clinic is edging toward losing its license after the health department declined to renew it, citing three “failed abortions” that led to more surgeries and put one of the mothers’ lives at risk. A Missouri judge is weighing a final decision on the license.

Dr. David Eisenberg, the clinic’s medical director, called the pelvic-exam requirement “assault.”

“Over the last few weeks, I have new evidence to say that 100 percent of the patients who I’ve taken care of who’ve undergone this inappropriate, medically unnecessary, unethical pelvic exam have been harmed by that,” said Eisenberg. “Because to do so, in my opinion, is just assault.”

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