The Columbia Planned Parenthood clinic has stopped providing abortions, but its leader says the service has only been stopped temporarily.
“It’s not that we are no longer providing abortions in Columbia,” said Peter Brownlie, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. “We utilize physicians as they are available, and we happen to be at a point that the physicians in Columbia aren’t currently available due to scheduling issues.”
The temporary halt of abortion services in Columbia leaves St. Louis as the only city in Missouri where an abortion can be legally obtained. Brownlie acknowledged that that would inconvenience some women.
“It’s unfortunate, because those who wish to obtain an abortion will have to travel larger distances,” Brownlie said. “It’s regrettable and will create a challenge for folks.”
Despite rumors of a possibly prolonged absence of abortion services in Columbia, Brownlie remained optimistic that abortions would be offered again in the near future.
“We’re working with the doctors, and I’m hopeful we will (provide abortions) by the end of the month, if not sooner,” Brownlie said.
A new state law that requires women receiving an abortion to be informed of the fetus' ability to feel pain and to be given the option to view an ultrasound has nothing to do with the suspension of abortions in Columbia, according to Pamela Sumners, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with the recently passed law,” Sumners said. “I would take Planned Parenthood at its word.”
Sumners also expressed optimism that Planned Parenthood would continue the service of providing abortions as soon as possible.
“Planned Parenthood has said this is merely temporary and will get the problem corrected." Sumners stated. "Seems to me that if that’s what they said, that’s what they meant.”
Officials at the MU Student Health Center were unaware of Planned Parenthood’s temporary discontinuance of abortion services, but SHC spokeswoman Pamela Roe said the lack of services would not change the care or information the center provides for students.
“Being a university facility, we stay very unbiased and present information to students and give them resources,” Roe said. “Whether they are or not still offering services, no matter the situation, we will still give our patients the same care.”
Bronwlie expressed concern for the women inconvenienced by Planned Parenthood’s suspension of abortion services until further notice and said that providing options for them was the main priority.
“We’re more concerned about the impact it has on women wishing to obtain abortions than the impact on Planned Parenthood,” Brownlie said.