Columbia clinic licensed for abortions received exemption

By The Associated Press | Posted - Aug. 23, 2015 at 10:20 a.m.

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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — When the Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia was granted a license to provide medication-induced abortions, it was exempted from the requirement that it have a doctor on staff with surgical privileges at a hospital in the community.

Gail Vasterling, the director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, discussed the license, which was granted in July, in a letter Friday to Sen. Kurt Schaefer. She is slated to appear Tuesday before an interim Senate committee he leads, The Columbia Daily Tribune ( ) reported.

State law defines abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical centers. The law says doctors at such clinics must have privileges to perform surgery at a hospital or the center must have a written agreement with a hospital to take patients for emergency services.

But health department spokesman Ryan Hobart said no surgical procedures are being performed at the Columbia facility.

While the doctor performing abortions in Columbia doesn't have admitting privileges, she has something called "refer and follow" privileges at University of Missouri Health Care, allowing her to refer patients with complications to physicians that care for hospitalized patients and obtain reports about treatment.

"In the event that they intend to perform surgical procedures, the department would send a subsequent survey team out to ensure compliance with" the law, Hobart said.

Planned Parenthood officials have said they plan to offer surgical abortions at the Columbia clinic in early 2016.

Schaefer, who is running for attorney general, said he disputes the health department's legal conclusions.

"I don't know who is giving them legal advice on this, but it is bad advice," Schaefer said.

The committee will investigate why MU Health Care is helping Planned Parenthood resume abortions in Columbia, Schaefer said.

"I want the university out of the abortion business," he said.

A Missouri Senate committee is investigating abortion practices in the state after anti-abortion activists recently released undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood leaders discussing procedures for providing fetal body parts to researchers.


Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune,

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