Deadline looms for Planned Parenthood to obtain hospital privileging to continue abortions

Planned Parenthood officials are still seeking options to be able to legally provide abortions at the organization's Columbia, Mo., clinic, but time is running out.At midnight Monday, the clinic's only physician performing abortions will lose her hospital privileges that she legally needs to perform medication abortions at the Columbia clinic. The clinic does not perform surgical abortions.In September, the University of Missouri, under then-Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin, ended the doctor's privileges effective Dec. 1 after eliminating the type of privileging she was granted at the Mizzou hospital.Laura McQuade, CEO of the Planned Parenthood affiliate for mid-Missouri and Kansas, said she was scheduled to meet with Hank Foley, interim university chancellor, on Wednesday morning. That meeting was cancelled Tuesday, McQuade said she was told, because Foley's schedule was "too busy.""We had hoped that the chancellor would engage with us and potentially get involved in reversing the mistakes of his predecessor," McQuade told reporters during a conference call Wednesday morning. "In a moment of pure honesty, I dont know that that is going to be the case."University of Missouri spokesman Christian Basi said in an email sent midday Wednesday there was a recent request to meet with Foley, "but that meeting has not been scheduled."When asked about the discrepancy, Planned Parenthood clarified the earlier statement, saying the nonprofit had been expecting to meet the chancellor by Wednesday.Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Bonyen Lee-Gilmore said there was an agreement to meet before Thanksgiving, and her group had been waiting on a time to meet. But McQuade received a call from the chancellor's office Tuesday saying they no longer had the time.Under a state statute, a physician can perform or induce an abortion only if the doctor has clinical privileges at a hospital, which offers obstetrical or gynecological care within 30 miles of the location where the abortion is being performed.It is unclear if Dr. Colleen McNicholas, the Planned Parenthood physician performing abortions in Columbia, will seek privileges with Boone Hospital Center, another local hospital. The hospital is owned by the county but is operated by BJC HealthCare, the St. Louis area's largest employer and hospital provider.McNicholas is a Washington University physician, a medical group affiliated with BJC. She has privileges at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, a BJC facility.Calls to Boone Hospital were not returned. A spokeswoman for Washington University reiterated that McNicholas does not have privileges at Boone, and did not answer questions about whether the physician was seeking clinical privileges at Boone.McQuade said Planned Parenthood is pursuing all other options to continue providing abortions, including finding a physician that already has hospital privileges.But she fears the actions of the University of Missouri and the political backlash it has faced is creating a "chilling effect" on other medical providers."I think the reality is that it has a chilling effect on Boone Hospital and it has a chilling effect on physicians' willingness to provide the service," McQuade said.Without hospital privileges, the clinic will be forced to stop performing abortions and will simultaneously lose its license to perform abortions from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, McQuade said.But because of laws already in place that limit abortions, like the requirement to wait 72 hours before receiving an abortion after consulting a physician, those services were stopped Monday, she said."Given the holiday and the 72-hour waiting period, we were not able to fit in another day of service," McQuade said.Two days each month, the clinic dispensed medications that induced an abortion. The clinic provides a range of other services including annual exams and STD testing.The clinic stopped offering abortions in 2012 after its physician left, and then resumed those services this past August.McQuade said her group saw a dramatic increase in the demand for abortion services and, during those two days a month, performed about 20 to 25 abortions each day.Starting on Tuesday, the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis will once again be the only licensed abortion facility in the state if the Columbia clinic can't resolve the privileging issue.Missouri first passed a law in 1986regarding hospital privileging laws and abortion providers. It required that physicians providing abortions have "surgical privileges" at a hospital that offered obstetricalor gynecological care. That law was amended in 2005, requiring physicians providing abortions have "clinical privileges" at a hospital with obstetricalor gynecological care within 30 miles of where the abortion is performed.There have been legal challenges in other states regarding these hospital privilege requirements for abortion providers.Earlier this week, a federal appeals court ruled the requirement in Wisconsin for abortion providers to have hospital privileges at nearby facilities is unconstitutional. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1, in favor of the legal challenge brought by Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services, the AP reported; Missouri is in the 8th circuit court.The Supreme Court agreed earlier this month to hear a similar case out of Texas. href='' - -