Access to abortion services expands in Missouri

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NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 30: A Planned Parenthood office is seen on November 30, 2015 in New York City. A gunman killed three people November 27, including a police officer, at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — Access to abortion clinics in Missouri is expanding at a time when state leaders have passed legislation tightening abortion regulations.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains received a license and has begun booking appointments for nonsurgical abortions at its Kansas City clinic, with consultations expected to begin Sept. 18. The organization also is expected to receive a license for surgical and medication abortions at its Columbia clinic in the next few days, said Sara O’Connor, spokeswoman for The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. License applications for clinics in Springfield and Joplin are undergoing normal review at the department, said O’Connor.

Currently, only a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis offers abortion services in Missouri.

“We are thrilled to announce that Missouri women can now access safe and legal abortion services at our midtown (Kansas City) health center,” Aaron Samulcek, interim president and CEO of the local Planned Parenthood chapter, said in a statement.

The health department was required to issue the licenses after a federal judge struck down some Missouri abortion restrictions passed in previous legislative sessions.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains submitted the applications for Columbia and Kansas City last year and the license for the Kansas City clinic was issued in late August, The Columbia Daily Tribune reported .

During a special session this summer called to address abortion, lawmakers passed a law that tightened abortion regulations, including giving the attorney general power to prosecute violations. The law doesn’t take effect until Oct. 24.

Sam Lee, director of Campaign Life Missouri, said it was disappointing but not surprising that the licenses are being issued.

“I think the department’s hands are tied,” Lee said. “They are sworn to uphold the law.”