The license for Planned Parenthood in St. Louis will remain effective and the facility will continue operating as the state's lone abortion provider after the judge granted a preliminary injunction.
Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer ruled Monday that the state would not be able block the clinic from performing abortions until the court makes a final ruling on the case.
The next hearing is set for June 21.
State officials had refused to renew the facility's license, demanding interviews with staff doctors for an investigation into “a large number of possible deficiencies."
Planned Parenthood said only two of its seven staff doctors agreed to be interviewed. It requested a preliminary injunction in the hearing Tuesday. The restraining order will remain in place until the judge issues another ruling.
Stelzer issued a temporary stay on May 31, hours before the license was set to expire for the facility, which would have prevented it from providing abortions.
"Planned Parenthood has been responsive to every demand, including those that interfere with high quality medical care, yet the governor continues to insist that our license is in jeopardy," said Colleen McNicholas, an OB-GYN for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region. “Planned Parenthood puts a patient’s safety and well-being above all else. We have never wavered in our relentless effort to protect access to safe, legal abortion, and we won’t stop now.”
If the Planned Parenthood facility stops offering the procedure, Missouri would be the first state without legal abortion since the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.
Abortion rights advocates say ending services at Planned Parenthood in St. Louis would force women seeking abortion to travel to neighboring states, such as Kansas or Illinois, to get the procedure.
Amanda Wachter, a sophomore at the University of Missouri, said that for young, college-age women who don't have cars, this could be a hardship.
"Being in Columbia, we are in the middle of the state, so it definitely takes a lot of travel time, and then it will affect our class time," Wachter said. The St. Louis clinic is about two hours away from campus.
Terilyn Harris, a senior at the University of Missouri, said she fears eliminating the last abortion clinic will result in women getting illegal abortions.
“We are going to do unsafe abortions, we are going to have kids who are unloved by their mothers, or (mothers who) don’t have the resources to support the kid that they didn’t want and knew they couldn’t support in the first place," Harris said.
Last month, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed a bill that outlaws abortion after the eighth week of pregnancy without exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
The law, which goes into effect Aug. 28, barring a legal challenge, says doctors who perform abortions after eight weeks could face five to 15 years in prison. The measure includes exceptions for medical emergencies, such as when there is a risk of death or permanent physical injuries to "a major bodily function of the pregnant woman."
Missouri joined several other states that have passed some of the most restrictive abortion bans the nation has seen since Roe.
Last week, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law a bill that bans abortion after a "fetal heartbeat" is detected at roughly six weeks of pregnancy. Four other states have enacted six-week bans this year – Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi and Georgia.
Last month, a judge struck down Mississippi's law. A Kentucky judge temporarily blocked the state's bill in March, saying the American Civil Liberties Union's claim that it was unconstitutional would probably succeed in court.
Alabama enacted a near total-ban on abortions this year, with no exceptions for rape or incest.
The bill allows abortion only if the life of the woman is threatened; if the woman had a mental illness that could result in "her death or the death of her unborn child"; or if the fetus had a fatal anomaly that would result in stillbirth or its death after birth.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Missouri judge grants another order to keep Planned Parenthood of St. Louis open