Planned Parenthood’s vital battle to provide abortions in Kansas City

imagePlanned Parenthood officials announced Wednesday they are going to court to expand access to abortion services in Missouri — including in Kansas City. Good for them.

The constitutional right to an abortion is a crucial part of providing full health care for women. Restricting access is shameful.

A top Planned Parenthood official  told me in a teleconference call that the group already has a provider ready to operate in Kansas City if the lawsuit is successful.

Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said it currently is difficult if not impossible for women in the urban core of Kansas City on the Missouri side to make it to the Overland Park office that does provide abortions in Kansas.

Bus line connections are bad. In addition, McQuade said, there are cultural barriers that limit women’s access to abortions.

Winning the lawsuit would allow Planned Parenthood to provide abortions in Kansas City as well as Springfield and Joplin. A clinic in Columbia also could provide them.

Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region is the only provider of abortions in Missouri at this point. That means women who want them must drive up to hundreds of miles when coming from other parts of the state.

Mary Kogut, president of the St. Louis chapter, said Wednesday that low-income and rural women in Missouri are ill-served by current abortion restrictions. The lawsuit, she said, “is about access” to health care for women.

That’s an excellent point.

Here are key comments from the press released announcing the lawsuit.

“Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains (PPGP) and Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region (PPSLR) today filed a federal lawsuit challenging two of Missouri’s medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion.

“These restrictions — hospital admitting privileges and ambulatory surgical center (ASC) requirements — have reduced abortion access in Missouri to just one operating licensed health center offering safe, legal abortion, forcing countless patients to drive hundreds of miles for health care.

“Filed in Missouri federal district court, the suit is based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s June Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision, which declared similar abortion restrictions in Texas unconstitutional. In the complaint, PPGP and PPSLR shared with the court their intent to restore safe, legal abortion to their health centers in Columbia and Kansas City, and to begin providing abortion at their health centers in Springfield and Joplin, where admitting privileges and ASC requirements have prevented patients in those communities from accessing providers.”