Abortion services can continue in Missouri for now, a court ruled Friday, granting a temporary restraining order to keep open the sole clinic that performs the procedure in the US state.
The St. Louis clinic had been on the verge of losing its license to carry out the procedure, making Missouri the first American state without abortion provision in half a century.
But Judge Michael Stelzer ordered that the clinic’s license “shall not expire and shall remain in effect until a ruling on petitioner’s request for preliminary injunction” on Tuesday.
Planned Parenthood, which operates the clinic, hailed Stelzer’s decision.
“Today is a victory for women across Missouri, but this fight is far from over,” Leana Wen, the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.
“We have seen just how vulnerable access to abortion care is here -- and in the rest of the country,” Wen said, alluding to moves by a string of US states to restrict access to the procedure.
“I am really happy. I know we haven’t won the war, but this is the right step in winning the battle,” said Chris Kaufmann, an abortion rights activist who came to protest in front of the clinic.
Nearby, Mary Maschmeier of the anti-abortion group “Defenders of the Unborn” said she was “very disappointed,” but that “we will have another day.”
Beyond Missouri, more than a dozen states with conservative majorities are chipping away at abortion rights, even though access has been guaranteed nationwide since a 1973 US Supreme Court decision.