Carlos Moreno / KCUR
St. Luke’s Health System, which operates 17 hospitals, pharmacies and emergency care clinics in the Kansas City area, said state law prohibits almost all abortions so it will no longer provide Plan B in its Missouri locations.
After the US Supreme Court overturned the verdict last week Rowe vs. WadeAbortion providers in Missouri could face criminal trial and face up to five to 15 years in prison.
In a statement, Laurel Gifford, a spokeswoman for St. Luke’s, said the hospital’s network had made its decision because of a lot of caution.
“To ensure we comply with all state and federal laws – and until the law in this area is better defined – St. Luke’s will not provide emergency contraception in our Missouri-based locations,” Gifford said.
University Health, formerly Truman Medical Center, said it would offer emergency contraception in Missouri. University health spokeswoman Leslie Carto said the hospital did not believe it was in conflict with state abortion laws.
At a news conference in St. Louis on Tuesday, Missouri Governor Mike Parson was unclear about whether birth control access should be a concern. He said the Department of Health is in the process of clearing the law.
Missouri’s abortion law specifically states emergency contraceptives such as Plan B, commonly known as the “Morning-After Pill,” and Planned Parenthood, for one, said it does not believe the law will affect access to birth control.
Nonetheless, Gifford said St. Luke could not take risks about the possibility of his healthcare providers being judged.
“Missouri law is vague, but can be interpreted as an emergency contraceptive offense,” she said. “As a system that cares deeply about its team, we can’t just put our doctors in a position that could lead to criminal proceedings.”
Emergency contraception and other reproductive care services are available at Kansas locations on the hospital network.
“It may not always be the most convenient option for our patients, but for now, it’s the best solution available,” Gifford said.
Read St. Luke’s full statement below:
Statement of St. Luke’s Health System
St. Luke continues to assess the impact of overturning the Supreme Court ruling Rowe vs. Wade And the subsequent implementation of the Missouri Trigger Act to limit abortion.
To ensure we comply with all state and federal laws – and until the law in this area is better defined – St. Luke’s will not provide emergency contraception in our Missouri-based locations.
The reasons for this are twofold:
- First, Missouri law is vague but emergency contraception can be interpreted as criminal. As a system that cares deeply about its team, we can’t simply put our physicians in a position that could lead to criminal prosecution.
- Second, as a large bi-national health care system, this care can be delivered safely to our Kansas-based facilities, legally and without putting our physicians at legal risk. This may not always be the most convenient option for our patients, but for now, it is the best solution available.
St. Lucas will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that we provide reproductive care, including abortion for maternity medical emergencies, in full compliance with all applicable laws.