Carlos Moreno / KCUR
The St. Luke’s Health System, which operates 17 hospitals, pharmacies and emergency clinics in the Kansas City area, said it would no longer provide Plan B at its Missouri locations as a result of a U.S. law banning almost all abortions.
Following the annulment of the decision of the US Supreme Court last week Rowe vs. Wadeabortion providers in Missouri could face criminal prosecution and imprisonment for five to 15 years.
In a statement, Laurel Gifford, a spokesman for Saint Luke’s, said the hospital network had made its decision out of prudence.
“To ensure that we comply with all state and federal laws – and until the law in this area is better defined – Saint Luke’s will not provide emergency contraception in our Missouri-based locations,” Gifford said.
University Health, Truman’s former medical centers, said it would continue to offer emergency contraceptives in Missouri. University health spokeswoman Leslie Carto said the hospital did not believe it was contrary to state abortion law.
At a news conference in St. Louis on Tuesday, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson didn’t know if people should worry about access to birth control. He said the health department was in the process of clarifying the law.
The Missouri Abortion Act does not specifically address emergency contraceptives such as Plan B, known as the Morning Pill and Planned Parenthood, for example, it said it did not believe the law would affect access to birth control.
Still, Gifford said St. Luke could not risk subjecting his healthcare providers to prosecution.
“Missouri’s law is ambiguous, but it can be interpreted as criminalizing emergency contraception,” she said. “As a system that deeply cares for its team, we simply cannot put our clinicians in a position that could lead to prosecution.”
Emergency contraceptives and other reproductive care services continue to be available at Kansas hospital network locations.
“This may not always be the most convenient option for our patients, but so far it is the best solution available,” Gifford said.
Read the full statement of St. Luke below:
Declaration on the health system of St. Luke
Saint Luke’s continues to assess the consequences of the Supreme Court’s annulment decision Rowe vs. Wade and the subsequent application of the Missouri Act to restrict abortion.
To ensure that we comply with all state and federal laws – and until the law in this area becomes better defined – Saint Luke’s will not provide emergency contraception in our Missouri-based locations.
There are two reasons for this:
- First, Missouri’s law is ambiguous, but can be interpreted as criminalizing emergency contraception. As a system that deeply cares for its team, we simply cannot put our clinicians in a position that could lead to prosecution.
- Second, as a large two-state health care system, this care can be provided in our Kansas-based facilities safely, legally, and without exposing our clinicians to legal risk. It may not always be the most convenient option for our patients, but for now it is the best solution available.
Saint Luke’s will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that the reproductive care we provide, including maternal abortions, continues to comply fully with all applicable laws.