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Missouri Orders Doctors To Sexual Assault Women
As the last Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis Missouri awaits the court’s decision on if it will remain open, state health official have cracked down on a rule for doctors before they can perform an abortion. Doctors are being forced by the state to perform an unnecessary pelvic exams on women prior to the procedure. This is tantamount to sexual assault since it is not medically required or needed.
Even before regulators moved to close the clinic, (Dr. Colleen) McNicholas says, the state had been adding burdensome regulations each year. One major example she gave was pelvic exam requirements. Last year, state legislatures began to require pelvic examinations as a requirement for medication abortions—a noninvasive procedure which normally occurs in the first-trimester. The clinic originally pushed back on this new regulation, but then ultimately decided to stop providing medication abortions all together. However, the following year, regulators claimed that the providers were violating the exact same statute by not giving pelvic exams to patients who required surgical abortions on the day they consented to the abortion, in addition to the day of surgery when pelvic exams are also performed.
“This demonstrates clearly from year to year they are just looking for yet another thing,” McNicholas says. “It ensures that no provider here is able to comply when we don’t know how this will be interpreted.”
The state agency is now claiming that the clinic violated laws and regulations, including a requirement that doctors give patients a pelvic exam at least 72 hours before an abortion and , again the day of the procedure, even if the patient is receiving a non-surgical medication abortion.
The invasive practice requires a doctor to insert a speculum into a patient’s vagina in order to examine her cervix, and to insert fingers into that patient’s vagina while pressing her abdomen to feel her reproductive organs. Even when it’s medically necessary, it is unpleasant. But when it’s not — when it’s instead performed only because of a state mandate — doctors say the examination can be traumatizing.
In Missouri, this issue — the subject of back-to-back episodes of Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show — is at the center of the fight over the fate of the state’s last abortion clinic.