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Judge Orders Missouri DHSS to Pay Planned Parenthood’s Legal Fees in License Dispute

(By Tessa Weinberg | Missouri Independent)

A Cole County judge denied the state health department’s attempt to reopen a case stemming from a 2019 licensing dispute with Missouri’s lone provider of abortions and ordered Missouri to pay Planned Parenthood’s legal fees.

In a ruling Friday afternoon, Cole County Circuit Court Judge Jon Beetem affirmed an administrative court’s ruling that the state must pay Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region for the roughly $146,000 in legal bills it amassed defending itself after the state health department declined to renew its license in 2019.

Additionally, Beetem also ordered DHSS to pay Reproductive Health Services about $8,000 it incurred as a result of the litigation arising from the fees dispute.

In May 2020, an administrative hearing commission found the state wrongly denied a license to Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis clinic, the state’s last remaining facility that provides abortion services. But despite the state’s unsuccessful attempt to withhold the facility’s license, the Department of Health and Senior Services “seeks to relitigate every issue on which it lost,” Beetem wrote in Friday’s ruling.

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