KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Saint Luke’s Health System announced Wednesday afternoon that, after internal review, it will resume providing emergency contraceptives like Plan B to patients.
The health system, which has locations in both Missouri and Kansas, was the first in the Kansas City area to announce it would stop providing emergency contraception to patients at its Missouri hospitals and clinics.
But several hours later, Saint Luke’s has reevaluated and changed course.
The health system released a new statement Wednesday afternoon:
Saint Luke’s Health System is aware of and continues to closely monitor legal developments regarding Missouri’s abortion trigger law, including recent comments from the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and the Governor of Missouri regarding the use of emergency contraceptives.
Following further internal review, Saint Luke’s will now resume providing emergency contraceptives, under new protocols, at all Missouri-based Saint Luke’s hospitals and clinics. However, the ambiguity of the law, and the uncertainty even among state officials about what this law prohibits, continues to cause grave concern and will require careful monitoring. This is especially true because the penalty for violation of the statute includes the criminal prosecution of health care providers whose sole focus is to provide medically necessary care for their patients.
As a faith-based organization, Saint Luke’s stands firmly with the Episcopal Church in supporting the rights of all patients to make medical decisions in consultation with their health care providers. We believe this is when health care is at its best.Saint Luke’s Health System
Abortion ban confusion
Saint Luke’s argues that Missouri’s new abortion ban is ambiguous and said, even among state leaders, it’s not clear what the law prohibits.
FOX4 reached out to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office. Spokesman Chris Nuelle said, “Missouri law does not prohibit the use or provision of Plan B or contraception.”
But Missouri’s abortion ban makes no exception for rape or incest. The only exceptions are medical emergencies that threaten the life of the pregnant person or physical impairment, according to the law. Still, some critics argue the emergency provision is poorly defined.
State leaders like Gov. Mike Parson have said a woman who gets an abortion will not be prosecuted, but health care providers who perform the procedure can be prosecuted.
Regardless, the law has raised concerns about emergency contraception and other forms of contraception for some. House Minority Leader Crystal Quade even called for Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt to issue an official opinion on whether the law allows women to be prosecuted for using contraception.
Other hospitals’ stances
FOX 4 also checked with other health care providers and hospitals in the Kansas City metro. At this point, we have not heard of any additional facilities that have stopped prescribing Plan B.
University Health said it plans to continue working to make sure as many women have access to Plan B as possible. University Health released the following statement to FOX4:
University Health will continue to provide emergency contraception since it is not in conflict with Missouri state law. Our priority continues to be providing safe, high-quality healthcare to our patients.
While mostly located in Kansas, University of Kansas Health System does operate some clinics in Missouri. The health system said it is still offering emergency contraception as it reviews the change in Missouri’s law.