A St. Louis judge ruled Tuesday that non-staff doctors at the city's Planned Parenthood clinic do not have to comply with subpoenas to testify at a Wednesday hearing on whether Missouri health officials can force the state's only abortion clinic to close its doors.
Missouri’s Health Department declined to renew the clinic's license to perform abortions last week, claiming that inspectors found dangerous health violations including "failed abortions" and legal violations like avoiding state-required pelvic exams.
Planned Parenthood sought a temporary restraining order to keep the clinic open and St. Louis Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer ruled Friday that abortions could continue pending the outcome of Wednesday's hearing.
Planned Parenthood has argued that it is complying with the state’s demands, even agreeing to remove trainees from abortion procedures at the clinic. The organization claims it's being targeted by the state, one of nine to recently enact law a controversial, restrictive abortion bill.
“Planned Parenthood bent over backwards to meet some frankly medically unnecessary and inappropriate requests from the state,” said M'Evie Mead, director of Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri.
But Republican Gov. Mike Parson says inspectors uncovered more violations that he can't talk about during an active investigation.
Dozens of pro-life supporters rallied outside the St. Louis clinic on Tuesday, where prayed and spoke with patients about natural birth control.
One patient who did not want to give her full last name told Fox News that she visits the St. Louis clinic for birth control and opposes the new law, which prohibits abortions after eight weeks.
"So what if I get pregnant by accident, and now I have to keep it and I know I'm not ready?" said the patient, Lauren B. "Then what? You're just setting me up for failure."
Mary Syron, one of the pro-life activists rallying outside the clinic, told Fox News she doesn't understand why the focus is always on the mother and not the innocent fetus.
"A lot of states are going backwards because their citizens are demanding it,” Syron said.
If the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic is closed, Missouri would be the first state in more than 45 years without a single abortion clinic, though one is located in Granite City, Ill., less than 10 miles from the St. Louis facility. Another clinic in the Kansas City area is located in Overland Park, Kan., just two miles from the state line.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.