A major Missouri healthcare system is resuming distribution of the Plan B contraception pill after pausing in the immediate wake of the Supreme Court decision last week to overturn 1973's Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide.
St. Luke's Health System, which operates 16 hospitals and campuses across the Kansas City, Missouri, area, initially stopped providing patients with the Plan B "morning after" emergency contraception pill shortly after the high court's decision last week and the enacting of a total abortion ban in that state that was set up as a "trigger law" following the ruling, The Kansas City Star reported.
The organization, however, resumed distribution of the pills following a clarification by the state attorney general’s office stating that the pill was not banned under the new law.
"Missouri law does not prohibit the use or provision of Plan B or contraception," the Missouri Independent reported Chris Nuelle, a spokesman for Attorney General Eric Schmitt, saying Wednesday.
Gov. Mike Parson posted similar information on Twitter Wednesday afternoon.
"To address any misinformation: Missouri law has not changed the legality of contraceptives," the post read. "Contraceptives are not abortions and are not affected by the Right to Life of the Unborn Child Act."
While the healthcare system is resuming the distribution of the pill, it said in a statement that the impact of the new law remains "ambiguous" and needs to be monitored.
"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," the Independent reported the statement from St. Luke’s said. "This is especially true because the penalty for violation of the statue includes the criminal prosecution of health care providers whose sole focus is to provide medically necessary care for their patients."
According to the Mayo Clinic, Plan B is an emergency contraception pill used to prevent pregnancy in women that have engaged in unprotected sex or whose method of birth control has failed.
The drug, which is available without a prescription, delays ovulation and does not prevent a pregnancy that has already implanted in the uterus, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Missouri's abortion ban became the first active in the nation following the SCOTUS ruling and prohibits abortions except in the "case of medical emergency."
"Today, following the United States Supreme Court's ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, with the issuance of an attorney general opinion, my Office has yet again reinforced Missouri's dedication to protecting the sanctity of life, both born and unborn. With this attorney general opinion, my Office has effectively ended abortion in Missouri, becoming the first state in the country to do so following the Court's ruling," Schmitt said in a statement June 24, following the court’s announcement. "My Office has been fighting to uphold the sanctity of life since I became attorney general, culminating in today's momentous court ruling and attorney general opinion. I will continue the fight to protect all life, born and unborn."
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