KANSAS CITY, Mo — Less than 24 hours after Saint Luke's Health System announced will no longer provide emergency contraceptive to patients in Missouri, the group reversed its decision.
Late Tuesday, Saint Luke's initially said its decision was in reaction to the Supreme Court's ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade and the health system's interpretation of Missouri's trigger law restricting abortion.
"As a system that deeply cares about its team, we simply cannot put our clinicians in a position that might result in criminal prosecution," the statement said.
On Wednesday morning, the KSHB 41 I-Team asked Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt if Saint Luke's interpreted the law correctly. The I-Team also asked if health care providers in Missouri would subject to litigation if they provide emergency contraceptive.
Chris Nuelle, Schmitt's press secretary, responded by saying, "Missouri law does not prohibit the use or provision of Plan B, or contraception."
The I-Team shared the response from the attorney general's office with Saint Luke's. A spokesperson described Schmitt's response as a "significant update" that was being shared with the health system's legal team.
Within a couple of hours, Saint Luke's announced it would resume prescribing Plan B, emergency contraception to its patients in Missouri.
"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."
One of Kansas City's other hospital systems, University Health, said early Wednesday it planned to continue to offer emergency contraceptive services to patients.
We want to hear from you on what resources Kansas City families might benefit from to help us all through the pandemic. If you have five minutes, feel free to fill out this survey to help guide our coverage: KSHB COVID Survey.