Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Doctors Walk out at Abortion Clinic Five Allege Shortage of Medical Supplies

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Doctors Walk out at Abortion Clinic Five Allege Shortage of Medical Supplies

Article excerpt

The five doctors at Reproductive Health Services, Missouri's largest abortion clinic, have walked off the job. They say the clinic is unsafe because of a shortage of medical supplies.

The doctors didn't show up for work Friday and Saturday, days on which 50 women were scheduled for abortions. At least five nurses joined the work stoppage this week. The doctors and nurses say they will return when they are satisfied that the clinic is safe.

"The only reason we have stopped working is out of concern over patient care," said the clinic's medical director, Dr. Darwin Jackson.

"I apologize to the women who came in Friday and had to be sent away. But bad care is worse than no care."

The clinic's interim director, Vivien Diener, denied that patient safety was ever in jeopardy. An inspector from the Missouri Department of Health visited the Central West End clinic Wednesday and found no problems, Diener said. The inspector could not be reached for comment.

The clinic would remain open while she and the board negotiated with the doctors about returning to work, she said. The clinic arranged for a gynecologist, Robert Crist of Kansas City, to fly in Wednesday to perform abortions on women who had appointments last Friday and Saturday.

Crist will operate on other women today and tomorrow and return weekly as long as necessary, Diener said. Another out-of-town doctor is also being brought in, she said.

Crist is the medical director at Planned Parenthood's clinic in Kansas City. He worked at Reproductive Health Services in the '80s before leaving to work at clinics in Springfield, Mo., Kansas, Florida and Texas.

Crist is one of a growing group of doctors who fly into areas where local doctors won't perform abortions. He briefly stopped performing abortions in 1992, saying he was tired of being harassed by anti-abortion activists. …

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