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Parson replaces administrative judge who heard abortion case

JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, has replaced the administrative law judge who ruled against the state health department in a significant abortion case.

Sreenivasa Rao Dandamudi

In 2020, Sreenivasa Rao Dandamudi turned aside Missouri’s effort to close the state’s last abortion provider, the Planned Parenthood clinic at 4251 Forest Park Avenue in St. Louis. Dandamudi also ruled against the state in a medical marijuana case.

The Kansas City Star reports that Parson has appointed Spencer Bartlett to replace Dandamudi. Bartlett has been general counsel for the Missouri Department of Revenue. Because the appointment was made while the Legislature is not in session, Bartlett can begin without Senate confirmation.

The St. Louis abortion clinic sued when the state denied its license in 2019. Dandamudi ruled the denial was improper.

Planned Parenthood, 4251 Forest Park Avenue in the Central West End

In February, he ruled against the state health department again over its denial of medical marijuana licenses to two applicants, forcing the state to issue permits. The administration has appealed that ruling to the Cole County Circuit Court.

Dandamudi was appointed to the Administrative Hearing Commission by then-Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, in 2010. Dandamudi’s term expired in 2016, but many members of state boards and commissions continue serving in expired terms until replacements are appointed.

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