Last Abortion Facility in Missouri Sues Over Impending Loss of License Amid State Investigation

Photo Credit: CBS News/Screenshot

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — The last licensed abortion facility in Missouri, run by Planned Parenthood, is asking a judge to issue an injunction as it is about to lose its license — whether temporarily or permanently — in the midst of an ongoing investigation by the state Department of Health. Gov. Mike Parson has asked that the court not intervene in the midst of “serious concerns” over practices at the facility.

“Planned Parenthood has been actively and knowingly violating state law on numerous occasions,” Parson said during a press conference on Wednesday.

“Regardless of if you support abortion or not, Planned Parenthood should be able to meet the basic standards of healthcare under the law,” he said. “They should not receive any exceptions because they are one clinic.”

According to CBS News, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services informed Planned Parenthood of St. Louis on May 20 that it had various concerns that could impact its license renewal. Planned Parenthood agreed to correct two matters: one of which relates to ensuring the same abortionist who counsels the client conducts the operation, and another that requires a pelvic exam prior to the commencement of the procedure.

But the Department had also wanted to interview seven “doctors” who work at the facility, citing “deficient practices.” Planned Parenthood advised that only two of those mentioned were employees and the rest are residents in training. Additionally, as CBS reports, the residents declined to participate in the state investigation as per advice from legal counsel.

The State has allegedly warned that there could be serious consequences, depending on what is found during the investigation, such as possible criminal charges or the permanent revocation of its license.

The Washington Times reports that the Department has discovered several incidents of botched abortions. It notes that the organization Coalition for Life has counted 74 ambulance calls since 2009, which Operation Rescue found was mostly for hemorrhaging.

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“There are a number of serious health concerns that still exist at the Planned Parenthood St. Louis facility,” Parson stated. He noted that during a March inspection, “numerous violations of state laws and regulations” were found, including in regard to informed consent and pelvic examinations.

Three mothers who went for an abortion allegedly returned to report that they were still with child, and another woman had to be transported to the hospital for surgery.

Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region will lose its license as of the end of the day Friday if all seven “doctors” are not interviewed and the deficiencies are not addressed and corrected in full. The Department reportedly outlined in its letter, “[T]he investigation needs to be completed and any deficiencies resolved before the expiration of [the clinic’s] license on May 31, 2019.”

Therefore, Planned Parenthood has filed suit and is asking the court to issue an injunction so that it can continue offering abortions. It claims that it is the target of a political attack.

“DHSS … is attempting to shut down [Planned Parenthood] by unlawfully conditioning a decision on its routine license renewal application on completion of a supposed ‘investigation’ of a patient complaint,” the lawsuit states.

“Missouri Governor Parson’s inspections process has become just another vehicle to intimidate doctors like me and to push abortion care out of reach for patients. None of this has one bit to do with patient health or safety, but rather, banning abortion,” also claimed OB/GYN Colleen McNicholas, who works for the affiliate.

However, the Missouri Department of Health said in a news release that it has a “statutorily required duty to regulate facilities to help keep people safe and assure compliance with the law.” It outlined that the refusal of some to be interviewed “obstructs the State’s ability to verify that this facility is in compliance with all requirements of applicable statutes and regulations, which Missouri law requires DHSS to do before renewing a license.”

“The unprecedented refusal by Planned Parenthood to fully cooperate as they have in the past heightens our regulators’ concerns about what their investigation has revealed to date,” remarked Director Dr. Randall Williams.

Read the statement in full here.

“No judge should be [giving] special treatment to Planned Parenthood in this instance,” also opined Gov. Parsons. “If you break the law, there are consequences.”

According to its annual report, the St. Louis entity performed 4,782 abortions in the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

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