Judge Rules Missouri Planned Parenthood Clinic Can’t Kill Babies in Abortions

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Feb 25, 2019   |   2:25PM   |   Columbia, Missouri

A Missouri Planned Parenthood may not resume doing abortions after a judge ruled against it Friday.

The facility in Columbia stopped doing abortions in October after it failed to comply with a state health regulation. Planned Parenthood appealed, but on Friday, U.S. District Judge Brian Wimes denied its request for a preliminary injunction, the Columbia Tribune reports.

The state requires that abortionists have hospital admitting privileges for patient emergencies and that abortion facilities meet the same basic health and safety standards as other ambulatory surgical centers. Planned Parenthood challenged the law, but Missouri won a victory when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit overturned an earlier ruling that blocked the state from enforcing the law.

Since then, the Columbia facility has had to stop doing abortions. In its appeal, it argued to Wimes that the admitting privileges law is an “undue burden” on women’s access to abortion, the AP reports.

Wimes disagreed. He said Planned Parenthood did not provide evidence of substantial burdens or show any attempts to comply with the hospital admitting privileges law, the Columbia Missourian reports.

“[T]he record does not provide a basis in evidence to approximate the number of women who will forego or postpone surgical abortion incidental to the inoperability of the Columbia Facility,” the judge wrote.

He also said increased drive times to abortion facilities are not a substantial enough burden to merit a preliminary injunction.

The abortion facility and the state have been fighting in court since 2015.

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Here’s more from the Tribune:

Abortion services were interrupted again on Oct. 1 when the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Sachs’ ruling in an order finding that perhaps “there was a unique problem Missouri was responding to under its inherent police power … and the hospital relationship requirement may be appropriate given Missouri’s legitimate interest in seeing to it that abortion, like any other medical procedure, is performed under circumstances that insure maximum safety for the patient.”

Missouri currently has one abortion facility, a Planned Parenthood in St. Louis. It has been described as “the most dangerous abortion facility in the U.S.”

Samuel H. Lee of Campaign Life Missouri previously said the courts’ decisions will protect women and babies in the state. He thanked the state officials who have been working to enforce basic health and safety regulations.

“Because of the conscientious efforts of [then] Attorney General Josh Hawley [now a U.S. Senator] and Dr. Randall W. Williams, the director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, women in Missouri will no longer risk receiving substandard care from abortion facilities that fail to undertake even the most basic health and safety safeguards,” Lee said.

Williams, an experienced ob-gyn and director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, explained the importance of the health regulations to the court in 2018:

After surgical abortions, some complications will be immediate and will require emergency transfer to a hospital from the abortion facility for emergency care. Some complications, both immediate and delayed, will be life-threatening and require hospitalization and/or surgical procedures in a time-sensitive manner. Patient safety is most at risk at the time of complications. Having a physician who can follow the patient from the abortion facility to a nearby hospital where the physician has privileges and can provide the life-saving treatment commonly associated with the usual major complications or timely treatment of other complications is part of the responsibility a physician undertakes when he or she agrees to provide that patient’s elective care. …

When the physician performing the abortion has privileges at a nearby hospital, this provides continuity of care from that physician to whom the patient has entrusted her care, with whom she has an ongoing relationship, and who knows her best. The physician can accompany her to the hospital and be there for her with his or her expertise to immediately treat her complication.

In September, Missouri won a victory when the Eighth Circuit overturned a 2017 ruling that blocked the state from enforcing the law.

A Planned Parenthood facility in Kansas City, Missouri also lost its abortion clinic license last summer after struggling for months to find a new abortionist. Without one, the abortion facility was not able to complete its annual state inspection, a requirement for licensure.

Planned Parenthood also had plans to open abortion facilities in Joplin and Springfield, but it has not been able to meet licensing requirements at those locations either.