Missouri Judge Stops State’s Bid to Shut Down Planned Parenthood, Won’t Become First Abortion-Free State

State   Steven Ertelt   May 31, 2019   |   2:40PM    Jefferson City, MO

The last abortion clinic in the state of Missouri will not shut down this week even though the Planned Parenthood abortion facility has injured 74 women in botched abortions, failed health inspections and run afoul of state health and safety laws.

Currently the only abortion facility doing abortions on unborn babies in the state of Missouri is located in St Louis and run by the Planned Parenthood abortion business. Planned Parenthood officials said Tuesday that the abortion center may have to close down because the state Health Department may refuse to issue a new license for the abortion business.

But a state judge ruled against the Missouri health department, issuing a temporary retaining order and indicating he will take up the case next week.

Judge Michael Stelzer’s ruling keeps the abortion center’s license in effect until he rules on Planned Parenthood’s request for a preliminary injunction that would bar the state Department of Health and Senior Services from denying a renewed license to Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region.

A St. Louis judge has granted a temporary restraining order blocking the state from shutting down the last abortion clinic in Missouri.

St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Michael Stelzer ruled Friday afternoon that the state cannot revoke the license of the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis at midnight as originally planned.

He said will hear further arguments in the matter next week.

The crux of the litigation is a March inspection of the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

The current license for the abortion center expires on Friday and the abortion clinic has consistently injured women in botched abortions. In fact more than 70 women have been rushed to local hospitals after failed abortions at the Planned Parenthood Center.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson had said the abortion business should be closed. Parson outlined a number of serious concerns during the press conference, including reports of three failed abortions done by the Planned Parenthood facility.

‘These failed abortions also include the patients returning to Planned Parenthood after realizing they were still pregnant,’ Parson said. ‘In another case a patient was rushed to a hospital in an ambulance.’

‘The issues that we are talking about are centered around two key issues: Planned Parenthood not following the law and Planned Parenthood not protecting women’s health,’ Parson said.

‘Regardless if you support abortion or not Planned Parenthood should be able to meet the basic levels of safety,’ he added.

In a statement, Planned Parenthood said Missouri’s health department is “refusing to renew” its annual license to provide abortion in the state. If the license is not renewed by May 31, Missouri would become the first state without a functioning abortion clinic since 1973 when Roe v. Wade was decided.

A Columbia, Missouri Planned Parenthood facility already lost its state license.

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

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.

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.