Concerns about patient safety are at the heart of Missouri’s decision to revoke the license of the St. Louis Planned Parenthood, health officials said Tuesday during a hearing about the licensing dispute.
The hearing before Commissioner Sreenivasa Rao Dandamudi of the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission began Monday with testimony from state health officials about how Planned Parenthood put women’s lives at risk and subjected one woman to five procedures to complete her abortion.
The court battle has drawn national attention because the Planned Parenthood is the only abortion facility left in the state. Earlier this year, state health inspectors found a long list of health and safety violations at the facility, and the state moved to revoke its license. Planned Parenthood sued, and a judge temporarily blocked the state from taking action. The hearing will determine whether the state may revoke the license.
Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Service, said Planned Parenthood is trying to vilify his agency for doing its job, Courthouse News reports. He said their decision to revoke the abortion facility’s license was based on serious concerns about patient safety.
Planned Parenthood claims the licensing dispute is politically motivated by pro-life politicians who just want to shut it down.
“While there’s been a false narrative that this has been a top-down initiative, it all starts with Patient 1,” Williams testified.
St. Louis Public Radio reports Missouri Solicitor General John Sauer also emphasized patient safety as the cause of the state Department of Health and Human Services’ actions.
“Patient safety is the lodestar, the touchstone of the entire regulatory process,” Sauer said Monday. “It’s not punitive; we don’t impose sanctions as a punishment.”
Here’s more from Courthouse News:
Williams discussed his agency’s findings of violations of the so-called “same physician” statute regarding Patient 1, who had two failed abortions before a successful one on the third attempt.
“We think every patient deserves the right to have a physician and not be on an assembly line,” Williams said. “In this case, Patient 1 had three different physicians trying to do an abortion.”
The health chief criticized the clinic’s record-keeping, claiming documents sometimes did not include even the doctors who were present for abortion procedures. He said he only found out that a certain physician was involved in one of the failed attempts through a deposition a couple of weeks ago and not through records obtained directly from the Planned Parenthood earlier this year.
… Williams criticized the quality of care the patients got, including the alleged failure to find a twin on an ultrasound at 10 weeks and the failure to properly care for Patient 12’s high-risk factors that caused her to suffer life-threatening blood loss.
When one of Planned Parenthood’s attorneys accused the department of “cherry picking” patient records, Williams said it is natural for inspectors to look for other failed abortions if they identify one.
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He described the findings as “very concerning” and “grave”; but he said they are fixable, and Planned Parenthood could receive a new license if it makes changes to better protect patients, the AP reports.
The hearing is expected to continue through the end of the week, but Dandamudi is not expected to make a decision until February.
On Monday, Sauer described some of the most alarming findings, including multiple failed abortions. He said one woman had to go back approximately five times for procedures to complete the abortion, and another woman had to have a second abortion because the abortionist did not realize she was pregnant with twins.
Lawyers for Planned Parenthood, however, contended that the safety concerns are overblown, and state pro-life political leaders just want to shut them down.
Planned Parenthood attorney Chuck Hatfield said the state should not have moved to revoke the abortion facility’s license, and the abortion facility has addressed the safety problems.
According to NBC, problems found during the March inspection included “at least one incident in which patient safety was gravely compromised,” “failed surgical abortions in which women remained pregnant” and failure to obtain “informed consent.”
Pro-life advocates have documented at least 72 occasions when ambulances were called to the abortion facility for women with abortion complications. Williams said previously they found 30 deficiencies at the abortion facility, and Planned Parenthood only provided a plan to correct four, ABC News reports.
Missouri could become the first abortion-free state if the St. Louis facility closes. However, Planned Parenthood recently opened a huge new abortion facility just across the border from Missouri in Illinois, after building it in secret for a year.
LifeNews has extensively chronicled the litany of health problems at the St. Louis Planned Parenthood: