A St. Louis judge allowed a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic to temporarily remain open despite allegations of health and safety violations by Gov. Mike Parson (R) and Missouri health officials.
The ruling on Friday by circuit court Judge Michael F. Stelzer allows the St. Louis Planned Parenthood facility to remain open until Tuesday morning, when a preliminary injunction will be considered during a hearing, reported NBC News.
Stelzer said his temporary order “does not purpose to pass upon the merits of a controversy or dispose of any issue.”
“Petitioner has demonstrated that immediate and irreparable injury will result if petitioner’s license is allowed to expire,” the judge wrote, nevertheless. “The Court finds that a temporary restraining order is necessary to preserve the status quo and prevent irreparable injury to Petitioner pending disposition of the case on its merits.”
The St. Louis Planned Parenthood facility has been called “the most dangerous abortion clinic in America,” due to repeated ambulance calls as documented by pro-life watchdog group Operation Rescue.
Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, said the ruling “essentially allows a dangerous abortion facility that is refusing to comply with minimum health and safety standards to remain open.”
“It has given Planned Parenthood preferential treatment and placed them above the law,” he added. “We have already documented 74 ambulances at this Planned Parenthood. Judge Stelzer is making it possible for more women to suffer needlessly from substandard practices that the clinic has yet to correct.”
In a press conference Wednesday, Parson explained the Planned Parenthood abortion facility had failed to comply with both health and regulatory requirements.
Parson noted “two key issues” during the press conference: “Planned Parenthood not following the law, and Planned Parenthood not protecting women’s health.”
The governor said the abortion facility has known for a year that its annual license was due to expire on Friday, May 31, and that the state health department’s annual inspection of the clinic found “numerous violations of state laws and regulations.”
When asked about the violations and deficiencies reportedly found at the St. Louis facility, Dr. Leana Wen, Planned Parenthood president, told PBS NewsHour, “It’s simply not true.”
Wen, who fundraised off the threat of closure to the Missouri clinic, referred to state laws, such as those that mandate pre-abortion pelvic examinations and that require abortion clinics to have the same health and safety standards as other outpatient facilities, as “restrictions” that are “burdensome” and “just impede medical care, and have no basis in medicine.”
Wen celebrated the judge’s ruling on Twitter:
This is a victory for women across Missouri, but this fight is far from over. We have seen just how vulnerable access to abortion care is in Missouri—and in the rest of the country.
We'll keep fighting these attempts to end access to healthcare—no matter what. https://t.co/c43INnUE2H
— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) May 31, 2019
BREAKING: PLANNED PARENTHOOD WON – for now. Judge issues temporary restraining order blocking the state from ending abortion care in Missouri.#StopTheBans #EmergencyResponse pic.twitter.com/2qc9GZ2pqi
— Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri (@PPMO_Advocates) May 31, 2019
According to Parson, Planned Parenthood St. Louis submitted its license renewal application on May 16, the very last deadline for submission and one of which it was aware.
The governor said five of the seven abortionists who work at the clinic refused to cooperate with interviews with health department regulators.
“There are a number of serious health concerns that still exist at the Planned Parenthood St. Louis facility,” Parson said. “We should all agree that, regardless of the number of abortion facilities, every step should be taken to ensure that all laws are followed for the safety and well-being of women’s health care.”
Though Parson did not comment specifically on the current deficiencies at the St. Louis facility due to a pending investigation by the Missouri health department, he said Planned Parenthood has admitted that, on numerous occasions, its abortionists have violated state laws regarding informed consent of patients and pre-abortion pelvic examinations.
The governor also said there is “significant medical evidence” showing the St. Louis Planned Parenthood conducted at least three failed surgical abortions.
“All of these examples are unacceptable,” Parson said. “Planned Parenthood’s apparent disregard for the law, their failure to complete complication records, and the accuracy of medical records are all serious concerns that need to be addressed prior to any license renewal.”
CheckMyClinic.org, a website created by pro-life leader Abby Johnson, lists some of the multiple health violations for which the clinic has been cited in recent years, including expired medications, use of single-dose injectable medications for more than one patient, no background checks on clinic employees, improper storage of medication, failure of staff to wear protective equipment to avoid contamination by blood-borne pathogens, and failure to properly sterilize instruments.
Parson described the reported unwillingness of Planned Parenthood to comply with the health and safety regulations as “unprecedented.”
“The disconnect between Planned Parenthood’s belief that providing abortions at all costs, even if that means ignoring health and safety measures, and the health of the patient is enormous,” said Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood manager who now heads pro-life group And Then There Were None.
“Access is useless if Planned Parenthood facilities like the one in St. Louis are ignoring basic health regulations like failing to properly sterilize equipment used from woman to woman or using expired medications or using dirty storage facilities,” she added. “Planned Parenthood in St. Louis is in danger of losing their license because of their own reluctance to address common sense regulations. Blaming their problem on access to abortion is intentionally turning away from the real issue.”
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said Planned Parenthood created an “artificial crisis” by refusing to comply with Missouri’s health and safety laws.
“Yet, the predatory abortion industry had the gall to argue in court that laws protecting women should not apply to them and that ‘access’ to abortion was somehow more important than what happens to women who are exposed to that ‘access,’” she added.
Dr. Ingrid Skop, chairman-elect of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), told Breitbart News the issue of the possible closing of the last remaining abortion clinic in Missouri points to the main concern — the “unwillingness of the St. Louis Planned Parenthood to meet the standard of care.”
“Why are abortion services not being provided by OB/GYNs outside of this clinic?” she asked.
“There must be thousands of OB/GYNs in the state, and every OB/GYN has the technical skills to perform an abortion,” Skop continued. “The answer is that abortion is not ‘women’s health care.’ It treats no disease. Pregnancy is a normal physiologic process.”
Skop added that while many OB/GYNs claim to be “pro-choice,” many really “don’t want to dirty their hands by destroying one of their patients.”
“Only one in ten OB/GYNs surveyed say they will perform an abortion when requested by their patients, but my guess is that we will see far fewer actually willing to do that in Missouri,” she said.