Missouri Judge Grants Planned Parenthood’s Request to Seal Alleged Health Violations

Abortion-rights supporters stand on both sides of a street near the Gateway Arch as they take part in a protest in favor of reproductive rights Thursday, May 30, 2019, in St. Louis. A St. Louis judge heard an hour of arguments Thursday on Planned Parenthood's request for a temporary restraining …
Jeff Roberson/AP Photo

A St. Louis judge has granted Planned Parenthood’s request to seal a list of health violations alleged by the state of Missouri and has denied the state’s request that he reconsider his order requiring the health department to make a formal decision on whether to renew the facility’s license.

Circuit Court Judge Michael Stelzer granted the request by Reproductive Health Services (RHS) of Planned Parenthood to seal a “statement of deficiencies” filed by Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).

Abortion clinic watchdog group Operation Rescue received copies of the deficiency report (Exhibit A) on June 14, before the court sealed the document.

According to Exhibit A, the state’s list of deficiencies included: a failed pelvic examination of a patient, which ultimately led to two failed abortion attempts; a failed abortion attempt that resulted in the patient becoming septic and requiring hospitalization; another failed abortion though there was no report of complications; failure to give informed consent to patients; and standard practice not followed resulting in a patient’s hospitalization and status as “critically ill” due to the loss of “over two liters of blood” and need for “uterine artery embolization.”

“It is in the public’s interest to know who is harming women at the St. Louis Planned Parenthood and why this is being taken so seriously by the Missouri agency tasked with protecting the public,” said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue.

He added:

The fact that RHS Planned Parenthood is working so hard to keep its abortionists from talking and to keep incriminating information from the public proves that they are trying to cover up dangerous practices that could potentially shut them down and cost abortionists their medical licenses.

The Planned Parenthood clinic’s license expired on May 31.

Gov. Mike Parson (R) said five of the seven abortionists who work at the clinic refused to cooperate with interviews with health department regulators. However, Planned Parenthood said not all seven of the abortionists are regular employees of the clinic and refused to have all seven interviewed.

Abortion rights activists have largely ignored the issue of the alleged health violations, focusing solely on the fact that the Planned Parenthood facility is the state’s lone abortion clinic and its closure would mean the end of the procedure in the state.

Planned Parenthood spokesperson Jesse Lawder, for example, said the abortion vendor is “reviewing the state’s latest political attempt to shut down the last legal abortion provider in Missouri.”

Dr. Leana Wen, Planned Parenthood president, fundraised off the threat of closure to the Missouri clinic.

When asked about the violations and deficiencies reportedly discovered at the St. Louis facility, Wen told PBS NewsHour, “It’s simply not true.”

She 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.”

Stelzer also said the state has until June 21 to decide whether to renew the Planned Parenthood facility’s license. DHSS had argued, according to the Missouri Times, the license renewal issue would be considered by the tribunal known as the Administrative Hearing Commission.

Nevertheless, the judge ordered the state to make a formal decision on whether to renew the abortion clinic’s license.

In a separate legal action, another judge from the same court ruled Tuesday that Missouri’s attempt to prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving taxpayer-funded Medicaid payments is unconstitutional.

The case is Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region v. Michael L. Parson, in Missouri Circuit Court (City of St. Louis), No. 1922-CC02395.

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