Missouri Denies License to Planned Parenthood Found Violating Health Standards

ST LOUIS, MO - JUNE 04: A group of demonstrators gather during a pro-life rally outside the Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Center on June 4, 2019 in St Louis, Missouri. The fate of Missouri's lone abortion clinic could be decided today in St. Louis Circuit Court after a restraining order …
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Missouri denied a license to a St. Louis Planned Parenthood abortion clinic found to be in violation of state health and safety standards, but the clinic will remain open under a judge’s preliminary injunction.

St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Michael Stelzer held a status conference on Friday after he ordered the state of Missouri to determine whether it would grant or deny Reproductive Health Services (RHS) Planned Parenthood’s license after the facility was found in violation of multiple health and safety standards.

At the conference, the state announced the license would be denied, but Stelzer has ordered the preliminary injunction blocking the state’s action to remain in place, thereby allowing the abortion clinic to remain in operation.

RHS Planned Parenthood is the state’s only abortion clinic.

Abortion business watchdog organization Operation Rescue received a copy of a letter sent by Kawanna Shannon, director of surgical services at the Planned Parenthood facility, to William Koebel, administrator of health standards and licensure at Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHHS), in which Shannon complained that the requirement of a pelvic exam prior to drug-induced abortions was “medically unnecessary” and “invasive.”

Shannon wrote the requirement has “forced our doctors to make an impossible choice between their ethical responsibilities to do no harm and keeping medication abortion accessible.”

However, Shannon also wrote complaining about a state requirement for “two pelvic exams” prior to abortion, which Operation Rescue noted is false:

RHS Planned Parenthood continues to intentionally misrepresent the law as requiring two pelvic exams prior to abortions even though the DHSS issued a statement yesterday to clarify that only one pelvic exam is required by law. This also continues to be misreported by nearly every news agency that has covered this story.

Fox News reported RHS Planned Parenthood said, “it plans to defy a state regulation that says it must perform two pelvic exams for women seeking an abortion – one at least 72 hours before the procedure.”

“Patients have confirmed for us what we already knew — that the additional medically unnecessary forced pelvic exam newly interpreted by the state is deeply traumatizing and inhumane,” Dr. Colleen McNicholas, an OBGYN for RHS Planned Parenthood, said in a statement to Fox. “Let’s be clear — we have always complied with the regulation, but we as doctors reject this new interpretation because it defies patient-centered care.”

Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, however, said RHS Planned Parenthood is engaging in “a brazen example of projection.”

“RHS Planned Parenthood attacked the DHSS for not following the law and acting unethically, even though it is Planned Parenthood that has behaved in this manner,” he said. “For Planned Parenthood, this has become a game of how far they can spin reports of their own wrongdoing to make people falsely believe the DHSS is the problem. It’s deceptive and despicable because it is playing fast and loose not only with the truth, but with women’s lives.”

In a statement responding to what it called “misinformation in media” related to abortion clinics in Missouri, DHHS said it requires a pelvic exam “72 hours prior to the procedure” in order to “detect factors that could influence the choice of the procedure.”

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said in a statement Friday afternoon that “regardless of the number of Planned Parenthood facilities in Missouri, every step should be taken to ensure the protection, safety, and well-being of women’s healthcare.”

The governor continued:

Planned Parenthood is losing its license because it failed to meet basic standards of care, placed multiple patients in life threatening situations, performed multiple failed abortions where patients remained pregnant, and intentionally impeded the state’s health investigation by not allowing health inspectors to talk to the abortion doctors. If you don’t comply with the law, there will be consequences. If you don’t provide a standard of care that ensures the safety of women, you shouldn’t be allowed to operate. It’s that simple.

However, if Planned Parenthood can show it is abiding by the laws and regulation here in the State of Missouri, it has every right, under the law, to have its license renewed and continue to provide patient services.

Judge Stelzer previously granted Planned Parenthood’s request to seal Missouri DHSS’s “statement of deficiencies,” which Operation Rescue received (Exhibit A) prior to the court’s order.

The list included the absence of a pelvic examination in 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 without report of complications, failure to give informed consent to patients, and the absence of standard level of care leading to a patient’s hospitalization and status as “critically ill” due to the loss of “over two liters of blood” and the need for a “uterine artery embolization.”

Responding to the continued operation of the St. Louis Planned Parenthood facility despite the state’s list of health and safety deficiencies, Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins said Planned Parenthood seems unconcerned about patient safety.

“Planned Parenthood has arrogantly refused to put patient safety first,” she said. “They don’t seem to care what happens to women, as long as a baby’s life ends. Access to abortion should never trump women’s safety.”

“Real medical centers take seriously the sacred pledge to ‘do no harm’ to patients, but it’s a travesty of justice that not only does Planned Parenthood care nothing about preborn babies, they don’t really care about women either,” Hawkins added.

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