Missouri Commission Allows Controversial Planned Parenthood to Remain Open

A Planned Parenthood clinic is seen Tuesday, June 4, 2019, in St. Louis. On Monday, June 10, 2019, a judge in St. Louis issued another order allowing Missouri's only abortion clinic to continue operating. Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer granted Planned Parenthood's request for a preliminary injunction, which extends his temporary …
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

The Missouri Administrative Commission ruled Friday that Planned Parenthood in St. Louis may renew its license and remain the state’s only abortion clinic open for business.

The ruling comes after months of controversy and a face-off between the state’s Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and the abortion facility.

A hearing concluded in October as the state and some pro-life leaders accused Planned Parenthood and its leftwing media allies of a smear campaign against DHSS director Dr. Randall Williams, one accused him of tracking women’s periods to “control” them.

“Planned Parenthood has demonstrated that it provides safe and legal abortion care,” said Missouri Administrative Commissioner Sreenivasa Rao Dandamudi in the ruling. “In over 4,000 abortions provided since 2018, the department has only identified two causes to deny its license.”

Throughout the conflict, Planned Parenthood and its allies have maintained the narrative the abortion business is a victim of the state’s health department and that no state should be abortion-free.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund celebrated the ruling as a “victory for Missourians” because the state “has only one health center with a license to provide abortion.”

“Today’s decision is a hard-fought victory for Planned Parenthood patients — and for people across Missouri,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, the organization’s acting CEO. “This is how we fight for our patients: case by case, day by day, to ensure abortion remains safe and legal across the country.”

A list of deficiencies documented at the clinic and received by pro-life organization Operation Rescue, prior to Circuit Court Judge Michael Stelzer’s granting Planned Parenthood’s request to seal it, included the absence of a pelvic examination in a patient, which ultimately led to two failed abortion attempts; another patient’s failed abortion attempt that resulted in sepsis and hospitalization; and another botched abortion without report of complications.

In addition, the list noted a failure to give informed consent to patients and the absence of a standard level of care leading to a patient’s hospitalization and status as “critically ill” when she lost “over two liters of blood” and needed a “uterine artery embolization.”

As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted, DHSS’s investigation into the Planned Parenthood clinic found at least four instances of women having to undergo multiple abortion procedures to complete the termination of their pregnancies:

In one of the cases, the patient had to return for a second procedure because, Dandamudi wrote, it was likely she was pregnant with twins and only one had been aborted. Planned Parenthood officials said the other twin might have been missed because the patient was “morbidly obese.”

“Obesity can also cause difficulty in identifying multiple pregnancies,” Dandamudi wrote.

Michael New, assistant professor of social research and political science at the Catholic University of America, wrote at National Review, “Dandamudi’s decision should concern pro-lifers” because he dismissed the professional expertise of physicians who are pro-life and, therefore, do not perform abortions for a living. New wrote:

The state’s expert witness included Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, and Dr. Donna Harrison, executive director of the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG). Dandamudi acknowledged that both Williams and Harrison had provided “important testimony regarding gynecological care,” but he discounted their testimony because, unlike Planned Parenthood’s expert witnesses, they did not have extensive experience performing abortions.

Catherine Glenn Foster, president of Americans United for Life, said in a statement the St. Louis Planned Parenthood facility “is a threat to public health and safety, plain and simple”:

Missouri concluded that the St. Louis Planned Parenthood did not meet basic health and safety standards, yet as too often happens, judges have stepped in as de facto Planned Parenthood cheerleaders to keep a substandard abortion business open. What is the point of a democracy if state leaders elected by the people are prohibited from ensuring basic health and safety? We expect high standards for businesses that serve the public, but apparently no standards for abortion businesses. We’re stuck in a Twilight Zone of the judiciary’s making.

Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life also said the St. Louis Planned Parenthood “demonstrated consistently that they value profits above the health and safety of women.”

“Their numerous deficiencies, which Planned Parenthood refused to correct when given the opportunity, merited closure,” she added.

Similarly, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, highlighted the St. Louis facility’s “appalling pattern of botched abortions and other violations” that ultimately “prove they are incapable of policing themselves.”

“Planned Parenthood does not deserve special treatment and the health and safety of women and children, which the state health department is tasked with safeguarding, should never come second to the abortion industry’s bottom line,” she stated.

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