Planned Parenthood sues to keep abortion access available in Missouri

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ST. LOUIS – Missouri Governor Mike Parson blasted Planned Parenthood St. Louis on Wednesday.

The clinic may lose its license to perform abortions by Friday, making Missouri the only state in America without a single abortion clinic, according to Planned Parenthood.

The deadline for the state to renew this clinic’s yearly license to perform abortions is Friday, May 31. Based on the governor’s words, that license is clearly in jeopardy.

Attorneys for Planned Parenthood were in St. Louis Circuit Court for their suit against the governor and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). Planned Parenthood is asking a judge to intervene by way of injunction, thus saving its license.

A hearing on the issue was continued until Thursday morning.

Parson signed one of the nation’s strictest abortion laws just last week, even after boisterous pro-choice protests at the state capitol.

That came as DHSS inspectors were already investigating an unspecified complaint against Planned Parenthood St. Louis’s abortion practices.

The governor got into specifics, Wednesday, saying abortion doctors had failed to comply with “informed consent laws” and invasive “pelvic exam” requirements. He also cited three failed abortions and one troubled procedure requiring the patient to be rushed to a hospital.

Planned Parenthood could still its license renewed by Friday, Parson said, provided five abortion doctors no longer with the clinic agree to interviews with state inspectors. They have so far refused.

Two doctors still with the clinic have consented to the interviews.

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D-Springfield) released the following statement Wednesday in support of Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit:

This week, Missouri is poised to become the first and only state in the country without access to healthcare that provides safe and legal abortion services. Governor Parson is showing that he sees Missouri women as little more than fetal incubators with his continued and coordinated attacks on women’s healthcare services.

In addition to signing medieval healthcare legislation, the Parson Administration is now denying Planned Parenthood’s licensure renewal after months of keeping it in flux. Unless it is renewed by the 31st, Missouri women will lose their only way to access a safe and legal abortion. That this license is being denied after years of Planned Parenthood passing inspections in response to frivolous “infractions” which have no bearing upon the medical procedure, is telling.

“I received quality healthcare from Planned Parenthood and I trust Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood helped my husband and I plan our family. What Governor Parson and his administration are doing is a political move that will ultimately hurt Missourians,” said House Minority Leader Crystal Quade. “This rapid move to deny comprehensive healthcare and be the first state in the nation without access to abortion services is shameful and frightening.”

The bogus and pervasive attacks on Planned Parenthood show a reckless disregard on the part of Governor Parson and the Missouri GOP for the rule of law and constitutionally protected individual privacy. This move will do nothing more than deny Missourian’s safe reproductive care, erode patient safety and eliminate quality of care.

“Unless the courts intervene, Missouri reproductive services will go dark. I support Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against this cruel, deceitful, and methodical erasure of basic healthcare and privacy rights,” said Quade.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services released a statement claiming Planned Parenthood had refused to cooperate with an investigation over safety concerns at the clinic:

Planned Parenthood has filed suit against the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) while its application for renewal is still under review.

DHSS received Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region’s application for renewal on Thursday, May 16, 2019, which was the last day that it would be accepted by DHSS. The St. Louis, Missouri, facility’s license, which is renewed annually, is set to expire on May 31, 2019. Last year, the organization submitted its renewal application on April 27, 2018, with a May 31 renewal date.

Planned Parenthood’s statutorily required inspection occurred March 11-13, 2019, and an investigation has been ongoing since. Planned Parenthood was notified in early April that due to ongoing concerns about potential deficient practices, interviews would need to be done with the physicians providing that care. These concerns are not limited to, but include: 1) violations of Missouri law; 2) violations of applicable Missouri regulations; 3) standard care for patient safety as evidenced by, but not limited to, at least one incident in which patient safety was gravely compromised; 4) failed surgical abortions in which patients remained pregnant; 5) concerns about quality control and communication with a contracted pathology lab; and 6) failure to obtain informed consent.

The continued refusal of several physicians to cooperate in interviews regarding DHSS’s ongoing complaint investigation obstructs the State’s ability to verify that this facility is in compliance with all requirements of applicable statutes and regulations, which Missouri law requires DHSS to do before renewing a license.

Only on May 22 did Planned Parenthood change their previous position and agree to comply with Missouri regulations which require pelvic exams at the screening prior to abortions so that information learned from the pelvic exams could increase the safety of the procedure.

On May 28, only after filing their lawsuit did Planned Parenthood again change another previous position to comply with Missouri law that the same physician who does the preoperative counseling will also perform the abortion.

As of May 29, Planned Parenthood has still not agreed to full compliance.

“DHSS will continue to act in good faith to do our statutorily required duty to regulate facilities to help keep people safe and assure compliance with the law,” said Dr. Randall Williams, director of DHSS. “The unprecedented refusal by Planned Parenthood to fully cooperate as they have in the past heightens our regulators’ concerns about what their investigation has revealed to date.”

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