A hearing began on Monday in Missouri to determine the fate of the state’s last remaining abortion clinic.
“Planned Parenthood’s stubborn refusal to correct its gross deficiencies is the reason Missouri may soon be the first state since Roe v. Wade in 1973 to be free from abortion clinics,” Jeanne Mancini, president of the group March for Life, stated on Monday before the hearing.
Mancini said the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic “has left the state no choice but to deny renewal of its clinic license” because of its health violations and failure to comply with health requirements.
“Planned Parenthood should put the safety of women before its profits – the women of Missouri deserve as much,” Mancini stated.
The Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission held the hearing on Monday, months after the state’s Department of Health and Senior Services in June refused to renew the license of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region to perform abortions.
Jacinta Florence, the Missouri & Arkansas Regional Coordinator for Students for Life of America attended the hearing.
“What’s tragic is that Planned Parenthood is fighting to stay open but doesn’t want to comply with Missouri's laws designed to protect women’s lives at this dangerous location,” Florence said.
Before it refused to reissue a license for the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic, Missouri’s health department had submitted a “Statement of Deficiencies” of the clinic to a court.
In that statement, the department cited an “unprecedented lack of cooperation” on the part of the clinic, as well as its “failure to meet basic standards of patient care, and refusal to comply with state law and regulations protecting women’s health and safety that resulted in numerous serious and extensive unresolved deficiencies including multiple that involved life-threatening conditions for patients.”
Planned Parenthood reneged on its agreement to perform pelvic examinations as a “preoperative health requirement,” the state said, several doctors at the clinic refused requests to provide interviews with the health department, and the clinic would not have been prepared for a case of “severe hemorrhaging” of a woman that occurred at a hospital.
The clinic had submitted a “Plan of Correction” as requested by the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services, but it had not properly addressed all the stated deficiencies, the health department said.
Planned Parenthood responded by saying that the health department “weaponized a regulatory process” and required pelvic exams that it admitted were “medically unnecessary” amidst “public outcry and the medical community coming out strongly against” the required exams.
After the state’s refusal to grant a license, a judge and the Administration Hearing Commission both granted a temporary stay of the health department’s decision, allowing the clinic to remain open while the case was reviewed.
Missouri had also enacted a comprehensive abortion ban in 2019, with Governor Mike Parson (R) signing it into law in May. The legislation was supported by St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson.
Missouri’s law set up a multi-tier ban on abortions after eight weeks, 14 weeks, 18 weeks and 20 weeks, as well as bans on abortions conducted solely because of the baby’s race, sex, or Down Syndrome diagnosis.
The law was crafted to be able to survive in the courts, but a federal judge in August struck down all of the bans related the stage in pregnancy, leaving intact the disability, race and sex-selective abortion bans for the time being.
Meanwhile, as the fate of the St. Louis clinic is being determined, Planned Parenthood has opened a “mega” abortion clinic just 13 miles away across the Mississippi River in Fairview Heights, Illinois that will have the ability to see 11,000 patients annually.
The new clinic replaced a smaller Planned Parenthood clinic in Fairview Heights that offered medication abortions but not surgical abortions.
In a controversial move, the organization used a shell company under which the facility was purportedly being constructed, and tried to shield from public view the fact that the facility under construction was an abortion clinic.