Judge weighs Missouri Planned Parenthood’s fate
by Rachel Lynn Aldrich
Posted 6/06/19, 11:12 am
A St. Louis judge is considering whether to allow the last abortion facility in Missouri to remain open after a one-hour hearing on the matter Wednesday. The state health department declined to renew the Planned Parenthood facility’s license last week, saying inspections in March uncovered deficiencies, including “at least one incident in which patient safety was compromised.” Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer ruled on Friday that the facility could keep operating until he made a decision on Planned Parenthood’s request for a preliminary court order to keep it open. He did not indicate after the hearing when he would release his ruling.
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams said that reviews of the facility’s records raised concerns about patient care.
“We can never sacrifice safety for access,” Williams said. “We have to have both.”
In the hearing, Planned Parenthood’s attorney, Jamie Boyer, argued that the health department regulations on abortion providers exceeded the department’s authority. John Sauer of the Missouri attorney general’s office said that Planned Parenthood’s appeal should have occurred in an administrative hearing, not a court.
The health department also cited “failed surgical abortions in which women remained pregnant.” The abortion providers claim the allegations are a bid to eliminate abortion in the state. Some medical providers who worked for short stints at the facility had refused to cooperate with the state investigation, which also affected the decision to not renew the license. Stelzer said Wednesday that four of them, who trained briefly at Planned Parenthood in recent years, did not have to testify.
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