Vitals Reporting on the pro-life movement

The unofficial abortion-free state

Life | Missouri’s last abortion facility earns a Pyrrhic victory as women largely choose to go elsewhere
by Leah Hickman
Posted 6/08/20, 04:47 pm

The last abortion center in Missouri won a lengthy courtroom brawl to keep its license even though only a handful of women ended their pregnancies at the facility in the last year. On May 30, the day after the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission ruled in Planned Parenthood’s favor, Mary Maschmeier with Defenders of the Unborn counted only three cars in the St. Louis facility’s parking lot. She said one of the people at the building was a worker and another was a security guard.

“Business is pretty much nonexistent at this time,” Maschmeier said.

State inspections of the facility in the spring of 2019 found a few instances of failed abortions, so the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services refused to renew its license. Planned Parenthood sued, and the Administrative Hearing Commission ordered the health department to extend the facility’s license into 2021. But in the meantime, the business of abortion mostly migrated out of Missouri. And local pro-life advocates don’t expect it to return anytime soon.

In Illinois—where Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, signed a law in 2019 stripping unborn babies of almost all protections—the demand for abortions is booming. Live Action News reported in March that Planned Parenthood workers in St. Louis were referring women seeking abortions to a huge new facility in Fairview Heights, Ill., just across the Mississippi River. In nearby Granite City, Ill., an ironically named abortion center, the Hope Clinic, saw 18 clients the same morning that Maschmeier saw only three cars in the St. Louis Planned Parenthood lot, according to other pro-life advocates she works with. That’s a low number compared to the days before the coronavirus pandemic, when up to 30 women could be in the facility at one time.

But Bridget VanMeans, the head of the pregnancy resource center Thrive St. Louis, said the Illinois facilities were not necessarily taking women who would have otherwise gone to the St. Louis Planned Parenthood. She said the number of abortions in Missouri had already dropped for several years before the Fairview Heights center opened and long before courts got involved with the St Louis facility’s licensure. Planned Parenthood’s “problems are bigger than court problems,” VanMeans said. “They have a problem with their reputation in our city.”

Until the past few years, cars packed the parking lot at the St. Louis Planned Parenthood on an average Saturday. Pro-life advocates praying at the building used to call VanMeans in discouragement at the number of women going into the building for abortions. They also tracked EMT visits to the facility. In a decade, they saw 80 ambulances come and go. Those frequent emergencies and the facility’s resistance to the state’s inspections made Planned Parenthood look bad, said VanMeans, adding, “Women are not stupid. Why would you want a doctor who doesn’t want to be safe?”

VanMeans doesn’t expect the Administrative Hearing Commission’s decision to change much for the St. Louis Planned Parenthood location. She has seen women describe the facility as dreary and call its staff impolite and unhappy. Meanwhile, Thrive established itself as what VanMeans called the “Starbucks of pregnancy centers,” with free services, beautiful buildings, friendly staff, and attractive marketing. She said women will continue to choose Thrive over a Planned Parenthood that sends women away in ambulances: “[Their] model has been upended and the wheels have come off [their] brand here in St. Louis.”

Associated Press/Photo by Phil Walter (file) Associated Press/Photo by Phil Walter (file) Mifepristone

Life-saving knowledge

The Tennessee House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday to require abortion facilities to tell women about abortion pill reversal. On the books in six states, the law requires abortionists to tell women who get drug-induced abortions that doctors can potentially save the pregnancy after they take the first pill in the regimen but before they take the second. The first pill, mifepristone, prevents the hormone progesterone from giving the baby the nutrients it needs to live. The second pill, misoprostol, induces labor.

The abortion pill reversal process involves taking progesterone as a pill or injection during the first trimester of pregnancy. Heartbeat International’s Abortion Pill Reversal Network said the process has a 64 to 68 percent success rate. The treatment does not guarantee the baby will live, but Heartbeat said it increases the chances of allowing a pregnancy to continue. Last year, the abortion pill reversal hotline averaged about 50 calls a month. During the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March and April, the average number of calls in the United States doubled. —L.H.

Associated Press/Photo by Peter Morrison (file) Associated Press/Photo by Peter Morrison (file) Pro-life protesters in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland tells U.K. to keep its abortion laws

The Northern Ireland Assembly voted on Tuesday to oppose new abortion regulations out of London that would take away all protections for babies with disabilities. Abortion became legal last year in the region when the United Kingdom imposed the law while political deadlock paralyzed Northern Ireland’s government. The changes allow abortion on demand up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. They also stipulate that a woman can terminate a pregnancy until 24 weeks of gestation for physical or mental health reasons or up to birth if the baby has a disability.

Tuesday’s motion from the Democratic Unionist Party garnered a vote of 46-40, communicating to the U.K. government that Northern Ireland does not support laws that endanger the unborn. The motion has no legal effect, but the DUP said it wants to scrap U.K.-imposed abortion laws so the region can write its own. Paul Givan, a DUP member of the Assembly, said lawmakers rejected the changes because they “discriminate against the unborn especially those with disabilities,” adding, “The regulations imposed by Westminster have led to Northern Ireland having the most liberal abortion regime in Europe. This approach … facilitated the ending of so many precious lives.” —L.H.

Pro-abortion ruling

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s ruling on Tuesday that declared a Kentucky law protecting babies from dismemberment abortion unconstitutional. Dilation and evacuation abortion, also known as dismemberment abortion, is a common method used by abortionists in the second trimester to crush a baby’s body parts or remove the baby in pieces. The 6th Circuit said the 2018 law “unduly burdens” a woman’s right to abortion. —L.H.

Leah Hickman

Leah is a WORLD Magazine reporter.

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    Posted: Mon, 06/08/2020 08:00 pm

    How do women justify dismemberment of a baby? It blows my mind. 

    At least pull the baby out whole and put it down like a sick pet. That would at least be more humanitarian.

    We have a lot of protections for unwanted animals, but almost none for unwanted babies.