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ST. LOUIS, Missouri, May 31, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – A judge gave a scandal-plagued abortion facility in St. Louis a temporary reprieve Friday, less than 12 hours before it would have had to surrender its abortion license to Missouri health officials. Had Planned Parenthood had to do that, Missouri would have been without an open abortion center.
Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region has been fighting the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services over its annual license renewal, arguing the state is trying to “intimidate” abortionists by making renewal contingent on interviewing them about patient complaints.
The abortion giant filed a lawsuit in St. Louis Circuit Court seeking a restraining order to preserve its license, without which it would have had to stop committing abortions once its current license expired at midnight. During hour-long oral arguments Thursday, health officials expressed concerns about “at least one incident in which patient safety was gravely compromised” and “failed surgical abortions in which women remained pregnant,” as well as an alleged violation of informed-consent requirements.
The facility’s two staff physicians already submitted to interviews, but health officials still want to interview five contract physicians regarding seven of the incidents flagged by inspectors. Planned Parenthood attorney Jamie Boyer claims the abortionists refuse to speak with them on the grounds that their answers “could lead to criminal charges due to Missouri's restrictive abortion laws,” in the AP’s words.
On Friday, Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer granted the facility a temporary restraining order allowing it to keep committing abortions, NBC News reports.
A temporary restraining order “does not purpose to pass upon the merits of a controversy or dispose of any issue,” Stelzer stressed. But Planned Parenthood “has demonstrated that immediate and irreparable injury will result if petitioner's license is allowed to expire.”
During a Wednesday press conference, Republican Gov. Mike Parson had said it “would be reckless for any judge to grant a temporary restraining order ruling before the state has taken action on a license renewal.”
“It was a patient complaint that actually prompted the investigation into the clinic, and they found multiple violations,” Susan B. Anthony List vice president for communications Mallory Quigley told PBS Thursday in support of pulling the license. “A woman who went in for an abortion actually remained pregnant. There's talk of botched abortions, failure to do proper informed consent.”
“Actually, an ambulance has been called to this particular facility in St. Louis more than 70 times since 2009,” she continued, adding that “we know what happens when public health officials don't inspect abortion facilities. It happened in Pennsylvania for 17 years,” invoking the case of the notorious Kermit Gosnell.
“The predatory abortion industry had the gall to argue in court that laws protecting women should not apply to them and that ‘access’ to abortion was somehow more important than what happens to women who are exposed to that ‘access,’” reacted Kristan Hawkins, President of Students for Life of America.
CNN reports that the case is slated to be taken up again on June 4. If the St. Louis facility is ultimately forced to stop committing abortions, the AP reports that next closest abortion facilities will be in Granite City, Illinois (ten miles from St. Louis) or Kansas City (260 miles from St. Louis).