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Hearings begin over license of last abortion center in Missouri

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ST. LOUIS, October 28, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Hearings began Monday over the abortion license of a scandal-plagued Planned Parenthood facility in a case that could decide the fate of the last abortion center in Missouri.

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 that the state is trying to “intimidate” abortionists by making renewal contingent on interviewing them about patient complaints. 

The abortion giant filed a lawsuit at St. Louis Circuit Court seeking a restraining order to preserve its license, without which it would have had to stop committing abortions after the license expired in June. Health officials want to interview five contract physicians regarding seven incidents flagged by inspectors, which Planned Parenthood opposes on the grounds that its answers could lead to criminal charges.

In May, Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer granted the facility a temporary restraining order, allowing it to keep committing abortions, and the next month he ruled that the center could stay open at least until June 21 – at which point he extended Planned Parenthood’s reprieve yet again for an unspecified period of time.

On Monday, Assistant Attorney General John Sauer described to Sreenivasa Rao Dandamudi of the state's Administrative Hearing Commission several instances of failed abortions at the facility, NBC News reported. One of the cases entailed subjecting one woman to five separate procedures to complete an abortion, ans another involved the abortionists failing to realize the woman seeking the abortion had twins.

“These concerns that have been raised are very serious,” Sauer said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Patient safety is the lodestar.”

Planned Parenthood claims it has already addressed its issues, with attorney Chuck Hatfield playing a video deposition of a health department official giving the facility a clean bill of health. “They cherry-picked certain medical records,” he claimed. “This was not a normal inspection. They were looking for very specific ones where something unusual happened.”

“There was no internal flag raised” about these problems, Sauer argued, a critique echoed by the testimony of American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists executive director Dr. Donna Harrison.

“The medical record is so confusing,” Harrison said, noting one case where doctors administered too little sedative and another where it was unclear if the patient had been fully informed of abortion’s risks. “It’s so inconsistent.”

“An ambulance has been called to this particular facility in Saint Louis more than 70 times since 2009,” Susan B. Anthony List’s Mallory Quigley has previously noted. All told, state health officials have given the Missouri Planned Parenthood facility 30 citations of medical malpractice, including complications in four surgical abortions.

This week’s hearing is slated to last five days, with a decision not expected to be reached until February. If the St. Louis facility is ultimately forced to stop committing abortions, the next closest abortion facilities will be in Granite City, Illinois (10 miles from St. Louis) or Kansas City, Kansas (260 miles from St. Louis).

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