- The Washington Times - Monday, June 10, 2019

A state judge ruled Monday that Missouri’s last abortion clinic will remain open while a battle over its application renewal unfolds, despite what the governor described as “numerous violations of state laws and regulations.”

Circuit Court Judge Michael Stelzer granted the preliminary injunction sought by Planned Parenthood to keep open the facility, the Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, extending his May 29 emergency order.

The judge also ordered the state Department of Health and Senior Services to make a decision on the Planned Parenthood affiliate’s application to renew the clinic’s license by June 21.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Leana Wen cheered the judge’s ruling, saying it represents “a huge victory for patients in Missouri,” although “this fight is far from over.”

“Despite today’s victory, we’re still in a state of emergency for women’s health,” she said in a statement.

In his ruling, the judge emphasized that he was making no determination “whether Planned Parenthood’s application to renew its license should be approved or denied,” according to KMOV-TV in St. Louis.

Missouri Gov. Michael Parson, a Republican, said last month that Planned Parenthood had been “reluctant” to address violations raised by a March 11-13 state investigation into the clinic and waited until “the last minute” to submits its renewal application on May 16.

The pro-life group Operation Rescue, which called the clinic the “most dangerous abortion facility in the U.S.,” said ambulances have transported women from the center to local hospitals at least 74 times in the last 10 years.

“We are disappointed that this judge decided to prevent the DHSS from enforcing the laws and regulations of Missouri that were enacted to protect women from harm,” said Operation Rescue president Troy Newman.

He said the facility “should be shut down in order to protect the public from further serious harm that other women have already suffered.”

Mr. Parson said three women who underwent abortions returned to the clinic later after discovering they were still pregnant. The facility had also violated laws requiring the same doctor receiving the patient’s consent to perform the procedure, and for a pelvic exam to be conducted 72 hours beforehand.

“Planned Parenthood caused this artificial crisis when they ignored the law and refused to comply with the state of Missouri’s very reasonable requests,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “This will not end well, as already we’ve seen 80 emergency vehicles called to this location, though the 7 abortion doctors have yet to tell us what went wrong.”

Mr. Parson signed last month a bill banning most abortions after eight weeks’ gestation, which goes into effect Aug. 28. Like other laws restricting abortion access passed by red-state legislatures, the measure is likely to be stayed pending a court challenge.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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