- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Missouri Gov. Michael Parson said Wednesday that the state’s last abortion clinic should receive no “special treatment,” while insisting that Planned Parenthood could still avoid a shutdown by complying with the law before the Friday deadline. 

At a press conference, the Republican governor said Planned Parenthood has been “reluctant” to cooperate with state health officials as part of its application to renew the license on its St. Louis clinic, the only facility in Missouri that provides abortions.

The clinic’s license expires Friday. A court hearing is scheduled for Wednesday on Planned Parenthood’s request for an emergency order to keep the facility open, but Mr. Parson said granting such a request would be “reckless.”

“It would be reckless for any judge to grant a temporary restraining order ruling before the state has taken action on a license renewal,” Mr. Parson said. “No judge should give special treatment to Planned Parenthood in this instance.”

Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood for America, has accused state officials of targeting Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri based on their opposition to abortion. 

“People need to understand that this is not a drill. It’s not hypothetical,” Ms. Wen said in a Wednesday interview on “CBS This Morning.” “Missouri could become the first state in nearly 50 years to have no abortion care in the entire state.”

Ms. Wen said she hoped the court would see “exactly what’s happening, which is that over the last 10 years, Missouri has imposed regulation upon regulation that has no basis in medicine.”

“We’ve complied with all of them because we want to keep our health center open,” she said.

Earlier this month, Mr. Parson signed a bill prohibiting most abortions after the eighth week of pregnancy, but he insisted that the issues surrounding the Planned Parenthood clinic’s license renewal had nothing to do with politics.

“Look, this is not an issue of the pro-life issue at all,” Mr. Parson said. “They know what the standards are, they know they were deficient. They’ve had two months to correct that, to abide by the law. That’s all we’re asking for. 

He said the state Department of Health and Senior Services found “numerous violations of state laws and regulations” during its March 11-13 inspection, which raised “concerns about quality of care, patient safety, and statutory and regulatory compliance.”

For example, he said Planned Parenthood had violated laws requiring the same physician performing the abortion to receive the patient’s informed consent, and for a pelvic exam to be performed 72 hours before a procedure.

He also cited records provided by Planned Parenthood showing that three pregnant women underwent abortions but returned later “after realizing they were still pregnant.” In another case, the facility rushed a patient to the hospital for emergency surgery. 

“All of these examples are unacceptable and have no place,” said Mr. Parson

State officials asked to interview the seven doctors providing abortions at the clinic. Two doctors were interviewed Tuesday, he said, but Planned Parenthood told the state to contact the other five doctors through their separate counsel. 

Mr. Parson said Planned Parenthood had “ample time” to address the problems, but waited until the May 16 deadline to submit its application for renewal.

“For months during this process, Planned Parenthood has been reluctant to cooperate with state officials, including withholding access to interviews of abortion doctors,” said Mr. Parson. “These actions are unprecedented.”

At the same time, he stressed that Planned Parenthood still has time to address the problems before the license expires.

“If PP can show they are abiding by the laws and regulations here in the state of Missouri, they should have every right under the law to have license renewed and continue to provide patient services,” he said, “but they should not receive any exceptions simply because they are one clinic.”


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