Judge rules St. Louis abortion clinic can stay open even as state declines to renew license

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As Missouri passed into law some exceptionally tough restrictions on abortion in late May, it was revealed that the last remained Planned Parenthood in the state, located in St. Louis, was on the verge of losing its license to operate.

At the time, a Democrat-appointed judge intervened to block the move, and now, the judge has again stepped in to keep the clinic open indefinitely while a lawsuit between the state and Planned Parenthood is considered by the courts.

Judge makes shock move

St. Louis Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer, appointed by former Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D), ordered on Friday that the state’s final Planned Parenthood could remain open until he issued a final ruling in the ongoing case, essentially extending indefinitely the temporary injunction he’d issued initially.

Conveniently, that was the same day that the state had decided to finally revoke the clinic’s license over patient safety issues.

That decision came from the state’s Republican-led Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), which had decided not to renew the clinic’s license. The license expired on May 31.

“Unresolved deficiencies”

But despite the judge’s move, there appears to be a good reason for the department’s decision to not renew the clinic’s license. There was reportedly an ongoing investigation into the clinic and numerous unresolved issues with regard to the manner in which it was operated.

In a news release from DHSS on June 21 announcing its decision to not renew the Planned Parenthood clinic’s license, the department cited an “unprecedented lack of cooperation, failure to meet basic standards of patient care, and refusal to comply with state law and regulations protecting women’s health and safety that resulted in numerous serious and extensive unresolved deficiencies including multiple that involved life-threatening conditions for patients.”

The release further noted that the clinic’s “non-cooperation” had prevented the conclusion of a complete investigation, that Planned Parenthood had failed to meet a deadline to submit a “Plan of Correction” to address the concerning issues, and that the state had been attempting — again, without cooperation — to reach an agreeable solution since April.

Botched abortions, ignored subpoenas

Reports noted that at the heart of the state’s concerns over the clinic were at least four botched abortion procedures in which the clinic had “failed to provide standard patient care, had questionable quality control procedures, and failed to obtain informed consent from patients, among other concerns.”

Three of those four abortions had required multiple attempts in follow-up procedures to fully abort the unborn babies. One woman needed three separate abortions to remove the baby, and another woman developed sepsis after her follow-up procedure.

Another woman suffered heavy bleeding after her initial successful abortion that landed her in the hospital with “life-threatening complications” and left her listed as “critically ill” in the hospital records.

Meanwhile, as the state attempted to investigate those instances, subpoenas for physicians and staffers at the clinic were ignored — and eventually quashed by Judge Stelzer — which, of course, rendered the investigation incomplete.

There are serious and significant problems with this Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis, but the proper decision to revoke its license has been blocked by a partisan judge for the interim. Hopefully, the state will ultimately prevail in this lawsuit and the unsafe abortion clinic will eventually be shut down for good.

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