Planned Parenthood organizations operating in Missouri have announced plans to open four new full-service abortion clinics in Missouri should they prevail in litigation recently filed in federal court. The lawsuit, filed two weeks ago in U.S. District Court in Western Missouri, challenges state statutes which establish health and safety standards for abortion clinics.
Missouri currently only has one abortion clinic providing surgical and chemical abortions–the Reproductive Health Services clinic in St. Louis City operated by Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis region. If the Missouri laws are struck down, Planned Parenthood-St. Louis says they will open new abortion clinics in Springfield and Joplin.
Planned Parenthood-St. Louis was joined in the lawsuit by Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains. The latter Planned Parenthood affiliate says they will open a new abortion clinic in Kansas City and reopen an abortion clinic in Columbia if they succeed in challenging the Missouri statutes.
The first section of Missouri law being challenged by Planned Parenthood is the state’s ambulatory surgical center statute. That provision, enacted by the Missouri Legislature in 1986, requires that abortion facilities operated primarily for the purpose of performing surgical procedures must meet the same health and safety requirements as other outpatient surgery centers.
The law, which was sponsored by yours truly while a member of the General Assembly, was modeled after an ordinance adopted by the City of St. Peters. The statute was amended in 2007 to include any facility where second or third-trimester abortions are performed, or where five or more first-trimester abortions are performed each month.
The ambulatory surgical center requirement was intended to prevent “back-alley abortionists” with no advanced obstetric training from performing slipshod abortions in backroom offices with untrained staff and unsterile equipment. The most recent grotesque example of such abortion mills was the one operated by the notorious Kermit Gosnell in Pennsylvania which was alternately described by authorities as a “house of horrors” or a “torture chamber.”
The second aspect of Missouri law being challenged by Planned Parenthood is one that requires that physicians performing abortion have nearby hospital privileges. One section of the law specifies that abortionists must have surgical privileges in at least one licensed hospital in the community. The other requires that abortionists have clinical privileges within thirty miles of the location at which the abortions are to be performed. The provisions are designed to ensure that women receive continuity of care from the abortionist should they require emergency care at an acute care facility.
Those sections of Missouri law are similar to provisions of a Texas law that was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in June. In a case known as Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, disgraced Justice Anthony Kennedy joined liberal member of the High Court in ruling that the health and safety standards were “unnecessary health regulations…that presented a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion.”
In the new Missouri lawsuit, Planned Parenthood makes startling legal claims that demonstrate they have absolutely no concern for the health of the women whose unborn children they destroy. In fact, Planned Parenthood makes the incredulous claim that Missouri’s outpatient surgery center health and safety standards will actually “injure Missouri women seeking abortions by threatening their health.”
After decades of defending abortion as a “safe” surgical procedure, Planned Parenthood now maintains that abortion is not a surgical procedure at all because it involves no incision and no general anesthesia. Believe it or not, Planned Parenthood’s lawyers assert that “surgical abortion is not a sterile procedure,” and thus it is not necessary to maintain “a sterile operating environment.”
Should Planned Parenthood prevail in their Missouri lawsuit, they will be able to implement in our state their fly-by, drive-by abortion business model. Under this “medical” scheme, abortionists fly into or drive into distant communities, perform abortions in assembly-line fashion, and then fly or drive out of town to their next killing center.
Under this arrangement, abortionists have absolutely no physician-patient relationship with the women whose life and health they are endangering. They have no medical association or credentials with any legitimate health care facilities in the community. They do their profitable bloody work as foreign agents and then flee town, leaving wounded women behind for local medical authorities to care for.
Attorneys for Planned Parenthood argue that it is an “exceedingly rare event” for patients to be transferred by ambulance to a local hospital. Tell that to the 61 women who have been rushed by ambulance from the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in St. Louis over the last seven years as a result of botched abortions.
As a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hellerstedt decision, it is likely that federal courts will rule in favor of Planned Parenthood’s legal challenge to Missouri’s longstanding health and safety standards for abortion clinics. Planned Parenthood would then be enabled to murder preborn children at any of their affiliate locations in Missouri.
Lawyers for Planned Parenthood are asking the federal district court to issue a declaratory judgement that the Missouri laws are unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. They are also asking the court to issue a preliminary injunction prohibiting enforcement of the laws until a final decision in the case is rendered.
It is fortunate that the State of Missouri will soon have a pro-life Attorney General in Josh Hawley to defend the ambulatory surgical and hospital privileges laws. However, even the most astute legal strategies are unlikely to sustain Missouri’s statutes in light of the Texas ruling. As a consequence, the health and well-being of Missouri women will be placed in greater jeopardy until the United States Supreme Court no longer treats abortion as a legal sacrament.