A federal appeals court has given the green light for Planned Parenthood to open three additional abortion clinics in Missouri. As a result of the court’s action, Planned Parenthood will be granted legal authority to open abortion mills in Columbia, Springfield, and Joplin. Planned Parenthood is already licensed to operate clinics in St. Louis and Kansas City. Last week the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed course and let stand an order by U.S. District Court Judge Howard Sachs. In that ruling, Judge Sachs had instructed the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to act “promptly” to expedite the issuance of abortion clinic licenses to Planned Parenthood to expand their abortion empire in Missouri.
In mid-September the entire bench of judges in the 8th Circuit had issued a temporary stay, blocking enforcement of the ruling by Judge Sachs. That action had given hope to pro-life activists that the appeals court would overrule a preliminary injunction Judge Sachs had issued against enforcement of Missouri abortion regulations. However, five of the nine judges on the 8th Circuit decided last week to dissolve the stay, allowing the order by Judge Sachs to remain in force.
Judge Sachs had issued a temporary restraining order in April, blocking enforcement of two sections of Missouri law establishing health and safety standards for abortion clinics. One required that abortion facilities meet the same staffing and equipment requirements as other outpatient surgery centers. The other required that doctors performing abortions must have surgical privileges in at least one licensed hospital in the community.
Judge Sachs ruled that the state’s health and safety standards were “arbitrary” and unconstitutional, and were thus denying “the abortion rights” of women on a daily basis. The judge cited a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court last summer, in which the High Court struck down similar provisions in the abortion laws in the State of Texas.
In that case, known as Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a 5-3 majority of the Supreme Court decided that the outpatient surgery and hospital privileges requirements were “unnecessary health regulations [that] presented a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion.” Under legal precedents established by the High Court, anything that amounts to a “substantial obstacle” is considered an “undue burden” on a woman’s access to abortion, and is thus unconstitutional.The office of Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has made a valiant effort to defend Missouri’s health and safety standards for full-service abortion clinics, which have been on the books in our state since 1986. Hawley issued a statement saying he was “extremely disappointed” in the 8th Circuit’s decision to withdraw its stay. “My office will continue to fight for common sense regulations that protect the health and well-being of Missouri women.”
The original lawsuit against Missouri’s abortion statutes was filed by Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which sought licenses to reopen abortion facilities at the Brous Center in Kansas City and on Providence Road in Columbia. Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region is seeking licenses to open new abortion clinics in Springfield and Joplin. The license for the Kansas City facility has already been issued by DHSS, while the applications for the others are still pending.
For several years now, Missouri has had only one continuously operating abortion mill–the Reproductive Health Services mega-clinic operated by Planned Parenthood in the City of St. Louis. Planned Parenthood has been unable to obtain or maintain licenses at other Planned Parenthood offices around the state, because they are not configured or equipped to perform surgical procedures, and because doctors with local medical credentials have no desire to destroy the lives of unborn children.As a result of the latest court proceedings, Planned Parenthood will be able to arrange to send abortionists from the Washington University Medical Center and the Kansas City area to new clinic locations scattered across the state. These doctors will fly into or drive into these communities, induce abortions in assembly-line fashion, and then fly or drive out of town to their next shop of murders.
These roaming abortionists have absolutely no physician-patient relationship with the women whose babies they are aborting. In most cases, the women have never met or seen the abortionist until they are laying on the operating table. Once the procedure is done, the doctor is soon hundreds of miles away. Should complications occur, they must be rushed to local emergency rooms where doctors have no knowledge of their medical history.
Planned Parenthood Great Plains President Aaron Samulcek says that the action by the 8th Circuit “is a victory for Missouri women who rely on Planned Parenthood for quality, compassionate care.” Yet in the very documents Planned Parenthood Great Plains filed in federal court they made clear that quality care and compassion for women are the least of their concerns.In a brief filed before Judge Sachs, attorneys for Planned Parenthood argued that “surgical abortion is not a sterile procedure,” and thus it is not necessary to maintain “a sterile operating environment.” This comes as no surprise considering the abysmal track record of the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in St. Louis.Since 2009, there have been 69 documented incidents in which women have been transported by ambulance to local emergency rooms because of botched or shoddy abortions. Operation Rescue has described the St. Louis clinic as “the most dangerous abortion facility in the United States.”A formal trial on the Planned Parenthood Great Plains lawsuit in U.S. District Court is expected to occur early next year.