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Missouri Family E-News November 15, 2010

Criminal Case Against Planned Parenthood Cleared to Proceed

The Kansas Supreme Court has cleared the way for a criminal case to be heard against Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. The case involves the performance of late-term abortions at Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood in Overland Park.

Planned Parenthood has been charged with 29 counts of unlawful performance of late-term abortions in violation of Kansas law. The abortion provider has also been charged with 28 counts of failing to determine fetal viability before performing the late-term abortions, 23 counts of making false information, and 27 counts of failing to maintain records required under the law.

The charges had been filed in 2007 by then-District Attorney Phil Kline. The case has been tied up in procedural appeals and legal wrangling since then. The Kansas Supreme Court has now remanded the case back to the Johnson County District Court for further proceedings.

"This is a huge victory for the cause of life," says Troy Newman of Operation Rescue. "Now it is up to the Johnson County District Attorney to do the right thing and prosecute Planned Parenthood to the fullest. The public needs to let him know that this case must go to trial to protect women from dishonest and illegal abortionists."

Under Kansas law, abortions are prohibited after viability unless the abortion is necessary to save the life of the woman, or continuation of the pregnancy would cause "substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function." A physician cannot proceed with late-term abortions unless a second physician confirms the threat to a woman's health.

The law specifies that the second physician must have no financial or legal affiliation with the physician performing the abortion. Late-term abortionists in Kansas, such as the late George Tiller, have been accused of obtaining "second opinions" from friendly colleagues who simply rubber-stamp the certifications required. The case against Planned Parenthood, and another one against Dr. Tiller's Women's Health Services in Wichita, have been the subject of a long-running legal and political soap opera in Kansas marred by allegations of corruption, cover-up, collusion, and illicit conduct.

Newman says it is time for the legal and political stonewalling to end. "We can only pray that the political feuding that has caused years of delay stops here, and that decisions are made from now on in accordance with the evidence and the law." Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri recently "celebrated" their 75th anniversary. Singer Judy Collins was the headliner for the event in downtown Kansas City. Cecile Richards, President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, flew in for the party. It was recently revealed that Richards makes nearly $400,000 a year at the helm of Planned Parenthood. Over $350 million in taxpayer dollars helps underwrite Richards' paycheck.

Federal Court Upholds Moment of Silence in Illinois Schools
A federal court has upheld an Illinois law that provides for a moment of silence at the beginning of each school day.

The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Illinois statute does not run afoul of the establishment clause of the First Amendment. The Illinois law requires all public schools to set aside a moment of silence for "silent prayer or reflection on the anticipated activities of the day."

The law, known as the Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act, was adopted by the Illinois Legislature in 1969 and amended in 2007. The ACLU filed suit against the law, and a federal district judge ruled the law unconstitutional last year.

In overturning the District Court ruling, the 7th Circuit concluded that the law did not create any state entanglement with religion. The appeals court judges concluded that observance of a moment of silence "neither advances nor inhibits any particular religion."

"The legal attack upon this law was simply another attempt by secularists to eliminate any form of religious expression from public life," says David Cortman, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund.

"Just because a person is 'offended' that someone else might use a period of silence to pray doesn't mean that the Constitution has been violated. Such an accusation not only demonstrates hostility to our nation's history and heritage, but also a profound misunderstanding of the First Amendment."

David Smith of the Illinois Family Institute says the law does not impose any burden on any student. "This ruling gives all students a choice. Students can use the moment to pray or not to pray. It simply allows students to take a moment to recognize their Creator if they choose to".

Abortion Clinics Drop Lawsuit Against State Health Regulations

Two Missouri abortion providers have dropped lawsuits against the state of Missouri and agreed to comply with state health and safety requirements for their operations. abortion Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, which operates clinics in Columbia and Kansas City, and Dr. Allen Palmer, who operates an abortion clinic in St. Louis County, have reached a settlement agreement with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Planned Parenthood and Dr. Palmer had filed suit against a law adopted by the Missouri Legislature in 2007 which broadened the scope of Missouri's ambulatory surgical center licensing law. The original law, sponsored by yours truly in 1986, established health and safety regulations for outpatient surgery centers "operated primarily for the purpose of performing surgical procedures," including abortion clinics. abortion That law brought within its jurisdiction the Reproductive Health Services abortion clinic now operated by Planned Parenthood in St. Louis.

The Legislature amended the surgicenter licensing law in 2007 to include any facility where second or third trimester abortions are "performed or induced," or any facility where five or more first trimester abortions are "performed or induced" per month. Those changes brought under the law's regulation the abortion clinic operated by Dr. Palmer in Bridgeton out of his private medical office, and the Planned Parenthood Columbia clinic where abortions have been offered one day a week. The law also encompassed the Brous Medical Center in Kansas City operated by Planned Parenthood, where medication abortions (RU-486) are induced.

Planned Parenthood and Dr. Palmer filed suit in federal court claiming that the law imposed a "substantial obstacle on access to abortion" and that the state regulations were not reasonably related to patient health and safety. U.S. District Court Judge Ortrie Smith abortion ruled that he was not persuaded that there was no medical benefit to the state law. But he agreed with the plaintiffs that the application of some physical requirements of the state regulations could be constitutionally troublesome.

Judge Smith instructed the Department of Health and Senior Services to negotiate with Planned Parenthood and Dr. Palmer to see if an agreement could be reached on how their clinics could comply with the law through waivers from some physical facility requirements. After many months of negotiations, the parties reached a settlement in May of this year which was never formally publicized. abortion

The Missouri Family Policy Council recently obtained a copy of the settlement agreements.

Under the settlement, Planned Parenthood and Dr. Palmer agreed to dismiss all their constitutional and legal challenges to the law "in their entirety" and accept compliance with the law. A key provision of the law stipulates that physicians performing or inducing abortions in an abortion clinic must have surgical privileges at a hospital in the community, "thus providing assurance to the public that patients treated in the center shall receive continuity of care should the services of a hospital be required." abortion The law also requires that "continuous physician services or registered professional nursing services are provided whenever a patient is in the facility."

These provisions were designed to address the problem of abortionists hopping from one abortion clinic to another who have no medical connection or relationship with any local health care provider. Many abortion clinics are served by abortionists who come in periodically from out of town, perform abortions in assembly-line fashion, and then head back out of town before some patients have even been discharged from the facility.

Planned Parenthood had argued that the law should not apply to the administration of RU-486. RU-486Yet the Legislature clearly intended to include such facilities when it used the language "performing OR inducing." Planned Parenthood has now agreed that continuous physician or nursing services will be provided whenever an abortion patient is in the Brous Center. They have further agreed that physicians dispensing RU-486 will have medical privileges at Menorah Medical Center or Research Medical Center in Kansas City.

While both Planned Parenthood and Dr. Palmer have agreed to make modifications to their facilities in Columbia and St. Louis, the Department of Health has granted them a waiver from certain physical requirements. The State agreed to pay attorney's fees of $145,000 to Planned Parenthood and $190,000 to Dr. Palmer in return for their dismissal of challenges to the law and their consent to compliance with the law.

The net effect of the settlement on the Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia is unclear. Abortions have not been performed at that facility since mid-August. abortionPlanned Parenthood officials have claimed the clinic is dealing with "scheduling" issues, and have acknowledged problems with staffing in the past. The suspension of abortion services at Columbia came on the heels of this settlement, as well as a new state law strengthening informed consent requirements. A qualified professional must now meet with a women 24 hours before the abortion procedure to provide her with comprehensive information about the humanity of the unborn child and alternatives to the abortion procedure. The Columbia clinic has been the site of a vigorous sustained community prayer effort and sidewalk ministry led by pro-life leaders like Kathy Forck.

The net effect of the settlement on Dr. Palmer's abortion clinic in north St. Louis County is clear. Under the settlement, Palmer agrees that the Department of Health will not transfer his abortion facility license to any other person. Should he transfer ownership of his practice to any other party, the terms of the settlement would not apply to them. This pretty much assures that Palmer's abortion clinic will shut down when he retires, which some believe may not be that far removed.

We commend the Missouri Legislature for their actions in 2007 to ensure that health and safety standards for outpatient surgicenters apply to all abortion clinics in our state. We commend Deputy Attorney General Joe Dandurand and Assistant Attorney General Emily Dodge for their work in defending the new state law and bringing all Missouri abortion clinics into compliance.
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