The Missouri House of Representatives has approved legislation requiring that state health officials inspect abortion clinics on an annual basis.The proposal, House Bill 190, is sponsored by Representative Kathy Swa
n of Cape Giraradeau. It was endorsed by the House on a vote of 119-35, more than enough to overcome a potential veto by Governor Jay Nixon.
Under current law, ambulatory surgical centers must be licensed each year by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The scope of the law includes abortion clinics which perform five or more first trimester abortions per month, or one or more second or third trimester abortions.
The existing statute calls for inspections and investigations to be performed as the department "deems necessary." However, state regulations stipulate that a survey (or inspection) shall be performed each year in connection with a facility's license renewal.
The Missouri Family Policy Council learned last summer that the state's major abortion clinic in St. Louis has not been inspected in eight of the last fourteen years. Department officials say the inspections were not conducted "due to staff limitations."
The push to enact the law has been driven by repeated incidents of medical emergency at the Reproductive Health Services clinic operated by Planned Parenthood.
The pro-life group Defenders of the Unborn has documented more than two dozen episodes in which women have been rushed to local hospitals by ambulances in the last few years.
State health officials did conduct an inspection of the St. Louis clinic in 2013. It revealed rusty suction abortion machines, surgical tables, IV stands, and other equipment. Investigators also found expired drugs and violations of inspection prevention protocols.
"The types of violations found at this facility present serious safety concerns for patients," says Representative Swan, who is a former registered nurse.
"All patients, regardless of race, procedure, geographic location, or gender, deserve the highest standards of care in our state," Rep. Swan added.
Troy Newman, Director of Operation Rescue, says the legislation is long overdue. "We consider the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis to be among the most dangerous abortion facilities in the country."
"We are grateful to local citizens who have documented the long list of medical emergencies there so that the public can be made aware of Planned Parenthood's shoddy and dangerous practices that routinely endanger the lives of women."
Supporters of the bill have pointed out the risks that occur when abortion clinics go uninspected. Notorious abortionist Kermit Gosnell operated his "house of horrors" in Philadelephia after Pennsylvania state officials suspended abortion clinic investigations as a favor to the abortion industry.
The bill now moves to the Missouri Senate, where an identical measure has been introduced by Senator Wayne Wallingford of Cape Girardeau.