Missouri Judge agrees to Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary restraining order

By Dave Andrusko

Friday afternoon Missouri Judge Michael Stelzer agreed with Planned Parenthood and issued a temporary restraining order preventing the license of the state’s lone remaining abortion clinic from expiring at midnight tonight. His decision followed a day after hearing oral arguments Thursday afternoon.

After the 22nd Circuit Court of St. Louis handed down its ruling, Governor Mike Parson responded, “The State will soon have the opportunity for a prompt legal review of our state health regulators’ serious health and safety concerns regarding Planned Parenthood’s abortion facility in St. Louis. We are committed to and take seriously our duty to ensure that all health facilities in Missouri follow the law, abide by regulations, and protect the safety of patients.”

“Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region “sued the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on Tuesday, alleging the state agency was illegally refusing to renew the St. Louis abortion clinic’s yearly license until the department could complete an investigation into an unspecified patient complaint,” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Joel Currier reported.

The state’s position is that the abortion clinic’s situation is of its own making. In a news conference Wednesday, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson “told reporters that the state had ‘serious health concerns’ about the clinic,” the Washington Post reported. “That day, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services released a statement that said its annual inspection, conducted in March, found ‘potential deficient practices,’ including noncompliance with a requirement that doctors give patients a pelvic exam three days before the procedure and what the agency called ‘failed surgical abortions.’”

Moreover the Department of Health & Senior Services [DHHS] argues that five of the seven physicians working at the Planned Parenthood clinic “have refused to be interviewed as part of the state’s investigation.” (Planned Parenthood’s counter is that they are not their employees but come from a local university’s medical program.)

According to Currier’s reporting

John Sauer, a lawyer for DHSS argued Thursday that the doctors’ refusal to be interviewed as part of the investigation is “unprecedented” and that the clinic has the burden of forcing the physicians to cooperate.

The impasse between Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and the state, Sauer said,

was “created by the refusal of the doctors to cooperate and the failure of the regulated entity to induce them to cooperate.” He also said Planned Parenthood shouldn’t have sued — its complaints should have been heard by a license renewal commission instead of state courts.