Judge kicks Planned Parenthood lawsuit out of court; tells them to take their complaint to state Administrative Hearing Commission

By Dave Andrusko

You have to understand the background before you can properly appreciate St. Louis Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer’s ruling this morning to extend a preliminary injunction he’d previously issued which allows a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis to continue performing abortions up through Friday.

Was the judge saying that the state health department had erred last Friday when it declined to renew the clinic’s license to perform abortions? No! In fact he “kicked the clinic’s lawsuit out of court,” as CBS News colorfully described his ruling.

Judge Stelzer affirmed what Missouri’s lone abortion clinic should have done in the first place: take its complaint to the Administrative Hearing Commission.

Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s spokesman Steele Shippy said as much, telling the Associated Press, “The judge’s ruling affirms the state’s contention that the licensing dispute should be heard by the state commission.”

The state has said concerns about the clinic arose from inspections in March. Among the problems Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services investigators have cited were three “failed abortions” requiring additional surgeries and another that led to life-threatening complications for the mother, The Associated Press reported last week, citing a now-sealed court filing.

As we reported last week, at the eleventh hour—Wednesday, to be specific—Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Bonyen Lee-Gilmore said the clinic would no longer perform pelvic exams on patients 72 hours before abortions, as required by state law. They argued such exams are “deeply traumatizing and inhumane.”

Not so, said the Department of Health and Human Services.

“The information from a pelvic exam could influence the choice of the procedure or the method, which would change the information provided for informed consent,” DHHS said. “Because the information for informed consent must be provided at least 72 hours before the abortion, a pelvic examination must occur at that time.”

The bigger picture, of course, is the deficiencies at the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic. “The actions of the Missouri Department of Health on the relicensing of the clinic is for this reason alone,” said Susan Klein, executive director of Missouri Right to Life.

In addition to the deficiency reports, which Judge Michael Stelzer moved to seal from the public eye, no doubt due to the incriminating nature of those reports, over 70 emergency vehicles at the St Louis Planned Parenthood have been documented by the St. Louis Fire Department.

The necessary actions taken by the Missouri Department of Health are caused by Planned Parenthood alone and results from their inability to give quality healthcare to the women that seek their services. They have refused to discuss those deficiencies with the Department of Health and one can only surmise that those deficiencies have not been resolved.