Five day hearing begins, fate of Missouri’s last abortion clinic to be decided

By Dave Andrusko

And so it began today, a hearing that is expected to last for five days. As NRL News Today has reported, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services officially declined to renew the license of the Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, “saying the clinic had failed to address a number of deficiencies raised by the state.”

The Planned Parenthood clinic is the state’s sole remaining abortion clinic.

Administrative Hearing Commission Sreenivasa Rao Dandamudi will hear evidence with a decision not expected until next year. In the meanwhile the clinic continues to perform abortions.

“Missouri health department has said the Planned Parenthood clinic failed to correct all of the deficiencies it found during an annual inspection in the spring, emphasizing concerns over its compliance and patient safety,” The Wall Street Journal’s Jennifer Calfas reported. “In documents filed to the state commission, the attorney general’s office also argued against a constitutional right to abortion in the state. ‘The right to abortion is not deeply rooted in Missouri’s unique history and traditions,’ the response, signed by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, said.”

Calfas added, “Lawyers representing Planned Parenthood have argued the state ‘acted arbitrarily, capriciously, unreasonably, unlawfully, unconstitutionally, and in excess of its statutory and regulatory authority.’”

Kurt Erickson of the St. Louis Post Dispatch previewed the hearing.

Monday will kick off with opening statements from Planned Parenthood attorney Chuck Hatfield and Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s top trial attorney John Sauer.

Following that, Sauer is expected to call an estimated five witnesses, with an eye on wrapping up the state’s side of the case by Tuesday.

Beginning Wednesday, [Planned Parenthood attorney Chuck] Hatfield is expected to call on three witnesses, including Dr. Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer of the clinic.

NBC News’s Elizabeth Chuck reported today

On Monday, Assistant Attorney General John Sauer described cases of at least four patients who had “failed abortions” at the clinic, including one who needed up to five procedures to complete the abortion and another where clinicians did not realize a patient was pregnant with twins, resulting in the need for a second procedure to abort the second fetus.