Lone Missouri abortion clinic receives one-year license, state considers whether to appeal administrative hearing judge’s ruling

By Dave Andrusko

Nearly a month after a state administrative hearing judge ruled that Missouri’s lone abortion provider had demonstrated it meets the requirements for renewal of its license, the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday issued the Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services of the St. Louis Region a one-year license through 2021.

Administrative Hearing Commissioner Sreenivasa Rao Dandamudi

“Planned Parenthood has demonstrated that it provides safe and legal abortion care,” Administrative Hearing Commissioner Sreenivasa Rao Dandamudi wrote on May 29. “In over 4,000 abortions provided since 2018, the Department has only identified two causes to deny its license.”

However, “Lisa Cox, spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Senior Services, confirmed the license was issued after the facility passed a state inspection, but signaled that the state has not made a decision on appealing the ruling,” Kurt Erickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

“(I)t does not make an appeal of the AHC [Administrative Hearing Commissioner] decision moot as there are issues within the decision beyond whether the facility gets a license,” Cox said.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt has until Monday to decide whether to appeal the ruling.

Yamelsie Rodriguez, president and CEO of Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, said the new license “still cannot undo the harm that longstanding medically unnecessary policies in our state inflict on patients.”

The battle over the clinic’s license goes back over a year, as NRL News Today has reported on multiple occasions. For now, the decisive verdict was a 97-page long decision rendered in May by Administrative Hearing Commissioner Dandamudi after a four-day hearing in October.

The state argued the clinic had failed to address a number of serious deficiencies found by the state during an annual inspection, including botched abortions. Read the following from the Post-Dispatch story and see how the abortion clinic and Dandamudi maneuvered around the obvious:

A March 2019 inspection, for example, found that a woman had undergone an abortion that took five attempts to complete. The health department investigated other instances when women underwent multiple procedures to complete an abortion and found four.

In one of the cases, the patient had to return for a second procedure because, Dandamudi wrote, it was likely she was pregnant with twins and only one had been aborted. Planned Parenthood officials said the other twin might have been missed because the patient was “morbidly obese.”

Susan Klein, Missouri Right to Life Executive Director, placed the abortion clinic’s action in context.

“Over the years, this Planned Parenthood has broken Missouri laws and has put women at risk with their multiple recurring infractions,” she said. “They say they are targeted when the fact is that they are the law breakers. They put women’s safety and health at great risk. In essence, Administrative Commissioner Dandamudi has negated any oversight of the abortion industry.”

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