June 12, 2019
In the battle between patient safety and abortion extremism, score one for Planned Parenthood. In Missouri, where Governor Mike Parson (R) is going to the mat to protect women, a judge has decided that he knows better than state health officials about the dangers of a St. Louis clinic. Exposing women to life-threatening hazards is okay, he's ruled, if it helps the abortion giant save face.
While Planned Parenthood drones on about the risks of pro-life legislation, it turns out the real threat is behind their clinic doors. Based on state records and patient reports, the group's St. Louis location has been a menace to patients for years. "Since 2009," Washington Times reporter Valerie Richardson points out, "Coalition for Life volunteers... outside the clinic have recorded 74 ambulance trips to emergency rooms. The lion's share was for hemorrhaging, according to documents obtained by Operation Rescue, which has dubbed the clinic 'the most dangerous abortion facility in America.'" In just the last month, ambulances have been called three times.
None of this surprised Missouri health inspectors who've tried to close the clinic until it corrects a frightening list of "deficiencies." "There are a number of serious health concerns that still exist at the Planned Parenthood St. Louis facility," Parson told reporters, explaining there were "multiple violations" and "several incidents of botched abortions." "We should all agree that regardless of the number of abortion facilities, every step should be taken to ensure that all laws are followed for the safety and well-being of women's health care."
Unfortunately, Judge Michael Stelzer appears to care more for the well-being of one group: Planned Parenthood. After keeping the clinic open after the state's deadline, Stezler has decided to extend that goodwill through late June -- overriding the concerns of health inspectors and refusing to hold the abortion location accountable. The judge justified the move by arguing that Missouri couldn't possibly close its only remaining clinic. But that's like saying we should let a restaurant get away with food poisoning just because it's the only one around.
State Senator Bob Onder was incensed. On Tuesday's "Washington Watch," he joined me to talk about how outrageous it is that Missouri's health department no longer has the power to keep people safe. He knows the head of the agency, who happens to be an accomplished and trusted Ob-gyn. "I can't imagine a better person to be running the Department of Health when it comes to issues of women's health. Honestly, this case shouldn't be before Judge Stelzer at all." He's right. Whether it's the last clinic -- or one of a thousand -- shouldn't have any bearing on whether or not it has a license to operate. If they're not complying with the laws and regulations and hurting patients, they don't deserve to be in business.
"A fundamental principle of government is that no one is above the law and when it comes to protecting health and safety of patients in any setting," Senator Onder insisted. "You have to abide by the laws and regulations that are meant to protect patients. And that's what this is about."
Unfortunately for women, playing by the rules has never been Planned Parenthood's strong suit. Worse, in places like Missouri, they have help in their cover-up: activist judges who are willing to elevate politics over patients. The Left can talk about its contrived coat-hanger scenario of overturning Roe all it wants. But the drama in Missouri ought to show everyone -- women suffer just as much with Planned Parenthood as without it. Maybe more.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.