June 24, 2019
When a plane crashes, the FAA doesn't say, "Oh, well. There were 10,000 other flights that landed okay. Sometimes these things just happen." Of course not. They put their best teams on the ground to study exactly what happened so that it never happens again. The American people should feel safe stepping onto a plane -- just like they should feel safe walking into a hospital, or even -- as Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services points out -- an abortion clinic.
Unfortunately for women across the country, there's a great big abortion lobby out there that doesn't care about safety. Not really. They care about profits. And scathing reviews -- like the one their St. Louis location just got -- put those profits at risk. "Nobody's perfect," Randall Williams told a room full of reporters Friday morning. But when Planned Parenthood put four vulnerable moms in jeopardy to make a buck, his department vowed: never again. When the location's license renewal came up again this past week, the answer from DHSS was simple -- No.
"We have almost 500 individuals who get up every day with the goal of making sure they're protecting health and keeping people safe in Missouri," Williams said. Usually, it's a "thankless job." Now, because of Planned Parenthood, it's also a controversial one. But just because his agency is dealing with an abortion facility doesn't mean their agenda is political. The state's job, he argued, is making sure "our facilities are following the law and following the rules and practicing a standard of care." It shouldn't matter whether the state is investigating a nursing home or a day care, he argued. "...[O]ur north star is always the individual getting care." If something is deficient, Williams insisted, people have a right to know.
Randall was a clinician for 30 years. He understands how the health industry works. Usually, he explained, when organizations get a negative report, they're the first to admit that they want to do better. Planned Parenthood, he notes with some surprise, didn't. After 30 violations, the organization's leadership wasn't just unapologetic to inspectors -- they were indifferent. Under the circumstances, that seemed a little incredible to inspectors. One woman's abortion was so badly botched that she had to undergo three in three days. Another mom almost bled out entirely. And what was Planned Parenthood's response? We're going to sue to seal the evidence and get the courts to keep our doors open -- without fixing a thing.
For the third time in a handful of weeks, circuit court Judge Michael Stelzer obliged, keeping Planned Parenthood's death trap afloat -- indefinitely. For Williams's team, it had to have come as a shock. "We have a duty," he had insisted hours before, "to prevent future harm, to prevent future accidents or bad outcomes, to make sure that there's not something systematically wrong." And yet this activist judge, with one wave of his gavel, made the potentially fatal decision to put his agenda above the safety every mother deserves. In a decision that ought to make every American shudder, Stelzer overruled pages and pages of evidence that proved any woman walking through Planned Parenthood's doors is in danger of never coming out.
In all of his years of regulating, Williams says he's never seen anything like it. As Missouri knows: This isn't just an organization that's hurting mothers. It's an organization determined to cover it up. "It's unprecedented," he told reporters, that three doctors who were involved in these cases would refuse to cooperate.
"...[T]three doctors that have been involved in the care of the cases I cited to you have refused to cooperate... That would be like the FAA [monitoring] a plane crash, in which people got injured, and investigating it. And when people say, 'Did you talk to the pilots?' we [reply] 'No, we didn't talk to the pilots.' And they would say, 'You gave a license, and you didn't talk to the pilots involved in the plane crash?' 'No, they didn't want to talk to us, so we didn't talk to them.' Just imagine if the next week a plane crashed again with those same pilots... Do you understand how the loved ones of that second plane [would feel?]" They'd be angry. "'You didn't talk to the pilots to find out why the first plane crashed?'"
There are men and women all across the country in health departments just like Williams's. They probably have different views and feelings about abortion -- and I understand that reality. But in the end, it doesn't matter how they feel about Planned Parenthood or its business. Their job is to keep people safe. Williams and his team take that responsibility seriously. It's a shame that Judge Stelzer and friends don't.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.