By Cheryl Sullenger
St. Louis, MO – Judge Michael Stelzer has issued an order today that allows the preliminary injunction issued to Reproductive Health Services Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, Missouri, to dissolve on June 28, 2019, at 5:00 p.m.
Stelzer’s order, which appeared on the Missouri Courts website, stated that the injunction would be left in place for four more days to give RHS Planned Parenthood an opportunity to “seek review and injunctive relief from the Administrative Hearing Commission” of a decision issued by the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS) last week that denied Planned Parenthood’s application for renewal of its abortion facility license.
The DHSS declined to renew the license because a plan of correction did not address life-threatening abortion injuries and failed abortions that violated patient care standards and safety.
“The Administrative Hearing Commission is where this case should have been taken all along,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. “We look forward to the DHSS’s order being upheld, which will mean an end to Planned Parenthood abortions in Missouri.”
RHS Planned Parenthood is the last remaining abortion facility in Missouri. Should the DHSS decision not to renew its license be upheld by the AHC, Missouri would become the first abortion-free state since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that decriminalized abortion in America.
Stelzer also dismissed Counts II-IV of RHS Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit that sought to block the DHSS from ending its abortion privileges, citing the abortion business’ “failure to exhaust administrative remedies.”
The dismissed counts included the following allegations:
- Count II alleged that the DHSS was conducting an investigation that was “unauthorized, unreasonable, and exceeds the scope of their authority and is unconstitutional.” The DHSS investigation centered on how abortions were handled for women who had suffered life-threatening injuries or other complications, including failed abortions that left some women still pregnant.
- Count III objected to the DHSS interviewing seven abortionists who were involved in the botched abortions under investigation. Five out of seven physicians involved have retained attorneys and are refusing to cooperate with the DHSS investigation. RHS Planned Parenthood further objected to being required to encourage the abortionists to cooperate. The DHSS has stated that the lack of cooperation on this point to be “unprecedented and untenable.”
- Count IV alleged that the DHSS violated the due process rights of RHS Planned Parenthood and its patients. In reality, RHS Planned Parenthood sidestepped due process when it filed a complaint in Stelzer’s court rather than filing an appeal in the Administrative Hearing Court – which it must now do — when its license expired on May 31, 2019.
- Count V alleged that the DHSS violated RHS Planned Parenthood’s Equal Protection rights by treating the abortion business differently than any other medical facility – something that the DHSS vehemently denies.
- Count VI alleged that the DHSS denied procedural due process by allowing their investigation into the seriously botched abortions to impede the renewal of RHS Planned Parenthood’s abortion facility license. However, the abortion business could not meet licensing requirements due to the violations related to patient care standards.
“What Planned Parenthood really wanted was for the DHSS just to ignore the inconvenient fact they nearly killed women during botched abortions. They wanted their facility license renewed without question and without compliance,” said Newman. “We are thankful that the DHSS has put the rule of law and the lives of women above RHS Planned Parenthood’s capricious demands. Anything less would have been a betrayal of their duty to protect the public.”
On June 21, 2019, in an effort to resolve some of the outstanding violations committed by Planned Parenthood, DHSS Director Randall Williams issued an emergency order modifying its rule that required a pelvic exam be conducted on women 72 hours prior to their abortions. RHS Planned Parenthood preferred to do them on the day of the abortion, and was therefore subjecting women to two pelvic exams that the law did not require. Under the new rule, the required pelvic exam may be done at either appointment as long as it is done by the abortionist conducting the procedure.
Judge Stelzer also denied all outstanding motions as moot and ordered both parties to “bear their own costs” acquired during the legal proceedings in his June 24, 2019, order.
The case now moves to the Administrative Hearing Court, pending the filing of RHS Planned Parenthood’s expected appeal.
Operation Rescue will continue to follow this developing story and will report updates as they become available.