ST. LOUIS, MO (ChurchMilitant.com) - An administrative court hearing held Monday could result in making Missouri the first state without an abortion mill.
In June, the state of Missouri refused to renew Planned Parenthood's license to operate an abortion mill in St. Louis, the only remaining abortion mill in the state. Planned Parenthood appealed the decision, the judge ruling that the proper place to begin the appeal was the state's Administrative Hearing Commission, a hearing that took place Monday.
In opening arguments, Assistant Attorney General John Sauer said safety and quality assurance were at issue. He cited four instances in which women's health were put at risk.
In one case, a woman had to endure five separate procedures before the baby was aborted. In another case, Planned Parenthood staff failed to detect the mother was pregnant with twins. She had to return to the facility and undergo a second procedure to abort the other baby.
After the first failed abortion, Sauer claimed, "There was no internal flag raised," and two more failed abortions followed.
Sauer said the most serious case uncovered involved a woman presenting with placenta praevia, a potentially life-threatening condition. She was not advised ahead of time of the risks associated with an abortion in her condition. When an initial procedure ran into complications, she was asked for consent to move to a higher level of care, even though she was under sedation and her ability to offer a rational response was compromised.
Planned Parenthood Attorney Chuck Hatfield doesn't deny that the incidents occurred, but he claimed the seriousness of the cases was exaggerated. He also argued that the St. Louis abortuary actually passed its inspection.
It was only after the state falsely claimed there had been a patient complaint that an investigation ensued, he argued, an investigation that uncovered the cases above. He claimed that the problems could have and should have been addressed as part of the inspection, and no investigation should have taken place.
The state's first witness was a medical expert knowledgeable about abortion complications and who addressed the gravity of the cited cases. When asked if the medical testimony was irrelevant given his inspection vs. investigation analysis of the case, Hatfield agreed but said the Administrative Hearing Commission was allowing the medical testimony.
Anticipating a clash between pro-life and pro-abortion activists, the downtown St. Louis hearing location site was secured, members of the public were carefully screened before being admitted to the hearing and state troopers stood guard. But no pro-life activists made an appearance. There were, however, plenty of pink-shirted Planned Parenthood supporters. They were lining up and chatting over donuts with extra t-shirts at the ready shortly after 7 a.m.
On the Illinois Side
Across the Mississippi in Illinois, Planned Parenthood cut the ribbon last week on a newly renovated, 18,000-square-foot regional abortion hub only 13 miles from their beleaguered St. Louis abortuary.
Planned Parenthood called the new facility "a regional haven for abortion access," their language suggesting they may be abandoning their abortion mill in St. Louis.
Mary Kate Knorr, Illinois Right to Life executive director, sees the celebration differently. "This is a money-making venture in one of the most abortion-friendly states in the country. This is a strategic business move — certainly not a defense of women."
Fairview Heights residents and Illinois taxpayers are upset about the facility. Angela Michael, founder of Small Victories, an Illinois not-for-profit organization that provides support for pregnant women through the mother and child's first year, said, "I remember what happened to Granite City when Hope Clinic [an abortion clinic unaffiliated with Planned Parenthood] came to town in the 1970s. Granite City was a thriving steel town, prosperous — now it is a despairing shadow of its former self."
While most residents see their city's decline as more directly attributable to the steel industry's move to China, Michael and others urge people not to discount the possibility that the city’s decline is due, at least in part, to its welcoming of an abortuary. They fear something similar will happen in Fairview Heights.
In addition to the specter of economic decline, Knorr notes that the financial impact on Illinois taxpayers: "In 2017 Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, signed House Bill 40 which expanded Medicaid coverage to include abortion for state residents and also for women who plan to be state residents."
Women who are eligible for Medicaid can be flown in from all over the country and their abortions will be paid for with Illinois taxpayer dollars.
Some Fairview Heights residents wonder how construction could have gone forward without its being revealed that the building was going to be used for abortions. It is widely reported that Planned Parenthood employed a shell company to construct the building to avoid drawing protestors.
Some have suggested that the new Illinois facility was built in direct response to growing regulatory restrictions in Missouri. That may be a factor, but Knorr notes that Planned Parenthood's recent annual report prominently featured its expansion strategy and new configuration of regional hubs. Planned Parenthood is noting which states are increasing their regulation of abortion and which states are abortion-friendly and locating their mills accordingly.
While a decision from Missouri's Administrative Hearing Commission is not likely until February 2020, abortions are already taking place in Fairview Heights and at the Hope Clinic in Granite City.
Missouri may indeed drive its last abortion mill out of the state, but Missourians will only have to cross the state line into Illinois to find an abortionist — and their abortions can even be free.
Abraham Lincoln looms large in this part of the country. For many Americans, it does feel that the nation is "engaged in a great civil war" and that the St. Louis area, spanning two states, will one day be considered "a great battlefield of that war."