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ST. LOUIS (ChurchMilitant.com) - Planned Parenthood is denying that Missouri is the nation's first abortion-free state.
Last week, Operation Rescue released Part I of its annual report, "The Status of American Abortion Facilities in the U.S." The report asserts that Missouri now has the distinction of being the only state in which no surgical abortions are being performed. Planned Parenthood, however, is denying the claim.
The abortion giant's St. Louis spokesman, Jesse Lawder, told Church Militant that Operation Rescue's report was merely wishful thinking.
"That's incorrect. Patients seeking abortions can still get one at Reproductive Health Services of PPSLR in St. Louis, as always," Lawder said.
Church Militant pressed the issue, asking if the facility is open only for "organizational purposes" but with no abortions actually being performed.
Planned Parenthood offered its second denial.
"That is also incorrect. I don't know where [Operation Rescue is] getting their information. There have been some Missouri lawmakers who have tried to start this rumor before, but RHS is open and seeing abortion patients," Lawder stated.
Operation Rescue's lead investigator and senior vice president, Cheryl Sullenberger, responded to the denial.
"It's totally fake," she said. "It's totally for PR purposes. In October, St. Louis Planned Parenthood did maybe 50 abortions, when they typically do more than 50 abortions in one day."
Church Militant asked Operation Rescue for more information about its research methods. Sullenberger said the organization's methods are, of necessity, confidential.
"If I told you everything we did, we'd never be able to do it again," she explained. Sullenberger did offer some additional insight.
"Since 2009, when we began documenting abortion facilities annually, we have contacted them directly, by mail or other means," she said. With regard to Missouri, she noted, "Even if they do a few here and a few there, the St. Louis facility is not as active as it once was. In my experience, I've never seen an abortion facility admit it was closing."
Going to Planned Parenthood's online booking, Church Militant attempted to schedule an abortion in St. Louis. The site would not allow it, and provided the following explanation:
Although abortion services are not offered at this location, you can schedule an abortion visit at our IL facility, which in most cases can be accomplished in one visit. If you prefer to seek abortion at our St. Louis, MO location, please call (314) 531-7526. Missouri law requires multiple in-person visits for abortion care.
While the facility may well perform the occasional abortion at the Missouri facility as Sullenberger suggested, it remains under close scrutiny.
In the face of strong pro-life opposition, the only remaining abortion facility in Missouri, located in St. Louis, has been under regulatory pressure for years. The organization's solution was to build bigger and create a regional abortion hub just across the river in Fairview Heights, Illinois, where state laws were much more favorable to abortion on demand. The new facility opened in October, just as the number of abortions was decreasing in St. Louis.
The St. Louis facility's hours of operation offer further evidence that it is shifting its surgical abortion business to the Illinois regional hub. The facility is not open on Saturday or after business hours — a must for young, working women seeking an abortion. The Illinois facility does, however, offer evening and Saturday hours.
Church Militant reached out to Planned Parenthood a third time, inquiring about the online booking message that said "abortion services are not offered" in St. Louis.
Lawder wrote: "I can't tell what page you were on, but it was likely the Central West End Health Center page, as opposed to the Reproductive Health Services page. Does that make sense? There are two separate health centers in the same building (on different floors)."
The St. Louis Planned Parenthood has a history of lying. St. Louis pro-life activist John Ryan is suing Planned Parenthood for falsely claiming he made a bomb threat in 2016. Ryan was jailed and held in limbo for months as his case worked its way through the criminal court system. The charge was brought by Soros-funded St. Louis city prosecutor Kim Gardner. Ryan was later found not guilty in criminal court and is now suing Planned Parenthood and the employee who falsely reported a bomb threat.
As of press time, Lawder did not respond to requests for clarification about the difference between Central West End Health Center and Reproductive Health Services.