JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Mike Parson said Wednesday that Planned Parenthood's St. Louis facility had been "actively and knowingly violating state law," and he advised against Missouri courts granting the facility a temporary restraining order against the state.
The governor held a news conference Wednesday afternoon, following an announcement Tuesday that Planned Parenthood would sue the state after the Department of Health and Senior Services said it would refuse to renew the St. Louis facility's license, which expires Friday.
The facility is the last abortion clinic in Missouri. If its license is not renewed, the state will become the first with no active abortion clinics since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.
In prepared remarks, the governor ran through a timeline of the investigation, which was opened April 3 after a patient complaint. Prior to the start of the investigation, DHSS had issued a statement March 27 that was "revolving around Planned Parenthood's violating the law and providing safe care for women," at the facility, according to Parson. This came after the department's annual inspections there earlier in March.
On April 11, DHSS requested interviews with seven physicians working at the facility. The facility only agreed to allow two of them, who are both staff doctors who work for Planned Parenthood, to be interviewed. The other five are not on staff and cannot be compelled to agree to the interviews, according to the lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood.
When asked about the content of those interviews, Parson said they related to the patient complaint from April and the deficiencies identified in the following investigation.
Parson said that according to significant medical evidence and records from Planned Parenthood, the facility had three failed surgical abortions, including one case in which a patient needed to be taken to a hospital for emergency surgery.
"Planned Parenthood's apparent disregard for the law, their failure to complete complication records and the accuracy of medical records are all serious concerns that need to be addressed prior to any license renewal," Parson said. "They still have two more days to comply."
Parson said that in the upcoming court hearing, it would be "reckless" for a judge to grant Planned Parenthood the restraining order against the state.
This lawsuit comes only a week after Parson signed HB 126, which banned abortions in the state of Missouri at the eight-week mark with no exceptions for victims of rape or incest. It's one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country and takes effect Aug. 28.
DHSS officials did not present remarks or take questions during the news conference.
The hearing, which was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at St. Louis Circuit Court, was postponed.
Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.