NRL News

Judge’s ruling means Missouri PPFA clinic can keep its license

by | Dec 29, 2015

By Dave Andrusko

State Senator Kurt Schaefer is Chair of the Missouri Senate Sanctity of Life Committee

State Senator Kurt Schaefer is Chair of the Missouri Senate Sanctity of Life Committee

A federal judge yesterday extended the months-long legal tussle between the state of Missouri and Planned Parenthood of Kansas and mid-Missouri even further when she issued a temporary injunction blocking the Missouri health department from revoking the license of one of the two abortion clinics in Ohio.

As reported here, on December 2, U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey extended a temporary restraining order set to expire, which meant that Columbia Planned Parenthood could keep its license to perform chemical abortions until at least December 30.

On Monday Laughrey went further, issuing a preliminary injunction.

This does not mean that the PPFA clinic can resume performing chemical abortions, but it does mean it has not lost its license.

Under Missouri law, an abortionist “can perform or induce an abortion only if he or she has clinical privileges at a hospital that offers obstetrical or gynecological care within 30 miles of the location where the abortion is being performed,” according to Alex Stuckey of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Prior to a legislative investigation that began last July, abortionist Colleen McNicholas had what is known as “refer and follow” privileges with the University of Missouri Health Care. Under such an arrangement, the abortionist can refer a patient to the hospital’s doctors for follow up care, typically in an emergency.

However once the University of Missouri Health Care System’s medical system voted to discontinue this privilege (enjoyed by McNicholas and another physician), it meant the Columbia abortion clinic had to stop performing chemical abortions.

Planned Parenthood of Kansas City and mid-Missouri (PPKM) filed a federal lawsuit November 30, the day before the state Department of Health and Senior Services was set to revoke the facility’s license. Judge Laughrey issued a TRO, followed by a temporary injunction yesterday.

According to the local ABC affiliate, “Judge Laughrey wrote in her opinion that the Department of Health and Senior Services treated Planned Parenthood ‘more harshly than other similarly situated institutions,’ violating the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment. The state notified PPKM that it would revoke its ASC [Ambulatory Surgical Clinic] license in September, and ‘solicited no plan of correction’ to keep its license.”

State Senator Kurt Schaefer is Chair of the Missouri Senate Sanctity of Life Committee. He issued the following statement in response to Judge Laughrey’s ruling:

“Since our Sanctity of Life Committee investigation revealed the connection between Planned Parenthood and the University of Missouri, I have repeatedly said that we must get Mizzou out of the abortion business. State law is clear that tax dollars may not be used to perform abortions. Fortunately, today’s ruling does not impact the University of Missouri’s decision to end their “refer and follow” privileges with the abortion provider, therefore, Mizzou will remain out of the abortion business.”

“However, because there is no apparent federal question presented in this case which would give a federal court jurisdiction to issue an injunction, and because the 2010 settlement agreement between Planned Parenthood and the State of Missouri specifically prohibits Planned Parenthood from bringing their claim in any court, as Missouri Attorney General, I would immediately seek review from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals of the federal court’s issuance of the injunction.”

Under the judge’s ruling, the state Department of Health and Senior Services cannot revoke the license until the case is resolved, which Laughrey said she wants to happen by May 1.

Missouri has one other abortion clinic, in St. Louis, which performs both surgical and chemical abortions.

Categories: PPFA