Missouri’s only Planned Parenthood will stay open after commissioner’s decision

Missouri’s only abortion clinic will be allowed to continue operating after a state commissioner declared Friday that the health department was wrong to drop the license of Planned Parenthood’s facility in St. Louis.

Administrative Hearing Commissioner Sreenivasa Rao Dandamudi said, “Planned Parenthood has demonstrated that it provides safe and legal abortion care. Therefore, Planned Parenthood is entitled to renewal of its abortion facility license.”

Friday’s decision means that Missouri will not become the first state without an abortion clinic since 1974.

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“In over 4,000 abortions provided since 2018, the Department has only identified two causes to deny its license,” Dandamudi wrote in his decision.

Missouri’s health department director, Randall Williams, accused Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis Reproductive Health Services (PPSLR) office of carrying out inadequate medical services resulting in two “failed abortions,” though they did not result in any reported complications.

After reviewing the cases, the Administrative Hearing Commission said it could not find evidence of safe practice negligence.

“We do not find Planned Parenthood failed to ensure safe and appropriate care in ensuring the accuracy of its gross tissue exams,” Dandamudi wrote. “With respect to this issue, we find no cause to deny Planned Parenthood’s renewal application.”

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PPSLR’s president and CEO for the St. Louis region, Yamelsie Rodríguez, said Planned Parenthood was vindicated by the ruling.

“For more than a year, Missouri’s health department has targeted Planned Parenthood,” said Rodríguez in a statement Friday. “Missouri’s health department director, Randall Williams, made false allegations about the high-quality care we provide and the dedicated, expert medical staff who provide it.”

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Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, who has said he would like to make Missouri “the most Pro-Life state in the country,” signed a bill in May last year criminalizing abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy.

Parson could not be immediately reached for comment on today’s decision.

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