This week, Missouri lawmakers joined pro-life activists outside five Planned Parenthood facilities in the state (St. Louis, Columbia, Springfield, Joplin, and Kansas City) in an effort to expose their dangerous abortion practices. A large number of ambulance visits to Planned Parenthood of St. Louis — the one Planned Parenthood offering abortions in the state — prompted pro-lifers and lawmakers to arrange the press conference to sound a “safety alert” to women and to urge for inspections and investigations of the St. Louis facility, which pro-lifers say has had an average of “one 911 call and ambulance response every 42 days.”
The simultaneous press conference was organized by the pro-life group, Team P.L.A.Y, a collaboration of Missouri pro-woman non-profit groups, and was held just days after Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s abortion laws, which seek to protect women from unsafe abortion practices. Joining Team P.L.A.Y. outside Planned Parenthood were State Representative Diane Franklin, District 123; State Representative Mike Moon, District 157; State Senator Ed Emery, District 31 and State Representative Rick Brattin, District 55.
Also in attendance at the event were Brian Westbrook, executive director of St. Louis Coalition for Life, former president of Missouri Right to Life Pam Fichter, syndicated radio show host Stacy Washington, and many others.
A press release provided by Team P.L.A.Y stated:
It has been uncovered that 911 calls have summoned emergency ambulances to a Planned Parenthood abortion facility right here in Missouri 63 times since 2009, averaging one 911 call and ambulance response every 42 days. The fire department’s recent release of documents which record the reasons for these calls, teamed with the images of women being carried out on stretchers, captured on camera by first hand witnesses is UNBEARABLE and clear cause for the issuance of this safety alert.
Kathy Forck, a co-leader of Team P.L.A.Y, told Live Action News that their group was formed a few years ago as a collaboration of several organizations and individuals who work together to limit abortion in the state. (P.L.A.Y. is an acronym that stands for Prayer, Legislation, Activity, You.)
She said the group recently learned that despite the abysmal treatment of women at Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis facility, the abortion chain now has plans to start performing abortions in at least two other locations. The only thing stopping Planned Parenthood at this time, according to Forck, are regulations that require facilities which provide abortions to be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers and for abortion clinic physicians to have hospital admitting privileges and/or a written transfer agreement with a nearby hospital in case of an emergency.
“At least two Planned Parenthood locations in Missouri have been refused a new surgical license due to their inability to comply with basic safety standards which all other surgical centers are maintaining throughout Missouri,” Forck said.
From July 2 through November 23 of this year, ambulance calls to Planned Parenthood of St. Louis have escalated from an average of one every 42 days to one every 36 days, according to Forck, “and even more eye opening,” she told Live Action News, “there were two ambulance calls in November alone.”
According to records on file with the St. Louis Fire Department, 63 ambulances have been summoned to the St. Louis Planned Parenthood facility for everything from abdominal pain to hemorrhages, strokes, and seizures. Team P.L.A.Y, calling the list of emergencies a display of Planned Parenthood’s “wanton disregard for the safety of women,” says they are concerned that the emergency incidents at the St. Louis Planned Parenthood could indicate that current laws may not be being enforced. They also caution state regulators from rushing to grant any more abortion facility licenses to Planned Parenthood at this time.
A report from the St. Louis Review states:
In 2015, a manager with the Department of Health and Senior Services told a Senate committee that during an earlier inspection of Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, the department discovered that not all pathology reports were being sent to the department as required by law. Planned Parenthood was given time to correct the deficiency, but no other action was taken. In 2013, the department’s inspection of the clinic found several violations, such as expired drugs, “copious amounts of visible dust” in exam rooms and rust on equipment.
Team P.L.A.Y believes Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against facility safety regulations is “another demonstration of Planned Parenthood’s staggering disregard for the health and well-being of Missouri’s women.”
“Planned Parenthood’s desire to erase very basic and foundational medical standards which any legitimate surgical center would happily comply with and which ALL surgical centers outside of the billion dollar abortion industry DO comply with, is as flabbergasting as it is dangerous,” the group wrote in its press release, adding that Planned Parenthood has a horrific record in other parts of the country as well. (The Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, formed to investigate instances of fetal tissue trafficking in the U.S., recently issued a recommendation for criminal charges to be pursued against Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in Texas due to “believed criminal activity.”) The pro-life group added in the release:
… [O]ur own Missouri State lawmakers (Sen. Ron Richard, Sen. Kurt Schaefer, Sen. Jeanie Riddle, Sen. Will Krause, Sen. Mike Kehoe, Sen. Eric Schmitt, Sen. Bob Onder, M.D. and Sen. David Sater) issued an explosive “whistleblower”report in July, 2016 after investigating Missouri Planned Parenthood locations, using Planned Parenthood’s own internal documents to cite shocking indifference to women’s health, possibly constituting medical malpractice.
State Sen. Ed Emery called Planned Parenthood’s motivation for its lawsuit “financial,” noting that other surgical centers in the state are subject to the same regulations. “Planned Parenthood’s ill-advised attempt to thwart the vitally important and very basic safety laws, which every other surgical center in the state willingly complies, must be aggressively opposed,” he stated.
State Rep. Rick Brattin made a similar statement outside Planned Parenthood in Kansas City, saying, “All surgical centers have to abide by our state laws. How is it that an organization does not have to abide by the same laws of every other surgical center in this state?”
State Rep. Mike Moon told Missourinet.com that the issue at hand is safety: “Anyone who’s logically thinking, whether they’re for abortion or against it, that should be a prominent topic that wherever anyone is going for medical services, that those should be administered with the best interests of the patient in mind.”
“The primary concern comes down to safety of the women,” Moon said.
Team P.L.A.Y is seeking an immediate revocation of the St. Louis Planned Parenthood’s abortion clinic license, as it is the site where so many medical emergencies have occurred. In addition, the group is asking for a thorough investigation of Planned Parenthood by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, saying, “The Department of Health and Senior Services must not turn a blind eye to this mounting crisis, and appropriate action in keeping with the obvious threat to women’s safety must be taken.”
The group is asking Missouri citizens to contact the state’s Attorney General, Chris Koster, as well as prosecuting attorneys in Greene County (Dan Patterson), Jackson County (Jean Peters Baker), Boone County (Daniel Knight), and Jasper County (Dean Dankelson) to demand an immediate investigation into Planned Parenthood.
In addition to putting a spotlight on Planned Parenthood’s dangerous abortion practices, Republican State Rep. Diane Franklin announced a plan to introduce legislation to ban fetal tissue donation, saying that lawmakers will consider several abortion regulations during the 2017 legislative session.
Forck says Team P.L.A.Y has uploaded additional information about Planned Parenthood’s dangerous and unsafe practices at the website WomenMustBeSafe.com, and are tweeting using the hashtag #WomenMustBeSafe to further spread their message.