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Assistant Missouri Attorney General John Sauer, right, packed up his materials on the fourth and final day of hearings between Planned Parenthood and Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on whether Planned Parenthood can keep its abortion license on Thursday, Oct. 31 in St. Louis.
Assistant Missouri Attorney General John Sauer, right, packed up his materials on the fourth and final day of hearings between Planned Parenthood and Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on whether Planned Parenthood can keep its abortion license on Thursday, Oct. 31 in St. Louis.
Photo Credit: Laurie Skrivan | St. Louis Post-Dispatch via Associated Press

Hearing concludes in sate abortion clinic licensing case

ST. LOUIS — An administrative hearing to decide whether Missouri can revoke the license for the state’s only abortion clinic concluded Thursday, with emotional testimony from a clinic official.

The hearing in St. Louis before a commissioner with the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission was expected to last five days but wrapped up a day early. A ruling isn’t expected until February at the earliest.

The state health department wants to revoke the license for Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis clinic, citing concerns about four instances of what the state called “failed abortions.” Planned Parenthood officials say conservatives are trying to use the licensing process to end abortions in Missouri.

Revocation would make Missouri the first state since 1974, the year after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, without a functioning abortion clinic. The St. Louis clinic remains open pending the commission’s ruling.

Kawanna Shannon, director of surgical services at the clinic, testified that the state’s March inspection was tense from the start. It was the first inspection under the administration of Republican Gov. Mike Parson.

Investigators were adamant that the clinic should be performing two pelvic exams before an abortion, at a patient’s first visit and again immediately before the procedure. The clinic initially agreed to the second exam, but soon decided it was so “unbearable” for patients that it stopped in defiance of the state law, Shannon said.

“Patients were made to get unnecessarily violated,” Shannon said.

The health department relented in June, issuing an emergency rule relieving Planned Parenthood of the requirement.

Shannon said that a month after the March inspection, a top health department official showed up to scrutinize records. That investigator was William Koebel, chief of the division that oversees licensing of abortion clinics and other surgical centers.

The investigation eventually turned up four instances where women required multiple procedures before abortions were successfully completed.

Story by Jim Salter, Associated Press.

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