Why Inspections Matter

Legislation is moving through the Missouri General Assembly that would require the Missouri Department of Health to conduct an annual inspection of Missouri abortion clinics. Sponsored by Representative Kathryn Swan (R-Cape Girardeau), HB 190 passed the House by a vote of 119-35 and is now pending in the Senate.

Through a Sunshine Request, the Missouri Catholic Conference obtained the results of inspections of the St. Louis abortion clinic conducted by the Missouri Department of Health in 2009, 2013, and 2014. These inspections have shown a number of health and safety violations which the clinic corrected only after the inspections took place.

The 2009 inspection found that two of the surgical technicians assigned to assist in the abortion procedure had no documentation of surgical training in their personnel files. The 2009 inspection concluded: “[b]ased on record review and interview, the facility failed to assure that all surgical technicians (non-licensed assisting staff present in the procedure room) provide documentation of training in assisting abortion procedures or certified surgical technologist credentials.”

An inspection on January 31, 2013 also found a number of disturbing violations. For example, the inspection report found that the St. Louis clinic failed to discard single use medications after they were used on a patient, failed to ensure expired items were not available to patients, and failed to ensure “a sanitary environment was preserved by failure to replace worn, rusted or deteriorating equipment with functional easily cleanable surfaces that will not harbor and transmit infections in three of three Procedure Rooms.” Observation of the supply room found expired surgical gloves and postpartum balloons (used to control postpartum hemorrhage).

While the violations in 2009 and 2013 were observed to be corrected on follow-up visits, the question still remains: what would happen if these inspections had never occurred, would these violations have been corrected?

House Bill 190 is an effort to better protect women from unsafe practices too commonly accepted in abortion clinics. Being inspected 3 times in the last 10 years is not sufficient. The MCC is urging legislators to realize the importance of annual inspections as a way to protect women from unsafe conditions accepted in the abortion industry.

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