With Planned Parenthood back in court trying to prevent the state of Missouri from revoking its abortion license, the crew of CBS This Morning went to bat for the abortion provider on Thursday, highlighting their defiance of a state regulation requiring a second pelvic exam 72 hours before an abortion and uncritically repeating President Leana Wen's talking points.
The segment started with CBS correspondent Meg Oliver in St. Louis at Missouri's last remaining abortion provider. She talked to an unidentified woman about her decision to have an abortion and how the additional pelvic exam added to her "misery."
Before introducing David Eisenberg, the St. Louis Planned Parenthood's medical director, Oliver mentioned that the state had cited 30 "deficiencies" with the clinic, but did not cite any of the specifics, although on Wednesday, Oliver reported that one of those was performing an abortion at 21 weeks when Missouri law set the limit for legal abortions at 20 weeks. Oliver did not question Eisenberg on that or any of the other findings in the state's 60 page report, instead allowing him to freely attack the new regulation.
You remember when the director, Dr. Leana Wen, was here, who is now the head of Planned Parenthood, a lot is at stake and she makes a very important case, you know Planned Parenthood is so much more than just abortions. You remember when the director, Dr. Leana Wen, was here, who is now the head of Planned Parenthood, a lot is at stake and she makes a very important case, you know Planned Parenthood is so much more than just abortions.
Fellow co-host Anthony Mason interjected, "Yes, it’s a very a small part of what they do," to which King added "I think people forget that."
Planned Parenthood performed 332,757 abortions in fiscal year 2018, up from 321,384 in FY17. If we accept Planned Parenthood's own annual reporting that abortion comprises only 3.4% of their services, King and Mason's worry is a strange one. If Planned Parenthood loses in court, the St. Louis Planned Parenthood will not shut down, they will just lose their ability to perform abortions. If losing their abortion license does force them to shut down, perhaps Planned Parenthood was less than truthful in their reporting and messaging.
Here is a transcript for the June 20 show:
8:04 AM ET
CBS This Morning
ANTHONY MASON: The only remaining abortion clinic in Missouri says it won't comply with a reinterpreted state regulation to give women a pelvic exam at least 72 hours before an abortion. Doctors call the exam medically unnecessary. Critics say it's an attempt to discourage women from going through with abortions. CBS News broke this story and Meg Oliver is outside the Planned Parenthood in St. Louis. Meg, could this result in the clinic being shut down by tomorrow?
MEG OLIVER: Anthony, that remains to be seen. We've obtained a copy of the state’s inspection report that's more than 60 pages long. Planned Parenthood will file their response today. The medical director here told me that requiring a woman to undergo an additional procedure that he believes to be unethical was the last straw.
BEGIN VIDEO CLIP
OLIVER: How hard was it for you to make this decision to have an abortion?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: This is most definitely one of the hardest decisions to make.
OLIVER [VOICEOVER]: This woman who doesn't want to be identified for her own safety says she can't support a child and her misery has only been extended by the additional pelvic exam she had to get days before the abortion.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I feel that the pelvic exam is just a another way of deterring you from the decision you going to make.
PRO LIFE PROTESTERS: Pro-Lives, Pro-woman!
OLIVER [VOICEOVER]: The Planned Parenthood clinic is at the center of a national abortion debate. Missouri has some of the strictest regulations on abortions a recent inspection reportedly cited the clinic for 30 deficiencies. David Eisenberg is the medical director.
DAVID EISENBERG: It is exhausting.
OLIVER [VOICEOVER]: He says in May the state reinterpreted an existing regulation requiring his staff to perform an additional pelvic exam.
EISENBERG: I have new evidence to say 100% of the patients who I've taken care of who have undergone this inappropriate, medically unnecessary, and unethical pelvic exam have been harmed by that.
OLIVER [VOICEOVER]: The clinic plans to file a letter in court today stating unless medically indicated they'll no longer require a patient to undergo a pelvic exam 72 hours before abortion.
EISENBERG: I'm no longer willing to practice medicine that way.
OLIVER: Even if it means your clinic could shut down.
EISENBERG: I really hope that we get to continue the high quality patient-centered of care for years to come. The decision now rests with a judge.
OLIVER [VOICEOVER]: The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services didn't response to our request for comment. Its director previously defended pelvic exam requirements for abortions as “very much a part of standard care” saying the department is trying to “ensure the safety of women.” But the American College of obstetricians and Gynecologists say “Routine pelvic exams for women seeking abortion care are unwarranted, invasive, and not supported by evidence.”
EISENBERG: They're going to have an exam done when it's medically appropriate but not at any other time because to do so in my opinion is just assault.
OLIVER: This comes at a delicate time for this Planned Parenthood clinic which has gone to court over the state's refusal to renew its license to perform abortion. They could rule on that as early as tomorrow. Gayle.
GAYLE KING: A lot of people are watching. Thank you very much, Meg. You remember when the director, Dr. Leana Wen, was here, who is now the head of Planned Parenthood, a lot is at stake and she makes a very important case, you know Planned Parenthood is so much more than just abortions…
MASON: Yes, it’s a very a small part of what they do
KING: I think people forget