A pro-life former judge appointed by the Missouri governor will sit on the panel reviewing the fate of the state’s last abortion clinic.
Republican Missouri Gov. Mike Parson appointed former Macon County Associate Circuit Judge Philip Prewitt to the panel on June 3. A judge ordered that health officials make a decision by Friday on whether the last abortion clinic in Missouri will have its license renewed, according to The Missouri Times.
Parson and Prewitt have been vocal in their support for pro-life legislation.
The bill prohibits abortions after eight weeks except for cases of medical emergency, and does not make exceptions for rape or incest. Doctors who defy the bill and perform abortions after eight weeks could face up to 15 years in prison.
It’s time to make Missouri the most Pro-Life state in the country! Thanks to leaders in the House and Senate, we are one vote away from passing one of the strongest #ProLife bills in the country – standing for life, protecting women’s health, and advocating for the unborn.
— Governor Mike Parson (@GovParsonMO) May 15, 2019
Prewitt formerly served as an associate circuit judge but lost his re-election bid and resigned early from office in December 2018, according to The Associated Press. The former judge was criticized in 2015 for support of the pro-life pregnancy center Ray of Hope Pregnancy Care Ministries. Prewitt vocally supported the charity and posted about the pregnancy center on social media.
The Missouri Commission on Retirement, Removal and Discipline examined Prewitt’s Facebook posts in 2015 and said that they violated a Supreme Court law that prevents judges from personally participating “in the solicitation of funds or other fundraising activities.”
“I am happy to be supporting Ray of Hope Pregnancy Center again at their fundraising dinner,” Prewitt posted on Facebook in 2014, according to the AP. “Even if you didn’t attend, consider donating to this wonderful organization.”
The commission reprimanded Prewitt for his conduct on a social media account affiliated with his title as a judge, but noted Prewitt did not have a history of complaints, he was “cooperative and truthful,” and he “ceased Facebook postings involving charitable fundraising and limited his political postings to thanking his supporters after the election, inviting them to attend his swearing-in, and providing directions to the courthouse.”
Prewitt said the reprimand will not inhibit his ability to act on the upcoming panel.
“I don’t see where it would be a conflict,” Prewitt told the AP. “It doesn’t violate the judicial rules, so I don’t see how it would violate any commissioner rules either.”
A spokesman from Parson’s office said the governor’s office was aware of the reprimand when Parson appointed Prewitt and that he was appointed based on his past military service and experience as a judge rather than his pro-life stances.
Prewitt has not yet responded to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Prewitt and other members of the panel will examine the hotly contested case of the last abortion clinic in Missouri. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services refused to renew the St. Louis Planned Parenthood abortion clinic’s license over patient safety concerns.
Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit to keep the clinic operating.
Missouri DHSS explained its concerns in a statement, saying the abortion clinic was told in April that “due to ongoing concerns about potential deficient practices, interviews would need to be done with the physicians providing that care.”
DHSS reported the St. Louis abortion doctors continuously refused to cooperate in interviews. This prevented DHSS from being able to verify that the St. Louis clinic was in compliance with “all the requirements of applicable statutes and regulations” and prevents DHSS from renewing their license.
The statement lists concerns including alleged Missouri law and regulations violations, incidents involving failure to provide standard patient care, unsuccessful abortion procedures, questionable quality control, communication with a contracted pathology lab and failure to obtain informed consent from patients.
Planned Parenthood did not respond to requests for comment from TheDCNF.
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