Apr 05, 2016
Missouri Republicans are considering holding the president of the state's Planned Parenthood chapter in contempt of court, with possible fines and jail time, for refusing to hand over private medical information.
Mary Kogut, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, was subpoenaed for six years' worth of documents in November, after an interim state Senate Sanctity of Life Committee began investigating the health affiliate following the release of widely debunked "sting" videos which purported to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue.
The Missouri senate introduced a bill on Tuesday to determine if Kogut should be held in contempt for refusing to comply. If charged, she faces up to 10 days in jail and a $300 fine.
Among other things, the committee asked for consent forms signed by patients who received abortion care at the St. Louis clinic and any documents that reference the doctors featured in the videos.
"It is deeply, deeply concerning that in 2016 we are talking about jailing women's healthcare providers for protecting their patients' privacy," Kogut said in a statement on Tuesday. "These baseless threats to our healthcare professionals and providers are disturbing."
James Miller, owner of the Brentwood-based Pathology Services, was also subpoenaed and has also refused to hand over documents, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
A lawyer for Planned Parenthood said the panel did not have the authority to demand those files and that handing them over would violate privacy law.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, a Democrat who is running for governor this year, cleared the state's Planned Parenthood chapters of wrongdoing in September. The St. Louis affiliate is the only clinic in the state that provides abortions.
"The evidence reviewed by my investigators supports Planned Parenthood's representation that fetal tissue is handled in accordance with Missouri law. We have discovered no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Planned Parenthood's St. Louis facility is selling fetal tissue," Koster stated at the time.
The subpoenas come after the state House stripped Planned Parenthood of government funding in March.
Cecile Richards, president of the National Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said Tuesday, "We can't continue to pretend like these attacks are theoretical or merely rhetorical. Politicians in Missouri and across the country are threatening to take us back to the days where reproductive health providers were jailed for providing abortion--and it's women who pay the price."
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