KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson says he won’t launch an investigation into the state’s health department after reports that the agency kept a spreadsheet tracking the menstrual cycles of women who sought abortions at Planned Parenthood.
Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams discussed the information during a hearing to determine if the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis would retain or lose its license to perform abortions.
Afterward, there was an outcry among Democrats in the state to investigate the issue, citing patients’ privacy concerns.
Missouri House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, a Democrat from Springfield, called for an investigation to see if patient privacy was compromised or if laws were broken. She also was critical of Williams’ actions.
“State law requires the health department director to be ‘of recognized character and integrity,’” Quade said in a statement. “This unsettling behavior calls into question whether Dr. Williams meets that high standards,” she said.
But on Friday, Parson ruled out an investigation and said that the state had been keeping track of that information for decades, in accordance with state law.
“First of all, no, I’m not going to call for an investigation. Let me just be upfront about that,” Parson told reporters Friday in Kansas City.
“The truth of the matter is there is no special spreadsheet of what the accusations are. The information that’s been coming into the Department of Health has been going on since 1981 under state law and lawmakers that don’t know that should probably take a good look at the laws of the state of Missouri.”
In a statement, the Department of Health and Senior Services denied that Williams ordered the creation of a spreadsheet of the patient’s menstrual cycles, but did acknowledge that the department used that information to try and track down failed abortions.
DHSS cites failed abortions as one of the reasons for wanting to revoke Planned Parenthood’s license to perform the procedure. An administrative hearing on the issue wrapped up Friday. A ruling is expected in February.
“If they meet the guidelines of the state of Missouri, they have every right to have their doors open,” Parson said. “They have every right to perform abortions under the state law, and as governor, my job is to make sure that those rights are upheld for everybody.”