See more of our coverage on recent attacks against Planned Parenthood here.
The University of Missouri canceled contracts with Planned Parenthood, ending a 26-year relationship with the organization after anti-choice state lawmakers investigated abortions performed at the organization’s clinics.
The university canceled ten contracts between August 21 and September 3 with clinics affiliated with Planned Parenthood in Florida, Kansas, Missouri, and Tennessee, reported the Associated Press.
Medical and nursing students would complete clinical hours at the clinics as an optional rotation.
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“The nursing school administration reviews contracts routinely and decided to cancel them since there were ample opportunities at many other learning sites,” Mary Jenkins, University of Missouri Health System spokeswoman, told the Columbia Missourian.
There are 13 Planned Parenthood operated facilities in Missouri, of which two are clinics that provide abortion services. Reproductive Health Services in St. Louis provides in-clinic surgical abortion care, and the Columbia Health Center provides medication abortion services.
Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri (PPKM) and Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri both operate facilities in the state.
The actions by the University of Missouri come as Planned Parenthood has come under fire from Republican state lawmakers, who have held multiple hearings to investigate unsubstantiated claims that the organization has participated in the selling of fetal tissue.
Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said in a statement that the investigations were politically motivated. “Regardless of the current political witch hunt against our organization, we remain committed to serving the Mid-Missouri community with the highest quality health care services,” McQuade said.
“We condemn the wasted tax payer money spent on inquisitions against PPKM driven solely by political ambition,” McQuade said. “PPKM continues to hold all appropriate privileging and licensure from the state of Missouri to legally provide medication abortion in Colombia, and those services, as well as our full range of preventive health care, are ongoing.”
As chairman of the Committee on the Sanctity of Life, Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) has held multiple hearings in response to a series of videos published by an anti-choice front group, the Center for Medical Progress. The videos feature heavily edited footage of secretly taped conversations with Planned Parenthood officials.
“Missourians deserve to know the truth behind this potentially atrocious violation of our state laws and humane values,” Schaefer said in a statement. “Over the next few months this committee will conduct a rigorous investigation into the monstrous and inconceivable acts carried out by Planned Parenthood.”
The hearings have often veered away from Planned Parenthood’s policies and practices concerning fetal tissue, with Republicans using the hearings as an opportunity to attack the organization more broadly.
The committee has questioned the licensing of the Columbia Planned Parenthood facility to resume surgical abortion services, after not providing abortion services for the previous three years. Under state law, the physician providing abortion care must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic were the abortions are performed.
Dr. Colleen McNicholas was granted “refer and follow” privileges at University of Missouri Health Care, allowing McNicholas to refer patients to the hospital and check their medical record after being admitted.
Sen. Bob Onder (R-Lake Saint Louis) claimed during a recent hearing that the admitting privileges were not granted legally, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“I think a lot of games were played here by the Department (of Health and Senior Services) and maybe the University (of Missouri),” Onder said.
The committee has yet to invite any representatives from Planned Parenthood to testify, but Schaefer indicated the committee would soon. “The more we find out about this the more questions we seem to have,” Schaefer said, reported the Missourian. “We will keep plowing forward.”