Missouri Official Who Tracked Patients’ Menstrual Periods Should Resign, Says Abortion Rights Group (Updated)

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Missouri Official Who Tracked Patients’ Menstrual Periods Should Resign, Says Abortion Rights Group (Updated)

Dennis Carter

Dr. Randall Williams, Missouri's health director, admitted to keeping a spreadsheet with the menstrual cycles of patients at the Planned Parenthood clinic he's trying to shut down.

UPDATE, November 5, 2019, 2:31 p.m.: Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri on Tuesday called for “the immediate removal” of Dr. Randall Williams as head of Missouri’s health department. 

UPDATE, November 5, 2019, 1:25 p.m.: The pro-choice group Reproaction has also called for Dr. Randall Williams to step down as head of Missouri’s health department.

A pro-choice organization has called on the Missouri health director to step down after he said he tracked the menstrual cycles of patients at Missouri’s last stand-alone abortion clinic.

NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri Executive Director Mallory Schwarz said in a statement Wednesday that Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, should resign. “This insidious attack on Missourians’ constitutional rights put into plain view Williams’ coordinated efforts to force his extreme anti-choice agenda on the people of Missouri, and ultimately block them from accessing legal abortion,” Schwarz said.

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Williams testified at a Tuesday hearing that he maintained a spreadsheet tracking the menstrual cycles of patients who visited the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis in an effort to find so-called failed abortions, the Kansas City Star reported. The spreadsheet included patients’ medical identification numbers and the dates of their last menstrual periods, according to the Star. Williams’ testimony was on the second day of an administrative commission hearing that will determine whether the state’s last stand-alone clinic will remain open.

“We demand his resignation, as this is clearly the only way to prevent him from continuing to wreak havoc on our health, and impose his fringe, anti-choice agenda on all Missourians,” Schwarz said.

Missouri state Rep. Crystal Quade (D-Springfield), the house minority leader, called on Gov. Mike Parson (R) to “immediately investigate” whether “patient privacy was compromised or laws broken,” according to the Kansas City Star.

Missouri’s health department has refused to renew the abortion clinic’s license, as state officials claim the clinic has not complied with rules created by the state’s anti-choice lawmakers. A judge ruled in June that the Planned Parenthood clinic could remain open until the case is resolved. That decision now rests with the members of Missouri’s administrative hearing commission.

A Trump administration official also kept spreadsheets with information about pregnant people. As Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) director, Scott Lloyd received weekly spreadsheets with information on pregnant teenagers in ORR custody. The spreadsheets tracked gestational age and whether the teenager had requested an abortion. Lloyd, who denied immigrants’ requests for abortion care, also met with pregnant teenagers in ORR custody to coerce them out of choosing abortion.

Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a Wednesday tweet that a state official keeping track of people’s periods “is the reality when people in power want to strip away our rights and freedoms.”

“They force medically unnecessary pelvic exams, investigate menstrual cycles, and do whatever it takes to take control of our bodies, our lives, and our futures,” McGill Johnson said on Twitter.