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Missouri Health Chief Tracked Planned Parenthood Patients' Periods

Data indicated 4 failed abortions out of thousands
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2019 9:55 AM CDT
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Sreenivasa Rao Dandamudi, left, commissioner of the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission, listens as Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, answers questions Tuesday in St. Louis.   (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

(Newser) – Missouri's health director admitted Tuesday to tracking the menstrual periods of women who visited the sole abortion clinic in the state with the goal of identifying those who had failed procedures. Planned Parenthood's St. Louis clinic is facing accusations of failed medical abortions as it fights to remain open. On the second day of what is to be a five-day hearing in front of the state's Administrative Hearing Commission, Dr. Randall Williams said he'd directed the state's main inspector to keep a spreadsheet that included the last menstrual periods of clinic visitors after the state failed to receive a complication report linked to one failed abortion, per NBC News and the Kansas City Star. Using the spreadsheet, investigators ultimately found four patients who had to return to the clinic for a successful procedure.

Williams said this was the reason the health department canceled the clinic's license to perform abortions in June. But Planned Parenthood said the cancellation was part of a larger anti-abortion effort by state officials, who "cherry-picked" four cases out of thousands, per NBC and the AP. The head of the clinic, Yamelsie Rodriguez, said the spreadsheet found through legal discovery was "deeply disturbing," as Williams had "scrutinized menstrual cycles of women in this state in order to end abortion access." Missouri House Minority Leader Crystal Quade also criticized the "unsettling behavior" while calling on Republican Gov. Mike Parson to "immediately investigate" whether laws were broken or "patient privacy was compromised." The hearing continues this week. A decision is expected, at the earliest, in February. (Read more Planned Parenthood stories.)

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