Planned Parenthood CEO May be Held in Contempt for Ignoring Subpoena, Could Face Jail Time

State   |   Micaiah Bilger, Joe Ortwerth   |   Apr 8, 2016   |   5:51PM   |   Jefferson City, MO

A Planned Parenthood leader in Missouri who refused to comply with a state investigation into the abortion business could face jail time.

According to the St. Louis Dispatch, a state Senate committee passed a resolution Thursday to pursue contempt proceedings against Mary Kogut, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri. They also passed a resolution to hold in contempt James Miller, the owner of a Pathology Services of St. Louis, which Planned Parenthood hired to analyze fetal tissue from each abortion, the report states.

Both Kogut and Miller refused to comply with a subpoena from a state Senate committee in November. The committee is investigating Planned Parenthood after a series of undercover videos exposed its trafficking of aborted babies’ body parts, LifeNews reported.

The local news reports more on the situation:

Senators sought from Planned Parenthood six years worth of documents pertaining to fetal tissue and other information about Planned Parenthood operations. Miller was supposed to testify before the interim Senate Sanctity of Life Committee in December but didn’t.

On Dec. 23, after the two hadn’t complied with the subpoena, state Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia and committee chairman, recommended that the Senate interim committee move forward with contempt proceedings against Miller and Kogut.

If the full Senate approves the resolutions, Kogut and Miller could be forced to appear before the full Senate to explain themselves.

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Chuck Hatfield, attorney for Planned Parenthood, says the organization already has explained itself. He said the Senate hasn’t listened.

After the initial subpoena in November, Hatfield’s firm sent a letter on Dec. 4 to [Senate President Pro Tem Ron] Richard outlining the group’s objections. The letter said that the subpoena was overly broad, onerous and would violate patient privacy laws.

“We heard nothing from them — no phone call, no letter,” Hatfield said. “Instead, on Dec. 23, they issued a report initiating contempt proceedings.”

Attorneys for the state, however, said the abortion group can provide the information without personally identifiable patient information.

Some of the requested documents include any abortion incidents that required an ambulance and written protocols for performing abortions, according to the Associated Press.

Miller and Kogut could face 10 days in jail and fines if they are found in contempt.

The problems began in November when Kogut refused to appear before the Sanctity of Human Life Committee to discuss how her St. Louis abortion clinic disposes of the remains of unborn children who have been aborted.

The Senate Committee has already learned that Miller’s St. Louis pathology company repeatedly failed to file required reports with state health officials.

Senator Schaefer’s resolutions call for Kogut and Miller to appear before the Senate committee to explain their decision to defy the Senate subpoenas.  Under Senate rules, the Senate sergeant-at-arms can compel Kogut and Miller to appear should they choose not to show up voluntarily.

The Missouri Constitution authorizes the Senate to take action independent of the judicial system to impose penalties against those who demonstrate “contemptuous behavior” in regard to official Senate action. The Senate can impose a $300 fine, 10 days in jail, or both.

Spokesmen for Planned Parenthood insist that they are complying with all state laws regulating abortion clinics.  Yet the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has failed to inspect the Planned Parenthood clinic in eight of the last 16 years, as required by the code of state regulations.

In November, LifeNews reported that Schaeffer’s office received a death threat, which he believes was linked to his leadership of the abortion investigation.