Missouri lawmakers voted Thursday to hold a Planned Parenthood leader accountable for failing to respond to a state subpoena for information.
The state Senate voted to summon Mary Kogut, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, to explain why she should not be held in contempt for failing to answer the Senate committee that is investigating Planned Parenthood, according to The Washington Post.
In November, the Senate committee subpoenaed files related to the abortion group’s handling of aborted babies’ body parts. Last week, after Kogut did not comply with the subpoena, the committee passed a resolution to pursue contempt proceedings against her, LifeNews reported. If held in contempt, she could face jail time and fines.
The vote on Thursday requires Kogut to appear in the chamber on April 25 to explain why she should not be held in contempt, according to the latest report. The legislators also approved a summons for James Miller, the owner of a Pathology Services of St. Louis, which contracts with Planned Parenthood to analyze fetal tissue, the report states.
Here is more from the report:
The Missouri Constitution allows lawmakers to punish those held in contempt with a fine and 10 days in jail, though records show that hasn’t happened in more than a century. If Kogut or Miller do not appear, the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms is authorized to “issue the necessary process” to bring them to the chamber, according to the contempt resolutions, which do not include details on what the process would involve.
… Sen. Kurt Schaefer, chairman of the Senate committee investigating the group and a Republican candidate for attorney general, has said lawmakers cannot be sure Planned Parenthood has not broken the law without the records the Senate subpoenaed. Those documents include all of Planned Parenthood’s policies and written communication on disposing fetal tissue, as well as information on ambulance visits and all documents mentioning two doctors featured in the undercover videos.
Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, a Republican from Joplin, has said it’s important to show there are consequences to defying a legislative subpoena.
An attorney for Planned Parenthood told the news outlet that the abortion group is open to releasing some of the documents, but they believe others that were requested have nothing to do with the Senate investigation.
The situation is becoming heated in Missouri. Planned Parenthood supporters are wrongly accusing the Senate committee of seeking private patient information as part of its investigation.
An inflammatory article on the Daily Banter this week claimed “Missouri Republicans Want a List of Names of Women Who’ve Had Abortions” and called the pro-life legislators Nazis. A slightly less overblown editorial by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Sunday also accused the Republican Senators of trying to force abortion groups to hand over patients’ private medical records.
But the accusations are not true.
In an article Wednesday in the same newspaper, Schaefer responded:
Republican Sen. Kurt Schaefer, who is running for attorney general, said the Senate is only interested in the processes used in the disposal of fetal remains.
“The misinformation campaign has been unbelievable,” Schaefer said. “The Senate is not seeking any personally identifiable medical records.”
In November, LifeNews reported Schaefer’s office received a death threat, which he believes was linked to his leadership of the Planned Parenthood investigation.
Also on Thursday, the Missouri House approved two bills to increase accountability for abortion clinics in their disposition and tracking of aborted babies’ body parts. The measures also increase information and reporting requirements in future inspections of abortion clinics.
Steve Rupp, President of Missouri Right to Life, said in a statement:
While those who support abortion have made their attacks on the producer of the videos that were released last summer by the Center for Medical Progress, they fail to acknowledge the fact that the prosecutor harassing this pro-life producer has strong ties to the abortion industry and specifically to Planned Parenthood. These videos have been proven to be substantially unedited or dubbed. These videos give clear examples that fetal tissue is being sold for high profit by personnel from Planned Parenthood and that the abortion clinic in St. Louis was a possible market to tap into.
Investigations by the Missouri House and Senate have determined that the State Department of Health, under the administration of pro-abortion Governor Jay Nixon, has no idea how baby body parts were being disposed of or if state law regulating pathology testing were being carried out.
HB 2069 & 2371 was written and passed by the House today in response to the lack of oversight from the Missouri Department of Health over Planned Parenthood and the Pathology lab they used at that time.
Both measures move to the state Senate for debate.