Hearings have begun in the case of Missouri’s last abortion clinic, a Planned Parenthood in St. Louis whose license has yet to be renewed by state officials. Tuesday’s proceedings netted a particularly disturbing piece of information: Missouri’s state health director admitted to keeping track of the Planned Parenthood patients’ menstrual periods.
The Kansas City Star reports that the health director, one Dr. Randall Williams, testified on Tuesday that he maintained a spreadsheet tracking visitors’ periods, allegedly to help “identify patients who had undergone failed abortions.” The spreadsheet also included “medical identification numbers, dates of medical procedures and the gestational ages of fetuses,” according to the report. The spreadsheet was also sent by email as an attachment between health department employees.
Missouri lawmakers have called on the state’s Republican governor, Mike Parson, to investigate whether or not the spreadsheet constituted a major breach of patient privacy; Yamelsie Rodriguez, CEO of Reproductive Health Services of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, called the spreadsheet “deeply disturbing.”
“This is government overreach at its worst,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “It shadows the Trump administration’s history of tracking the periods of refugee girls under the government’s care. This is outrageous and disgusting.”
Williams, an anti-choice OBGYN who has bragged about never once performing an abortion, defended the spreadsheet, calling the investigation into Planned Parenthood a “a top-down initiative.” The state claims the spreadsheet helped find four patients who had unsuccessful surgical abortions, and has used these alleged failed abortions as evidence against issuing the Planned Parenthood a renewed license.
If the Planned Parenthood’s license is not renewed, Missouri will be the only state in the nation without a single legal abortion clinic.