Missouri Cuts Deal With Planned Parenthood

      JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) — The CEO of Planned Parenthood of St. Louis and Southwest Missouri no longer faces possible contempt charges after cutting a deal with Missouri lawmakers.
     The Missouri Senate last week voted to compel Mary Kogut to explain why Planned Parenthood had not complied with its subpoena.
     Kogut would have had to explain herself to the entire Senate or face contempt charges if she didn’t show.
     In November, the Senate Sanctity of Life Committee issued the subpoena seeking six years of documents, including all consent forms signed by patients in the process of receiving abortion care at the St. Louis affiliate.
     They also sought documents that refer to Drs. Mary Gatter and Deborah Nucatola, two Planned Parenthood staff members who appear in videos by the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group that accuses Planned Parenthood of illegally selling fetal tissue.
     The videos were heavily edited and have been debunked, though abortion opponents in several states and Congress continue to use them.
     Planned Parenthood said the committee had no right to request the documents and that handing them over would violate federal privacy law.
     State Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, the chairman of the interim Senate Sanctity of Life Committee, said Thursday that the Senate and Planned Parenthood had reached an agreement about the documents.
     “We do have an agreement with Planned Parenthood that they will comply with the subpoena and produce documents through their lawyer,” Schaefer said.
     The agreement has not been made public.
     Though Schaefer said he expected that all the requested records would be turned over Friday, Planned Parenthood called the deal a win for patient privacy.
     “This agreement is a victory for Planned Parenthood patients and their confidence in our commitment to provide high quality confidential care — no matter what,” Kogut said in a statement. “What Sen. Schaefer was trying to do was wrong. We appreciate Senate leaders who agreed to request a narrower set of policy-related documents that in no way risk patient privacy.”
     Schaefer said a bipartisan group will review the records, and the decision on who will make up the group will be made by Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin.
     Schaefer said the committee hopes the documents will reveal Planned Parenthood’s policy of disposing fetal tissue after abortions.
     An investigation by Attorney General Chris Koster revealed no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood. Koster, a Democrat, is running for governor.
     The Senate also passed a resolution to compel Dr. James Miller of Pathology Services, Inc. to appear, but Schaefer said he is invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination not to appear.
     If either Kogut or Miller were found in contempt, they could have faced 10 days in jail and a $300 fine.

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