JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) – Missouri state senators Tuesday held a hearing on a bill that would hold the president of a St. Louis-area Planned Parenthood office in contempt of court for refusing to turn over subpoenaed medical documents.
In November, the general assembly’s interim committee on the sanctity of life subpoenaed documents from Mary Kogut, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.
The documents included 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 the states and Congress continue to use them.
Planned Parenthood says the Missouri committee does not have the authority to subpoena the documents, and that handing them over would violate federal privacy law.
Kogut could face up to 10 days in jail and a $300 fine if she is found guilty of contempt.
“It is deeply, deeply concerning that in 2016 we are talking about jailing women’s healthcare providers for protecting their patients’ privacy,” Kogut said in a statement. “These baseless threats to our healthcare professionals and providers are disturbing.”
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said in September last year that his office found that Planned Parenthood affiliates in Missouri had not committed any wrongdoing. Koster, a Democrat, is running for governor.
But state Sen. Kurt Schaefer, a Republican running for attorney general, opened his own investigation into Planned Parenthood.
The Republican-controlled Legislature is expected to vote soon on defunding Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid and Title X provider.
Women seeking abortions in Missouri must wait 72 hours while receiving counseling designed to discourage them from going through with it.
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