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St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic does not donate abortion tissue for research

Patients entering the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis are often greeted by a line of protesters.
File photo | Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio
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St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis area Planned Parenthood, which operates Missouri’s only abortion clinic, says its facility isn’t affected by allegations that Planned Parenthood nationally may have sold organs and other tissue from aborted fetuses for profit.

Abortion-related tissue may be donated for research purposes, with the patient's permission, but it is illegal to sell the material for profit.

A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Springfield said that the St. Louis clinic does not participate in any tissue donation program. All abortion-related tissue is disposed as medical waste, she said.

Meanwhile, two Missouri state legislators plan to conduct a joint investigation into the national allegations.

One of them is state Rep. Andrew Koenig, a Republican from Manchester, who says he wants to make sure that such activities are not taking place in Missouri.

Koenig chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, which he said will look into the issue. Koenig will be joined by Rep. Diane Franklin, R-Camdenton, who heads the House Children and Families Committee.

In a statement, St. Louis Planned Parenthood officials said, “We will, of course, cooperate fully with any investigation. However, since Planned Parenthood affiliates in Missouri do not participate in any donation programs, there is nothing to investigate. Medical issues shouldn't be politicized like this. This isn't what people in our state want elected official to spend their time doing."

The national controversy about Planned Parenthood stems from a video produced by an anti-abortion group. In the video, a top Planned Parenthood discussed the tissue donation process.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said in an interview that she had seen the eight-minute video and had also read some of the transcript of the three-hour discussion between the national Planned Parenthood official and the anti-abortion activists, who were pretending to be representatives of a firm that uses such tissue for research.

National Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards has contended that the video was heavily edited, and says that there is no evidence in the transcript that the organization was selling tissue for profit.

McCaskill said she found the video disturbing. However, she added, “I’m sure that there will be many hearings about it, and I’ll continue to try to be engaged and involved in understanding exactly what occurred. Obviously, if they’ve broken the law, that’s a problem. But the law says they cannot sell any tissue for profit and they’re assuring the public they have not done that.”

State Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, has sent a letter to state Attorney General Chris Koster, asking for an investigation into how Missouri's Planned Parenthood operations handle abortion-related tissue.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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