Koster clears Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing in St. Louis regarding fetal tissue | St. Louis Public Radio

Koster clears Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing in St. Louis regarding fetal tissue

Sep 28, 2015

Planned Parenthood's St. Louis clinic is complying with Missouri law regarding fetal tissue, so says Attorney General Chris Koster.

In a report released Monday, Koster says the evidence reviewed by his investigators lines up with Planned Parenthood's statements that the organization is properly disposing of fetal tissue, and that there is "no evidence whatsoever" that the St. Louis clinic is selling fetal tissue.

"During our investigation, we reviewed more than 3,500 pages of documents and conducted multiple interviews of representatives for PPSLR (Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri) and its pathology laboratory," Koster said in the report. "For (June 2015), our investigation traced the fetal organs and tissue removed during surgical abortions ... to the statutory pathological examination, (and) to their ultimate destruction. As a result of our investigation, the Office of the Missouri Attorney General has found no evidence that PPSLR has engaged in unlawful disposal of fetal organs or tissues." (emphasis in the report)

Mo. Attorney General Chris Koster
Credit (Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

Koster launched his investigation in the wake of publicity over videos by an anti-abortion group alleging that Planned Parenthood clinics in several states had been selling aborted fetuses to research companies.

Mary Kogut, president and CEO of the St. Louis regional Planned Parenthood affiliate, praised the decision in a written statement:

"We have always followed the highest medical and ethical standards and comply with all laws. We are pleased, but not surprised that this thorough investigation by the Attorney General found our actions fully compliant with the law. This report stands and it is time for Missouri's lawmakers to now focus on increasing access to high quality health care, including birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, well-woman exams, infertility and family planning.

While the Planned Parenthood organizations in Missouri do not have fetal tissue donation programs, some Planned Parenthood affiliates have programs for women and families who want to donate tissue to help leading research institutions find treatment and cures for diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

Missouri is now the 6th  state that has cleared Planned Parenthood centers of any wrongdoing. Seven states have declined to even start investigations based on no evidence of wrongdoing.

Our top priority is always the compassionate health care and education that we provide. For nearly 100 years, Missouri women and families have trusted Planned Parenthood for high-quality, affordable health care and information. Planned Parenthood has extremely high medical and professional standards, informed by the leading medical and health care organizations in the country."

The full report can be viewed here.

Koster is expected to seek the Democratic nomination for Missouri governor next year.

Missouri lawmakers have been conducting their own investigation into Planned Parenthood's operations, which includes an interim Senate committee's inquiry into why a hospital run by the University of Missouri issued "refer and follow" privileges to a physician who provides medically induced abortions for Planned Parenthood's Columbia clinic.

On Thursday, UM Health Care announced in a brief statement that as of Dec. 1 it would no longer offer refer and follow privileges, calling them "outdated and unnecessary." That decision means the Columbia clinic will have to cease performing abortions on that date, unless the physician in question, Dr. Colleen McNicholas, successfully appeals the revocation of her privileges.

The state senate committee looking into Planned Parenthood is chaired by Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, who is seeking the Republican nomination for attorney general next year.

Laura McQuade, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, blasted UM Health Care for "caving to political pressure" and said in a written statement that they will "take any and all legal action necessary to ensure that the full range of high quality reproductive health care services, including abortion, remain legal, available, and accessible in our state."

Two Sept. 29 events are planned to support “women’s health and the services Planned Parenthood provides,” according to a press release.

The Rev. Mike Kinman, Rabbi Deana Sussman and the Rev. Jan Barnes will host a rally and press conference at 1 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral, 1210 Locust St. Also at 1 p.m. The Washington University Student Advocates for Reproductive Rights will host an event with Rep. Stacey Newman, D-Richmond Heights, at the Danforth University Center.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport