Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is disputing claims its director tracked the menstrual cycles of women seeking abortions at Planned Parenthood, calling the assertions “false” and “irresponsible reporting.”
Testimony at a state hearing Tuesday from DHSS Director Dr. Randall Williams regarding the St. Louis Planned Parenthood’s non-compliance with reporting its failed abortions to the state has been framed by numerous news outlets as an admission by Williams of maintaining a spreadsheet record of women’s periods.
The media reports likewise focused on pro-abortion backlash toward Williams over the fallaciously portrayed privacy breach, while largely disregarding the fact the nation’s largest abortion provider was in violation of the law by failing to report its botched abortions.
“Irresponsible reporting has led to false claims that Dr. Randall Williams tracks the menstrual cycles of women seeking abortions at Planned Parenthood,” DHSS said in a statement. “The story was based on an erroneous email subject line that both staff and sworn testimony has acknowledged is not accurate.”
“Nothing in the Administrative Hearing Commission testimony that Dr. Williams gave on Oct. 29, or in the Oct. 17 deposition, could in any way be cited to support this false claim that he ordered “spreadsheets” or any document to be created to do such,” it said.
Williams testified that the state investigation of Planned Parenthood began following its inspectors’ finding evidence of a failed abortion that did not have a corresponding complication report filed with the state.
The hearing and Williams’ testimony have gained national attention, as the proceedings will determine whether the abortion giant’s St. Louis site, Missouri’s only abortion facility, will keep its abortion license.
DHHS’s statement continued:
In fact, during Dr. Williams’ Oct.17 deposition, Planned Parenthood’s attorney Chuck Hatfield asked, “Do you recall making a request related to duplicate records which appear to be duplicate ITOPs [Induced Termination of Pregnancy] with last normal menses date?” Dr. Williams answered, “No, sir.”
“This “issue” was given very little attention at the hearing and has been falsely reported with the purpose of sensationalizing the hearing,” DHSS stated, “drawing in readers and distracting from the truth.”
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DHSS said the truth is that during its initial inspection, a concern emerged that it may not be getting complication reports from Planned Parenthood for all its failed surgical abortions - as required by law.
Minus a directive from Williams, its regulators had developed a method to efficiently investigate this concern with legally-obtained information that was required by law and which Planned Parenthood regularly submits.
A DHSS investigator took the data in the department’s possession and narrowed it from approximately 3,000 abortions performed in 2018 to 67 cases where the same woman had multiple abortions in the same year. The data was narrowed down further to leave out multiple abortions and ultimately pinpointed a case where a failed abortion was not reported by Planned Parenthood - a violation of state law.
It was only then that the case was shared by regulators with Williams, the statement continued, and Williams did not have a spreadsheet of patient information. The regulators committed no wrongdoing, it said, and the first time Williams even saw the spreadsheet was his October 17 deposition.
“HIPAA compliance was not a factor in this activity as no patient data has been released,” DHSS stated. “This information, in fact, was important in the investigative process in ensuring that facilities are safe for patients.”
The department explained that a long-standing legal mandate in Missouri requires that “an individual abortion report for each abortion performed or induced upon a woman shall be completed by the physician who performed or induced the abortion.”
Its release goes on to detail specifics of regulations regarding the report, saying the practice is that the reports are reviewed when a complication is reported for an abortion procedure.
“In order to ensure that our laws and health care standards are being met, reports from abortion facilities, by law, must be reviewed,” the DHSS statement said. “In this case, Planned Parenthood was not compliant with the complication report requirement for failed abortions. Regulators realized this, and as a result they used the tools they had to protect the health of those who seek abortions at Planned Parenthood.”
Williams’ agency produced a 62-page report earlier this year detailing Planned Parenthood’s mishandling of four women who came to its St. Louis facility for abortions. The abortion enterprise had succeeded in getting it placed under seal, according to Operation Rescue. The pro-life group maintains the report on its website from when the report was still public.
Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, the abortion business’s division that operates its St. Louis location, built a large abortion facility across the Mississippi River in southern Illinois, doing so clandestinely to avoid protesters and delay.
The new Planned Parenthood site in nearby Fairview Heights, Illinois, opened the same week in October that the abortion giant faced its licensing hearing in St. Louis, and is expected to be able to absorb the St. Louis facility’s business should Planned Parenthood lose its bid to keep its abortion license.
The hearing concluded Thursday, with a decision expected in the early part of next year.