Doctor-patient confidentiality is based on the idea that a patient can feel secure receiving treatment from their doctors because they know the doctor won’t disclose personal and private information to others.
But in Missouri, it’s a totally different story. Republican lawmakers are trying to force Missouri’s Planned Parenthood CEO into giving up a list of names of every woman who has received an abortion in the state. But don’t worry, Missouri legislators totally promise they would never ever punish these women for seeking an abortion.
More specifically, lawmakers have subpoenaed consent forms patients received and signed before having an abortion. Mary Kogut, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, has refused, arguing patient privacy as the reason. In turn, lawmakers are threatening her with jail time for being in contempt.
The Missouri State Senate Committee on the Sanctity of Life (yes, that’s an actual name of a committee) are still running pointless investigations after David Daleidan’s hoax videos first appeared in the summer of 2015. The videos alleged Planned Parenthood was coercing patients into having abortions so they could meet the demands of the fetal tissue black market. Of course, Missouri was one of the first states to investigate Planned Parenthood’s in their state for any signs of wrongdoing, which predictably turned up nothing. Still, the state insists on a continued witch hunt.
Given the current political climate’s attitudes on Planned Parenthood, it’s understandable Kogut is hesitant to hand over the names of these women, who signed consent forms with the belief their information wouldn’t be shared with a third party.
And as Think Progress’ Laurel Raymond points out:
“Crucially, the committee’s document request makes no specifications about what would happen with the information after it is turned over, so there is no guarantee that the information could not be turned over to the public.”
It’s completely reasonable to be paranoid that some holy roller lawmaker might accidentally-totally-not-on-purpose leak this info to some anti-choice group to broadcast.
Salon points out that in the case of Dr. Pat Tiller, who was investigated for performing allegedly illegal late-term abortions, was forced by the court to hand over private documents on his patients. And oopsie! Somehow they ended up in the hands of Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who then went on air to share personal details of these women’s abortions and judged them for it. O’Reilly also nicknamed the doctor “Tiller the Baby Killer.” Tiller was found not guilty and was still murdered by a pro-lifer two months later.
The threat here to women is real. A Planned Parenthood worker may be jailed, all over this frivolous, unjustifiable investigation that will undoubtedly turn up nothing.
State Sen. Kurt Schaefer(R-Columbia) said in a statement:
“The decision to refuse to comply with the Senate-issued subpoena is a blatant disregard for our legislative process and authority. There is a big discrepancy on what’s being done with the fetal tissue once it has been sent to the pathologist. We were not asking for patient information. All we are asking for are answers so we can ensure that medical standards are being upheld, women’s health is being protected, and public safety remains the highest quality possible.”
To be clear, the Missouri Senate absolutely is asking for patient information, and it has absolutely nothing to do with protecting women’s health. If their discrepancy lies with the pathologist, there is no clear reason the state needs these consent forms.
To contact State Senator Schaefer, click here, and tell him what you think about the state’s investigations into “discrepancies” that weren’t uncovered in earlier investigations.
Update: The Committee’s panel voted 5-2 Thursday to hold Mary Kogut in contempt. Another vote will take place next week to decide whether or not Kogut actually is in contempt or if she is in her rights to deny the consent forms to the Senate.
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