JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster announced Monday that after almost two months of investigation, his office could find no evidence of illegal activity committed by the Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region in regards to the disposal of fetal remains after an abortion.
“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 tissue,” the report reads. “During our investigation, we reviewed more than 3,500 pages of documents and conducted multiple interviews of representatives of PPSLR and its pathology laboratory. The information and documentation we reviewed did not reveal any irregularities involving the transmission, examination or disposal of the fetal organs and tissue from surgical abortions performed at PPSLR.”
Koster’s report details the process by which PPSLR disposes of fetal tissue and organs. It found that after an abortion, the doctor stores the fetal tissue in a container filled with preservative and sends it to Pathology Services, Inc., which is located in St. Louis. PPSLR pays a seven dollar fee per specimen to Pathology Services. After the pathologist’s examination, the fetal tissue is placed back into the container which in turn goes into a biohazard receptacle, one which is separate from the other laboratory waste.
MedAssure, Inc. in Indianapolis, Indiana, a medical waste disposal service, retrieves waste from the facility twice a week and then disposes of the waste. PPSLR, Pathology Services, and MedAssure all keep extensive records of the process.
PPSLR paid Pathology Services Inc. $2,408.00 in June and an additional $1,887.00 in July to dispose of fetuses, receiving no reimbursement in the process. A check was signed by Planned Parenthood for $4,295 to Pathology Services Inc.
“The evidence reviewed by my investigators supports Planned Parenthood’s representation that fetal tissue is handled in accordance with Missouri law,” Koster said in a release.
The findings come as a sign of relief for Planned Parenthood, which has become an embattled entity across the country. Opponents of Planned Parenthood have threatened a shutdown of the government in an effort to ensure that no federal funding goes to the organization.
“We have always followed the highest medical and ethical standards and comply with all laws,” Mary Kogut, the president and CEO of PPSLR, said in a statement. “We are pleased, but not surprised, that this thorough investigation by the Attorney General found our actions fully compliant with the law. Missouri is now the [sixth] state that has cleared Planned Parenthood centers of any wrongdoing. Seven states have declined to even start investigations based on no evidence of wrongdoing.”
The investigation was prompted in early July by the release of video tapes created by the Center for Medical Progress which alleged Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue to medical research facilities for profit. The veracity of those tapes have begun to come into question as five states, not including Missouri, have found no evidence of wrongdoing by the reproductive health care provider. Independent research has also revealed the tapes were altered.
At the time of the allegations, PPSLR was the only abortion provider in the state of Missouri. The Planned Parenthood affiliate in Columbia became a provider of medical abortions shortly after the tapes were released, but that status has come into question since University of Missouri Health Care revoked the refer and follow privileges granted to abortion provider Dr. Colleen McNicholas.
While the attorney general’s office has found nothing to suggest foul play, Missouri’s two legislative bodies have ongoing investigations.
Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, chairs the Senate Interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life. While he said he had yet to look at the report in detail, the committee will proceed with their investigation.
“An incomplete investigation is not going to deter the committee from moving forward,” he said. “[Koster] did not actually interview any witnesses, they only reviewed some documents and only over a short window of time. So an incomplete investigation is not going to deter us from finding the truth.”
Reactions from the campaign trail were swift, gubernatorial candidate and former U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway agreed with Schaefer’s assessment in her own statement.
“General Koster’s cursory investigation of only one month’s records at a Planned Parenthood clinic performing thousands of abortions each year falls short of what he promised Missourians and falls short of protecting the unborn,” she said. “A thorough investigation would have included comprehensive interviews with former and current employees, a phone hotline for anonymous reporting of past activities and covered more than a single month.”
While Lt. Governor Peter Kinder stated, “Attorney General Koster’s report outlines the gruesome process of “transmission, examination” and “disposal” of the unborn by Planned Parenthood. This is why I have fought to condemn the practices of Planned Parenthood in our state. We must continue our efforts to ensure that Missouri protects and respects human life at every stage.”
Businessman John Brunner who is expected to enter the race next Monday commented, “True leadership is able to put personal and partisan bias aside to seek the truth. Chris Koster is capable of it and in this case, no matter how uncomfortable he may be, it is his job as Attorney General to do a thorough investigation and not just a cursory review. If he can’t personally commit himself to a fair and unbiased investigation, he should immediately appoint a special investigator or prosecutor who can”.
The Greitens campaign did not immediately return an email for comment about the Planned Parenthood investigation.