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Pro-choice groups begin attacking Schaefer with campaign


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Planned Parenthood Advocates has launched, a site collecting signatures to tell Sen. Kurt Schaefer, the Senate Sanctity of Life committee chairman, that his attacks on Planned Parenthood are “shameful.” Activists donning t-shirts with the slogan also dropped off the first batch of signatures collected from the campaign to Schaefer’s office Tuesday.

“We’ve had enough of Sen. Schaefer’s schemes to punish Missourians, invade privacy, and attack our rights,” reads the website, which has gathered over 1,700 signatures as of 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. “When Kurt Schaefer ran for Senate, he described himself as a moderate who wouldn’t play politics. Now he’s attacking Missourians’ access to health care to score political points with extremists.

“Sen. Schaefer is: Pushing legislation that would take vital health care services like birth control and annual exams away from thousands of Missourians. Cutting access to safe, legal abortion care in Mid-Missouri. Trying to force Planned Parenthood to turn over private patient information, violating federal law. Threatening to throw Planned Parenthood’s President and CEO in jail if he doesn’t get his way. Really? It’s shameful. Tell Sen. Schaefer: Enough is enough.”

Activists outside Schaefer's office
Activists outside Schaefer’s office

The website also promotes the #shameonschaefer hashtag, which has been picked up by left-leaning groups such a Progress Missouri (@ProgressMO) and NARAL Missouri (@NARALMissouri), Democratic state representatives such as Rep. Stacey Newman and Tracy McCreery, and more, all hoping to gather more signatures. The website lists the first initial, last name, and city of each signatory.

“Senator Schaefer wants to throw a nonprofit executive in jail for refusing to break the law by handing over the private medical records of who-knows-how-many women,” said Laura Swinford, executive director of Progress Missouri. “Folks across Missouri have had enough of Senator Schaefer’s hypocritical grandstanding and witch hunts. We hope Missourians will continue to let Sen. Schaefer know they’re sick of his political gamesmanship, and that it’s time to help find real solutions to the problems women and families are facing each day in our state.”

Campaign supporters in the Capitol Tuesday donned t-shirts stating “Shame on Schaefer.”

“There have been quite a bit of responses that have come in quickly,” said M’Evie Mead, director of statewide organizing for Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri. Mead led the group who dropped off the first batch of signatures to Schaefer’s Capitol office Tuesday morning. Even Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Roy Temple chimed in. 

 Schaefer’s campaign responded to attacks, calling them dishonest.

“The attacks being leveled by Planned Parenthood and others on the left are nothing short of dishonest,” said spokesman Scott Dieckhaus. “Senator Schaefer has led the effort to seek the truth as to how Planned Parenthood is disposing of aborted fetuses and has never requested the medical information of any of its patients. Members of the General Assembly have been waiting on an answer to their question since November, and Planned Parenthood refuses to cooperate.  Since that time, an investigation in Indiana into Medassure has shown that aborted fetuses from Planned Parenthood were disposed of illegally, and there are inconsistencies in what was uncovered in Indiana when compared to the testimony the General Assembly heard in Missouri back in the fall.

“If the budget in Missouri passes as it currently stands, no funding has been cut from women’s health services,” Dieckhaus continued. “The only change that has been made is that the 13 Planned Parenthood facilities will no longer receive tax dollars, but the over 580 other providers in Missouri will; those providers offer the same services Planned Parenthood does, plus additional services like mammograms and other life-saving cancer screenings – just not abortions.”

Schaefer also responded to the attacks on Twitter.

In the past year, Schaefer has led the Sanctity of Life Committee, which investigated in-state Planned Parenthood clinic practices after videos emerged incited outrage against the women’s health agency. Last week, Schaefer proposed a resolution to hold Planned Parenthood of St. Louis and Southwest Missouri CEO Mary Kogut and Dr. James Miller, the head of Pathology Services, Inc. in contempt for failing to appear at a December committee hearing, which could land either in jail. Since the committee’s emergence, the Columbia Planned Parenthood ceased providing abortion procedures when their University of Missouri hospital privileges were revoked. Schaefer, who also serves a Senate appropriations chairman, led the charge on a budget that stripped funding from Planned Parenthood, which passed the Senate last week. Schaefer is a Republican candidate for attorney general running against University of Missouri law professor Joshua Hawley in the primary. Potential general opponent, Democratic candidate and former Cass County prosecutor Teresa Hensley (in ivory) joined the activists, as well.