Columbia, Mo. — Missouri Republicans are moving full-steam-ahead into their investigation of Planned Parenthood and have subpoenaed the Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, Gail Vasterling, to testify before the Senate Sanctity of Life Committee.
Schaefer formally requested that the subpoena be issued late last week, using the committee’s statutory authority to compel testimony and the production of documents. Schaefer, who is a candidate for Attorney General in 2016, chairs the committee, which was formed after the release of hidden camera videos that detailed the practice of fetal tissue donation by Planned Parenthood that detractors say violates state and federal laws.
Senate Pro Tem Tom Dempsey signed the subpoena request before his resignation became effective, and Vasterling will now have to present documents and testify before the committee.
“The issues with Planned Parenthood in Missouri go beyond the shocking videos that outraged us all and we are investigating for potential criminal activity,” Schaefer said in a statement. “I am deeply troubled by irregularities and possible violations of statutes regarding the Columbia facility license, the purpose of the subpoena is to help the committee find truth.”
The request stems from the DHSS’s recent decision to license the Planned Parenthood facility to perform surgical abortions, something it hasn’t done since 2011 when it lost its provider. Schaefer wrote to Vasterling last week to cite three potential statutory violations that could prevent the license from being issued and asked for its formal suspension.
Planned Parenthood representatives have vehemently denied any illegal activity takes place related to its practice of donating some fetal tissue to medical laboratories for various forms of research. Officials with the organization say the videos released distort the truth and represent a concentrated and long-standing effort to discredit them.
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.