JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Senate investigation into Planned Parenthood will continue to move forward after the deal reached with Planned Parenthood last Thursday and Dr. James Miller’s decision to plead the fifth.
Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, who has led the investigation, said at a press conference Monday afternoon that Miller’s decision is a sign that, while the Attorney General’s office cleared Planned Parenthood, there’s still much to uncover. But, Miller’s decision also leaves the Schaefer with limited avenues to pursue the investigation.
“We can’t compel him to come in beyond that because he certainly has the right to do that. I think it certainly raises the question, particularly when you look at what I distributed on the Senate floor a couple weeks ago, which is the actual settlement agreement with the state of Indiana between MedAssure, which is the hauler of waste from Planned Parenthood of St. Louis, and the state of Indiana acknowledging that from 2012 until January of 2016, aborted babies were being illegally disposed of in the state of Indiana,” Schaefer said. “There is clearly a reference in there that that material came from the pathologist, so I can certainly see why the pathologist might want to take the fifth amendment. But it is frustrating in that we will not be able to find out much more in that regard, at least in this process.”
While Schaefer said his ability to question Miller was now limited, he was happy that Planned Parenthood had finally agreed to turn over documents.
“I think they ultimately made the decision they would rather provide the documents than come in and sit before the Committee of the Whole in the Missouri Senate,” he said. “Ultimately they decided to comply so I think it’s a good outcome.”
Schaefer also reaffirmed that the goal of the Interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life is to make sure that the law of Missouri is being upheld. And he said the actions of Planned Parenthood of St. Louis and Southeast Missouri, as well as Miller, haven’t convinced him that they were following the law.
“The Sanctity of Life Committee investigation that we were performing was whether or not Missouri law was being broken by fetal remains being sold, as it was pointed out in the videos that surfaced in July. That point has still not been refuted,” Schaefer said. “I know that there’s spin on both sides of that issue, but if the case is that it’s not occurring from the Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, then why weren’t the documents produced months ago and that explanation given? And why is the pathologist taking the fifth amendment, refusing to come in and testify. So until we can get to the bottom of it so we can figure out what is actually occurring, I think we’re just not going to know. I think it’s a relevant issue both for public funding as well as matter of public policy here in the state of Missouri.”
Schaefer also spoke about the General Assembly’s budget not funding Planned Parenthood for the first time and called the work the General Assembly has done this session historic.
“We’ve made great strides in protecting life in the Missouri General Assembly and I’m very proud of this session,” he said. “I think we’ve done more in this session, frankly, than we’ve been able to accomplish in years and I think we’re in a very good position.”
To that end, Rep. Diane Franklin, R-Camdenton, spoke about the House bills she’s sponsored that would clarify and further restrict what happens with fetal tissue after an abortion. HBs 2069 and 2371 prohibit a person from knowingly donating or making an anatomical gift of the fetal organs or tissue resulting from an abortion to any person or entity for medical, scientific, experimental, therapeutic, or any other use.
The bills also specify what reports must be made and followed up on after an abortion has occurred, requiring pathologists to certify that all tissue from an abortion was removed.
Her passed the House with a veto-proof majority and will be heard in the Senate this week.
“I think that demonstrates that Missourians and their representatives are interested and concerned that fetal remains that are properly disposed of, that they are properly handled,” Franklin said about the bill’s overwhelming support.