Critics call attorney general’s report on Planned Parenthood “incomplete”

Several critics are calling a new report on Planned Parenthood in St. Louis "incomplete," adding that it raises questions about how Missouri law holds the abortion provider accountable for its handling of human remains from abortions.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced in a report Sept. 28 that Planned Parenthood in St. Louis is complying with Missouri law in how it disposes of human tissue from abortions. As part of the review, Koster's office interviewed representatives from Planned Parenthood and Pathology Services Inc., the third-party pathology lab that examines human tissue from abortions at Planned Parenthood.

Koster's office also obtained documents for a representative 30-day period tracing the pathology lab's process for disposing of the remains. Records show a relationship with MedAssure, a medical waste management company and its treatment location in Indianapolis, Ind., and transfer facility in Boonville, Mo.

"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 statement. "We have discovered no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Planned Parenthood's St. Louis facility is selling fetal tissue."

Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, who is leading a separate investigation of Planned Parenthood's practices in Missouri, was among those who criticized the report, noting that it does not provide verifiable accounting of whether all remains are sent from Planned Parenthood to the pathology lab. The Senate Interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life is expected to submit a report of its findings to the General Assembly by Dec. 1.

"Attorney General Koster's investigation appears to be an incomplete review of documents that fails to fully and completely address the questions and concerns of the General Assembly and many other Missouri citizens as they relate to Planned Parenthood," Schaefer stated. "The Missouri Senate Committee on the Sanctity of Life's in-depth investigation and hearings will continue and extend beyond a review of documents until sufficient answers are received."

Missouri law only requires abortion clinics to send a "representative sample" for pathological examination. The operations director at Pathology Services Inc. previously told the Review she believes the lab receives all tissue from each abortion, but the lab has no way of accounting for this.

"We have always followed the highest medical and ethical standards and comply with all laws," Mary Kogut, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, 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. This report stands and it is time for Missouri's lawmakers to now focus on increasing access to high quality health care, including birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, well-woman exams, infertility and family planning."

Even if there is no evidence that Planned Parenthood is selling body parts from aborted babies, stronger legislation needs to be proposed to make sure the transfer of aborted body parts for research doesn't happen in Missouri, Schaefer said.

The sanctity of life committee is expected to reconvene in the next two to three weeks. Schaefer said he is in the process of obtaining subpoenas and wants to question officials from Pathology Services Inc. and Planned Parenthood.

Mike Hoey, executive director of the Missouri Catholic Conference, also shared his concern that the report is incomplete, adding that it provides a view of the abortion industry's assembly line.

"The bottom line is it's all about the abortion of the unborn child being transported to the pathology lab and then ultimately the incinerator," he said. "It's a cruel, inhumane process."

Pathology Services Inc. needs to reconsider whether it continues to associate itself with the abortion industry, said Hoey. "There's not requirement they have to accept this money," he said. "They're a part of the abortion industry, and they don't have to be."

Koster's report provides details of the 317 abortions performed at Planned Parenthood in St. Louis in June. Of them, 38 — roughly 10 percent — were second-trimester abortions. Deacon Sam Lee, a pro-life lobbyist with Campaign Life Missouri, said each one of those abortions has a story behind it. And the law does not provide an opportunity for parents to reclaim their child's remains for a proper burial.

"The report indicates that all 317 ended up in an incinerator in Indianapolis," said Lee. "That's sad. We should have greater respect for the remains of those who have died, regardless of the circumstances of how they have died."

"What saddens me the most is these are 317 human beings and not merely line items on a report," said Karen Nolkemper, executive director of the Respect Life Apostolate. "The disturbing lack of respect for humanity is appalling."

Lee also echoed other critics about the incompleteness of Koster's report, adding that lawmakers should propose legislation that would make sure all body parts from abortions are accounted for and ensure protection for whistleblowers who witness wrongdoing.

The report also doesn't answer the question of why St. Louis is considered an untapped market for fetal body parts, which Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of Planned Parenthood Federation of America's Medical Services Department, said in one of the undercover videos.

"Why are Planned Parenthood officials saying this is a great place to look for more body parts?" Lee asked. 

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