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House committees meet on Planned Parenthood, doctor privileges

Last week ABC 17 alerted viewers when a Senate committee grilled the Health and Senior Services director for not knowing if the Planned Parenthood in Columbia met state licensing requirements. It was disputed that their doctor did not have privileges at a hospital within 15 miles of the clinic.

ABC 17 News obtained a letter from MU Chancellor Bowen Loftin.

In the letter, it clearly states MU Health Care does have certain “refer and follow” privileges with Dr. Colleen McNicholas.

Last week, a Senate panel brought into question if she had privileges at a hospital within 15 miles of the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Columbia.

Chancellor Loftin said,”Refer and follow privileges are limited and do not allow the physician to admit patients to MU Health Care facilities or to write orders, prescribe treatment or perform procedures, for patients at any MU Health Care facility. The granting of such privileges to Dr. McNicholas will not require public funds to be used to perform or assist in abortions.”

Missouri law states the doctor must have “admitting privileges”, and if the doctor performs an abortion without those admitting privileges and is not within 30 miles of the hospital, it is a Class A misdemeanor.

Chancellor Loftin said, “Regarding ‘working agreements’-MU Health Care does not have a working agreement with Dr. McNicholas, Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri or Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri that guarantees transfer and admittance of patients for emergency treatment whenever necessary.”

Two Missouri House committees met Wednesday to discuss the issue.

Directors of the Missouri Health Network and the Department of Social Services appeared.

The testimony that took the most time was that of the department of Health and Senior Services Director Gail Vasterling.

She was mainly asked about how and when abortion clinics are inspected and how their doctors maintain certification.

Vasterling’s answers were mostly speculative and usually ended with her saying she would have to retrieve documents to answer properly.

The session ended with public comment from a doctor of 35 years.

He was critical of the committees efforts saying it was a waste of time and not justified.

The doctor said the committee was not being truthful and taking advantage of propaganda referring to videos circulating nationally.

The committee responded by saying it’s all about keeping people accountable and following the law.

“These are serious allegations. If they are true, then they certainly would be in violation of state and federal law,” said Rep. Andrew Koenig, Ways and Means committee chairman.

“There’s something going on with fetal the fetal tissues that is illegal or certainly unethical to Missourians,” said Rep. Diane Franklin with Children and Families Committee Chairman.

Representatives from Planned Parenthood were asked to appear at this hearing, but they did not show up.

Lawmakers said they plan to hold more hearings later this month.

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