Neither Gov. Mike Parson nor Dr. Randall Williams, director of Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), are responding to demands that Williams resign or be investigated after he testified that he kept a spreadsheet to track the menstrual periods of women who visited the St. Louis Planned Parenthood clinic.
The Kansas City Star reported that Williams gave sworn testimony to that effect on Tuesday, October 29 during the second day of an administrative hearing about the clinic’s licensing.
The spreadsheet, which was based on medical records a state investigator had access to during the state’s annual inspection, also included medical identification numbers, dates of medical procedures and the gestational ages of fetuses, which are reported to the state regarding women seeking an abortion, or Induced Termination of Pregnancy (ITOP).
“The spreadsheet was attached to an e-mail sent between health department employees with the title ‘Director’s Request,’ and found through legal discovery,” the Kansas City Star reported. “The subject line of the email was ‘Duplicate ITOPs with last normal menses date.’”
State Rep. Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, the House minority leader called on Parson, a Republican, to “immediately investigate” whether “patient privacy was compromised or laws broken” or whether Williams was a “a person who Missourians can be comfortable having in a position of public trust.”
NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri Executive Director Mallory Schwarz called for Williams to resign or be removed from office.
“Randall Williams is a disgrace to Missourians across the state, and he must go,” Schwarz said in a statement. “As long as abortion-obsessed extremists like Williams are in power, NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri will fight back in every way we know how. We demand his resignation, as this is clearly the only way to prevent him from continuing to wreak havoc on our health, and impose his fringe, anti-choice agenda on all Missourians.”
State Auditor Nicole Galloway, a Democrat who is running for governor, also challenged Parson to fire Williams.
“Governor Parson should fire Dr. Randall Williams immediately,” Galloway said in a statement. “If the governor won’t take this step now, then Missourians will hold him accountable at the ballot box. I am committed to replacing Dr. Williams as Health director on my first day as governor.”
Galloway called Williams’ actions a “brazen violation of women’s private health information” and said Parson “has shown his willingness to weaponize his regulatory authority to interfere in gross, weird, and medically unnecessary ways.”
However, in a statement DHSS claimed that the email subject line “Director’s Request” was “erroneous” and that both staff had testified to that effect in sworn testimony.
DHSS pointed that identifying an abortion patient’s last normal menstruation is required by a state rule, 19 CSR 10-15.010, that establishes the content of the ITOP report to be filed with the department. As such, DHSS claimed, state investigators did nothing more than “efficiently investigate” concerns about whether Planned Parenthood was reporting all failed abortion procedures “using legally obtained information which was required by law and which Planned Parenthood routinely submits” and they did so “without a directive from Dr. Randall Williams.”
As for Williams, DHHS claimed, he first saw the spreadsheet with the menstruation data during an October 17 deposition.