Government & Politics

Abortion rights activists protest Missouri tracking patients’ periods with #TrackThisRandy

Several hundred spirited protesters marched through the Country Club Plaza on May 19 in response to the near-total abortion ban passed by Missouri legislators. The group then gathered at the J.C. Nichols fountain to hear speakers.
Several hundred spirited protesters marched through the Country Club Plaza on May 19 in response to the near-total abortion ban passed by Missouri legislators. The group then gathered at the J.C. Nichols fountain to hear speakers. jtoyoshiba@kcstar.com

An abortion rights advocacy organization has launched a social media campaign to protest the Missouri state health department tracking the periods of the women who sought abortions at Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis clinic.

At the urging of NARAL Pro-choice Missouri, people have uploaded photos to Twitter with a period product, like a box of tampons or pads, and added “#TrackThisRandy,” a reference to the health department’s director, Dr. Randall Williams.

“#TrackThisRandy is a rallying cry for the women, trans, and non-binary folks whose health and safety Randall Williams has jeopardized in his crusade to push abortion completely out of reach in Missouri,” Mallory Schwarz, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.

For every photo with the hashtag, the group has pledged to donate a box of period supplies to the St. Louis Alliance for Period Supplies.

“More than two-thirds of people of low-income in St. Louis are unable to access period products, and are forced to used unhealthy alternatives such rags,” Schwarz said in a statement. “But the reality is that when Randall Williams refuses to do his job, NARAL Missouri commits to doing ours: Fighting for every person’s ability to access the full scope of reproductive health care — without shame, judgement, fear of retaliation.”

During a state administrative hearing that will help decide whether the St. Louis clinic can retain its license to perform abortions, it was revealed that the state’s main investigator created a spreadsheet that helped the state find so-called “failed” abortions of four patients.

Wiliams testified Tuesday that the spreadsheet, titled “Director’s Request,” contained a column that held the department’s calculations of the patients’ last normal period. The department claimed the next day that Williams never possessed or requested the spreadsheet.

The spreadsheet was attached to email with the subject line “Duplicate ITOPs with last normal menses date” sent by an employee of the Bureau of Vital Statistics, which is under the health department. ITOP stands for “induced termination of pregnancy.”

The email was found through legal discovery by Planned Parenthood’s attorneys.

Since the revelation, several Democrats, including the state auditor and minority leaders of both legislative chambers, have castigated the practice. Though some of have asked Gov. Mike Parson to fire Williams, Parson has remained largely silent, and his office did not respond to a request for comment.

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Crystal Thomas covers Missouri politics for The Kansas City Star. An Illinois native and a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism, she has experience covering state and local government.
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