Now we know why it took Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster so long to report on his investigation into Planned Parenthood and the bogus allegations of profiting from the sale of fetal organs and tissue.
Koster’s work appears to be incredibly thorough. His staff examined the procedure for disposing of fetal tissue at the Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, the only clinic in Missouri that performs surgical abortions. Investigators reviewed about 3,500 pages of documents, including the records from 317 abortions performed at the facility in June. They also interviewed multiple employees from the clinic and its pathology lab.
“As a result of our investigation, the office of the Missouri Attorney General has found no evidence that PPSLR has engaged in unlawful disposal of fetal organs or tissue,” the report states.
So will that quell the political demagoguery that already has led the University of Missouri to yield to bullying from a state Senate committee and revoke limited hospital privileges for a doctor who needed them in order to perform non-surgical abortions at Planned Parenthood’s Columbia clinic?
Hard to say. Sen. Kurt Schaefer, the committee chairman, never showed much interest in the fetal tissue allegations, even though that was the ostensible reason for forming the Senate’s “sanctity of life” committee. Maybe he guessed, accurately, that there wasn’t anything to the fetal tissue suspicions. The Columbia clinic proved to be a much more productive target for the ruthlessly ambitious Schaefer, a Republican who wants to replace Koster, a Democrat, as attorney general.
Schaefer’s success in getting the Mizzou administration to revoke the doctor’s admitting privilege and cause the Columbia clinic to cease performing abortions as of Dec. 1 has made him a darling of Missouri’s anti-abortion groups. But Missouri Right to Life, the most powerful of those groups, is a demanding master.
The Columbia Tribune reported over the weekend that the anti-abortion group is now telling its members it expects politicians to support its renewed crusade to end embryonic stem cell medical research at the University of Missouri.
This is a reprise of the stem cell wars of a decade or so ago, when extremist legislators and groups drove scientists away and harmed Missouri’s academic and research climates with their efforts to outlaw certain types of stem cell research. Apparently empowered by the hysteria over the Planned Parenthood sting videos and Schaefer’s political witch hunt, Missouri Right to Life is reopening that ugly chapter.
That’s not good news for Schaefer or other politicians who are eager to court the anti-abortion vote. Most Missourians recognize that equating life-saving laboratory research to abortion is an extremist, destructive posture.
As dismaying as it is to see the stem cell wars flare up again, it will be fascinating to see how pandering politicians respond to this latest twist.
To reach Barbara Shelly, call 816-234-4594 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @bshelly.