Missouri’s top health official reportedly testified Tuesday that he once tracked the menstrual cycles of Planned Parenthood patients through a spreadsheet.
Dr. Randall Williams, the director of the state’s health department, was speaking before the Admistrative Hearing Commission tasked with determining the fate of the state’s last abortion clinic. He said the purpose of the spreadsheet was to identify what he considered to be failed abortions, according to the Kansas City Star.
The spreadsheet included identification numbers and the date of each patient’s last menstrual period, and was part of a wider investigation to determine whether patients returned to a St. Louis branch of Planned Parenthood more than once to complete their abortions, according to the Star. A state investigator also had access to the spreadsheet.
The St. Louis clinic is currently fighting for the ability to continue performing abortions after the state’s health department refused to renew its license over “deficiencies” it found through an investigative process earlier this year.
In exchange for a renewed license, the state wanted Planned Parenthood to complete a series of tasks to be in compliance, including making its physicians available for state investigators. That was the only ask Planned Parenthood wouldn’t agree to, since several of their physicians aren’t direct employees and can’t be forced into interviews.
The clinic is still open and performing abortions. The Administrative Hearing Commission’s hearing will continue all week, but a ruling won’t come until February at the earliest, according to the Associated Press.
Williams, an obstetrician/gynecologist, was appointed North Carolina’s public health director in July 2015. He became embroiled in controversy over the safety of household well water near coal ash ponds. He was also a candidate for Raleigh mayor in 2011.
In testimony last year related to a lawsuit, state toxicologist Ken Rudo said state health and environmental officials tried to “play down the risk” of coal ash contamination of drinking wells.
Williams and former Department of Environmental Quality Assistant Secretary Tom Reeder rescinded a do-not-drink notice in March 2016. Rudo said in his deposition that the state was telling people the water was safe when it knew it wasn’t.
In a deposition, Williams said he rescinded the warning notices because they were stirring up unwarranted fears.
The state Department of Health and Human Services disputed Rudo’s account.
Megan Davies, an epidemiologist who was section chief in the state Division of Public Health and Rudo’s boss, resigned last summer over how the department and former Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration portrayed Rudo’s testimony.
She and another colleague had also testified about concerns they had about rescinding the warning notices.
I bet pregnant woman and babies were drinking that delightful water, chock full of mercury, cadmium and arsenic. Yum!