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Planned Parenthood Sues Missouri AG After Being Targeted in Anti-Trans Inquiry

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey has made attacks on transgender health care a bedrock of his office.

The Missouri State Capitol Building is pictured in Jefferson City.

On March 31, the Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri filed a lawsuit against the state’s attorney general to block his requests to access HIPAA-protected health information regarding the clinic’s transgender patients.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey had sent the clinic a civil investigative demand containing over 50 separate requests. In the lawsuit, Planned Parenthood argues that Bailey doesn’t have the authority to investigate the clinic, which is inspected by the state health department.

“Planned Parenthood knows this playbook well, and we’ll move forward just like we have in every other sham investigation — we’ll continue providing expert and evidence-based health care while we fight in court,” Yamelsie Rodríguez, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “This investigation is what ignorance and transphobia look like, and they have no place in our exam rooms.”

This isn’t the first time that Missouri officials have targeted Planned Parenthood clinics. In 2019, it was revealed that the director of the state’s health department kept a spreadsheet monitoring the menstrual periods of Planned Parenthood patients. (Notably, Missouri currently has a near-total abortion ban, and Bailey has supported the recent attempt by conservative lawmakers to block access to abortion pills by mail.)

Dr. Colleen McNicholas, the health center’s chief medical officer, told The Associated Press that Bailey’s current investigation into the clinic is a “fishing expedition” and “an attempt to help him work outside of the legislative process and eliminate access to transgender care for Missourians.”

Bailey has launched numerous attacks on transgender youth’s access to gender-affirming care. Just in the past two weeks, he has introduced a “transgender center concerns” hotline where people can send in tips regarding gender-affirming care, and announced that he will be enacting an emergency regulation that will limit access to gender-affirming care for trans kids.

“This investigation comes as the attorney general promised to issue emergency regulations effectively banning gender-affirming care for young people, on the false premise that this evidence-based care is ‘experimental,’” Planned Parenthood said in a statement. “Attorney General Bailey has admitted to using every ‘legal recourse’ to counter so-called ‘woke left-wing ideologues’ and to fill in the ‘gap’ while the General Assembly considers dozens of bills taking aim at young trans people by restricting access to health care, education, and sports.”

In February, Bailey announced that he would be investigating the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital regarding allegations that the center had provided children with gender-affirming care without mandating mental health assessments beforehand. Bailey has requested that doctors of the center stop providing gender-affirming care and taking new patients while the investigation is ongoing.

Parents of trans children have pushed back against the malpractice allegations, saying that the investigation has fueled anti-trans rhetoric and further empowered lawmakers seeking to pass anti-trans legislation at the capitol. Some parents have filed federal privacy complaints to protect their children’s information.

Robert Fischer, a spokesperson for the Missouri LGBTQ advocacy group PROMO, said in a statement that the organization has heard “dozens upon dozens of positive personal stories from transgender and gender non-conforming youth and families about the ethic of care they’ve received” at the center.

Missouri is listed by transgender activist Erin Reed as having a high risk of anti-trans legislation being passed, with the imminent potential to become one of the worst states for transgender residents. The Missouri legislature has introduced 35 anti-LGBTQ bills since the start of the session and is currently considering passing a ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth, an even more restrictive “Don’t Say Gay” law, and a transgender sports ban.

On March 29, PROMO held a protest for trans rights at the Missouri capitol in response to the state Senate’s passage of a ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth. The protest was attended by more than 700 Missourians.

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