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Planned Parenthood sues Missouri attorney general over transgender care investigation

Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, photographed on Monday, June 6, 2022, in St. Louis is the only abortion provider in Missouri.
Brian Heffernan
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, photographed on Monday, June 6, 2022, in St. Louis is the only abortion provider in Missouri.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. with comments from Attorney General Andrew Bailey

A lawsuit filed Friday in St. Louis accuses Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey of a “politically motivated” investigation of transgender care provided by Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.

The attorney general demanded Planned Parenthood turn over a litany of records earlier this month as part of his investigation into allegations of misconduct at the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Planned Parenthood is not affiliated with the Washington University clinic, the lawsuit notes, and has not been accused of any wrongdoing. It is asking a judge to strike down Bailey’s demand for records, which Planned Parenthood says included “HIPAA-protected patient health information and every document that references ‘social media’ or ‘TikTok.'”

“The unduly burdensome demands seek irrelevant and unrelated information, and many of the demands seek privileged information,” the lawsuit states.

Planned Parenthood argues Bailey’s demand for documents is outside the scope of his legal authority and is best characterized as “improper, harassing and unjust.”

“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, 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.

In an email statement from his spokeswoman responding to the lawsuit, Bailey claimed Planned Parenthood is not following the recognized standard of care for its transgender patients.

As evidence, the attorney general’s office pointed to Planned Parenthood’s website, which says the organization offers hormone replacement therapy to patients 16 years and older and that “you don’t need to participate in therapy or provide information from a mental health provider to receive hormone therapy.”

The attorney general’s office said it also has “additional sources that have been uncovered by our ongoing investigation.”

Bailey also argued that there is not “solid evidentiary support for gender transition interventions,” noting that Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom have put limits on treatments.

“We look forward to prevailing in this request for information and learning what is truly going on with Planned Parenthood in connection with gender transition issues,” Bailey said.

Bailey’s investigation of transgender care at Washington University was sparked by an affidavit filed by Jamie Reed, a former caseworker at the transgender clinic who alleges the clinic overlooked mental health needs of patients and did not inform adolescents and their parents of potential side effects of treatment.

She also alleges the clinic gave children puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones after just two one-hour visits.

Parents of former patients of the Transgender Center, as well as one of Reed’s former coworkers, have strenuously rejected her description of the center’s level of care, saying treatments were only undertaken after long consultations with doctors and mental health professionals.

In its lawsuit, Planned Parenthood notes that there is nothing in Reed’s affidavit pertaining to its clinic.

Planned Parenthood says its “TRANSforming Community, TRANSforming Care” program has provided gender-affirming care to more than 1,000 patients.

Bailey announced earlier this month that his office planned to file a set of emergency rules aimed at restricting how doctors provide gender-affirming care to minors.

This story was originally published by the Missouri Independent, part of States Newsroom.

Copyright 2023 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Jason Hancock