Associated Press (AP) – The Missouri state attorney general is investigating gender-affirming care provided by Planned Parenthood, a lawsuit…
Associated Press (AP) — The Missouri state attorney general is investigating gender-affirming care provided by Planned Parenthood, according to a lawsuit filed Friday by the St. Louis health-care provider.
Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey requested documents from Planned Parenthood after finding that the clinic was providing “life-changing gender transition drugs to children without any therapeutic evaluation,” spokeswoman Madeline Sieren said in a statement. She described this as a departure from standard care.
Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri filed a lawsuit in response, trying to block access to its records. In court filings, the health care provider argued that Bailey had no authority to investigate the clinic, which is inspected by the state health department.
A Planned Parenthood doctor described Bailey’s investigation as a “fishing expedition” targeting the clinic, which provides gender-affirming care to adults and adolescents 16 and older. Dr. Colleen McNicholas, the health center’s chief medical officer, told The Associated Press that the Attorney General’s investigation is “an attempt to help him work outside the legislative process and eliminate access to care transgender for Missourians”.
The attorney general’s office cited its ongoing investigation into a clinic for transgender youth operated by the University of Washington, “or others in the state providing similar services,” as the reason for the request for the document, according to a report. letter to Planned Parenthood dated March 10.
Sieren criticized Planned Parenthood for withholding his records.
“We look forward to responding to this request for information and learning what is really happening with Planned Parenthood regarding gender transition issues,” Sieren said in a statement Friday.
In February, Bailey launched an investigation into the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital following allegations of abuse by a former employee. The former staffer alleged doctors failed to adequately warn patients and parents about the potential side effects of puberty and hormone blockers, and that doctors pressured parents to consent to treatment.
Planned Parenthood argues in its lawsuit that its clinic has nothing to do with the University of Washington center.
The lawsuit comes amid a nationwide campaign to restrict transgender health care, drag shows, bathroom access and how LGBTQ+ topics are discussed in schools. The lawsuit was filed on Friday as rallies were planned in cities across the country as part of Transgender Awareness Day.
As the state’s top attorney, Bailey is following his predecessor’s lead in using the office to take a stand on social issues. Last week, he announced plans to file an emergency rule to restrict health care for transgender children. It would take an 18-month waiting period, 15 therapy sessions and additional mental health treatment before doctors in Missouri could provide gender-affirming care to minors.
“I am dedicated to using every legal tool at my disposal to close the gap and protect children from inhumane science experiments,” Bailey said in a statement announcing the intended rule.
His office has yet to file the rule.
Transgender medical treatment for children has been available in the United States for over a decade and is endorsed by major medical associations. Many clinics use treatment plans developed in Amsterdam 30 years ago, according to a recent review by the British Psych Bulletin. Since 2005, the number of young people referred to gender clinics has increased tenfold in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Finland, according to the study.
McNicholas of Planned Parenthood said Bailey is using the “same playbook” that anti-abortion activists and elected officials have used to restrict abortions.
Missouri banned nearly all abortions in 2022, after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Prior to that, Republicans fought for years to regulate abortion abolition in the state. The GOP-led state legislature has proposed anti-abortion bills every year. When increasingly restrictive bans on the procedure were overturned in court, Republican governors stepped in.
“If we are to learn anything from our past experience with the state that has targeted us for providing legal abortion care, we know that other people providing that care are definitely going to be targets,” McNicholas said. . “If not now, then soon.”
This story has been corrected to say that Missouri Attorney General spokeswoman Madeline Sieren said in a statement that Planned Parenthood is providing “medication to children without any therapeutic assessment.”
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