October 30, 2019

DHSS denies false allegations

For Immediate Release:
Oct. 30, 2019

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Irresponsible reporting has led to false claims that Dr. Randall Williams tracks the menstrual cycles of women seeking abortions at Planned Parenthood. The story was based on an erroneous email subject line that both staff and sworn testimony has acknowledged is not accurate. Nothing in the Administrative Hearing Commission testimony that Dr. Williams gave on Oct. 29, or in the Oct. 17 deposition, could in any way be cited to support this false claim that he ordered “spreadsheets” or any document to be created to do such. In fact, during Dr. Williams’ Oct.17 deposition, Planned Parenthood’s attorney Chuck Hatfield asked, “Do you recall making a request related to duplicate records which appear to be duplicate ITOPs [Induced Termination of Pregnancy] with last normal menses date?” Dr. Williams answered, “No, sir.” This “issue” was given very little attention at the hearing and has been falsely reported with the purpose of sensationalizing the hearing, drawing in readers and distracting from the truth.

The truth is that as part of our initial inspection, a concern came up that DHSS may not be receiving complication reports for all failed surgical abortions, as required by law. Without a directive from Dr. Randall Williams, regulators devised a means to efficiently investigate that concern using legally-obtained information which was required by law and which Planned Parenthood routinely submits. A Department investigator took the data in DHSS possession and narrowed if from approximately 3,000 abortions conducted in 2018 to 67 instances where the same woman had multiple abortions in the same year. The data was further narrowed to exclude multiple abortions and ultimately identified a case where a failed abortion was not reported by Planned Parenthood, in violation of Missouri Law. Only then was the case shared by regulators with Dr. Williams. Dr. Williams did not possess a spreadsheet of patient information, and although there was no wrong-doing by regulators, the first time he saw the spreadsheet was at the time of his deposition on Oct. 17. HIPAA compliance was not a factor in this activity as no patient data has been released. This information, in fact, was important in the investigative process in ensuring that facilities are safe for patients.

A long-standing legal mandate requires that “an individual abortion report for each abortion performed or induced upon a woman shall be completed by the physician who performed or induced the abortion.” (RSMo 188.052) With regard to these reports, a regulation was promulgated to detail the required contents of the reports. This rule, 19 CSR 10-15.010, establishes the content of the ITOP report to be filed with the Department. One of the required details in the rule is last normal menses (menstruation). Necessarily, DHSS retains this documentation. Per practice, the reports are reviewed when a complication is reported for an abortion procedure. In order to ensure that our laws and health care standards are being met, reports from abortion facilities, by law, must be reviewed. In this case, Planned Parenthood was not compliant with the complication report requirement for failed abortions. Regulators realized this, and as a result they used the tools they had to protect the health of those who seek abortions at Planned Parenthood.