COLUMBIA — An MU student group delivered more than 2,500 signed petitions in support of Planned Parenthood to MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin on Tuesday.
Jordan Hoyt, a member of Mizzou for Planned Parenthood, said she, a legislator, another student and a faculty member met with Loftin Tuesday afternoon to discuss the university's decision to cancel contracts with the health care provider and revoke refer-and-follow privileges for Colleen McNicholas, the only doctor qualified to perform medical abortions at the Columbia Planned Parenthood clinic.
Hoyt said she carried 2,506 individual petitions, signed by MU students, faculty, staff and community members, in boxes to Jesse Hall. The petitions asked that Loftin reverse those decisions, reinstate contracts between the MU medical and nursing schools and Planned Parenthood and call for a halt to the ongoing legislative investigation into Planned Parenthood.
The Senate Interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life, led by senator and attorney general hopeful Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, began investigating MU's relationship with Planned Parenthood in July. The committee has held several hearings investigating the health provider's operations in Missouri.
An investigation by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster determined in September that Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, the only provider of surgical abortions in the state, hadn't committed any crimes, according to previous Missourian reporting. Schaefer and Rep. Diane Franklin, R-Camdenton, called the investigation incomplete.
Hoyt, who is also a "community ambassador" for Planned Parenthood, said she appreciated that the chancellor met with her and that he seemed interested in the issue.
"He did express that he was in support of educational opportunities for students," she said. "He did say he felt it should be up to individual departments to handle contractual agreements, but he was pretty vague on the particulars."
In the past, the schools of medicine, nursing and social work have created their own independent agreements with Planned Parenthood to allow students to gain clinical experience and knowledge about health policy.
The Sinclair School of Nursing is working on approving new agreements with Planned Parenthood, according to previous Missourian reporting. The new agreements specifically prohibit nursing students from performing abortions or counseling a woman to have an abortion.
Hoyt said Marjorie Sable, director of the School of Social Work, fellow student Dina van der Zalm and Rep. Stephen Webber, D-Columbia, were also present for the meeting.
Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, which operates the Columbia clinic, issued a statement Tuesday in support of Mizzou for Planned Parenthood's petition and meeting.
“The clock is ticking for Chancellor Loftin to restore physician privileges by December 1, a critical step ensuring that the full range of high quality reproductive health care services, including abortion, remain legal, available and accessible in Mid-Missouri," said Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, in the statement. "The citizens of Missouri will not tolerate going back to being a single-provider state.”
Webber could not be reached by phone or email before 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Supervising editor is Katherine Reed