Columbia senator claims UMHC doctor could be behind abortions
COLUMBIA - In a letter to University of Missouri Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin Monday, Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, cites concerns that a University of Missouri Health Care physician may have an agreement with Planned Parenthood to perform surgical abortions at the organization's Columbia clinic.
In the letter, Schaefer gives the chancellor a deadline of Tuesday to respond with any documentation the university may have proving or disproving that a relationship exists.
Mary Jenkins, a spokesperson for University of Missouri Health care said the university does have a relationship with Dr. Colleen McNicholas, the doctor Schaefer cited in his letter. Jenkins said Dr. McNicholas has "refer and follow" privileges with UMHC, but that she is not a faculty member or university employee. Those privileges allow physicians who are contracted to work for another medical facility the ability to refer patients to MU hospitals and clinics and to review the patient's medical records. The privileges do not allow the physician to perform surgical operations, like abortions, at an MU hospital or clinic.
Schaefer raised concern in his letter that the university could be violating state law if it is funding abortion services with taxpayer dollars. Schaefer called it and issue of "substantial public interest and concern." UMHC has yet to respond to KOMU 8 News about whether the university is using taxpayer dollars to pay Dr. McNicholas.
Schaefer, who serves as Chairman of the Senate Interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life, said the committee's goal is to determine the legality of the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services issuing the facility a license to operate July 15. The facility began performing medication abortion services Aug. 1.
A representative for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and mid-Missouri said the Columbia clinic is only performing medication abortions.