MU for Planned Parenthood hopes Foley responds before deadline

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COLUMBIA – Mizzou students in support for Planned Parenthood are struggling to start a conversation with MU Interim Chancellor Hank Foley on the decision for Planned Parenthood to stop providing safe abortions.

Jordan Hoyt, a member of the group, said their effort to schedule meetings with Chancellor Foley have failed since last week. She said their first scheduled meeting was canceled due to conflicts in Foley’s schedule, and as of Wednesday, no reschedule attempts were successful.

“Unfortunately, we really haven’t been able to speak with him in the way that we had hoped to at this point,” she said.

Since Foley stepped into then MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin’s position, Hoyt said the group has never gotten a direct response from him.

“He’s received quite a bit of contact from students, faculty, staff, and alumni in the form of emails, petitions, Twitter posts, etc. So he is definitely hearing from us, but we would very much like to hear from him as well and it’s concerning that he hasn’t been able to do so,” Hoyt said.

Hoyt said it is important for the group to reach Foley before Dec. 1 because that is when the contract formally ends.

“We definitely want to address the issue of the privileges that are going to be lost. Our local Planned Parenthood has already stopped performing abortions due to the 72-hour restriction in the state. As of Monday evening, that will become a permanent thing if he [Foley] doesn’t take action,” she said.

Hoyt said having the “refer and follow” privileges revoked takes away Dr. Colleen McNicholas’, the board-certified OB/GYN that began performing medication abortions in August, ability to send a patient to the emergency room if there’s a need, and follow their record. On Wednesday, spokesperson Teresa Snow released a statement from the University of Missouri Health Care and said the end of the privilege affects "two out of 800 privileged providers at MU Health Care." Hoyt said the decision is a problem because only Dr. McNicholas was authorized to provide abortions out of all the health care providers. Due to state regulations, Dr. McNicholas needs to have those privileges to perform abortion and it stops her from practicing at the local health center.

Hoyt said getting back the privileges is what Foley needs to do before Monday evening.

“We would like him to take action to reinstate privileges to grandfather in Dr. McNicholas to have privileges in the University Hospital or to extend the deadline until she is able to receive appropriate privileges. Or we’re able to employ a doctor who has appropriate privileges,” Hoyt said.

Hoyt said the decision and lack of response is concerning because it is an “unprecedented action” and is educationally disappointing.

“It’s also concerning in terms of academic freedom and our ability to learn about abortions, because Mizzou is not in the abortion business, Mizzou is in the education business, and there is a very clear distinction,” she said.

Hoyt said Foley is known for supporting women's issue in the past, so the group is hopeful this is a "winnable battle" and Foley will make a timely decision to keep the privileges.

Hoyt said although she understands the decision in Wisconsin won't be applied in Missouri, she hopes it gives someone hope to take this issue to court. Planned Parenthood of Kansas & Mid-Missouri CEO Laura McQuade confirmed the organization is looking into filing a lawsuit before Dec. 1.

Hoyt said Planned Parenthood and Mizzou for Planned Parenthood are planning to hold a vigil on campus Monday evening if no changes are made by Foley.

KOMU 8 News reached out to Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, to get his response on Planned Parenthood stopping abortions, but he has not responded.