Woman sends interim chancellor letter about Planned Parenthood

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COLUMBIA - In a letter sent by email to MU Interim Chancellor Hank Foley, Jessi Miller of Columbia said Planned Parenthood services are vital to her health and the health of women across mid-Missouri. 

Miller suffers from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, a disease that causes many complications for women. She said one of her complications is a mentrual cycle that can take months to complete. Birth control shots can help to prevent that issue, and Miller said she receives her shot from Planned Parenthood of Columbia. 

Miller said the next closest Planned Parenthood is in St. Louis, and she can not afford to make that trip. 

However, Miller said her own health issues are not the main reason she wrote the note. Her biggest motivator was her now-deceased little brother Matthew. Miller said Matthew suffered from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. She said she watched her brother go from a fun-loving little boy to a teenager who couldn't walk. Eventually Matthew became bedridden and passed away at the age of 24.

Duchenne is a genetic disease, and Miller is a carrier. She fears if she ever had a child, the child would have the disease.

"For me, my situation, I do not want to pass on the gene," Miller said. "I don't want to put anyone through that pain, I don't feel its right to do that. I can't go to a hospital and say 'my life is in danger' because my life isn't in danger from that...my soul is." 

Miller also said Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome makes her high-risk for pregnancy difficulties. 

In Missouri, a woman can only get an abortion at a hospital if having the baby puts the mother in a possible life-threatening situation. Currently, Planned Parenthood of Columbia is the only mid-Missouri facility where a woman can get an abortion, using the medication abortion method. 

"We need these services in mid-Missouri. Not just because of my story, but because of safety. Because we need to keep women safe." 

KOMU 8 News spoke with Mike Hoey of the Missouri Catholic Conference. The organization sent a letter to MU urging leadership to not renew its relationship with Planned Parenthood. 

KOMU 8 News asked Hoey about abortions for women who are at a direct health risk if they have the child. 

"If a women has an at-risk pregnancy, she should go to the hospital to see if it can be treated and taken care of, so the baby can be healthy and the women can be healthy as well," Hoey said. "In the tragic situation that it is a life or death situation, the hospital can deal with that as well." 

Hoey said Planned Parenthood does not need to be involved in these situations, because he believes the hospital is the best place to get treatment. 

KOMU 8 News also reached out to MU but has not received any comment on Miller's letter.