Editorial: Schaefer should focus on more pressing issues

The witch hunt against Planned Parenthood is alive and well

In the final hours leading up to the deadline set by protesting graduate students last week, you might have expected to find Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin frantically searching for solutions to prevent a walkout. Only he wasn’t in Columbia at all. Instead, through no fault of his own, our chancellor was attending mandatory hearings in Jefferson City — being questioned over MU’s involvement in bringing abortion services back to Columbia.

The witch hunt against Planned Parenthood has begun in Missouri, culminating in the creation of the Interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life in June, headed by state Sen. Kurt Schaefer and other representatives. The committee, which was initially created to investigate allegations made in a video campaign, is now investigating how Columbia Planned Parenthood was granted an ambulatory surgical center license, which allowed it to resume its strictly medical abortion services after three years of not being able to perform abortions for lack of a certified physician.

Enter Colleen McNicholas, the abortion physician for the Planned Parenthood of St. Louis. Schaefer, the Missouri Catholic Conference and others have accused assistant professor Kristin Metcalf-Wilson of recruiting McNicholas to perform abortion services at the Columbia Planned Parenthood. Metcalf-Wilson has also been accused of actively encouraging the MU Health System to grant McNicholas “refer and follow” privileges.

By state law, physicians performing abortions must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility where the abortions are performed. McNicholas does not enjoy any such privileges at either the Boone Hospital Center nor the University Hospital. She only has “refer and follow” privileges.

The “refer and follow” privilege allows McNicholas to refer patients to a physician at University Hospital and receive updates on their treatment. The privileges do not make McNicholas an employee of the university and is consistent with the process MU Health Care would treat any physician working in Columbia. Furthermore, the privileges would not allow McNicholas to admit patients, write orders, prescribe treatments or even perform surgery.

Schaefer’s secondary concern regarding MU’s association with the Columbia Planned Parenthood facility hinges on whether MU, as a publicly funded entity, can grant these privileges without breaking state laws forbidding the expenditure of any taxpayer dollars on abortion services.

This accusation itself makes it sound as though MU is actively funding abortion services. In reality, the only form of “funding” that MU would actually be doing by granting admittance privileges to McNicholas is the actual granting of the license itself. That’s not including the cost of the paper it would be printed on.

Senator Schaefer, stop wasting our time. If you’re really so concerned over the allocation of state funding in Missouri, why haven’t we seen the same level of concern over the numerous budgetary issues involving higher education, or any other area of state funding? Where is the concern over MU’s outdated and rapidly deteriorating library system? Or our consistently rising tuition rates? We have yet to see you launch an entire investigative committee over these important issues. Still, you’re eager to hold essential state funding over our chancellor’s head in this backwards political power play.

Do us, as students, and our university a favor by grandstanding over some other issue, preferably one that wasn’t settled several decades ago. Please — leave our university out of your pointless publicity stunt.

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