Missouri state Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R) has launched an effort to stop a University of Missouri graduate student from studying the impacts of a state law mandating a 72-hour abortion waiting period passed last year.
He accused the university of breaking a state law that prohibits the use of state funds to “encourage or counsel a woman to have an abortion not necessary to save her life,” the Columbia Tribune reported last week.
“The study does not appear to be designed as an objective, unbiased research project, but rather as a marketing aid for Planned Parenthood — one that is funded, in part or in whole, by taxpayer dollars,” Schaefer wrote in an October 30 letter to the university’s chancellor, R. Bowen Loftin.
In the letter, Schaefer noted that a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis will collect and store the data for the study. As chair of the Missouri senate’s interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life, Schaefer investigated Planned Parenthood after edited videos allegedly showed employees at the clinic discuss the sale of fetal tissue. As a result of the state senate’s investigation, the University of Missouri has canceled contracts with Planned Parenthood and prohibited medical students from learning about abortions during clinical rotations, according to the Huffington Post.
The university has defended the graduate student’s study.
“As the state’s research, land-grant institution, we must stay committed to the discovery, dissemination, application and preservation of knowledge to support our mission while abiding by state and federal laws,” spokeswoman Mary Jo Banken said in a statement, according to the Huffington Post. “We will continue performing life-saving research in our laboratories while providing the highest quality of educational opportunities to our students.”
Mary Kogut, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis chapter, said Schaefer was trying to intimidate researchers.
“I also think what Sen. Schaefer is doing is intimidation of the higher education institutions of our state,” Kogut said, according to the Associated Press. “This is about academic freedom for students and the university.”