Missouri is suing Planned Parenthood based on a conservative group's sting video


ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri’s attorney general filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing Planned Parenthood of illegally taking minors into Kansas to obtain abortions without parental consent, basing the allegation on a video from a conservative group that has promoted false claims on other issues.

Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s lawsuit accuses Kansas City, Missouri-based Planned Parenthood Great Plains of violating Missouri law, which makes it illegal to “intentionally cause, aid, or assist a minor to obtain an abortion” without consent from a parent or guardian. The lawsuit filed in state district court in Columbia, Missouri, asks the court to stop Planned Parenthood from engaging in the conduct it alleges.

Bailey’s lawsuit provides no evidence of the actions alleged outside of a hidden camera video from a conservative group, Project Veritas. The video is of a conversation between Planned Parenthood employees and someone impersonating someone seeking an abortion for a fictitious 13-year-old.

Project Veritas is known for conducting such hidden camera stings. Earlier this month, it acknowledged that claims it made in a video alleging ballot mishandling at a Pennsylvania post office in 2020 were untrue as it settled a lawsuit against the group by a postmaster. In 2021, a Project Veritas video fueled a false claim online that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine contains aborted fetal cells.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains President and CEO Emily Wales said the lawsuit is based on false information. She said in a statement that Planned Parenthood does not provide any form of transportation for patients. Besides, she said, Kansas law requires minor patients seeking abortion services to have parental consent or to show an order from a Kansas judge authorizing it.

“We will continue following state and federal laws and proudly providing Missourians with the compassionate sexual and reproductive care that remains available to them in a state with a total abortion ban,” Wales said.

Project Veritas did not immediately respond Thursday to a telephone message or email seeking comment.

Missouri is among several conservative-led states that adopted restrictive abortion laws in 2022, after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision establishing the nationwide right to abortion. State law prohibits almost all abortions, except in cases of “medical emergencies.”

GOP lawmakers and state officials have long been at odds with Planned Parenthood. The Republican-led Missouri House on Wednesday gave initial approval to a bill that would bar Medicaid funding from going to Planned Parenthood. Weeks earlier, the Missouri Supreme Court thwarted a previous attempt to end that funding.

Bailey said in a statement it is time to “eradicate Planned Parenthood once and for all.”

Bailey’s lawsuit, based on the Project Vertias video, alleges that Planned Parenthood employees said they could take the girl to a Kansas clinic without parental knowledge, using a doctor’s note written by someone at Planned Parenthood to get the girl out of school.

“This is the beginning of the end for Planned Parenthood in the State of Missouri. What they conceal and conspire to do in the dark of night has now been uncovered,” Bailey said.

Bailey did not say whether he planned to file criminal charges against Planned Parenthood over the conduct the lawsuit alleges. His spokesperson said the office’s investigation is ongoing but did not immediately respond to a question about whether criminal charges could be coming.

But Wales said the Project Veritas video “is heavily doctored and edited.” She called the lawsuit “a press release dressed up as legal action from an unelected attorney general.”

The lawsuit also asks the court to prohibit Planned Parenthood from referring minors for abortions, providing doctor’s notes for minors, paying for lodging for out-of-state abortions for minors, or coordinating with others for any of those activities.

Democratic House Minority Leader Crystal Quade told reporters that she believes that Bailey’s action “falls in the bucket again of another lawsuit just to try to get some headlines in an election year.”

Bailey was appointed attorney general by Republican Gov. Mike Parson after Eric Schmitt was elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2022. Bailey is running for election to the post this year.

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Hanna reported from Topeka, Kansas. Summer Ballentine in Jefferson City, Missouri, contributed to this report.



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