MSNBC host Rachel Maddow highlighted a new example of anti-abortion extremism on October 31, covering reports that Missouri's health department was tracking the menstrual cycles of patients who had received reproductive health care at the state's only remaining abortion clinic.
Hearings began earlier in the week to decide the fate of the clinic, a Planned Parenthood in St. Louis. Although abortion is already inaccessible in many places, if the clinic were forced to close, Missouri would become the first state in the nation without a functioning abortion clinic.
In the hearings, Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services director, Dr. Randall Williams, testified under oath that the department was tracking the menstrual cycles of patients who had received reproductive health care at the Planned Parenthood in St. Louis’ Central West End neighborhood. As reported by The Kansas City Star, Williams' tracking of patients’ menstrual cycles “helped to identify patients who had undergone failed abortions.”
During her segment, Maddow explained that this invasive tactic is just another example of anti-abortion extremism, saying Missouri is using “state regulations, under the direction of the state health director, to regulate the last clinic in the state in such a way it loses its license and is forced to close.” And she noted that to do this, “the health director there has been tracking women's periods on a computer spreadsheet as part of his government job, which means taxpayers have been paying him to do that."