Associated Press (AP) – The Missouri attorney general is investigating gender affirming care According to the lawsuit filed by the St. Louis health care provider, Planned Parenthood provided.
Planned Parenthood of St. Louis and Southwest Missouri sued Attorney General Andrew Bailey on Friday in St. Louis County District Court, according to court documents.
Bailey’s office requested the records on March 14 as part of the parenting plan investigation to treatment for transgender youth claims a Washington University-affiliated clinic in St. Louis.
Planned Parenthood argues in its lawsuit that its clinic has no connection to the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, which has come under repeated scrutiny after allegations of abuse by a former employee.
Planned Parenthood is trying to block access to its records and asked Judge Elizabeth Hogan to tell Bailey that she does not have the authority to investigate the clinic, which is being investigated by the state’s health department.
Dr. Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer at the health center, described Bailey’s investigation as a “fishing expedition.” He told The Associated Press that his office had not made any allegations of misconduct at the Planned Parenthood clinic.
A spokesman for Bailey did not immediately return The Associated Press’ requests for comment Friday.
The lawsuit comes amid a national push to limit transgender health care, drag shows, bathroom access and how LGBTQ+ topics are discussed in schools. The lawsuit was filed Friday as rallies were planned in cities across the country as part of Transgender Day of Visibility.
The attorney general’s investigation “is an effort to help him work outside the legislative process and eliminate access to transgender care for Missourians,” McNicholas said.
As the state’s top attorney, Bailey follows suit the leadership of his predecessor in using the office for a position on social issues. Last week, he announced plans to propose emergency rule to limit health care for transgender children. Before Missouri doctors can offer gender-affirming care to minors, it requires an 18-month waiting period, 15 therapy sessions and additional mental health treatment.
His office has not yet proposed the rule.
Transgender medical treatment for children has been available in the United States for over a decade and has been endorsed by major medical associations. According to a recent review in the British Psychological Bulletin, developed in Amsterdam 30 years ago, many clinicians use treatment plans. Since 2005, the number of young people attending gender clinics has increased tenfold in the US, UK, Canada and Finland, according to the review.
McNicholas, of Planned Parenthood, said Bailey is using “the same playbook” that anti-abortion activists and elected officials have used to restrict abortion.
Missouri banned nearly all abortions in 2022 after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned v. Wade.
Before that, Republicans fought for years to regulate abortion in the state. The GOP-led state legislature introduces anti-abortion legislation every year. Republican rulers stepped in as increasingly restrictive prohibitions on court formality were thrown out.
“If we’ve learned anything from our past experience with the state targeting us for providing legal abortion care, we know that other people who provide that care will certainly be targeted,” McNicholas said. “If not now, then soon.”