State Lawmakers in Missouri Move to Hold Planned Parenthood President in Contempt

Tuesday, April 12, 2016
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On April 5, 2016, republican lawmakers in Missouri threatened to hold the president of a St. Louis-area Planned Parenthood affiliate in contempt of court – under threat of jail time – for refusing to submit private medical documents. The contempt charge is related to a November subpoena issued to Mary Kogut, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, by the state’s general assembly on the Sanctity of Life. The committee was convened to investigate allegations that the women’s health organization illegally sells fetal remains.

Turning Over Patient Information.

The subpoena that was issued in November, called for Kogut to turn over any and all consent forms signed by the patient in the process of receiving abortion care at the St. Louis affiliate. As the clinic is the only remaining abortion provider in the state of Missouri, this would effectively give lawmakers the names of the bulk of women who’ve received abortions in recent years.

The committee’s document request makes no specifications about what would happen with the information after it is turned over, so there is no guarantee that the private information could not be turned over to the public.

A Breach of Doctor-Patient Confidentiality.

A lawyer on behalf on Planned Parenthood stated that the committee does not have the authority to subpoena the documents – many of which contain patient information protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) – and that handing them over would violate federal privacy laws.

Click here to read on of my prior blogs on HIPAA audits and violations.

HIPAA Laws v. State Laws.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule provides a Federal floor of privacy protections for individuals' individually health information where that information is held by a covered entity or by a business associate of the covered entity. State laws that are contrary to the Privacy Rule are preempted by the Federal requirements, unless a specific exception applies. Click here, to read more about these exceptions.

Despite these objections, the Missouri state senate will begin hearings to introduce a bill determining whether Kogut should be found in contempt of court for not turning over the documents. If found guilty, she faces up to 10 days of jail time as well as a fine of $300.

Contact a Health Law Attorney Experienced in Defending HIPAA Complaints and Violations.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent physicians, medical groups, nursing homes, home health agencies, pharmacies, hospitals and other health care providers and institutions in investigating and defending alleged HIPAA complaints and violations and in preparing Corrective Action Plans (CAPs). Objections should be made to any such subpoena on a timely basis and the experienced attorneys at The Health Law Firm can assist in this process.

For more information about HIPAA violations, electronic health records or corrective action plans (CAPs) please visit our website at or call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001.


Raymond, Laurel. “State lawmakers Just Threatened to Throw A Planned Parenthood Employee in Jail.” ThinkProgress. (April 6, 2016). Web.

Uffalussy, Jennifer. “Missouri Senate moves to hold St. Louis area Planned Parenthood president in contempt.” RawStory. (April 6, 2016). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

KeyWords: Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), HIPAA compliance, data security, protected health information (PHI), Patient privacy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Civil Rights (OCR), patient rights, HIPAA compliance audit, HIPAA violation, penalties for HIPAA violation, criminal penalties for HIPAA violation, civil penalties for HIPAA violation, HIPAA compliance, privacy, defense attorney, defense lawyer, Medicare exclusion, HIPAA defense attorney, HIPAA violation help, HIPAA attorney, HIPAA lawyer, compliance plans, health law firm, The Health La

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