Health Director removes Nixon from Planned Parenthood case
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Health Director removes Nixon from Planned Parenthood case

Date: August 22, 2007
By: Sarah D. Wire
State Capitol Bureau
Links: HB 1055

JEFFERSON CITY - Health Department Director Jane Drummond announced Wednesday her department would use an outside lawyer, rather than the Attorney General, to represent the department in a Planned Parenthood lawsuit challenging the state's latest abortion-restriction law.

Drummond charged Jay Nixon was too closely tied to Planned Parenthood, including receiving financial support from the organization. She also said Nixon's record supporting abortion rights was one of the reasons for his removal.

"I did not believe I could trust you to defend me and my department vigorously," Drummond wrote in a letter to Nixon.

Drummond stated in the letter that she has obtained pro bono counsel for her department.  The letter did not indicate who was providing the free legal services. The department did not immediately return phone calls.

As the state's official lawyer, Nixon defends laws that have been challenged.  And Nixon's office made it clear the Democratic Attorney General did not intend to step aside.

"For the Attorney General's Office, this is about law, not politics. The legislature passed House Bill 1055, and as in the past, we will defend the law. We will certainly attempt to work with the Department of Health and Senior Services to make sure we have a coordinated, united defense," Nixon's office stated in a written statement.

Planned Parenthood filled a federal lawsuit Monday claiming legislation passed last year will eliminate abortion services in the majority of the state. The proposal would require that facilities providing abortions would have to be licensed as ambulatory surgical centers.  Planned Parenthood has warned that requirement could force the organization to cease providing abortions at its Columbia and Kansas City facilities.

The legislation will take effect Aug. 28 unless blocked by the courts.