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Sultan: What Missouri's state officials need to know about our periods

Sultan: What Missouri's state officials need to know about our periods

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Since Missouri’s department of health is so interested, let’s talk about our periods.

Put aside your spreadsheet, and pull up a chair, Dr. Randy Williams. As the Kansas City Star first reported, your health department investigators filtered through the private data of women who came to the one remaining abortion provider in Missouri. These investigators analyzed patients’ self-reported menstrual cycle dates along with abortion procedure dates on a hunt to find medical complications, which are rare. It looks like the state was trying to build a political case to shut down the lone Planned Parenthood clinic, but that’s probably just our lady hormones acting up.

However, once the rest of the country learned about how patients’ medical data were being used by your investigators, even plenty of non-menstruating people were horrified. Did these women consent to turning their menstrual cycle information over to the state to be used for political purposes? It seems counterintuitive that women seeking an abortion would want their private medical information used in an attempt to shut down the only place in the state that they can get one.

But Randy knows best, right?

Of course, the department denies that you ever asked for or even had possession of this information, which was emailed around with an “erroneous” subject line marking it “Director’s Request.” And we’re sure it has nothing to do with the state’s Republican lawmakers’ personal crusade to deny women the right to make their own health care decisions. You have to admit that our Legislature pays special attention to men’s opinions and beliefs about whether women they’ve never met should be forced to carry a fetus and give birth after they’ve been raped. We can see how that might lead you to think your speculum can slide into any lady’s private data, Randy, but hold up one bloody minute.

If the state is so deeply concerned about our reproductive health, why did your department try earlier this year to force doctors to perform additional, medically unnecessary vaginal exams three days before an abortion? Doctors already perform a pelvic exam just before a procedure. This seemed like another weirdly invasive call by your department. Unsurprisingly, it led to another national outcry.

Eventually, you backed down from that new requirement, but we can’t help but notice a strange pattern here. You’re awfully interested in what’s happening with our vaginas. So, we’re going to save you and your department from creating another Aunt Flo registry.

Here’s what women can tell you about tracking our periods. Our cycles can be irregular. We don’t always exactly recall the first day of our last cycle. We trust our doctors far more than government bureaucrats to advise us on our medical options and risks. We see through politicians’ lip service about being “pro-life” when they won’t act to lower the state’s sky-high rate of gun deaths or the high maternal mortality rate.

Hypocrisy leaves the nastiest stain.

Perhaps state officials have miscalculated how some women are going to respond to these extreme measures to control, track and regulate our bodies.

Women in suburban areas in Missouri may not be so keen on having a governmental cycle tracker. Earlier this week, voters in a traditionally Republican St. Louis suburb flipped the 99th District state House seat in a massive swing. In 2018, the Republican candidate won this seat by 6 percentage points.

Democrat Trish Gunby beat her opponent on Tuesday by 8.

Track those numbers, Randy.

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