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MU Doctoral Student To Continue Researching Mandatory Delay Law Despite Lawmaker's Objections

MU Doctoral Student To Continue Researching Mandatory Delay Law Despite Lawmaker's Objections

November 13, 2015 — A doctoral student at the University of Missouri on Wednesday said she will continue to research the effect of a state law (HR 1307) imposing a mandatory delay of 72 hours prior to abortion, despite the objections of a conservative state legislator, Al Jazeera America reports.

Background

According to Al Jazeera America, Lindsay Ruhr is a doctoral student at MU's School of Social Work who is writing her dissertation on the mandatory delay under the supervision of MU faculty. She said she expects to graduate in April 2016. Ruhr also is employed as a research coordinator at Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri.

Last month, state Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R) in a letter to MU objected to Ruhr's research, alleging that it violated state restrictions because MU, as a public university, receives public funding. Schaefer's letter also requested the school produce documents on the approval of the project. Schaefer chairs an interim Missouri Senate committee that is investigating Planned Parenthood.

According to Al Jazeera America, MU last month contracted with Planned Parenthood to provide training to nursing students at the university. The new contracts follow MU's decision in September to cancel 10 contracts with Planned Parenthood (Hayoun, Al Jazeera America, 11/11). Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood in September also announced it was taking legal action against MU for discontinuing privileges that allow physicians to legally provide abortion care in Columbia (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/29).

Ruhr Affirms Research Plans

Ruhr on Wednesday said, "I stand by my research project ... I feel that my research is objective, and that the whole point of my research is to understand how this policy affects women." Ruhr noted that MU has not asked her to discontinue her dissertation.

MU spokesperson Mary Jo Banken noted, "Chancellor (R. Bowen) Loftin has and will continue to strongly support academic freedom and the intellectual property of MU's students and faculty." According to Al Jazeera America, Loftin has submitted his resignation amid concerns about how the university is responding to racial tension on campus.

Banken added that Ruhr does not receive any grants or scholarships from the university.

Mary Korgut, president and CEO of Advocates of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, said Ruhr's work can help improve women's health care services. "We thought the politicians looking at research of importance to Missouri's women was inappropriate," she said (Al Jazeera America, 11/11).