News Abortion

Planned Parenthood Investigations Uncovering No Wrongdoing

Teddy Wilson

A series of videos that featured heavily edited footage of secretly taped conversations with Planned Parenthood officials has led to outrage from anti-choice activists and politicians who have called for investigations that have shown Planned Parenthood didn't violate any laws.

See more of our coverage on the misleading Center for Medical Progress videos here.

A series of videos that featured heavily edited footage of secretly taped conversations with Planned Parenthood officials has led to outrage from anti-choice activists and politicians who have called for investigations that have shown Planned Parenthood didn’t violate any laws.

The Center for Medical Progress, an anti-choice organization behind a series of videos spreading misinformation about Planned Parenthood, posted a fifth attack video to its YouTube channel Tuesday, failing once more to include clarifying comments from a Planned Parenthood official in its editing of the footage.

David Daleiden, the project leader of CMP, says that the videos prove that Planned Parenthood is selling fetal tissue for profit.

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“Elected officials need to listen to the public outcry for an immediate moratorium on Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding while the 10 state investigations and 3 Congressional committees determine the full extent of Planned Parenthood’s sale of baby parts.” Daleiden said in a statement following the release of CMP’s latest video last week.

Anti-choicers across the country have compared Planned Parenthood to everything from drug dealers to Nazis. However, the outcry from anti-choice lawmakers has so far yielded no tangible results.

Congressional Republicans failed to pass legislation Monday to ban Planned Parenthood from receiving public funding. Democrats organized a filibuster to block a bill that would have prohibited federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood, making those funds “available” to other entities favored by anti-choice lawmakers that provide women’s health services.

Republican lawmakers in states around the country have called for investigations and hearings, and inquiries have been announced in Arizona, Indiana, Florida, Kansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, and Texas.

Lawmakers in South Carolina have asked the state to conduct an audit of Planned Parenthood, and lawmakers in Tennessee will be holding a “fact-finding” hearing later this month.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) pushed back against state lawmakers calling for an investigation, and said that clinics in the state are licensed and highly regulated. “We in Virginia have no instances, no evidence, no complaints of any of this,” McAuliffe said, reported the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) said he would not investigate Planned Parenthood, despite calls to do so from Republican state lawmakers, including Lt. Gov Peter Kinder and state Sens. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) and Mike Parson (R- Bolivar).

“We’ve got to focus on what matters in this statecreating a good job environment, moving the economy forward, not taking the story of the day and trying to sensationalize it,” said Nixon, reported KOLR.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey conducted a review of Planned Parenthood at the request of a Republican lawmaker, and last week announced that her office found no evidence that the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts is operating a fetal tissue donation program.

“Although donation of fetal tissue is permissible under state and federal law, [the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM)] does not have a tissue donation program,” Healey said in a statement. “There is no evidence that PPLM is involved in any way in the buying or selling of tissue. As such, our review is complete.”

To date no investigations have uncovered any evidence that Planned Parenthood affiliates have broken any laws with regard to fetal tissue.

An Indiana State Department of Health investigation into Planned Parenthood-affiliated reproductive health-care clinics in the state found them in compliance with the state’s fetal tissue regulations.

“The investigation has concluded there was no evidence of this type of activity at these sites,” the Indiana State Department of Health said in a statement, reported the Indianapolis Star.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky operates three clinics that provide surgical abortion care in Indianapolis, Bloomington, and Merrillville. All of the clinics were found to be in compliance with state regulations and were not cited for any deficiencies, according to documents released by Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky does not participate in fetal tissue donation programs.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) announced Wednesday the state would investigate Planned Parenthood facilities there that provide abortion services, reported the Miami Herald.

Scott said in a statement that the CMP videos were “deeply troubling,” and that he was directing Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) Secretary Liz Dudek to begin evaluation of the 16 Planned Parenthood facilities in the state that perform abortion procedures to ensure they are in full compliance with the law.

“If a Planned Parenthood office is not following the law, we will move quickly to take legal and regulatory action against them,” Scott said. “We hold our healthcare organizations in Florida to the highest standards of safety and we expect them to fully comply with the law at all times.”

Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said in a statement that the investigation was “politically motivated,” reported the Miami Herald.

“We will, of course, cooperate fully with any investigation, but important medical issues shouldn’t be politicized,” Goodhue said. “This isn’t what people in our state want our elected officials to spend their time doing.”

Officials in GOP-dominated Florida reportedly completed their investigation of the clinics; the inspections were conducted on July 29-31.

The AHCA issued a statement Wednesday that the investigation had allegedly discovered three Planned Parenthood clinics were performing second-trimester abortions and ordered the health centers to stop providing them after ascertaining they didn’t have the proper licenses.

The agency did not find any evidence that fetal tissue was being sold illegally in Florida.

The AHCA claims that the three clinics that were in violation, located in Fort Myers, Naples, and St. Petersburg, were all inspected on July 31, according to the clinic inspection forms. The forms note the Planned Parenthood director of compliance and quality subsequently was called by an AHCA official Wednesday for a separate interview. The notes from that interview show that the Planned Parenthood official stated that the second trimester begins after 13 weeks and 6 days of gestation.

The AHCA claims that the three clinics in question were performing second-trimester abortions, citing Florida Administrative Code 59A-9.019. The inspection forms specifically cite the definition of the second trimester of pregnancy as “following the 12th week and extending through the 24th week of gestation” as the reason for why abortions performed by the clinics from 13 weeks and two days to 13 weeks and six days violate the scope of the clinic’s license.

However, the inspection forms omitted the definition of the first trimester of a pregnancy, which is defined under Florida Administrative Code 59A-9.019 as the “first 12 weeks of pregnancy (the first 14 completed weeks from the last normal menstrual period).”

“I can state unequivocally that all of our health centers are operating in full compliance with Florida law as well as best practices in reproductive health care,” Goodhue told the Tampa Bay Times. “The claim that any of our health centers are performing procedures we are not licensed to perform is false and seemingly stems from AHCA flip-flopping on their own rules and definitions of gestational periods.”

After the most recent video was released Tuesday, showing footage filmed at the Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast headquarters in Houston, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) requested the Harris County District Attorney’s Office begin a criminal investigation of Planned Parenthood.

“I am asking Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson to immediately initiate a criminal investigation of Planned Parenthood,” Patrick said in a statement. “We recently held a hearing in the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee to begin our own discovery of the facts involving this issue.“

State lawmakers held a hearing to investigate whether or not Planned Parenthood is selling fetal tissue, even though Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas have stated that they do not collect fetal tissue for donation in medical research. The more than four-hour hearing included testimony from only anti-choice activists and provided a platform for Republican lawmakers to lambast Planned Parenthood.

“This newest video makes it clear it is time for prosecutors to launch a criminal investigation in Harris County immediately,” Patrick said.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) ordered an investigation of Planned Parenthood and moved to block the organization from building a reproductive health-care facility after anti-choice activists released a video that they claim proves that Planned Parenthood is illegally selling fetal organs.

Planned Parenthood Louisiana does not operate any facilities in the state that provide abortion services, as of yet.

Jindal announced Monday that the state had terminated the organization’s Medicaid provider agreement, saying in a statement that the contract was terminated because “Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the State of Louisiana in regards to respecting human life.”

Melissa Flournoy, state director of Planned Parenthood Louisiana, said in a statement that Planned Parenthood follows all laws and regulations and provides health care following the highest medical and ethical standards.

“The source of these videos is a group of extremists,” Flournoy said. “They have intimidated women and doctors for years in their agenda to ban abortion completely and have executed 10 separate attack campaigns like this over the last eight years.”

Flournoy said that the videos have been “deceptively edited” to promote the false claim that Planned Parenthood staffers were violating laws or might violate laws. “The longer videos have shown that no laws have been broken,” Flournoy said.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) called the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts to investigate the state’s Planned Parenthood facilities after the release of CMP’s second video.

“Kansas remains committed to a culture that respects the dignity of life at all stages,” Brownback said in a statement. “Recent videos show Planned Parenthood employees treating the unborn as commodities as they discuss the sale of tissue and organs. This does not reflect the culture of life most Kansans want.”

Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said in a statement that Brownback’s call for an investigation is “politically motivated,” and that the organization’s facilities do not participate in a fetal tissue donation program.

“The fact that Planned Parenthood in Kansas does not participate in tissue donation programs underscores that calls for an investigation are about political grandstanding, not facts,” McQuade said, reported the Topeka Capital-Journal. “This is yet another orchestrated attempt to restrict access to safe, legal abortion in Kansas and to the needed services Planned Parenthood has provided for nearly 100 years. We will, of course, cooperate fully with any investigation.”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) issued a statement calling the videos released by CMP “horrifying,” and directed the Arizona Department of Health Services to conduct a review of current law and immediately promulgate emergency rules designed to prohibit the illegal sale of any fetal tissue.

Daniel Scarpinato, the governor’s spokesperson, told the Phoenix New Times that the governor’s office is drafting legislation to add extra provisions to state law that would create more paperwork that abortion providers must fill out after performing a procedure.

“It currently has questions about how old the fetus was, what gender … and [we want to add questions asking] what was done with the fetus after the abortion and whether there was any financial transaction,” he said.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement that he was “deeply disturbed” by the videos, but it was unclear how his office will assist Ducey. “While we cannot comment on the status of any possible investigation, this type of allegation is something we take very seriously,” Brnovich said.

Ryan Anderson, Brnovich’s spokesman, declined to discuss any details of how the attorney general’s office is responding to the governor’s emergency rules, reported the Arizona Republic.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) issued a statement in July saying he had ordered the state’s Department of Community Health and Department of Public Health to conduct a joint review of the clinics run by Planned Parenthood Southeast in Georgia.

Staci Fox, the CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, said the organization does not participate in fetal tissue donation, but added that reimbursement for expenses is standard procedure in the medical community when tissue is donated for scientific research.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced in July that his office is investigating whether the state’s three Planned Parenthood centers broke the law by “profiting from the sale of aborted babies.”

“My office’s Charitable Law Section is conducting an investigation to ensure that no Ohio non-profit is breaking the law or profiting from the sale of aborted babies,” DeWine said. “I encourage anyone with information about this potential illegal activity to contact my office or their local law enforcement agency.”

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who is seeking the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, called the video “abhorrent” and demanded that Planned Parenthood be “prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.”

Questions have been raised about CMP’s deceptive tactics, ideological agenda, and connections to radical and violent anti-choice activists, and the organization is also the subject of two lawsuits.

The National Abortion Federation filed a lawsuit Friday in federal court seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, which was later granted by Judge William Orrick of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, to prohibit the CMP from making public any video or audio recordings and materials of NAF educational meetings.

The lawsuits filed by NAF and StemExpress give credence to the questions that have been raised about CMP’s deceptive tactics, ideological agenda, and connections to radical and violent anti-choice activists.

In a statement responding to the lawsuits, CMP said that the organization “follows all applicable laws” while conducting investigations, and characterized the NAF as a “criminal organization.”

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