Kansas’ medical board found no wrongdoing in yet another state investigation into whether Planned Parenthood engaged in the illegal sale of fetal tissue; the results of that investigation were released last week. Even so, Gov. Sam Brownback (R) announced his plans Tuesday to cut all Medicaid funding for the health-care organization.
“After careful review of the investigative materials, the Panel determined no further action would be taken at this time; however the materials will be kept on file and reviewed again in the event future issues arise,” Dan Riley, State Board of Healing Arts disciplinary attorney, wrote in a letter to Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.
“We absolutely feel vindicated by this,” Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said in a press statement regarding the findings.
Brownback joined many lawmakers last year when he launched the investigation to find out whether the state’s Planned Parenthood was illegally selling donated fetal tissue, after the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), an anti-choice front group, released secretly recorded, highly edited videos making the widely discredited allegations.
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All of these investigations have turned up no wrongdoing, but that hasn’t stopped GOP-dominated legislatures around the country from trying to defund Planned Parenthood.
In Kansas, many anti-choice lawmakers refuse to accept the findings.
“I think the Board of Healing Arts should take another look,” state Sen. Jake LaTurner (R-Pittsburg) told the Associated Press.
McQuade told Rewire that the governor knew that the medical board had cleared Planned Parenthood’s Overland Park clinic of wrongdoing in its letter, dated January 7. Yet during his State of the State address earlier this week, Brownback still cited the organization’s alleged “trafficking of baby body parts.”
McQuade told Rewire that she worries that these statements by the governor are misleading to Kansans.
“I have deep concerns that a governor would knowingly continue to use false information,” McQuade told Rewire. “The defamation piece is bad in and of itself, but to use that as the basis to make a dramatic policy to cut Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid program in Kansas is outrageous.”
Officials from Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri and other abortion providers in the state have said that they don’t even have programs that allow legal donations of fetal tissue. Earlier this week, Planned Parenthood Federation of America filed a lawsuit against CMP, charging that along with multiple co-conspirators, CMP and its leaders engaged in illegal conduct including racketeering, fraud, invasion of privacy, illegal secret recording, and trespassing.
“CMP fabricated a story about Planned Parenthood’s practices, which fueled a toxic environment across the country and right here at home in Kansas and Missouri,” McQuade said in a statement regarding the lawsuit. “Emboldened by CMP’s fabrication, Governor Sam Brownback, in his 2016 State of the State address knowingly made false statements against Planned Parenthood and used those false statements to justify defunding the organization in the state of Kansas.”
Planned Parenthood only operates one of Kansas’ three abortion clinics, which is located in Overland Park. There is one other abortion clinic in Overland Park and one in Wichita. McQuade told Rewire that the GOP-dominated legislature’s extreme conservative social agenda has made the state hostile territory for those seeking and providing abortion services. She added that Brownback’s attack on Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood goes beyond women’s access to reproductive health care.
“It’s also a vehicle to push his agenda of limiting health access,” McQuade said. “Other health outcomes in the state are significantly lower than in other parts of the country because of this hostility toward the government’s role in ensuring that people in this state, regardless of income level, have access to the health care they need.”