News Abortion

Kansas Planned Parenthood Investigation Found No Wrongdoing, Governor Still Wants to Cut Funding

Jenn Stanley

Like many across the country, an investigation in Kansas found that Planned Parenthood was not involved with the illegal sale of fetal tissue.

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.”

News Violence

Admitted Planned Parenthood Shooter Again Deemed Not Competent for Trial

Jessica Mason Pieklo

A Colorado judge ruled Thursday that Robert Lewis Dear Jr. remains not legally competent to stand trial on charges related to a November 2015 clinic siege that left three dead.

A Colorado judge ruled Thursday that Robert Lewis Dear Jr., the man who has admitted to killing three people during a siege of a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, is still not legally competent to stand trial. Dear faces 179 criminal counts, including murder and attempted murder, for the November 27, 2015 attack.

This was the second time Judge Gilbert Martinez has made such a determination. In May, Martinez made the ruling following two days of hearings where forensic pathologists told the court that Dear’s extreme political beliefs amounted to a delusional disorder sufficient to render Dear incompetent for trial.

Dear had previously told law enforcement officers and state mental health evaluators that he believed the federal government was persecuting Christians.

During Dear’s May competency hearing, Dear argued his attorneys were seeking a ruling of legal incompetence over his objections. Dear said during that hearing that he instead wanted to put forward a defense during trial that his actions were legally justified to prevent the greater evil of Planned Parenthood “selling baby parts,” a claim based off a series of discredited videos that claimed the reproductive health-care provider was illegally profiting from fetal tissue donations.

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Multiple state and federal investigations have not found any wrongdoing with regard to Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue donation program.

Dear’s proposed “justified homicide” defense is the same on that Scott Roeder, the man who murdered Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller in 2009, tried to raise during his trial. Operation Rescue President Troy Newman had also advocated for the murder of abortion providers under the theory that killing abortion providers prevents the so-called greater harm of those providers performing legal abortions. He has since walked back those statements. Newman is an advisor to David Daleiden, the anti-choice activist behind the videos Dear referenced to law enforcement.

Dear’s Colorado siege was not his first alleged anti-choice action. Court records show Dear had superglued locks at an abortion clinic in South Carolina and deeply admired Paul Hill, a former minister who was executed in 2003 for the 1994 murders of Florida abortion provider Dr. John Britton and Britton’s bodyguard.

As a result of Thursday’s ruling Dear will remain in a Colorado state mental health facility until his next evaluation by the court, which will take place in November.

News Politics

David Daleiden Brags About Discredited Smear Campaign at GOP Convention

Amy Littlefield

Daleiden’s claims about the videos’ impact on Planned Parenthood contrast with a recent poll showing that support for Planned Parenthood has increased in the aftermath of the Center for Medical Progress' anti-choice smear videos.

David Daleiden, a year after he began releasing secretly recorded and deceptively edited videos claiming to show Planned Parenthood officials were illegally profiting from fetal tissue donation, appeared to boast about the videos’ purported impact at a luncheon during the Republican National Convention (RNC).

“I think it’s very clear that one year later, Planned Parenthood is on the brink, they’re on the precipice,” Daleiden said at the event, co-hosted by the Family Research Council Action and the Susan B. Anthony List. “Their client numbers are down by at least 10 percent, their abortion numbers are down, their revenues are down and their clinics are closing.”

The luncheon took place at the Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse, near the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, where the Republican National Convention is underway. Also in attendance at Wednesday’s luncheon were a slate of Republican anti-choice politicians, including Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer, and North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx.

Daleiden—who is under felony indictment in Texas and the subject of lawsuits in California for his actions in filming the undercover videos—touted efforts to defund Planned Parenthood by state Republican legislators and governors, who used the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) smear videos as a basis for investigations. Those defunding attempts have been blocked by federal court order in several cases.

He celebrated Planned Parenthood’s announcement that it would close two and consolidate four health centers in Indiana, an effort Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky said would “allow patients to receive affordable, quality health care with extended hours at the newly consolidated locations.” Daleiden made no mention of last month’s Supreme Court decision overturning abortion restrictions in Texas, which dealt the anti-choice movement its worst legal defeat in decades.

“One year ago now, from the release of those videos, I think it’s actually safe to say that Planned Parenthood has never been more on the defensive in their entire 100 years of history, and the pro-life movement has never been stronger,” Daleiden said.

While his tone was victorious, Daleiden appeared to avoid directly claiming credit for the supposed harm done to Planned Parenthood. In a federal racketeering lawsuit brought against Daleiden and his co-defendants, Planned Parenthood has argued that Daleiden should compensate the organization for the harm that his smear campaign caused.

Republican congressional lawmakers have held at least five hearings and as many defunding votes against Planned Parenthood in the year since the videos’ release. Not a single state or federal investigation has produced evidence of wrongdoing.

Daleiden’s claims about the videos’ impact on Planned Parenthood contrast with a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showing that support for Planned Parenthood has increased in the aftermath of the CMP smear videos.

 

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