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News Abortion

Arizona Officials Find No Instances of Wrongdoing in Fetal Tissue Donation

Nicole Knight

"This is a silly requirement enacted to solve a non-existent problem," Jodi Liggett, vice president of public affairs with Planned Parenthood Arizona, said in an email on Monday to Rewire.

Ten months of monitoring fetal tissue donations by abortion providers has revealed zero instances of wrongdoing, the Arizona Department of Health Services told the Arizona Republic last week.

The results follow a new “emergency” rule that the state’s Republican governor, Doug Ducey, established in August to require clinics to disclose whether abortion patients agreed to the transfer of fetal tissue to another person or entity; who those patients were; and any compensation they received, as Arizona Republic reported. The requirements were added to the forms that clinics must file with the state health department.

Ducey pushed for the rule even though Planned Parenthood Arizona officials told Rewire that the health-care organization does not operate a fetal tissue donation program in the state.

“This is a silly requirement enacted to solve a non-existent problem,” Jodi Liggett, vice president of public affairs with Planned Parenthood Arizona, said in an email on Monday to Rewire.

In an online statement last year, Ducey maintained the new rule was essential, citing the discredited videos by the Center for Medical Progress that tried to make it seem as if Planned Parenthood officials earned a profit from fetal tissue donations, which is illegal. Multiple state and federal investigations have cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing.

“The footage released by The Center for Medical Progress regarding the alleged sale and trafficking of aborted fetal tissue and body parts by Planned Parenthood is horrifying and has no place in a civilized society,” Ducey said. “I am calling on the Department of Health Services to conduct a thorough review of the law and immediately promulgate emergency rules designed to prohibit the illegal sale of any tissue from an unborn child.” The new policy is one such “emergency rule.”

And while Ducey also pushed for the involvement of Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, it’s unclear whether Brnovich’s office is investigating Planned Parenthood. Mia Garcia, spokesperson for Brnovich, responded to a Rewire inquiry with the following text message: “The Attorney General’s Office does not discuss any potential, ongoing investigations. That includes status.”

Liggett told Rewire she was “not aware of any currently.”

The “gotcha” videos were a catalyst for a slew of new Republican-led abortion restrictions in Arizona in the most recent legislative session, including a ban signed by Ducey in March on using fetal tissue from abortions in research. The state’s Republican legislators, however, were forced to repeal a law to severely restrict medication abortion after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its guidelines. Arizona wanted to bar Arizona doctors from prescribing the two-pill regime after seven weeks of pregnancy and require a higher dosage than medical evidence suggests; the FDA said the medication is effective up to ten weeks at the lower dosage.

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