Planned Parenthood seeks injunction against Florida health agency
Planned Parenthood sought an emergency legal injunction on Monday against Florida health officials to block the use of what it says are “new and unpublished” standards to define pregnancy gestation periods.
The legal move filed in circuit court in Tallahassee comes after Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott ordered a probe last month of the state’s 16 Planned Parenthood locations which resulted in three clinics being cited Aug. 5 for illegally performing abortions in the second trimester.
Planned Parenthood said the abortions in questions were first trimester abortions and that the state had arbitrarily changed the way it measures the first trimester, shortening it to 12 weeks from 14.
Republican presidential candidates and lawmakers have called for Planned Parenthood to be investigated and its federal funding eliminated after two videos that critics said showed the reproductive healthcare group is involved in the illegal sale of aborted fetal tissue.
The videos show Planned Parenthood officials discussing ways to perform abortions to preserve fetal tissue for research and the costs involved.
Supporters of Planned Parenthood say the videos are the latest attack in a decades-long campaign against it, adding that it does not profit from fetal tissue donation and only receives payment for associated costs, which is legally permissible.
The organization focuses on family planning and pregnancy prevention, with abortions comprising 3 percent of its services, according to its website.
Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration’s (AHCA) said its inspection found no fetal organs being sold but cited other violations, including the improper second trimester abortions.
The Vice President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Dawn Laguens, said in a statement on Monday “the allegation that Planned Parenthood is performing procedures that we aren’t licensed to is completely false.”
The group accused the state of moving the goalposts by using different standards than AHCA had used over the last decade to calculate first and second trimester abortions.
AHCA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Planned Parenthood said AHCA had long agreed to define the first trimester of a pregnancy as the first 12 weeks of pregnancy or the first 14 weeks following the last normal menstrual period.
AHCA had observed that definition during routine inspections, it said. The group noted that AHCA’s new definition was made without any prior announcement, and noted the political timing of the citations which were issued two days before the Republican presidential debate.