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FL Lawmaker Wants Look At Planned Parenthood

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
State Rep. Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville

A Florida legislator wants a criminal investigation into Planned Parenthood, but the organization calls the request "politically motivated."

State Rep. Charles McBurney, a Jacksonville Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, asked for the inquiry in a letter Thursday to the head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Gretl Plessinger, a spokeswoman for the agency, said FDLE would begin a preliminary review to determine whether the allegations are criminal. The push to open a criminal investigation comes the same week Gov. Rick Scott ordered state health officials to inspect Planned Parenthood offices that perform abortions.

Planned Parenthood has come under scrutiny after the release of secretly recorded videos that showed officials discussing how they obtain organs from aborted fetuses for research. Abortion opponents say the videos show the organization is illegally harvesting and selling organs. The videos have prompted a push by Republicans in Congress to halt federal funding to the organization, which is the nation's largest abortion provider.

McBurney in his letter called the videos "disturbing" and stated the videos raise "serious questions" about whether the organization is following state law. Florida law bans the purchase or sale of human organs and tissue.

But Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said there is no reason to investigate the 16 clinics in the state because they do not provide tissue from aborted fetuses for research.

Goodhue called the request for the investigation and Scott's order to inspect the facilities "politically motivated" and part of a campaign to deceive the public to ban abortion.

"It's clear that anti-abortion extremists don't care at all about the impact their actions have on the health and well-being of women, men and young people," Goodhue said in a statement.

The Center for Medical Progress has released several secretly recorded videos that have riled anti-abortion activists.

In one of the videos, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical services, describes techniques for obtaining fetal body parts for research over lunch to activists posing as potential buyers from a human biologics company.

Planned Parenthood says it abides by a law that allows providers to be reimbursed for the costs of processing tissue donated by women who have had abortions. The payments cited by Planned Parenthood officials in the videos range from $30 to $100 per specimen, and the organization has subsequently confirmed that is the general range, although there is no fixed price list.