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Planned Parenthood Fires Back Using State Documents

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Planned Parenthood officials on Thursday said Florida officials misrepresented the abortions being conducted at several of its clinics, and used a 2006 letter from the Agency for Health Care Administration to back it up.

The letterfrom AHCA General Counsel shows that clinics in St. Petersburg, Fort Myers and Naples were performing legal, first-trimester abortions, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America said in a statement.

“Despite claims by Gov. Rick Scott that three of Florida Planned Parenthood clinics were operating unlawfully, the correspondence proves AHCA agreed with Planned Parenthood’s Parenthood’s delineation of gestational age in termination procedures and revised its rule to include the definition of first trimester that Planned Parenthood proposed and proffered through medical experts and literature,” the organization said.

On Wednesday, Florida officials said three of the 16 Planned Parenthood facilities inspected last week were performing procedures beyond their licensing authority, and one facility was not keeping proper logs relating to fetal remains.

Inspectors reviewed patient files and its report cited abortions performed between the 13th and 14th week of pregnancy. 

Planned Parenthood released a statement saying the licensing violations resulted from AHCA changing its definitions of gestational periods and that the centers were operating in compliance with Florida law. Planned Parenthood said that in issuing the violations, Florida health officials ignored their own rules and definitions.

The organization said those rules are clarified in a letter from AHCA nearly a decade ago, when the agency revised its rule to include Planned Parenthood's definition of the first trimester. 

The letter says the phrase "first twelve weeks of pregnancy" and the phrase "first 14 completed weeks from the last normal menstrual period" are used "interchangeably by physicians" to define the first trimester. It goes on to say that the two terms "describe the same time period with the same ending point."

Gov. Rick Scott ordered the inspections last week. He said he was troubled by recent videos describing the organization's procedures for providing tissue from aborted fetuses for research.

Lottie Watts covers health and health policy for Health News Florida, now a part of WUSF Public Media. She also produces Florida Matters, WUSF's weekly public affairs show.