TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Rick Scott ordered state health officials to inspect Planned Parenthood offices that perform abortions, saying he is troubled by videos describing the organization's procedures for providing tissue from aborted fetuses for research.
The Republican governor said Wednesday the state will take quick legal and regulatory action if any of the 16 facilities in Florida are found in violation of the law.
"The videos coming out about Planned Parenthood are deeply troubling to say the least. It is against the law for any organization to sell body parts," Scott said in a statement.
Planned Parenthood has come under congressional scrutiny after the release of two stealthily recorded videos that showed officials discussing how they provide aborted fetal organs for research. Abortion opponents say the videos show the organization is illegally harvesting and selling organs.
Three congressional committees are making inquiries and a proposed Senate bill that would cut off federal funding for the organization.
Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates Executive Director Laura Goodhue said the organization will cooperate fully, but warned that important medical issues should not be politicized.
"These political attacks claiming that Planned Parenthood profits in any way from tissue donation are simply not true. While we do not have donations programs in Florida, some Planned Parenthood organizations in other states do, and they follow all laws and ethical guidelines," Goodhue said in a statement.
Planned Parenthood's president, Cecile Richards, has said the group has done nothing illegal and is the target of a political smear campaign. The videos were part of longer discussions, and Richards said the longer videos showed doctors repeatedly saying that Planned Parenthood does not profit from the tissue donations and it receives only reimbursements for costs of providing tissue donated by women.
Anti-abortion activist John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, applauded Scott's action and urged him to lead the way in taking away all tax funding from Planned Parenthoods nationwide.
"Whenever the issue of abortion is involved, there are inconsistencies regarding clinic regulations, the standard of care, regulating physicians, that kind of thing," Stemberger said.
The issue is one of several Scott has seized upon recently. After a shooting spree on two military facilities in Tennessee, Scott ordered National Guard recruiters to move from six storefront locations into armories until state officials can evaluate and make security improvements. And amid heavy criticism for long wait times for services at VA facilities last year, the governor sent state officials on a highly public inspection tour.