By Kathleen McGrory
Amid a growing controversy over the alleged sale of fetal tissue, Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday called for an investigation of Florida's 16 Planned Parenthood offices that perform abortions.
The investigation comes two weeks after the release of an undercover video in which a Planned Parenthood official in California discusses the use of fetal organs for medical research. The anti-abortion group that took the video says it is proof Planned Parenthood sells human tissue.
Planned Parenthood has said the footage was heavily edited, and that it does not profit from tissue donation.
Still, Scott called the video "deeply troubling." He said he has asked Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Elizabeth Dudek "to evaluate the 16 Planned Parenthood offices in Florida that perform abortion procedures to ensure they are in full compliance with the law."
"It is against the law for any organization to sell body parts," he said. "If a Planned Parenthood office is not following the law, we will move quickly to take legal and regulatory action against them."
Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, called the governor's action "politically motivated."
"We will, of course, cooperate fully with any investigation, but important medical issues shouldn't be politicized," she said in a statement. "This isn't what people in our state want our elected officials to spend their time doing."
Goodhue pointed out that none of Florida's Planned Parenthood offices has a tissue donation program. The offices in other states that allow donations "follow all laws and ethical guidelines," she added.
Scott isn't the only Republican governor calling for an investigation of Planned Parenthood. The governors of Louisiana, Texas, Indiana, Georgia and Kansas already have opened inquiries in their states.
A congressional investigation is under way, too.
The controversy isn't likely to end soon. The group that took the footage, the Center for Medical Progress, has released two additional videos on the subject that have attracted national attention.
The topic has also resonated on the campaign trail. Republican candidates Sen. Marco Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush have questioned the need for Planned Parenthood to receive federal funding. Even Democratic front-runner and longtime Planned Parenthood supporter Hillary Clinton called the original video "disturbing."
Some Senate Republicans have proposed cutting off federal funding for Planned Parenthood. A vote could take place as early as next week.
(c)2015 Miami Herald