Planned Parenthood asks judge for emergency ruling

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) – Planned Parenthood in Florida asked a judge Monday for an emergency ruling to allow them to continue performing abortions at 12 and 13 weeks after a discrepancy with the state about what constitutes first and second-trimester abortions.

The request comes after state health officials recently inspected 16 Planned Parenthood facilities and said three were performing second-trimester abortions when they licensed to perform first-trimester abortions.

Executive Director Laura Goodhue says the Agency for Health Care Administration changed its definitions of gestational periods and that the centers were operating in compliance with Florida law. But they’ve stopped providing abortions on women between 12 and 13 weeks and six days until a judge decides. They’ve referred about 10 patients to other medical providers in the meantime.

She criticized what she called an inconsistent new interpretation of gestational periods as a political stunt by Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

He ordered the inspections after stealthily recorded videos showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing how they provide aborted fetal organs for research. Abortion opponents say the videos show the organization is illegally harvesting and selling organs. The videos brought congressional scrutiny including calls to withdraw federal funding from the organization. Scott called the videos troubling and has previously said it’s illegal to sell body parts.

Goodhue has said Florida doesn’t have a tissue donation program.

She said they want a judge to immediately “clarify that we are in fact following the rule as stated in the regulation so (the state) doesn’t take further administrative action.”

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.

When asked earlier this month whether the inspections were politically motivated, Scott said, it was important to let the public know that his administration was responding.

The state has not specified what, if any, actions it might take for the alleged violations uncovered during the inspections. The AHCA released a statement Monday evening saying that the agency looks forward to litigating the matter.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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