Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s top executive responded Monday to the Jindal administration’s questions about fetal tissue handling at its abortion clinic operations.
“Some Planned Parenthood affiliates may help patients who wish to donate fetal tissue, just like other health care providers do. Stem cell research and other tissue research can lead to important scientific and medical breakthroughs, such as the polio vaccine and research into many diseases such as Parkinson’s and diabetes,” Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast President Melaney A. Linton wrote.
But Linton said Planned Parenthood Center for Choice Inc. does not currently have a fetal tissue donation program in Texas, nor is one planned at the group’s proposed abortion clinic in New Orleans.
Gov. Bobby Jindal launched a state investigation earlier this month into the operations of Planned Parenthood, based on reports alleging sale of fetal body parts from abortions.
Linton answered a series of questions asked by the state health agency as a part of that probe.
Anti-abortion activists announced they would hold a 4:30 p.m. rally Tuesday outside Planned Parenthood’s Baton Rouge facility to encourage state and federal officials to investigate the group’s abortion practices and end its federal funding.
Jindal’s action came in response to a video released by an anti-abortion group called the Center for Medical Progress. It’s unclear to what extent the video, purportedly shot by two undercover actors, has been edited. The video was circulated primarily on conservative news sites and anti-abortion sites.
It has been disputed by a variety of independent entities but the controversy is also the subject of congressional investigations.
The video appears to show a New York-based Planned Parenthood Federation of America senior director describing how some employees, according to Jindal, “are engaging in illegal partial-birth abortion procedures and attempting to conduct these abortions so that they leave body parts intact so they can later be sold on the open market.”
Linton called the accusations “false and misleading” with the video altered to “make outrageous claims about programs that help women donate fetal tissue for medical research.”
Jindal ordered state health chief Kathy Kliebert to conduct an immediate investigation of operations at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. Later, he brought state Inspector General Stephen Street into the probe and expanded the investigation to include Louisiana’s five abortion clinics.
Linton responded to a letter in which Kliebert asks a series of questions including how the group disposes of unborn baby remains, whether any unborn baby organs or body parts are sold or donated, and whether it does business with StemExpress or any other organization in the business of selling or donating the remains of unborn babies.
Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast does not provide abortion services but Planned Parent Center for Choice does, Linton said. Products of spontaneous or induced abortions are disposed of according to Texas law as “special waste from health care-related facilities,” she said.
Planned Parenthood has two facilities in Louisiana, neither of which performs abortions. The New Orleans and Baton Rouge operations provide well-woman exams, cancer screenings, pregnancy testing and counseling.
It plans to apply for a license to operate an abortion clinic at a health center under construction in New Orleans.
No Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast facilities sell or donate any unborn baby organs or parts and neither do they do business with any group that does, Linton said.