While Gov. Bobby Jindal’s detractors may think him grandstanding, he has good reason to initiate an investigation into the operations of the state’s abortion clinics in order to prevent potential lawbreaking.
Jindal issued this directive after undercover but verified two-hour video footage surfaced of a senior national Planned Parenthood official inveighing over a salad in posh surroundings how best to harvest body parts through abortions to vend them — conveniently quoting prices and admitting excellent results from partial-birth abortion techniques.
The organization issued an excuse that she was discussing donations for research, without explaining why she spent so much time in the video instructing how to make these transactions look like they are not parts for sale, nor indicating how the organization squared these asserted “donations” of parts of human beings intended for research on human beings with its ideology that abortions do not kill human beings.
Federal law prohibits both the selling and buying of human parts from abortions, while Louisiana law states that remains from abortions are to be disposed of by administrative regulation from the Department of Health and Hospitals, which then circles back by requiring disposal according to federal law and regulation and any applicable state and local laws.
While the regional arm of the organization Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Inc. has two facilities in Louisiana, these do not perform abortions; its only facilities that do at present are in Texas. However, it has announced plans to open a facility that does in New Orleans.
Not long after the news broke, presidential candidate Jindal announced the state probe and released the letter sent to the organization. It requests details on how remains from abortions committed by the organization’s facilities are disposed of — and whether present Louisiana facilities actually are performing these abortions (which would violate state law and regulation).
In particular, the letter asks about the organization’s relationship with the firm StemExpress, which was revealed in the video to do considerable business with affiliates of the national organization (and has a flier with an endorsement from Planned Parenthood).
It is alleged by the video’s producer that StemExpress keeps functionaries on sites to scoop up the parts at no expense to Planned Parenthood. Jindal later ordered Inspector General Stephen Street, who, like DHH, answers to the governor, onto the case and expanded the reach of the investigation to all five abortion clinics in the state.
Such actions are a wise and necessary duty of Jindal. Any licensing decision by DHH of a new abortion clinic run by the organization featured in the video certainly would benefit from this data.
Part of the procedures for initial licensing involve determining whether applicable laws in all phases of the operation are followed or will be. If the organization under which it will be operated is shown to violate the law in operating other clinics, that suggests the same would occur at this new one, and this unsuitability is grounds for DHH to deny the license. And DHH is empowered to conduct licensing surveys for renewal of the licenses of the existing clinics where a violation of federal law can negate that renewal.
At least Jindal insists on following the law; undoubtedly President Barack Obama, who as a state senator voted three times against banning partial-birth abortions, will ensure that the federal government does nothing with this information that allows this special-interest supporter of his to continue to receive federal funding. Jindal’s actions coincidentally may raise his presidential profile, but it’s the right thing to do regardless. At least he, unlike Obama, does his job.
Jeff Sadow is an associate professor of political science at LSU in Shreveport, where he teaches Louisiana politics. He is author of a blog about Louisiana politics (www.between-lines.com) and, when the Louisiana Legislature is in session, another about legislation (www.laleglog.com). His views do not necessarily express those of his employer.