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Health officials: We haven't backed down on Planned Parenthood abortions

In response to reports that Gov. Rick Scott's Agency for Health Care Administration was backing down from its legal battle with Planned Parenthood over allegedly illegal abortions at three clinics, officials sent a letter Wednesday saying they will continue their investigations.

The latest letter from AHCA general counsel Stuart Williams to Planned Parenthood attorney Julie Gallagher says that the agency still believes the clinics performed abortions for which they were not licensed, despite an earlier letter that led Planned Parenthood to drop its request that a judge intervene to stop license sanctions from going forward.

"Your client, Planned Parenthood, continues to misrepresent to the media that AHCA has changed its position, and Planned Parenthood clinics in Florida may now provide unauthorized second trimester abortions. This is false," the letter says.

A letter sent Tuesday and later released to the public says that AHCA considers abortions performed in the first 14 weeks after the last normal menstrual period to be in the first trimester, consitent with state regulations.

Planned Parenthood clinics in St. Petersburg, Naples and Fort Myers, which only have licenses for first-trimester abortions, were accused Aug. 5 by AHCA of performing procedures in the second trimester of pregnancies. The pregnancies in question were performed in the 13th week.

Neither Planned Parenthood nor AHCA had an immediate comment on the latest letter, but earlier today, Planned Parenthood issued a statement after releasing the earlier letter. In it, Barbara Zdravecky, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, said, "AHCA has agreed – as we have maintained all along – that, as long as the procedures performed are within 14 weeks from a woman's last menstrual period, they do not exceed the authority under our licenses."

It continues, "The public does not want elected officials spending time and money looking into bogus claims that are just part of a political agenda."