Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday pointed directly to viral videos of Planned Parenthood's organ donation program as the reason behind sudden license violations against three of the organization's clinics in Florida, which say they have not changed their practices for years.
The state Agency for Health Care Administration cited clinics in St. Petersburg, Naples and Fort Myers for performing second-trimester abortions without a license, but the abortions in question are by most doctors' standards first-trimester procedures, Planned Parenthood contends in a lawsuit filed Monday. Further, the organization frequently reports information about its abortions to the state, and it has had no pushback on similar procedures since an AHCA rule defining the first and second trimester was passed in 2006.
Asked about why the state has waited until now to go after the abortions, Scott pivoted to the videos, a hot political issue, which spurred him to order inspections by AHCA.
"As anybody that saw those videos regarding Planned Parenthood, it was very disturbing and troubling," he said at an event Tuesday morning in Gibsonton, Fla. "So, we did the right thing, we said we're going to make sure that the Planned Parenthood facilities in Florida are compliant with the law, so AHCA went in to do that. They're working to make sure that they're compliant with the law, and they'll continue to do that. I know they're, right now, it looks like there's going to be litigation, and AHCA will be responsible for that."
The abortions in question are those done 13 weeks into a pregnancy, generally measured by doctors starting at the pregnant woman's last menstrual period. State rules define the first trimester as the first 12 weeks after fertalization, the same as 14 weeks after the last menstrual period.
Still, AHCA cited the three locations, which are only licensed to conduct first-trimester abortions.
Planned Parenthood has called the move "unprecedented" in a lawsuit requesting an emergency injunction against the agency, filed Monday in Leon County.