Florida Planned Parenthood Asks Judge Block Potential State Sanctions In Abortion Fight

Aug 17, 2015

Attorney Julie Gallagher discusses Planned Parenthood of Central and Southwest Florida's case against the state.
Credit LHatter / WFSU News

Planned Parenthood Florida is asking a judge to block the state from imposing any penalties on three abortion clinics in Southwest Florida. The group says the state is incorrect in its assertion the clinics performed abortions beyond their licenses.

Update 6:42 p.m.:  In response to Planned Parenthood's lawsuit, the agency has released this statement.

"Planned Parenthood self-reported that they were performing unauthorized abortions during the 2nd trimester at three of their Florida clinics. The Agency looks forward to litigating this matter."

In its inspection report, AHCA reports that a planned parenthood clinic manager said she considers the first trimester to be 13.6 weeks in accordance with a state rule that describes the first trimester as the first 14 weeks after the first missed menstrual cycle.

--

The clinics cited by AHCA were performing abortions around 13 weeks, and ACHA Secretary Liz Dudek says that runs afoul of the state rules defining  the second trimester, which is between 12 and 24 weeks.

The Agency for Healthcare Administration and Planned Parenthood Florida are at odds over a state rule  that appears to conflict on where the first trimester ends and the second begins. The state cited three clinics for performing second trimester abortions—which is outside the scope of their licenses.  Planned Parenthood attorney and former AHCA lawyer, Julie Gallagher wants a judge to intervene. She says the clinics have done nothing wrong, and are re-routing patients to other places in the meantime.

“Out of an abundance of caution when the government tells you you’re doing something illegally we’ve stopped doing that for the women who fall in the date range at issue. So at our expense, we’re redirecting patients to different facilities for services they want or need," she said.

Of the 16 planned parenthood abortion clinics in Florida, 13 are licensed to perform first and second trimester abortions while three are limited to the first trimester.

“These clinics are licensed to perform only first trimester pregnancy terminations and we believe that’s what they’ve been doing since the rule was promulgated," Gallagher said. "Now that AHCA has told us they’re doing something wrong or illegal under that rule, we’ve gone to court to get clarification of that.”  

At least one other non-affiliated clinic was also cited by the state. Governor Rick Scott ordered inspections of abortion clinics after edited, undercover videos surfaced showing planned parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue for research. Planned Parenthood says it doesn’t make money from those transfers and any charges are due to transportation and reimbursements.