Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) are urging Attorney General Kathleen Kane to investigate Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania.
Prompted by the release of videos that show Planned Parenthood leaders discussing the sale of fetal body parts and partial-birth abortions, the legislators are concerned about the nonprofit’s practices in Pennsylvania.
“If these practices are occurring in Pennsylvania, they would be in stark violation of federal and state laws,” Turzai said. “We need to denounce and stop these gruesome practices.”
According to Turzai, he received a written response to his request. An inspection will take place but an investigation is unlikely.
“We are not satisfied with the answers we have received today,” said Turzai.
Three videos were released by the Center for Medical Progress. Members of the group of citizen journalists, who focus on medical ethics and advances, posed as buyers for a fetal-tissue procurement company and led Planned Parenthood employees into a discussion of potentially illegal activity. All of the videos are edited.
In the first video, Dr. Mary Gatter, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s medical directors’ council, was questioned about how much money the organization would accept as a donation in return for aborted fetus parts.
The second one showed Planned Parenthood Federation Senior Director of Medical Services Dr. Deborah Nucatola discussing abortion procedures. She admitted that the procedures are sometimes altered to preserve certain body parts so that they are intact for sale or transfer. She described what is known as a partial-birth abortion, a procedure that is currently illegal because the fetus is technically being born alive and then killed.
A third video was released Tuesday. A former clinical worker for a medical-tissue provider, StemExpress, shared her experience of working with Planned Parenthood to sort fetal body parts after abortions, claiming that she thought she had applied for a phlebotomy position.
In response to the calls for an investigation, Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania released a statement:
“None of the Pennsylvania Planned Parenthood health centers provide tissue donation services, which is legal and an important part of medical research. In Pennsylvania, the Department of Health has the authority to inspect all Planned Parenthood abortion facilities, and utilizes that authority through annual scheduled and unannounced inspections. In Pennsylvania fetal tissue sale has been illegal for 23 years, and the Department of Health is tasked with the authority to enforce that law. We comply fully with the inspection process, follow all laws and have the highest medical and ethical standards, which is why we remain a trusted, high-quality, compassionate health care provider to over 100,000 men and women who visit our health centers every year.”
As part of its defense, the organization provided information on how defunding it could affect the country. The organization sees 2.7 million patients a year for preventive health care services such as cancer screenings, birth control and sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment.
In Central Pennsylvania, there are Planned Parenthood locations in York, Red Lion, Lancaster, Harrisburg and Chambersburg. Clinics in Harrisburg and York are the only ones performing abortions.
The only other abortion clinic in Central Pennsylvania is Hillcrest Women’s Medical Center, a Potomac Family Planning Center in Harrisburg. The clinic declined to comment on the allegations against Planned Parenthood.
Morning Star Pregnancy Services, an organization with locations in Harrisburg, New Cumberland and Middletown, advises patients with unplanned pregnancies but does not perform abortions. Director Brice McMinn declined to comment on the allegations against Planned Parenthood, but added that there were 2,736 abortions in 2013 performed by the three abortion clinics in Central Pennsylvania. There are 1.2 million abortions performed every year in the United States.