Texas leaders launch investigation after abortion video leaks

AUSTIN, Texas (AP/KXAN) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered an investigation of the use of fetal tissue of abortions. That’s after anti-abortion activists released an undercover video showing a senior Planned Parenthood official discussing the disposition of parts from aborted fetuses.

The activists contend the video released Tuesday reveals illegalities, but Planned Parenthood said the activity in question was the legal, not-for-profit donation of fetal tissue to research firms.

In a statement issued Tuesday night, Abbott called the video “unnerving and appalling.” He says he has directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to immediately investigate the alleged practice. That’s in addition to a separate investigation ordered by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Both men are Republicans who have participated in efforts to tighten restrictions on access to abortions in Texas.

Jan Soifer read part of Paxton’s press release on his investigation; she says it’s purely political — not legal analysis or police work.

“That knowingly and deliberately destroys human life, to further its bottom line. Well No. 1., we’re talking about legal abortion. No. 2, we’re talking about a nonprofit organization that is getting reimbursed by tissue donations,” said Soifer.

She says there’s no evidence of a partial-birth abortion, which is illegal, and that this is only a smear campaign to tarnish the women’s organization.

“The only people who are going to find something wrong in all of this are the people who are 100 percent anti-abortion and who are out to get Planned Parenthood,” said Soifer.

“There are state laws and state regulations about what you do with the remains,” said John Seago, from Texas Right to Life.

He says whether or not the investigation comes up with anything illegal, the video continues the public conversation around our abortion laws.

“An elective abortion is actually taking a life of a baby, of an individual, or human being that has body parts, that could be sold, that could have value,” said Seago.

The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services will hold an emergency hearing if this nonprofit was making a profit. That Committee is scheduled to meet in the last days of July. Supporters and opponents of abortion will continue to combat each other in the court of public opinion, whether or not, a law was broken.

State leaders already made sure almost none of your tax dollars will go to Planned Parenthood.

Some 17 Planned Parenthood clinics will no longer receive part of a $10 million program to provide breast and cervical cancer screenings to low-income women. The change will take effect in this upcoming year’s budget. The clinics in the program don’t provide abortions.

In previous sessions, lawmakers cut Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid Women’s Health Program. That decision meant Texas had to drop out of the federal program and had to form their own version.

It’s worth noting in both of those decisions: Most of the money involved came from the federal government.

Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood president and daughter of former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, Tweeted Wednesday saying, “spreading false information is an age-old strategy of people hell-bent on denying women care and shaming them for exercising their rights.”

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