Planned Parenthood on Monday said it is asking a Florida judge to overrule the state health department on whether abortions performed in their 13th week count as first or second trimester.
The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) earlier this month said three Planned Parenthood clinics in the state were performing second-trimester abortions despite only being licensed to perform them in the first.
Planned Parenthood denies the claim, saying the abortions in fact were in the first trimester. The abortions were performed around 13 weeks of pregnancy, which the state said was after the 12-week cutoff for the first trimester.
But Planned Parenthood counters that it using a definition of the first trimester as within 14 weeks of the woman's last menstrual period, which, it points out, is a definition endorsed by AHCA in a 2006 letter.
The lawsuit is the latest in a series of battles around Planned Parenthood since the emergence last month of controversial undercover videos that show officials discussing the costs of fetal tissue for medical research.
The violations in question here were found as part of an investigation ordered by Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) in response to the videos. The investigation found no wrongful fetal tissue sales, but did find violations in this separate area.
Planned Parenthood is arguing the finding of violations is politically motivated.
“The politicians and anti-abortion extremists behind this smear campaign have made it clear they will stop at nothing to end access to abortion — pushing false allegations, harassing women and doctors, and reportedly breaking the law,” Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said in a statement.
“Planned Parenthood self-reported that they were performing unauthorized abortions during the 2nd trimester at three of their Florida clinics," AHCA said in a statement responding to the suit. "The Agency looks forward to litigating this matter.”
Florida is just one of several states that launched investigations into Planned Parenthood in the wake of the videos. But in others, including Indiana, Georgia and Massachusetts, investigators found no wrongdoing.
“In state after state, officials have cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing,” Laguens said. “Planned Parenthood follows all laws and has very high medical standards, and that’s what these investigations have found.”
This story was updated at 5:28 p.m.