Planned Parenthood to resume some abortions amid Florida dispute

Planned Parenthood to resume some abortions amid Florida dispute
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Planned Parenthood says it will resume performing abortions in the last two weeks of a woman’s first trimester of pregnancy after receiving new guidance from the Florida government. 

Florida Planned Parenthood clinics had filed for an injunction and stopped performing abortions for such pregnancies after the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) found violations at three clinics earlier this month. 

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The AHCA said that the clinics were performing second-trimester abortions despite only being licensed for the first trimester. The abortions were performed around 13 weeks of pregnancy, which the agency said was after the 12-week cutoff for the first trimester. 

Planned Parenthood countered that it was using a definition of the first trimester as within 14 weeks of the woman's last menstrual period, which, it pointed out, was a definition endorsed by the AHCA in a 2006 letter.

In a letter to Planned Parenthood on Tuesday, the agency acknowledged that its definition of the first trimester includes 14 weeks from the last menstrual period. That letter led Planned Parenthood to drop the request for an injunction and resume performing abortions between weeks 12 and 14, which it had stopped doing out of an abundance of caution. 

However, Florida made clear in a new letter on Wednesday that it is not entirely backing down from the confrontation. 

It confirmed that first-trimester abortions can be performed up to 14 weeks from a woman's last period but said that based on the information provided, the abortions in question appear to have been in the second trimester. 

“Based on the information self-reported by Planned Parenthood abortions were illegally performed during the second trimester at the three clinics at issue, and our investigation will continue,” the AHCA said in the new letter.

Planned Parenthood Vice President of Communications Eric Ferrero responded that AHCA's claim is "ridiculous" and "politically motivated."

"Planned Parenthood absolutely did not report or perform any illegal procedures," he said. "We've said all along that Planned Parenthood follows all laws and has very high medical standards."

Planned Parenthood has portrayed the finding of violations as politically motivated. The administration of Gov. Rick Scott (R) launched the investigations in the wake of controversial undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood officials candidly discussing the price of fetal tissue for medical research. 

The women's health organization notes that state investigations following the videos' release in Georgia, Indiana, South Dakota and Massachusetts have found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood. 

“Planned Parenthood will not back down from the politicians and anti-abortion extremists who are using every underhanded tactic they can to politicize these critical medical issues,” said Dawn Laguens, the organization’s executive vice president. 

Updated at 6:54 p.m.