TOPEKA — Gov. Sam Brownback is standing by his rhetoric on Planned Parenthood, continuing to assert the organization trafficked in fetal body parts even after a Texas grand jury this past week indicted those involved in an undercover video sting operation against the women’s health care provider.
Several investigations, including one in Kansas, have cleared the organization. Last week, a Houston grand jury examining Planned Parenthood not only found no wrongdoing by the organization, but instead indicted two activists involved in making a series of undercover videos claiming to show the organization selling fetal tissue.
David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to purchasing human organs. Another activist, Sandra Merritt, also was indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Brownback argued the charges don’t undercut his statements.
“I don’t think those videos were discredited in that charge. The charges were about the government ID, I think, and buying baby body parts, not discrediting the videos themselves,” Brownback said.
Undercover footage from the clinic in Houston showed people pretending to be from a company called BioMax that procures fetal tissue for research touring the facility. Planned Parenthood previously said the fake company sent an agreement offering to pay the “astronomical amount” of $1,600 for organs from a fetus.
The clinic said it never entered into the agreement and ceased contact with BioMax because it was “disturbed” by the overtures.
Brownback’s logic is absurd, said Laura McQuade, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.
“Gov. Brownback has an extreme ideological agenda, and he will knowingly use false statements to further that extreme agenda,” McQuade said. “He’s not interested in the facts.”
Investigations in 12 states haven’t found evidence Planned Parenthood sold body parts. A Kansas investigation also cleared the organization.
The Kansas Board of Healing Arts sent a letter to Planned Parenthood in early January saying it had concluded its investigation and wouldn’t take any further action. In July, Brownback called on the board to investigate Planned Parenthood.
Brownback singled out Planned Parenthood in his State of the State address Jan. 12. While the letter was sent to Planned Parenthood prior to the address, it wasn’t publicly disclosed until after the speech, when the Associated Press obtained a copy.
The governor in the State of the State stated “Planned Parenthood’s trafficking of baby body parts” as fact and said it is “antithetical to our belief in human dignity.”
Brownback announced in the speech he had directed Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Susan Mosier to block any funds from going to Planned Parenthood through the state’s Medicaid program. The organization receives approximately $61,000 a year.
McQuade said Thursday that Planned Parenthood hasn’t received any official notification that funds are being withheld or will be withheld.
“If they unilaterally cut Medicaid — we receive a letter that says effective five days from now you are no longer an active provider under the Medicaid program — there will be straight-up litigation,” McQuade said.
None of the Medicaid funds go toward abortion services. Planned Parenthood has two clinics in the state — one in Wichita and another in Overland Park. Only the Overland Park clinic provides abortion.