The Florida Family Policy Council has called on Gov. Rick Scott to fully defund Planned Parenthood. The FFPC says Scott has not done enough to show he's a pro-life governor and has launched a campaign to get Scott to terminate Florida's Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood was well as the subcontracts of Title X funds with Broward and Collier counties. The FFPC is asking the state to redirect those funds to the more than 600 community health clinics in Florida.
"We're not talking about the direct public funding of abortion here, let's be clear on that, but we are talking about funding a corrupt organization that does abortions," FFPC President John Stemberger said during a news conference Thursday.
Stemberger also said that Scott, as governor, has the legal right to do what his group is asking
"Gov. Rick Scott has the clear legal authority to terminate Medicaid contracts with unqualified providers of services, and he now also has a moral, ethical, and fiscal duty to do so given Planned Parenthood’s egregious conduct, which includes fraud, waste, and abuse," he said. "In both his gubernatorial campaigns, Rick Scott campaigned that if elected, he would be a pro-life governor. We would now like him to take action like a pro-life governor."
Planned Parenthood says it would be illegal for the governor to cut Medicaid's contract. Scott's office says that only around $45,000 in state match goes through the federal Medicaid program to Planned Parenthood in Florida, and that is guided through the federal Medicaid formula in compliance with federal law.
"The state has contracts at three Planned Parenthood clinics which are used for newborn health screens and various health services," says Scott spokesperson Jeri Bustamante. "Those contracts require Planned Parenthood to comply with all state and federal laws."
Along with their news conference, the FFPC sent Scott a letter asking him to take action.
Planned Parenthood, meanwhile, says the FFPC is making false claims.
"The Florida Family Policy Council is relying on a long list of false accusations against Planned Parenthood to back up their call for Gov. Scott to further restrict Florida women's access to health care," says Laura Goodhue, executive director of Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates.
Stemberger, meanwhile, compared Planned Parenthood to the Nazis.
"We're not going to say, 'Look, oh well, we no longer fund the extermination of Jews, but we think the Third Reich has some really good programs for women, so we're just going to keep their lights on," he said.
Goodhue says that this FFPC campaign is not unlike the recent string of pro-life groups that has attacked Planned Parenthood, such as when heavily edited video surfaced of a Planned Parenthood exec apparently talking about selling dead baby parts to the black market.
Scott has yet to respond directly to FFPC, but the governor's office sent New Times a statement regarding how he had previously ordered an investigation on Planned Parenthood after the videos were released.
“The videos about Planned Parenthood are awful," Scott's statement reads. "As someone who is pro-life and a father and a grandfather, I believe we must not tolerate any gross disregard for human life. We took aggressive, immediate action to investigate Planned Parenthood offices in Florida when the horrific videos were released. When we found that some of their facilities were not complying with state law, we held them accountable.”
The Center for Medical Progress asked Scott order an investigation of several Planned Parenthood offices for possibly illegally performing second-trimester abortions when they are licensed only for first-trimester procedures. Planned Parenthood then filed an emergency injunction against the state health agency. Much like it claimed the videos falsely show that Planned Parenthood sells baby parts to the black market, the group says the charges made by the state are false.
"We have clearly demonstrated that the recent round of politically motivated investigations in Florida uncovered nothing more than continued harassment from Gov. Rick Scott's health care agency," Goodhue says.