Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal orders state review of Planned Parenthood

Gov. Nathan Deal ordered a review Thursday of Planned Parenthood after an undercover video by an anti-abortion group accused the group of illegally selling body parts of aborted fetuses.

Deal's office said in a statement that the Department of Community Health and Department of Public Health will conduct a joint review of the clinics "to ensure this horrific practice is not occurring here."

It's also sparking outrage that promises to remain a hot issue into next year's session of the Legislature.

“The horrific and illegal acts described so callously by Planned Parenthood in yesterday’s video should give even the most ardent pro-choice advocate cause for grave concern. We urge Georgia’s lawmakers to acknowledge the gravity of this evidence and launch an investigation to ensure this is not happening in Georgia.

"In addition, and in light of the lacking nature of our state's abortion provider regulations, the time is now to ensure abortion procedure and practices receive the scrutiny and attention of our regulatory and enforcement agencies."

Planned Parenthood contends that its practices are legal. Here's the statement we got Thursday afternoon from Staci Fox, the chief executive of Planned Parenthood Southeast:

We are disappointed that Governor Deal has been distracted by this attack instead of staying focused on what really matters to women in Georgia. Women in Georgia face the highest maternal mortality rate in the nation and yet politicians keep going after women’s essential health care and quality prenatal care rather than focusing on solutions. 

These charges are completely false, and they are based on politics. Planned Parenthood follows all laws and has the highest medical and ethical standards. We always seek and welcome feedback from medical experts, but not from politicians.  We will, of course, cooperate fully with any investigation.These medical issues shouldn't be politicized in this way. Georgians want our elected officials focused on solutions, not making more problems.

For more on the Georgia angle, you can click here.

Elsewhere, Republican-run committees in the U.S. House and Senate already are looking into the issue, and you can expect hearings soon. Most GOP presidential candidates have condemned the group. And the fight has already boiled over once this week in a commemorative coin bill intended to be noncontroversial. But the bill included Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which sends some grant money to Planned Parenthood for health screenings. From National Journal's Daniel Newhauser:

On Wednesday afternoon, the House agreed unanimously to remove Susan G. Komen for the Cure from the legislation. The measure would have given some proceeds from the minting of commemorative coins to the Komen foundation and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Now the money will only go to the latter organization.

Paging Karen Handel...

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Over at 90.1FM, Denis O’Hayer of “A Closer Look” snagged an interview with Jimmy Carter, whose presidency was marred by the Iranian hostage crisis. The former president endorsed the Iranian deal struck by the U.S. and five other nations last week. Said Carter:

“I don’t have any doubt that there are adequate safeguards built in. If the Iranians don’t comply with the details of the agreement, then the sanctions can be reimposed quite quickly….”

O’Hayer asked if by lifting sanctions and allowing the country to prosper, would we be giving Iran the financial wherewithal to cause more trouble in the region. Said Carter:

“No, I don’t believe so. I think the biggest threat by far is not what Iran is doing in Syria and in Yemen and in other places. I think the most serious threat is to have a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. We know that Israel has a number of nuclear weapons already, but don’t expect this to be followed up with any from Iran.

“I think this was the No. 1 issue to resolve. I’m relieved that we have a complete agreement, and I don’t have much doubt that President Obama will have enough votes among the Democrats and a few Republicans to override any veto that might be forthcoming.”

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On the other hand, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson says he's "skeptical" of the Iranian deal, though he admits that he's only on Page 3 of a 158-page document:

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Here's the greeting President Barack Obama received in Oklahoma City last night:

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We told you earlier today about Hillary Clinton's main supporters in Georgia. Now comes word from Republican Carly Fiorina's budding Georgia operation.

The campaign has tapped GOP consultant Loretta Lepore and CDC scientist Dr. Kathleen Ruth to co-chair Fiorina's state apparatus.

Lepore, a former candidate for state House, said she was drawn to Fiorina because she "understands the complete economic ecosystem." And Ruth, a behavioral scientist, says in her statement that the nation needs "someone with fresh eyes who's not afraid to take on the challenges American families face."

Fiorina's campaign has other ties to the state. Two Georgia operatives work for her team, and another, Leslie Shedd, staffs the Fiorina Super PAC.

It's a tiny operation when compared to that of the former secretary of state, or the top-tier Republicans in the field. Fiorina's campaign and Super PAC have combined to raise $5.1 million so far.

By comparison, Clinton and her allies brought in $63.1 million, and the Republican side was paced by Jeb Bush's $114.4 million and Ted Cruz's $52.3 million.

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This might be one of the most important education stories of the summer. From our AJC colleague Alan Judd:

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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