Georgia governor orders state probe of Planned Parenthood

Gov. Nathan Deal ordered a review of Planned Parenthood and its five clinics in Georgia on Thursday after an undercover video made by an anti-abortion group accused the organization of illegally selling body parts of aborted fetuses.

Deal’s office said in a statement that the Department of Community Health and the Department of Public Health will jointly review the clinics in Georgia to “ensure the horrific practice is not occurring here.” He was quickly seconded by state Attorney General Sam Olens, who also offered to probe the “alarming allegations of horrendous practices.”

It's the latest aftershock from a secretly recorded video that shows an executive working for the reproductive health group discussing the harvesting of body parts from aborted fetuses. Republican-run committees in the U.S. House and Senate have vowed to investigate the issue as well, and hearings are likely soon.

Staci Fox, the chief executive of Planned Parenthood Southeast, said the regional organization doesn’t provide tissue donation services. But she said it’s standard practice in the medical community to donate tissue for scientific research and receive reimbursement for expenses such as transportation costs.

“These (accusations) are completely false, and they are based on politics,” said Fox, who said she will cooperate fully with the inquest. “These medical issues shouldn’t be politicized in this way. Georgians want our elected officials focused on solutions, not making more problems.”

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, who heads the Department of Public Health, said state law in Georgia requires that fetal remains be either cremated or buried. Doing anything else with the remains, she said, is “illegal, immoral and unethical.”

Republican candidates running for president have also pounced on the video. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has also ordered an investigation in his state, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker drew applause at campaign stops when telling crowds he defunded the organization in his state.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, both Republicans, have also ordered investigations.

The video that surfaced Tuesday was released by the Center for Medical Progress, a California-based anti-abortion group. It shows Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, discussing how it provides fetal tissue to researchers.

The outrage over the video is likely to remain a hot issue into next year's session of the Legislature. The Georgia Life Alliance, an anti-abortion group, said in a statement that it was urging state legislators to "acknowledge the gravity of this evidence and launch an investigation to ensure this is not happening in Georgia."