Missouri, Utah move to reel in Planned Parenthood after videos

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As Planned Parenthood endures renewed scrutiny on the 2016 presidential trail, states have taken a closer look at their practices as well.

On Monday, the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah said it would sue the state’s governor, Gary Herbert, after he cut funding to their program. And in Missouri, the state attorney general said its investigation into whether Planned Parenthood’s surgical facility engaged in illegal activity turned up empty.

The organization, which provides abortions and health services to women, has confronted a series of secretly taped, edited videos this summer which appear to show senior officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue as part of the process of terminating a pregnancy. The group has denied wrongdoing.

Hebert slashed money for the group in Utah in August.

“We aren’t going to stand idly by. We aren’t going to allow the governor to play politics with our health and our lives. We are standing up and fighting back,” said Karrie Galloway the CEO of Utah’s chapter.

The governor’s office said it would maintain women’s health services even with the cuts.

“Gov. Herbert stands by his actions to cease acting as a pass-through for federal funds to Planned Parenthood,” said Aimee Edwards, Herbert’s spokeswoman, in a statement. “He was offended by the actions of Planned Parenthood and the callousness with which they discussed human life.”

Officials in Missouri launched its investigation following the July release of videos but “discovered no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis facility is selling fetal tissue,” according to Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.

Republicans have looked to defund the organization at a federal level, with several hardline conservatives hoping to tie budget talks this week to efforts to strip the organization of the dollars. Democrats, who maintain that the organization has done nothing wrong, and establishment Republicans, wary of shutting down the government should Congress arrive at an impasse, are likely to partner together to fully fund Planned Parenthood despite conservatives’ objections.

On the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidates ranging from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to former tech CEO Carly Fiorina have placed the videos at the center of their 2016 campaigns — most prominently at the CNN debate in California earlier this month.

By Theodore Schleifer