State fines three Planned Parenthood clinics

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TALLAHASSEE — The state has fined Planned Parenthood clinics in St. Petersburg, Naples and Fort Myers a total of $5,500 for allegedly performing second-trimester abortions.

According to complaints filed by the Agency for Health Care Administration, the clinics will be fined $500 for each abortion the state claims was performed outside the first timester.

Planned Parenthood called the move “politically motivated harassment.”

“We will fight back against this harassment intended to keep us from serving the health care needs of Florida women,” Barbara Zdravecky, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida said in a statement.

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The filings are a precursor to administrative complaints, which are filed in the state Division of Administrative Hearings.

The complaints were served Thursday on the three clinics — all of which are licensed to only perform first trimester abortions — after POLITICO Florida reported earlier this week that Gov. Rick Scott's communications office altered a press release to delete a finding that the clinics did not violate state law and mishandle fetal parts.

AHCA said it will fine the Naples Planned Parenthood clinic $1,500 for performing abortions on women who were between 13.1 weeks and 13.5 weeks pregnant, alleging those are second-trimester abortions. Likewise, the agency wants to fine the St. Petersburg clinic $3,000 and the Fort Myers clinic $1,000.

According to the complaints, none of the women's medical records included a date for their last menstrual period. Rather, the dates were determined by an ultrasound, the complaints said. In 2011, Scott signed into law a bill that requires an ultrasound before an abortion is performed.

It had appeared last month that Scott and Planned Parenthood had reached an agreement that first trimester abortions included procedures up to 14 weeks of pregnancy from the last menstrual period. After receiving a statement from AHCA's legal staff, Planned Parenthood agreed to not seek an emergency injunction banning the state from taking any regulatory action against the clinics.

The truce was short lived and the AHCA rescinded the statement after Planned Parenthood issued a press release announcing it had been correct all along and the clinics were't acting illegally.

The two sides have never had an agreement on how abortion data should be reported to the state.

AHCA requires the clinics to report the data with an online form that has three categories: up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, 13 to 24 weeks and 25 weeks or more.

In an Aug. 7 email to AHCA Secretary Liz Dudek, the attorney for Planned Parenthood recommended that if the agency wanted to continue using the form it "could simply change the online form column headings to reflect trimesters."

The attorney, Julie Gallagher, said if changing the form isn't an option for the agency, then Planned Parenthood could change how it reports the information to capture all first trimester procedures in the "up to 12 weeks column." She warned, however, that the medical records would continue to reflect gestational age calculated from the last menstrual period and the information in the medical record would not match the information reported to the state.

A follow-up email on Aug. 13 shows Gallagher had not heard back from the agency.

"I suggested a change to the form that could avoid any confusion in the future," she wrote. "Have not received any feedback to that suggestion nor any other comment from AHCA."