Gov. Rick Scott's office scrubbed a press release written by his own regulators that found there was no "mishandling of fetal remains" at clinics run by Planned Parenthood and, at the same time, said it would refer doctors who worked at those clinics to the state Board of Medicine for possible disciplinary action.
After controversial videos were released a few months ago targeting Planned Parenthood, a variety of states launched investigations of local affiliates. Officials in Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, South Dakota, and Pennsylvania cleared the health care group of any wrongdoing.
But in Florida, the story is a little more complicated. In response to the fetal-tissue uproar, Gov. Rick Scott (R) ordered a review of Planned Parenthood's 16 clinics in the state. Politico reported this week that the Republican governor's office wasn't altogether impressed with the findings -- so Scott aides gave the truth a little touch-up.
The point of the investigation was to examine Planned Parenthood's fetal-tissue donations, and as the Politico report noted, Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration prepared a press statement making clear the group did nothing wrong on this front.
It was at that point that the governor's office reportedly "deleted information" recommended by state regulators.
Indeed, it was apparently quite brazen. The Agency for Health Care Administration's regulators, who were specifically tasked with looking for evidence related to fetal-tissue donations, concluded that "there is no evidence of the mishandling of fetal remains at any of the 16 clinics we investigated across the state."
According to the documents obtained by Politico, an email from the governor's communications director "revised the release to exclude that sentence."
This is not the first controversy involving Rick Scott and the politicization of state agencies' word-choice -- earlier this year Florida Department of Environmental Protection claimed they were ordered not to use the terms “climate change” or “global warming” in any official communications.
Disclosure: My wife works at Planned Parenthood, but she played no role in this piece and her work is unrelated both to fetal-tissue research and the organization's work in Florida.
Correction: The Politico piece initially pointed to unlicensed abortions in three Planned Parenthood clinics in Florida, but those allegations have since been discredited. The above text has been edited accordingly.