Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday scuttled a proposal by Republicans to order a state audit of Planned Parenthood after controversial videos surfaced targeting the group's work in providing fetal tissue for medical research.
Thirteen Republican legislators, led by Assemblywoman Melissa A. Melendez of Lake Elsinore, asked the Joint Legislative Audit Committee to approve a review to determine whether taxpayer funds were used to improperly harvest and sell fetal tissue — for example, without the women's consent.
Planned Parenthood receives more than $200 million annually in state Medi-Cal patient reimbursements, and its clinics are licensed by the state Department of Public Health.
Melendez said the audit should look at whether Planned Parenthood is improperly profiting from the sale of fetal parts, organs and tissues. Some officials of the group were secretly videotaped talking about harvesting parts for research.
The group's California affiliates collected less than $100,000 last year from tissue donations, which are done only with the consent of the women who have abortions, according to Beth H. Parker, chief legal counsel of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California.
"It is legal to donate fetal tissue to medical research, and Planned Parenthood fully complies with all federal and state laws in the limited instances where it offers patients the opportunity to donate their tissue," Parker told the committee.
Afterward, Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino) joined other Democrats in deciding against an audit.
"The allegations made by the proponents did not justify spending over $300,000 of taxpayer dollars for this audit," Leyva said. She noted that the group provides other healthcare services to women.
"Since a compelling fact-based case was not made for this audit, I could not support a proposal that may ultimately hurt the countless women and men that rely on these vital health services every day."
Melendez accused the Democrats of playing politics by allowing the party's pro-choice position to block any scrutiny.
"I am appalled that my Democratic colleagues would allow partisan politics to triumph in the face of such damning allegations," Melendez said. "The people of California deserve elected officials who demand accountability, not political puppets."
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