Abortion providers must now tell the state what happens to tissue from abortions in an effort to ensure nothing is being illegally sold despite the lack of evidence anyone in Arizona is breaking any laws.
The state Department of Health Services late Friday filed emergency rules with the Secretary of State’s Office to mandate that each report of an abortion now contain “the final disposition” of such tissue from what the agency calls “unborn children.” It also requires abortion to providers to detail if they provide the tissue for another person, provide that person’s name and address, any compensation received and whether the patient provided “informed consent” for the transfer of the tissue.
The rules took effect with their filing. By law, state Health Director Cara Christ is entitled to enact emergency rules without prior notice and without public hearings.
Christ acted at the behest of Gov. Doug Ducey who was responding to undercover videos – none from Arizona – which purport to show Planned Parenthood representatives discussing the sale of such tissue. Sale for profit is illegal under federal law, though abortion providers can recover certain costs.
There is no such prohibition in Arizona law, though a separate statute prohibits most experimentation on fetal tissue in this state.
In filing the rule, state health officials never claimed any evidence that abortion providers here were providing tissue for sale. And Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood Arizona, told Capitol Media Services his organization does not engage in such transactions.
Despite that, the health officials said they “just became aware of the potential sale of abortion fetal tissue.” And based solely on that “potential” they said the emergency rule is justified.
“By reviewing the information submitted, the (Health) Department will be better able to monitor health care institutions where abortions are performed for compliance with applicable laws and rules on the use of donated tissues, including the potential illegal sale of tissues from unborn children,” the filing states. And the officials justified the emergency action, without public input, saying that going through the regular process could take an additional six to eight months to approve.
Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Annet Ruiter said Monday that Howard is traveling on business and could not immediately comment.
“As an organization, we need to carefully review these rules to determine their impact on our delivery of abortion health care,” she said. “We will determine whether to provide comment when our review is complete.”
Christ’s actions are not the last word.
State law allows emergency rules to remain in effect for only 180 days, with the possibility of a one-time extension. At that point Christ will need to propose a regular rule, one which would require public input and comment.
In his directive last month to Christ, Ducey said he was disturbed by what he saw in the videos.
“The footage released by The Center for Medical Progress regarding the alleged sale and trafficking of aborted fetal tissue and body parts by Planned Parenthood is horrifying and has no place in a civilized society,” Ducey said in a prepared statement. He directed Christ to perform “a thorough review of the law and immediately promulgate emergency rules designed to prohibit the illegal sale of any tissue from an unborn child.”
None of those videos involved Arizona. National officials of Planned Parenthood charge the videos were heavily edited and misleading, saying the discussions involved covering legitimate costs.