In a direct response to videos released by anti-abortion activists that show Planned Parenthood officials discussing their fetal tissue program, four Maine lawmakers are proposing bills related to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.
One bill would require additional reporting during abortion services that asks if fetal tissue is transferred, and if reimbursement is given to Planned Parenthood. Two other bills divert funding away from Planned Parenthood clinics and give it to federally qualified health centers that do not provide abortions. Another bill compels Congress to defund Planned Parenthood at the federal level.
All four Republican Maine lawmakers said they were compelled to introduce the legislation after viewing the controversial, and edited videos that show Planned Parenthood officials discussing their fetal tissue program, and the money they receive from it.
Planned Parenthood has disputed the authenticity of the videos, insisting that it does not use federal dollars for abortions, nor does it profit from them.
Nicole Clegg, the Maine spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, said Maine does not participate in the fetal tissue program, but some legislators are not convinced.
"We're supposed to take their word that no such practices happen in Maine," said House Assistant Minority Leader Ellie Espling, (R-New Gloucester). "There is no way for us to be sure."
The bills have yet to be approved by a committee, but Democrats are already speaking out against them.
"These bills are not relevant," said House Assistant Majority Leader Sara Gideon (D-Freeport). "This really feels like a witch hunt."
According to Clegg, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England does not receive state funding per se – it's actually Medicaid dollars, making the act of de-funding Planned Parenthood from the state-level a complicated one.
"I think they would find themselves dealing with significant legal challenges if that's the approach they want to take," said Clegg.