Nebraska regulators inspect Planned Parenthood clinics

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska regulators have quietly inspected Planned Parenthood of the Heartland’s Lincoln and Omaha clinics at the request of Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts.

Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services surveyors visited the clinics in August, the Lincoln Journal Star reported ( ). Omaha clinic director Brenda Harvey said surveyors were interested in speaking with staff who handle fetal tissue.

The visits came after a group accusing Planned Parenthood of illegally selling fetal tissue released videos, prompting congressional inquiries and multiple state investigations this summer.

A department spokeswoman said she could provide little information about the inspections, but confirmed regulators made a similar visit to the Bellevue clinic.

The results appear similar to those of public investigations of Planned Parenthood clinics elsewhere that returned no evidence the organization violated state laws for handling fetal tissue.

Surveyors did threaten both clinics with disciplinary action because of late paperwork, particularly forms with abortion procedure information, which the state required for statistical purposes.

In 2015, the Lincoln clinic missed the due date, the 15th of each month, five times. The Omaha clinic hadn’t been on time all year and still hadn’t submitted forms for the most recent months, June and July, according to letters from the department’s division of public health.

Both clinics are now caught up and the issue has been resolved, said Angie Remington, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.

Ricketts spokesman Taylor Gage confirmed that the governor asked the department to look into the issue after the videos’ release.

The inspections were not publicly announced before or after they took place.

“It’s good to know that DHHS is actually going inside Nebraska abortion facilities and doing some type of investigation,” said Julie Schmit-Albin, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life. “That sounds more aggressive than what has happened in the past. I’m glad to hear that (clinic staff) were not notified in advance.”

The Lincoln and Omaha Planned Parenthood inspections started Aug. 18.

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