This story was updated at 8:19 p.m.
The Kansas Board of Healing Arts will take no action against Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri after looking into whether it engaged in the illegal sale of fetal tissue.
In a conference call with reporters Thursday, Planned Parenthood President and CEO Laura McQuade said the board had sent a letter to Planned Parenthood and its attorney on Jan. 7 stating “no further action will be taken at this time.”
“We absolutely feel vindicated by this,” McQuade said, adding that the Kansas Department of Health and Environment had also conducted two separate inspections and also found no wrongdoing.
McQuade said that because the Board of Healing Arts comes under the jurisdiction of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, “he was well aware that we were cleared of any inappropriate activity long before the State of the State address” on Tuesday night.
In his address, Brownback said he had ordered state health officials to eliminate Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood. The organization has vowed to challenge that move in court.
“No longer will we send the money of hard-working Kansans to fund an industry that disrespects life and violates the moral conscience of our people,” Brownback said in a statement.
McQuade accused Brownback of making “knowingly false statements about Planned Parenthood and its practices” in the speech and was “basing future policy decisions on what he knows to be knowingly false information.”
She said that part of the reason Planned Parenthood was disclosing the Board of Healing Arts letter was “to make it clear this is not a fight over an opinion, this is a fact, and you can’t make false allegations without there being repercussions.”
Asked if that meant Planned Parenthood was contemplating taking legal action, McQuade said, “I’d like to explore all of our options for this organization.”
A spokeswoman for Brownback, Eileen Hawley, said in a statement that the administration will review the findings of the Board of Healing Arts. She said the administration will continue to fight for “the most vulnerable among us.”
Brownback had called for the Board of Healing Arts investigation after highly edited videos surfaced last year purporting to show Planned Parenthood clinics had illegally trafficked in fetal parts.
On Thursday, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and seven of its California affiliates sued the Center for Medical Progress, the anti-abortion group that made the secretly taped videos. The suit seeks damages under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, as well as for wire and mail fraud, invasion of privacy and other counts.
The videos, which were released about six months ago, prompted an outcry and led several states as well as Congress to launch investigations of Planned Parenthood and calls to defund it. So far, no investigation has found any wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood.
Federal law prohibits the use of federal money for abortions. Planned Parenthood says that abortions make up no more than 3 percent of its services. The rest are for contraception, tests and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, cancer screenings and other women’s health services.
Last month a federal judge in Kansas City ruled that Missouri health officials probably violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause when they threatened to revoke the abortion license of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia, Missouri. U.S. District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey found that officials had acceded to political pressure in treating Planned Parenthood differently than similar institutions.
Dan Margolies, editor of the Heartland Health Monitor team, is based at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.