ATLANTA - Planned Parenthood responded to plans by one state lawmaker to introduce legislation that would make it a felony for anyone to buy or sell tissue from an aborted fetus in Georgia.
Representative Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, announced Monday he will introduce the bill during the upcoming legislative session in January. It would carry a penalty of five years in prison.
"I think the extreme of what's being done needs to be recognized as against the strongest statement we make under public policy," said Willard.
Under the current state code, aborted fetuses must be disposed of by cremation or burial. Clinics must report to the state's Commissioner of Public Health the manner in which they dispose of every aborted fetus.
Willard, however, is concerned that a separate law (O.C.G.A 16-12-160) may leave a loophole that would allow abortion providers to donate fetal tissue and be paid. The law states it is illegal to buy or sell human or fetal body parts, but it contains exceptions for education or scientific research.
"We just want to say, let's be sure we plug the hole, loophole, whatever you want to call it, that in doing so you cannot be receiving compensation for it," Rep. Willard explained.
A representative for the Georgia Department of Public Health said the only acceptable forms of disposal are cremation and interment. Planned Parenthood said it is in compliance.
"It's our interpretation of Georgia code 16-12-141.1 that fetal tissue donation is disallowed due to the requirements for disposal," said Staci Fox, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, in a statement to FOX 5. "We follow the law, and report annually, as required by The Women's Right to Know Act. Planned Parenthood Southeast follows all laws, as demonstrated by recent inspections and reports thereof."
The non-profit organization said it does not donate any fetal tissue in Georgia, Alabama or Mississippi.
DPH released a report earlier this month showing that all five abortion providers in Georgia are in compliance with the law.
The introduction of this bill comes on the heels of national controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood. A group has released several videos that claim to show employees negotiating the sale of fetal parts. Planned Parenthood has maintained those videos are misleading and heavily edited.