If you can’t handle the truth, alter it to fit your agenda. This appears to be Florida Governor Rick Scott’s modus operandi. When state health care regulators’ reports on Planned Parenthood didn’t provide Scott with the answers he wanted, he simply changed them.

Recently, Planned Parenthood has been under attack by right-wing religious fanatics for allegations that the organization is an “abortion factory” that sells “baby parts.” As with most GOP wedge issues, this is at best, gross exaggeration and at worst, an outright lie; fewer than 3% of the services provided by Planned Parenthood to low-income women are abortions. Furthermore, the transfer of fetal tissues to laboratories for research purposes is strictly regulated. Planned Parenthood, a non-profit organization, is prohibited by law from profiting from such transactions. Nonetheless, edited propaganda videos made by a right-wing Christianist organization presented a twisted and inaccurate view of the issue.

Pandering to his right-wing base, Governor Scott ordered officials from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) to investigate sixteen Planned Parenthood clinics to determine whether or not they were “selling body parts” in violation of Florida law. On August 5th, those officials released their findings to the governor via email: “There is no evidence of the mishandling of fetal remains at any of the 16 clinics we investigated across the state.”

It wasn’t what Governor Scott wanted to hear.

Instead, that particular statement was deleted from the official press release. A statement was then added on how the AHCA would be referring Planned Parenthood physicians to the state Board of Medicine for disciplinary action.

While this is blatant falsification and manipulation, one person associated with Planned Parenthood isn’t surprised.  Laura Goodhue is the executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. She says, “Governor Rick Scott is playing politics with women’s health by orchestrating this attack on a trusted health care provider…Planned Parenthood has always adhered to the highest ethical guidelines and standards of medicine.”

Nonetheless, Governor Scott’s shenanigans have drawn Planned Parenthood into litigation in an attempt to stop the AHCA from taking action against its clinics.

It’s a standard operating procedure for the GOP: if you can’t win on the facts, lie and cheat.

K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues. In addition to writing for The Ring of Fire, he is the author of two published novels: Tamanous Cooley, a darkly comic environmental twist on Dante's Inferno, and The Missionary's Wife, a story of the conflict between human nature and fundamentalist religious dogma. When not engaged in journalistic or literary pursuits, K.J. works as an entertainer and film composer.