Planned Parenthood’s President Cecile Richards has released a video statement in what the organization calls the latest “smear campaign” against its work providing “safe and legal” abortions. In the video, she denies that the organization profits from fetal tissue donations as alleged in recently released footage from the Center of Medical Progress and apologizes for what many have described as the insensitive, crass and graphic tone that Dr. Deborah Necutola speaks in describing her practices during abortion procedures.
“Our donation programs – like any other high-quality health care providers – follow all laws and ethical guidelines,” says Richards. “Over our 100-year history, we have continually engaged leading medical experts to shape our practices, policies, and high standards – and always will…In the video, one of our staff members speaks in a way that does not reflect that compassion. This is unacceptable, and I personally apologize for the staff member’s tone and statements.”
The video comes just hours after it’s been announced by various congressional and state leaders that they will be investigating Planned Parenthood’s donation programs for any signs of commercial fetal tissue trafficking. Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee released a statement yesterday saying: “This video is abhorrent and rips at the heart. The committee will get to the bottom of this appalling situation.”
John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives has also spoken out against the group, commanding the Obama administration to “to denounce, and stop, these gruesome practices.”
Officials from Texas, Louisiana and now Ohio are also jumping on the bandwagon in what some believe is an appeal to conservative voters for the 2016 presidential elections. Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine have all announced they will all be reviewing the allegations in their respective states’ Planned Parenthood clinics. Jindal has reportedly requested that the FBI get involved. Today, DeWine made a comment describing the infamous video of Necutola as “truly horrifying” and encourages anyone with incriminating information to come forward.
A House representative went as far as to say that the video could lead to a federal ban on fetal tissue transfers as well as a ban on partial-birth abortions and legal protections for infants born alive following attempted abortion. In addition the the FBI, congressional leaders are calling on the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice to get involved. Already, a bill that was to providing funding for breast cancer research was removed from the House floor
It is expected that conservatives including Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina have spoken strongly against Planned Parenthood’s actions, siding with the Center for Medical Progress. But what is surprising here is that a group of leading GOP officials were already shown the video weeks before it went viral. When probed about its lack of response, Representative Trent Franks of Arizona offered: “The hope was to have as much information as possible so that the authorities could be notified effectively before the media.”
David Daleiden, the leader of the Center for Medical Progress, will be releasing approximately a dozen more videos in the upcoming weeks as part of what is supposed to be a two and a half year-long sting against Planned Parenthood. Daleidan has come under fire for the video from pro-choice advocates because they argue that his footage is overly-edited, misleading propaganda that wrongfully insinuates illegal activity surrounding termination practices. The anti-abortion activist, only 26, is affiliated with a a host of other young, notorious, conservative extremists including Undercover Artist Lila Rose, Journalist Charles C. Johnson and James O’Keefe, the man behind 2009’s ACORN scandal. Daleidan defends his work saying:
“I think these are really horrific and troubling actions for 99 percent of Americans…Planned Parenthood is still receiving $50, $75, sometimes $100 per specimen per fetal part. So all of that is just straight up profit that goes to their bottom line.”
The selling fetal body parts was made illegal in a 1944 law, but Planned Parenthood insists that the official in the video released on Tuesday was discussing the process of legally donating tissue for stem cell research. It points out that the organization only donates tissue with patients’ consent, and that the money that is distributed is a reimbursement to the patient for their donation, not a profit for the organization.
Planned Parenthood has been investigated by the federal government in the past for trafficking claims, but it has yet to be convicted of any wrongdoing. An expert, Dr. Arthur Caplan of NYU’s Langone Medical Center, maintains that Planned Parenthood’s work is legal, but they could face legal trouble in the future if it is decided that they’re not prioritizing the needs of their patients or if they’re found doing things that go against their patients’ best interests.