Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards has recorded a video responding to allegations, made by an anti-abortion group that secretly recorded at least one staff member, that the organization illegally profits from the donation of fetal tissue after donations.
"I want to be really clear: The allegation that Planned Parenthood profits in any way from tissue donation is not true," Richards says in the video. "Our donation programs – like any other high-quality health care providers – follow all laws and ethical guidelines." On Wednesday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte announced an investigation into the allegations.
The anti-abortion group calling itself The Center for Medical Progress recorded Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services at Planned Parenthood, speaking casually and at times flippantly about the details of abortion procedures. Richards said, "Our top priority is the compassionate care that we provide. 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."
Richards also directly addressed abortion patients who opted to donate the fetal remains after an abortion. "Your commitment to lifesaving research, developing treatments for diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, is important and compassionate, and it should be respected – not attacked," she said.
The little-known Center for Medical Progress is closely linked to other conservative groups like Live Action, which have also used secret cameras to try to entrap progressive politicians and organizations. "We know the real agenda of organizations behind videos like this, and they have never been concerned with protecting the health and safety of women," Richards said in the video. "Their mission is to ban abortion completely and cut women off from care at Planned Parenthood and other health centers."
The Center for Medical Progress, which posed as one of several companies that procure fetal tissue for medical research, accuses Planned Parenthood of breaking the law by "trafficking in aborted baby parts."
The video the group released Tuesday suggests that Nucatola is naming prices for individual fetal parts, but the full transcript makes clear that what is being discussed is reimbursement for clinic space and time. Republican 2016 candidates have seized on the video as proof that Planned Parenthood should no longer receive federal funds for contraception and sexual health services.
Abortion providers are bracing themselves for more videos; the organization has vowed to release one a week.