In an effort to quell residual controversy, Planned Parenthood announced on Tuesday that they will no longer be accepting any reimbursements for procuring fetal tissue for medical research.
They will, however, continue to maintain programs at some of their clinics to make fetal tissue available for research. NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports that "Planned Parenthood points out that reimbursements are legal but says it wants to debunk accusations that it's just out to profit. Officials also say they won't stop providing fetal tissue to researchers when women request [it]. They say such research can lead to life-saving treatments."
According to The Huffington Post, “Anti-abortion activists who recently released a series of covertly filmed videos have contended that Planned Parenthood officials sought profits from their programs providing post-abortion fetal tissue to researchers. Planned Parenthood said the videos were deceptively edited and denied seeking any payments beyond legally permitted reimbursement of costs.”
Many outside investigators have proven that the "covertly filmed" videos that allegedly show Planned Parenthood officials seeking illegal profits were heavily doctored and therefore completely irrelevant to any discussion on the topic.
Despite the findings in the investigation, Planned Parenthood's president, Cecile Richards, still went before Congress to defend her organization. During the hearing, probably in an effort to avoid bringing up the "evidence" in the heavily doctored film (which was the entire reason there was a hearing), many members of Congress addressed completely irrelevant facts — her salary, her appearance, as well as the abortion services available at Planned Parenthood — as reasons that they should cut all funding for Planned Parenthood.
During the flurry of inappropriate questioning, Richards still made entirely convincing and powerful arguments.
“The latest smear campaign is based on efforts by our opponents to entrap our doctors and clinicians into breaking the law — and once again, our opponents failed,” Richards said to members of Congress during the hearing.
That brings us to this Tuesday, wherein Richards sent a letter to the National Institutes of Health to explain the new policy she has put in place, adding that the accusations made against the organization are "categorically false" and that the goal of the organization's critics has "nothing to do with our fetal tissue donation compliance process."
"Today, we're taking their smokescreen away and pushing forward with our important work on behalf of millions of women, men, and young people … The participation by a handful of our affiliates in supporting women who choose to make fetal tissue donation has always been about nothing other than honoring the desire of those women and contributing to life-saving research and cures. In order to completely debunk the disingenuous argument that our opponents have been using — and to reveal the true political purpose of these attacks — our Federation has decided, going forward, that any Planned Parenthood health center that is involved in donating tissue after an abortion for medical research will follow the model already in place at one of our two affiliates currently facilitating donations for fetal tissue research. That affiliate accepts no reimbursement for its reasonable expenses — even though reimbursement is fully permitted under the 1993 law."
The move is not only smart, but will hopefully end the reign of anti-choice activists bent on defunding this life-saving organization. However, if history has proven anything, these activists will stop at nothing to get what they want.