First, Planned Parenthood top dogs said that their organization never did this. Now, suddenly, its CEO says the practice will cease. What gives?
As reported by Breitbart News, a letter by Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards asserts that “patently false claims” have been leveled against her abortion clinics, but that she nonetheless will stop accepting payments for the organs of aborted babies.
The head of the organization, which is now under investigation by several congressional committees following the release of a series of gruesome videos exposing the practice of selling body parts of aborted babies for profit, wrote[PDF] to Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health:
Over the last two months, opponents of safe and legal abortion have turned patently false claims about our role in fetal tissue donation into fodder to advance their extreme political agenda – including votes in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate that would have blocked Planned Parenthood from receiving federal reimbursements for providing cancer screenings and other preventive care. I am pleased to report that those efforts, which would have jeopardized millions of people’s access to health care, have failed thus far. But this isn’t just about Planned Parenthood, and it isn’t over. These false claims are being used to advance politically motivated legislation in Congress and in state legislatures across the country to deny women access to basic health care and to impose medically unnecessary restrictions on safe and legal abortion. The American public overwhelmingly opposes this political agenda.
(The American public actually wants all or most abortions made illegal, according to Gallup.)
‘We haven’t done anything wrong but, um, we’re changing the way we operate anyway’
I want to be completely clear about two things: First, Planned Parenthood’s policies on fetal tissue donation already exceed the legal requirements. Now we’re going even further in order to take away any basis for attacking Planned Parenthood to advance an anti-abortion political agenda. And, second, our decision not to take any reimbursement for expenses should not be interpreted as a suggestion that anyone else should not take reimbursement or that the law in this area isn’t strong. Our decision is first and foremost about preserving the ability of our patients to donate tissue, and to expose our opponents’ false charges about this limited but important work.
Yes, of course – since Planned Parenthood is doing nothing wrong and actually “exceeding” legal requirements, by all means let’s change the way it does business.
Who actually believes that?
Not many will, according to national pro-life leaders who say Richards’ letter is just her way of squirming around the issue and heading off further investigations (because she’s afraid of what Congress will find) to escape punishment.
“Motivated by optics”
“Just because Planned Parenthood is supposedly stopping the exchange of money for the body parts of babies they abort, it does not lessen the criminal charges they are possibly facing,” President of Students for Life of America Kristan Hawkins told Breitbart News.
“The Center for Medical Progress videos clearly show top-level Planned Parenthood executives discussing taking money – more than what a reimbursement would allow and essentially double-dipping on abortion procedures – in exchange for baby parts,” Hawkins said. “Planned Parenthood is essentially admitting guilt to accepting money for baby livers, eyes, brains, and other organs, which fetch a nice price and have bolstered the bottom line for affiliates who engage in the practice.”
Some lawmakers aren’t buying Richards’ excuse either, and one of them is Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., author of the Defund Planned Parenthood Act, a bill that would withhold $500 million in taxpayer funding from the organization.
“It is curious that, while Planned Parenthood officials maintain there has been no wrongdoing, they still find it necessary to change their policy following the recent undercover videos,” she said in a statement. “Clearly, this was a decision motivated by optics rather than the organization’s conscience.”
Continuing, she said, “Cecile Richards’ letter is right about one thing: the fight against Planned Parenthood is not just about its use of fetal tissue. It is about how we treat a human life and how we ensure that the conscience rights of American taxpayers are respected.”