Taking away what it calls a “smokescreen” by abortion opponents to advance an “extreme political agenda,” Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) announced today that affiliates involved in donating fetal tissue would not seek federal reimbursement, even though it’s legal to do so.
Planned Parenthood President and CEO Cecile Richards sent a letter to Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), explaining the decision after a series of edited undercover videos released this summer by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) featured staff talking about the organization’s fetal tissue donation program.
“The outrageous claims that have been made against Planned Parenthood, which have been widely discredited and debunked, are the worst kind of political interference in women’s health. The real goal of these extremists has nothing to do with our fetal tissue donation compliance process but is instead to ban abortion in the U.S. and block women from getting any healthcare from Planned Parenthood,” Richards said.
The videos have sparked Congressional hearings and investigations in recent months, which Planned Parenthood said has not turned up any wrongdoing. “These false claims are being used to advance politically motivated legislation in Congress and in state legislatures to deny women access to basic healthcare and impose medically unnecessary restrictions on safe and legal abortion,” she said.
“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 our two affiliates currently facilitating donations for fetal tissue research.” Two PPFA affiliates – in California and Washington – currently are involved in fetal tissue donation, making up about 1 percent of the organization’s health centers.
The organization’s policies on fetal tissue donation already exceed legal requirements, according to Richards. The decision to not take 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,” she wrote.