Planned Parenthood Federation of America announced on Tuesday that its affiliates will no longer accept any reimbursements for fetal tissue donations. The change comes after a series of videos were released revealing the organization’s role in the donation of fetal tissue from aborted babies for compensation. The group behind the videos, the Center for Medical Progress, argued that the amounts of compensation were illegal, but Planned Parenthood denied that claim, stating that the accusations were part of a “discredited smear campaign.” “This removes beyond the shadow of a doubt the ludicrous idea that Planned Parenthood has any financial interest in fetal tissue donation,” the organization’s president Cecile Richards stated. David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress called the announcement an “admission of guilt.” "If the money Planned Parenthood has been receiving for baby body parts were truly legitimate ‘reimbursement,’ why cancel it?” he responded in a statement. “This proves what CMP has been saying all along — Planned Parenthood incurs no actual costs, and the payments for harvested fetal parts have always been an extra profit margin.” Daleiden has claimed that Planned Parenthood clinics accepted illegal amounts of compensation for fetal tissue of aborted babies they donated to harvesters. Federal law allows for the donation of fetal tissue for “reasonable” compensation, to cover the costs of shipping and handling, but not for “valuable” compensation. The allegation of law-breaking stems from a series of investigative videos released by CMP starting in July, showing undercover conversations with Planned Parenthood officials, footage taken from inside clinic laboratories, and interviews with the head of a tissue harvesting company StemExpress, which procured tissue from Planned Parenthood clinics. In one interview, a regional Planned Parenthood doctor said that babies were sometimes delivered at clinics before an abortion procedure could be performed, leaving open the question of whether the babies were left to die. In a video released in September by CMP, senior Planned Parenthood officials were recorded warning that affiliates should approach the fetal tissue trade for compensation with caution. Planned Parenthood’s senior medical advisor, Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, said it had “the potential for a huge P.R. issue,” in a conversation with an actor posing as a prospective fetal tissue buyer. Deborah VanDerhei, national director of the Consortium of Abortion Providers at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said that “If they [affiliates] are going to do it, that’s fine, but we want them to think about, really, the New York Times headline.” Richards has repeatedly responded to the allegations by claiming the organization had broken no laws in accepting compensation for fetal tissue. Currently two House committees are investigating the organization and its practices. The House Judiciary Committee last week held a hearing on the “medical ethics” at Planned Parenthood clinics. Susan Thayer, a former center manager at a clinic in Storm Lake, Iowa, testified that her clinic routinely overbilled Medicaid for birth control — $35 a cycle for contraceptives that cost less than $3 — and would even send the full bill to Medicaid for certain services they already partially billed patients for. Those profits from clients they described as voluntary donations. Thayer also said that when a baby was discovered in a dumpster in her town and the local authorities requested the clinic’s medical records, the clinic used the opportunity to fundraise, claiming that the personal health information of female clients was threatened. “Planned Parenthood is more concerned about its bottom line than about the health and safety of women,” Thayer stated before the House Judiciary Committee on Oct. 8. Republicans have also announced that a special committee will be formed to investigate Planned Parenthood’s practices concerning abortions and fetal tissue donations.
Catholic News Agency was founded in 2004, in response to Pope St. John Paul II’s call for a “New Evangelization." It is an apostolate of EWTN News.