- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 27, 2015

In a letter to Congress intended to defend its practices and attack its hidden-video critics, Planned Parenthood wound up lending credence to accusations that it manipulates rules on selling fetal organs to maximize profit.

Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, admitted in an 11-page letter Thursday that its affiliates have accepted payments ranging from $45 to $60 “per tissue specimen” from abortions, but said that they were reimbursements to cover costs, which federal law allows.

But she also said that “adjustments that facilitate fetal tissue donations rarely occur at our few clinics that offer women this service,” prompting David Daleiden of the pro-life Center for Medical Progress to declare that she had proved the point of his group’s investigation — that “adjustments occur.”

Several of the videos showed Planned Parenthood representatives haggling over prices — and in one case joking about wanting a Lamborghini — with people they thought represented biotech firm purchasers.

“Both of these admissions speak to Planned Parenthood’s financial benefit and profit motive for supplying fetal tissue, and both are the points CMP’s videos have documented and illustrated from the very beginning,” Mr. Daleiden said in a statement.

He disputed Ms. Richards‘ contention that the $45 to $60 per specimen payment was charged only to cover costs, saying that tissue-procurement organizations “handle all dissection, packaging and shipping of fetal organs” while Planned Parenthood spends “10 minutes consenting a patient.”

“And when a Planned Parenthood doctor manipulates the abortion to get higher-quality baby parts, they are prizing Planned Parenthood’s financial interests ahead of women’s health,” he said.

Ms. Richards‘ letter comes with four House and Senate committees investigating concerns raised in eight undercover videos released by the center since July 14, which show Planned Parenthood and other officials discussing fetal tissue payments and surgical techniques designed to keep valuable organs intact.

“I am writing today because we are doing as much as we can to collect the facts and share them with you,” Ms. Richards said. “We are also cooperating with the House and Senate committees that have requested relevant information from us.”

She also described the results of an analysis conducted by a research company at the behest of Planned Parenthood, saying the review found evidence of “selective editing,” “splices,” distortions” and other “manipulation” in the undercover videos.

“This review ultimately concluded that the manipulation of the videos and the transcripts means they have no evidentiary value in a legal context and cannot be relied upon for any official inquiries unless supplemented by the original video in unaltered form,” said Ms. Richards.

The unedited videos have all been posted.

She insisted that the videos lack “any credible evidence that Planned Parenthood has done anything wrong.”

“All of Mr. Daleiden’s efforts to entrap our affiliates into potentially illegal contracts failed,” she added.

Mr. Daleiden countered by dismissing the report as a “complete failure,” calling it a “desperate, 11th-hour attempt to pay their hand-picked ‘experts’ to distract from the crimes documented on video.”

The “forensic analysis” was conducted by Fusion GPS, led by a former Wall Street Journal reporter and described by the conservative Weekly Standard as “an opposition research firm with ties to the Democratic Party.”

Mr. Daleiden also noted that the analysis found “no evidence of audio manipulation.”

“The absence of bathroom breaks and waiting periods between meetings does not change the hours of dialogue with top-level Planned Parenthood executives eager to manipulate abortion procedures to get high-quality baby parts for financially profitable sale,” he said.

In her letter, Ms. Richards revealed that the videos have resulted in a dramatic drop in Planned Parenthood’s involvement in providing fetal tissue for medical research.

She said that only two of the organization’s 59 affiliates — located in California and Washington — are now involved in fetal tissue procurement for research. Another four have shut down since the release of the first video, she said.

“One affiliate suspended its program after receiving security threats prompted by Mr. Daleiden’s video,” she said. “Two others had their contracts with a TPO featured in Mr. Daleiden’s videos canceled because of the controversy. The fourth affiliate was working with a research laboratory that had been undergoing renovations and has postponed restarting until the renovations are complete.”

Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue involvement is “a minuscule part” of its work, she said, and of the “hundreds of health centers that are part of the Planned Parenthood network, just 1 percent are involved with fetal tissue research.”

At the same time, Ms. Richards made no apologies for Planned Parenthood’s involvement in providing donated fetal tissue from abortions for medical research.

“Planned Parenthood is proud to have a role in fetal tissue research,” she said.

The organization bills itself as “the nation’s leading provider of reproductive health care services for women.” About half of Planned Parenthood’s annual $1.2 billion budget comes from federal and state dollars.

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