- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Center for Medical Progress called on Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, to release all contracts with companies that provide fetal tissue to laboratories after she apologized Thursday for a top doctor’s “tone and statements.”

“Without concrete action, Planned Parenthood’s ‘apology’ is just a cynical and empty excuse — and an excuse that’s three days late,” the center said in a statement Thursday.

“If they are truly sorry, they should immediately hand over all contracts with StemExpress and other fetal harvesting companies to law enforcement and congressional committees,” the center said. “A belated ‘sorry’ is not enough for these deeds of baby parts trafficking and partial-birth abortion, these atrocities against humanity.”

Ms. Richards apologized after the center released Tuesday an undercover video conversation with Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, who described over lunch and wine how she performs abortions to preserve valuable fetal organs such as the heart, liver and lungs.

“Our top priority is the compassionate care that we provide. In the video, one of our staff members speaks in a way that does not reflect that compassion,” Ms. Richards said. “This is unacceptable and I personally apologize for the staff member’s tone and statements.”

At the same time, Ms. Richards defended the practice of fetal tissue donation while insisting that the organization receives no profit from donating the tissue and organs of aborted fetuses.

“Recently, an organization that opposes safe and legal abortion used secretly recorded, heavily edited videos to make outrageous claims about programs that help women donate fetal tissue for medical research,” Ms. Richards said.

“I want to be really clear. The allegation that Planned Parenthood profits in any way from tissue donation is not true,” she said. “Our donation programs, like any other quality health care providers’, follows all laws and ethical guidelines.”

House Republicans called for a congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood. Pro-life members of Congress have long objected to the federal government’s funding of the nonprofit, the nation’s largest provider of abortions as well as reproductive services.

The uproar continued as opponents of Planned Parenthood launched a viral “Twitter rally” under the hashtag #PPshoutyourstory that drew a flood of comments condemning the group.

In its release, the center noted that Ms. Richards now refers to Dr. Nucatola as a “staff member,” even though a few months ago she praised her as “amazing.”

“Has Nucatola been fired or demoted for facilitating body parts sales and using and training doctors in illegal partial-birth abortions?” the center asked. “We don’t know, and Richards won’t tell us.”

Ms. Richards, who issued the apology in a video statement, also thanked those who have agreed to donate the tissue and organs from abortions to medical research.

“Planned Parenthood stands behind our work to help women and families donate tissue for medical research when they wish to,” Ms. Richards said. “It is always their decision, and I thank those women and families who have chosen tissue donation at some point in their lives.

“Your commitment to life-saving research, developing treatments for diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s is important and compassionate, and it should be respected, not attacked,” she said.

Donating and transferring fetal tissue for research is legal as long as it is not done for profit. In the video, Dr. Nucatola says she charges $30 to $100 per specimen, but Planned Parenthood said in a statement that any charges represent reimbursement for “actual costs,” such as transportation to “leading research centers.”

Ms. Richard added that pro-life groups like the center, which released its video after a three-year investigation, “have never been concerned with protecting the health and safety of women.”

The center, meanwhile, accused Ms. Richards of “willful blindness to the real reason millions of Americans are outraged.”

“Planned Parenthood exchanges baby parts for money, and uses barbaric late-term abortion methods to harvest the best organs, in flagrant disregard for the law,” said the center. “Did Richards not know about how Nucatola was overseeing Planned Parenthood’s abortion practice, or did she just not care until it became a public issue?”

StemExpress, the Sacramento-based company mentioned by Dr. Nucatola in the video, went back online late Thursday. It said the website had crashed and remained offline for 24 hours because of “excessive traffic.”

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