The White House dismissed the need for a federal investigation of Planned Parenthood Friday, citing the opinions of three liberal newspapers as evidence that “impartial observers” are raising questions about the authenticity of a pro-life group’s undercover videos on the sale of fetal tissue.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest also suggested that the pro-life group, the Center for Medical Progress, is an “extremist” organization. And he said for the first time that President Obama would veto any effort by Congress to defund Planned Parenthood.
Asked by a reporter whether White House officials believe Planned Parenthood should be investigated for the alleged sale of fetal tissue, Mr. Earnest said “those who have taken a close look” at the undercover videos “have raised some significant concerns about their authenticity.” He then listed three newspapers that endorsed President Obama for re-election in 2012.
“The New York Times described this as a ‘campaign of deception,’” Mr. Earnest said. “The Seattle Times described this as a ‘manufactured crisis.’ The [San Jose] Mercury-News even described those videos as ‘grossly misleading.’”
He referred to the journalists who wrote those opinions as people “who could legitimately be described as impartial observers.”
“The scrutiny that these videos have gotten thus far from a handful of news organizations raises significant doubts about their authenticity,” Mr. Earnest said.
The president’s spokesman also suggested that CMP is extremist and that it distributed heavily edited videos to mislead the public.
“We have seen this kind of tactic be attempted by other extremist organizations that have an ideological agenda,” Mr. Earnest said.
The series of undercover videos has put Planned Parenthood at the center of debate in Washington again, with a fourth video Thursday from CMP showing Dr. Savita Ginde, who was medical director of a Planned Parenthood branch in Denver, discussing the possible sale of tissue from aborted fetuses. Planned Parenthood officials say their organization shares fetal tissue for research but does not profit from it, which would be illegal.
The Senate will vote early next week on a bill to strip Planned Parenthood of about $500 million in federal funding, although that effort is likely to fail. Some Republican lawmakers say they’ll try to use the annual spending deadline of Sept. 30 to force the issue, saying they won’t vote for any spending bills that include money for Planned Parenthood.
Mr. Earnest said Friday that Mr. Obama would veto such an effort.
CMP’s David Daleiden said the White House is trying to excuse indefensible behavior.
“The four video reports we have released so far are undeniable to anyone who watches them and they prove that Planned Parenthood is engaged in a gruesome and inhuman enterprise. One would think the reaction would be to stop forcing hard working Americans to pay for this enterprise — isn’t there a better way to spend the American people’s money than to give half a billion a year to an organization engaged in selling aborted baby body parts?” Mr. Daleiden said in a statement Friday.