The latest undercover pro-life video on Planned Parenthood captures officials discussing ways in which they keep fetal-tissue operations out of sight, due to fears of scandal and “headlines.”
“Obviously, we would have the potential for a huge P.R. issue in doing this,” Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, senior medical adviser for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said referring to fetal-tissue operations, on the 10th undercover video released by the Center for Medical Progress.
Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president of external medical affairs, urged the undercover videographers, who posed as biotech officials seeking to procure fetal tissue for researchers, to pay attention to the way the issue is handled.
“This could destroy your organization and us, if we don’t time those conversations correctly,” Dr. Cullins said.
The videos, designated a citizen journalist project named “Human Capital,” seek to blow the whistle on a secretive but longtime practice in which abortion clinics harvest and distribute fetal body parts for research.
In the 10th video, released Tuesday, Deborah VanDerhei, national director for the Consortium of Abortion Providers at Planned Parenthood, said the abortion industry has been trying to figure out “how we’re going to manage remuneration,” due to the potential for scandal.
“The headlines would be a disaster,” Ms. VanDerHei said.
She also noted that fetal-parts operations are not unusual, and that Planned Parenthood has “independent colleagues who generate a fair amount of income doing this.”
Pro-life critics say Planned Parenthood is profiting by selling the parts — and congressional panels, as well as several states, are investigating these charges.
On Tuesday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, issued a subpoena to the Center for Medical Progress, asking for “all unedited video footage in their possession, relating to the acquisition, preparation and sale of fetal tissue.”
“This subpoena is a demand for transparency,” Mr. Chaffetz said, noting that Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation (NAF) have acted to block release of the videos.
Vicki Saporta, president of the NAF, has told reporters that since the video “smear campaign” began in July, anti-abortion hate speech, threats and criminal activity has escalated, and her organization is seeking law-enforcement help to prevent violence at clinics.
Planned Parenthood and other officials have publicly lambasted the Center for Medical Progress as having released deceptive videos that are “heavily edited” to omit exculpatory comments by officials.
A group of House Democrats say they have investigated the matter, and found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood.
However, a House committee has held its first hearing into the videos and fetal-tissue operations, and several more committees in the House and Senate are investigating the issue.
It is legal to donate fetal tissue to research with the pregnant woman’s consent, and recompense is permitted for certain necessary service costs.
Pro-life groups say the videos show that consent is not obtained properly, that human tissue is sold, abortions are illegally manipulated to get the best “specimens,” and illegal partial-birth abortion procedures appear to be used to get “intact” fetuses and their brains.
In the 10th video, several Planned Parenthood officials agreed that there were no written guidelines or policies about fetal-tissue operations, and that discussions about it would be done in conversations, not by email, to avoid a written trail.
Comments like these prompted David Daleiden, project leader of the Center for Medical Progress, to conclude that the abortion giant seeks to cover up its practices.
“From email black-outs to contorted oxymorons like ‘donation for remuneration,’ the lengths to which Planned Parenthood leadership will go to cover-up their illegal sale of aborted baby parts are nothing less than the desperation of a guilty conscience,” Mr. Daleiden said Tuesday.
Separately, a new CNN/ORC poll found that most Americans want a government-spending bill passed this month and do not support shutting down the government over Planned Parenthood funding.
Some 40 members of the House have signed a pledge not to approve any spending bill that includes funding for Planned Parenthood, which currently receives some $528 million in public money from all levels of government.
• Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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