After a months-long battle over the ethical and legal implications of accepting money for fetal tissue donations, Planned Parenthood has announced that it will no longer accept reimbursement for the costs associated with donating aborted fetal organs.
Earlier this year, a series of videos was released in which various executives from Planned Parenthood discussed payment for tissue donations with undercover actors posing as clients, organized by a group called the Center for Medical Progress (CMP). Upon releasing the videos, CMP claimed that Planned Parenthood was accepting an unreasonable amount of money for the fetal tissues. While law allows companies to accept payment related to shipping and handling charges, collecting a profit off of fetal tissue is illegal. The videos have sparked several Congressional investigations seeking to find out whether Planned Parenthood broke any laws or practices regarding fetal tissue donations.
David Daleiden, who spoke on behalf of the CMP following the announcement, called it an “admission of guilt” by Planned Parenthood, that their taking of reimbursement was in fact unethical. “If the money Planned Parenthood has been receiving for baby body parts were truly legitimate ‘reimbursement,’ why cancel it?” Daleiden said.
“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,” he continued.
However, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards claimed just the opposite, defending the ethical basis of her company during the announcement: “This [no longer accepting any reimbursement] removes beyond the shadow of a doubt the ludicrous idea that Planned Parenthood has any financial interest in fetal tissue donation.”
Furthermore, the organization has pointed out that only two of their 700 health centers were ever engaged in fetal tissue donation procedures. And only one of those clinics was accepting reimbursement.
Since these allegations were made, five congressional committees have been investigating both the medical ethics of payment for donation, as well as the legality of the amounts previously accepted by Planned Parenthood. The videos have also led to attempts by Republicans in the House to defund Planned Parenthood altogether, removing it completely from the government budget. The budget proposal that was announced on October 27 did not include a clause about taking away government funds from Planned Parenthood, but some Republicans have announced that they will seek to add it as an amendment.
On the other hand, Planned Parenthood has promised it will not back down. The organization’s Executive Vice President, Dawn Laguens has said, “we are not going to be bullied, even by five congressional committees, into walking away from important research and women’s desire to donate.”
While the committees still remain in session, attempts to defund the organization have so far failed. Yet, controversies around the organization, especially the ethical implications of their abortion practices, continue to be a huge issue. Various candidates in the presidential campaign have focused on the company thus far. This announcement came only hours before the Democratic debate, though CNN excluded discussion of it any regard from the debate questions.