Planned Parenthood president 'proud' of foetal tissue work

2015-09-29 13:13

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Washington - In Planned Parenthood's first congressional appearance since the release of undercover videos, the abortion provider's president is defending its provision of foetal tissue for researchers and castigating Republicans for not investigating the anti-abortion activists who furtively made the recordings.

In testimony prepared for a hearing on Tuesday, Cecile Richards said the organisation's donation of tissue from aborted foetuses is a "minuscule" part of its work proving health services for women. She said the group has nearly 700 clinics but obtains foetal tissue in less than 1% of them.

"Planned Parenthood is proud of its limited role in supporting foetal tissue research," she said, arguing that the donations have helped scientists search for cures.

Abortion opponent David Daleiden obtained the videos by posing as an executive of a fake company seeking to supply foetal tissue to researchers. Richards said Daleiden, despite three years of doing that, didn't entrap any Planned Parenthood officials into doing anything illegal.

"It is clear they acted fraudulently and unethically, and perhaps illegally," Richards said. "Yet it is Planned Parenthood, not Mr Daleiden, that is currently subject to four congressional investigations" by the Republican-run Congress.

Medicaid patients

Congressional Democrats have demanded that Daleiden be called to testify, but Republicans have ignored those pleas.

The videos ignited a political uproar among conservatives and Republicans that has revived abortion as a potent issue for the 2016 presidential and congressional campaigns, with many Republican presidential candidates condemning the group.

Conservatives' demands that Congress cut Planned Parenthood's federal payments, for which Republicans lack the votes to succeed indirectly contributed to the Republican unrest that prompted House Speaker John Boehner to announce his resignation last week. The organisation receives about a third of its $1.3bn annual budget, around $450m, from federal coffers, chiefly reimbursements for treating Medicaid patients.

Richards' testimony was provided by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, where she was set to appear. Her prepared remarks contained little her organisation has not already said since the abortion foes began releasing the videos in July.

Conservatives and some Republicans say Planned Parenthood has broken federal laws forbidding sales of foetal tissue for profit. The group has denied breaking any laws.

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