Amid Controversy, Planned Parenthood Is No Longer Accepting Money For Fetal Tissue

Planned Parenthood protests.

Planned Parenthood has announced that it will no longer accept monetary reimbursement for the donation of fetal tissue for research purposes.

According to the New York Times, by forgoing all future payments, the organization is responding to the ongoing controversy over a series of undercover videos depicting employees of Planned Parenthood seemingly selling tissue from aborted fetuses. Many investigative journalists and fact-checking websites have proven that Planned Parenthood wasn’t actually doing anything secretive or illegal, but simply accepting reimbursement costs for legally donated tissue. Planned Parenthood also claimed the videos were deceptively edited to make the organization seem insidious.

Even so, the backlash over the videos has been so great that Planned Parenthood has ultimately decided to stop accepting money altogether. The decision was announced in a letter sent on Tuesday by Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, to the director of the National Institute of Health, Dr. Francis Collins. In the letter, Richards explains that Planned Parenthood has acted in accordance with the law, but will forgo any future payments for fetal tissue to prevent any further political attacks against the organization — which already faces a great deal of opposition from the Republican party.

“Planned Parenthood’s policies on fetal tissue donation already exceed the legal requirements. Now we’re going even further in order to take away any basis for attacking Planned Parenthood to advance an anti-abortion political agenda.”

Cecile Richards

According to News Week, by accepting payment for fetal tissue, Planned Parenthood was not making a profit as some have accused, but only accepting money to cover the expenses of fetal tissue donation. This reimbursement will no longer be allowed, even though federal law permits it. Cecile Richards also made it clear that the tissue was donated by women who had legal abortions and gave their consent for the fetal tissue to be used for research purposes.

“The participation by a handful of our affiliates in supporting women who choose to make fetal tissue donation has always been about nothing other than honoring the desire of those women and contributing to life-saving research and cures,” Richards wrote. “Going forward, all of our health centers will follow the same policy, even if it means they will not recover reimbursements permitted by the 1993 law.”

Richards claims this new Planned Parenthood policy is an attempt to deflect future accusations against the organization, and it could even be considered a compromise with political conservatives. However, according to the Hill, the director of the anti-abortion group The Center for Medical Progress, David Daleiden, says the new policy is an admission of guilt by Planned Parenthood, as well as a publicity stunt.

“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.”

Anti-abortion rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood

In response, executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Dawn Laguens insisted that by forgoing future reimbursement costs, Planned Parenthood has made the decision to cover the expenses on their own in order to ensure that women can continue to provide fetal tissue for scientific research.

“We’re not caving,” said Laguens. “So many people said, ‘I don’t know why you continue to do this, you guys could just walk away from this,’ but this is in fact Planned Parenthood standing strong and saying, ‘we are going to continue to do this work.’… We just want the focus to go back to, for the women who choose to donate, it’s a humanitarian thing that they’re doing.”

What do you think? Is the new policy an admission of guilt?

[Image credit: Mark Wilson / Olivier Douliery / Win McNamee / Getty Images]