Planned Parenthood revises reimbursement policy after video uproar

13 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Planned Parenthood changes disputed tissue donation policy.

NEW YORK (AP) — Responding to a furor over undercover videos, Planned Parenthood says it will maintain programs at some of its clinics that make fetal tissue available for research, but will no longer accept any sort of payment to cover the costs of those programs. The group announced Tuesday that it is changing its policy to accept nominal fees for fetal tissue they collect during abortions and give to groups for medical research in order to “take away any basis for attacking Planned Parenthood to advance an anti-abortion political agenda.” “This new policy removes beyond the shadow of a doubt the ludicrous idea that Planned Parenthood has any financial interest in tissue donation — and shows the real agenda behind these attacks,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards wrote in a statement.While the practice is permitted by federal law, anti-abortion activists claim the nonprofit organization has illegally “trafficked” in the sale of fetal remains.

The policy change was announced amid a months-long controversy after the release of videos secretly recorded by anti-abortion activists that grew into demands by some Republicans in Congress to cut off funding to the group, even threatening a government shutdown last month. David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress released a statement calling Planned Parenthood’s new policy into question, labeling the move to ax all payments a “PR stunt” that serves as “an admission of guilt.” His remarks came after the organization sent a letter to Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, on Tuesday, announcing that, moving forward, no reimbursements will be collected — a decision that Richards said goes above and beyond what is legally required. Richards has already been dragged in front of Congress for a day-long grilling, and Republicans have indicated they’ll continue to fight to eliminate federal funding for the organization, whose primary purposes are providing cancer screenings and birth control for low-income people but also perform abortions not using federal funds. President Barack Obama before he addresses the Planned Parenthood Gala in Washington on April 26, 2013. (AFP/Getty Images) “Without releasing the text of the alleged new ‘policy’ and the exact model from the their Washington affiliate, Planned Parenthood’s stunt today tells us nothing,” he said in a statement.

She characterized the videos and focus on Planned Parenthood as a “smokescreen” for a broader campaign against a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion, which was approved by the U.S. Representative Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican who chairs the House oversight and government reform committee, described Planned Parenthood’s policy change as “a good, tangible result” of the various House investigations. Planned Parenthood said its fetal-tissue programs took place in only two states — California and Washington — at about a half-dozen of the approximately 700 health centers run by the organization nationwide.

Planned Parenthood’s executive vice-president, Dawn Laguens, said the Washington state affiliate already had a policy of accepting no reimbursement for its costs, and the California affiliate will now follow the same policy. “I don’t think it will have a huge impact on their budget,” Laguens said. “For Planned Parenthood, this was always about one thing – honoring the desire of women to contribute to lifesaving research. It was never about money.” While selling fetal tissue for profit is illegal, a 1993 law passed by Congress with bipartisan support allows women who undergo abortions to donate fetal tissue for use in scientific research. During the three-month controversy over the videos, some of Planned Parenthood’s critics have called for a ban on research using donated fetal tissue.

Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut. “It is curious that, while Planned Parenthood officials maintain there has been no wrongdoing, they still find it necessary to change their policy,” Black said. “Clearly, this was a decision motivated by optics rather than the organization’s conscience.”

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