By Dave Andrusko
In a letter widely distributed to the media, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards has written Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, announcing that PPFA will no longer accept reimbursement for the fetal tissue (a term which includes whole body parts) it provides to medical researchers.
In the letter, dated today, Richards tells Dr. Collins that PPFA has done nothing wrong in its fetal tissue procurement program–PPFA “adheres to the highest legal, medical, and ethical standards,” she insists– but will no longer accept reimbursement “in order to completely debunk the disingenuous argument that our opponents have been using.”
Once that “smokescreen” is removed, Richards writes, the ‘extremists’” agenda will be exposed and PPFA will be able to push “forward with our important work on behalf of millions of women, men, and young people.”
Richards recycles several of PPFA’s most prominent talking points. For example, “Our role in fetal tissue research is an extremely small part of what we do. In fact, just 1% of our health centers currently facilitate tissue donation for fetal tissue research.”
In English that means that of the roughly 700 PPFA clinics, six or seven clinics in two states (Washington and California) are involved in harvesting aborted babies. Planned Parenthood’s executive vice president, Dawn Laguens told reporters that the Washington state affiliate already accepts no reimbursements, a policy the California affiliate will now adhere to.
Let’s think about that. In the tenth undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, there is a very telling exchange between Vanessa Russo, the Compliance Program Administrator for Planned Parenthood, Keystone, Pennsylvania, and Deborah VanDerhei, the national director for the Consortium of Abortion Providers at PPFA.
In the video Russo is transparently impatient with anything or anyone that gets in the way of harvesting fetal tissue/intact baby body organs. She tells VanDerhei, “I feel like we’re sometimes bullied by ridiculous laws and this media that doesn’t understand the big picture.”
VanDerhei demurs and says (referring to a conference they were attending)
I don’t think anybody was suggesting that you curtail. The message to me, that I heard today, was, “Go for it.” We think it’s a great idea. Just do it right.
To which Russo responds
Exactly, and I understand that. But like, a company like this [the pretend buyer] that wants to pay us, that wants to give our organization money for the tissue, I think that that’s a valid exchange.
Later VenDerhei adds for emphasis [the “Roger” is Roger Evans, head of Litigation and Law for PPFA]
Because Roger said, “I’m gonna say a number of things and I only want you to go away with one message: I think this is a good idea. Now, here’s what you need to look out for,” and at the end of it, he said, “And I just want to reiterate, I think this is a good idea.”
The point simply being before the CMP videos, there was evidently plenty of interest in expanding their “fetal tissue” involvement. Will that continue unabated? Nothing in the letter suggests otherwise.
In Richards’ letter (which can be read here], she insists
As the nation’s leading women’s health care provider, our promise to both our patients and the medical community is that we will never bow to political pressure and we will never back down from advancing women’s health every way we can.
Which means that out of the goodness of their hearts, they will continue to harvest fetal tissue and fetal body parts. “Our decision is first and foremost about preserving the ability of our patients to donate tissue,” Richards writes, “and to expose our opponents’ false charges about this limited but important work.”
And just to make sure everyone understands how little in the way of reimbursement the clinics in the two state affiliates have received, Laguens added, “I don’t think it will have a huge impact on their budget.”
Two closing points. Nothing in this pity party/self-congratulatory letter addresses what shocked virtually everyone (other than pro-abortion Democrats on various committees): the callous, brutal, wholly cavalier attitude displayed by assorted PPFA officials and the lab assistants who scavenged the remains of recently aborted babies.
Second, while Richards extols the wonderfulness of the nation’s largest abortion provider, it begs the question raised in House committee hearings: why shouldn’t federal family planning money go to federally qualified health centers which don’t perform abortions?
And, by the way, is Richards going to answer the question asked at one of the hearings — how many affiliates receive a majority of their revenue from abortion, and who are they?
And is Richards going to…clarify her remark that PPFA doesn’t provide abortions after viability?
As NRLC’s director of Education Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon wrote in 2013: “The truth is that Planned Parenthood clinics advertise and perform abortions well into the second trimester, even up to 24 weeks (with hints it can ‘help’ if the woman is even more advanced).”
Moreover, is she going to acknowledge that live births can occur a month or more before “viability”? (Note that a recent New England Journal of Medicine study found that 23% of infants are surviving at 22 weeks of pregnancy [20 weeks after fertilization] with treatment.)
Richards’ letter is intended to deflect attention away from all this and much, much more.
Nice try, but it won’t work.