The XX Factor

Planned Parenthood Stops All Reimbursement for Fetal Tissue Donations

Cecile Richards defended Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue donation practices before Congress last month.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Planned Parenthood announced Tuesday that it will no longer accept any reimbursement for the fetal tissue it supplies to medical researchers, a move to distance itself from recent political attacks.

In a letter to the director of the National Institutes of Health, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards wrote that though reimbursement for procuring fetal tissue for research purposes is legal, she intends to “completely debunk the disingenuous argument that our opponents have been using—and to reveal the true political purpose of these attacks.”

Richards’ letter is a response to videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, which purported to show a Planned Parenthood representative selling fetal parts for profit. In fact, the money Planned Parenthood receives in exchange for fetal tissue isn’t enough for the organization to break even. (Just 1 percent of Planned Parenthood clinics offer fetal tissue donation.) The organization’s policies were already more conservative than the legal parameters set forth in the 1993 legislation that allowed federal funding for fetal tissue research.

But since these facts have failed to convince pro-lifers and members of Congress to lay off the witch hunt, Richards hopes a policy change will let Planned Parenthood get back to its business of providing affordable health care and family planning services. “The outrageous claims that have been made against Planned Parenthood, which have been widely discredited and debunked, are the worst kind of political interference in women’s health,” Richards writes. “The real goal of these extremists has nothing to do with our fetal tissue donation compliance process but is instead to ban abortion in the U.S. and block women from getting any health care from Planned Parenthood.”

The hubbub over the fetal tissue videos and their aftermath has spawned a proposed fetal-tissue research ban in Wisconsin, and copycat legislation will likely pop up in other states and Congress as election season nears. Richards ends her letter with a plea for the NIH to share its information on how valuable such research can be to modern medicine. But if the right’s specious reasoning over fetal tissue in the past few months has taught us anything, it’s that in abortion politics, logic and medical arguments don’t hold much weight.