Planned Parenthood's president will tell a House committee Tuesday that she is "proud" of the work her organization does, even as the organization is embroiled in a controversy over videos depicting the sale of fetal tissue.
Cecile Richards will testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform committee Tuesday morning. It will be her first appearance since the scandal erupted this past July.
The ten videos released so far by a group called the Center for Medical Progress capture Planned Parenthood officials casually describing how they sometimes obtain tissue from aborted fetuses for researchers. In one video, a doctor for a Planned Parenthood tissue harvesting partner appears to admit a baby’s “heart actually is still beating” at times following abortions and an ex-procurement tech gives a first-person account of watching a baby’s heart beat before she dissects its brain.
Planned Parenthood foes say the videos show the group breaks federal laws barring for-profit fetal tissue sales and altering abortion procedures to obtain usable organs. Planned Parenthood and its defenders say it's done nothing illegal and says that Daleiden dishonestly edited the videos to distort what was said.
In prepared testimony for her appearance Thursday obtained by Fox News, Richards said Planned Parenthood "is proud of its limited role in supporting fetal tissue research." She said just 1 percent of Planned Parenthood's nearly 700 clinics obtain fetal tissue for researchers seeking disease cures
She also fires back at Center for Medical Progress Project Lead David Daleiden, calling for him to be investigated after she says he "tried unsuccessfully to entrap Planned Parenthood physicians and staff for nearly three years." Daleiden obtained the videos after posing as an executive of a nonexistent firm that buys fetal tissue for scientists.
"It is clear they acted fraudulently and unethically—and perhaps illegally," Richards says. "Yet it is Planned Parenthood, not Mr. Daleiden, that is currently subject to four separate congressional investigations."
So far, the most damage inflicted on Planned Parenthood by the videos is the insensitive way some of its officials discuss the procedures. That has drawn apologies from Planned Parenthood and bitter criticism from Republicans.
Most Democrats have rallied behind the group, and President Barack Obama has threatened to veto GOP legislation cutting its federal money. Public opinion polls show majorities oppose blocking Planned Parenthood's taxpayer dollars. Departing House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., fearing voter anger, have rebuffed conservatives who would shut down the government if Obama doesn't agree to halt Planned Parenthood's money.
The organization receives about a third of its $1.3 billion annual budget, around $450 million, from federal coffers, chiefly reimbursements for treating Medicaid's low-income patients.
Democrats have used a Senate filibuster -- a virtually endless procedural delay -- to block GOP legislation halting Planned Parenthood's federal payments. So two House committees plan to approve filibuster-proof legislation shifting Planned Parenthood's Medicaid funds -- about $350 million -- to community health centers.
The bill would also keep a promise made during this spring's budget debate to repeal key elements of Obama's signature health care law. Panel votes are expected Tuesday and Wednesday.
In addition to the four congressional committee investigations of Planned Parenthood, Boehner has said he will also appoint a special committee to probe the group.
Planned Parenthood has defended itself with newspaper ads, petition campaigns and lawsuits against state efforts to curb its funding. On Tuesday, volunteers and supporters scheduled events in nearly 90 cities and planned to give lawmakers more than 2 million signatures on "I Stand With Planned Parenthood" petitions.
Fox News' Chad Pergram and the Associated Press contributed to this report.