Beleaguered abortion provider Planned Parenthood announced Tuesday it would no longer accept money from researchers for aborted baby parts, citing a desire to defang “an anti-abortion political agenda” in the wake of a series of undercover videos that appear to show the organization profited from fetal organ sales.
Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards revealed the policy shift in a letter to Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health. Planned Parenthood has maintained it only recoups its own expenses for harvesting and donating fetal tissue, the actual sale of which is barred by federal law.
“In order to completely debunk the disingenuous argument that our opponents have been using – and to reveal the true political purpose of these attacks – our Federation has decided, going forward, that any Planned Parenthood health center that is involved in donating tissue after an abortion for medical research will…accept no reimbursement for its reasonable expenses,” Richards wrote.
While it is legal for clinics to be reimbursed for any expenses incurred during the donation process, a series of undercover videos produced by an anti-abortion activist group have suggested that Planned Parenthood may actually profit from the sale of body parts, which would be illegal.
The project lead of the Center for Medical Progress, the group behind the undercover videos that shed light on the organ harvesting, called Richards' letter "an admission of guilt" in a statement to FoxNews.com.
"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," David Daleiden said in the statement.
Richards’ letter said the procedural change will only affect one Planned Parenthood clinic. She stated that there are “two affiliates currently facilitating donations for fetal tissue research,” one of which doesn’t accept reimbursement.
“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 wrote, referencing the law which legalized fetal tissue research on aborted babies.
Some candidates seeking the Republican presidential nomination have loudly voiced their opposition to Planned Parenthood's practices, particularly Carly Fiorina.
"This organization is continuing to butcher babies for their body parts while mocking pregnancy centers and taking taxpayer dollars," Fiorina said in a statement to FoxNews.com. "This is about the character of our nation."
Congress has jumped in too, grilling Richards during a hearing about Planned Parenthood in September. Several in Congress also have called for revoking the roughly $500 million in annual funding Planned Parenthood receives from Washington.
"Significant questions still remain about Planned Parenthood's finances," Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-UT, said in a statement. Chaffetz is the chairman of the committee investigating Planned Parenthood. "This decision does not answer the question as to why a non-profit, tax-exempt organization reporting approximately $125M in revenue over expenses annually needs a subsidy from the American taxpayer."
Chaffetz said the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee would continue it's investigation, undercutting any attempt by Richards to inoculate her organization from future attacks. Still the letter could serve to stifle what has become a potent social rallying cry on the political right in the early run-up to the primaries.
“Our decision is first and foremost about preserving the ability of our patients to donate tissue, and to expose our opponents’ false charges about this limited but important work,” Richards wrote.