NEW YORK — Anti-abortion activists on Tuesday released a second undercover video aimed at discrediting Planned Parenthood's procedures for providing fetal tissue to researchers.
The video shows a woman identified as Dr. Mary Gatter, a Planned Parenthood medical director in California, meeting with people posing as potential buyers of intact fetal specimens. Much of the conversation on the video deals with how much money the buyers should pay.
Federal law prohibits the commercial sale of fetal tissue, but allows not-for-profit donation of tissue if the women who underwent abortions give their consent. Planned Parenthood contends that the payments discussed in the new video, and a similar one released last week, pertain to reimbursement for the costs of procuring the tissue — which is legal.
The woman identified as Gatter says in the video, "We're not in it for the money," while also discussing whether a payment of $100 per specimen would be adequate.
In another portion of the video, she appears to suggest that abortion procedures could be modified in some cases to get more intact fetuses. Under federal law, there should be no alteration in the timing or method of an abortion done solely for the purpose of obtaining fetal tissue.
In a statement, Planned Parenthood said it had not been able verify the authenticity of the video, and declined to discuss it in detail.
"What we see on this tape is a woman who says 'We're not in it for the money,' and that any money must be related to reimbursement for costs," said Planned Parenthood spokesman Eric Ferrero. "It's important to know that the source of these videos is a group of extremists who have intimidated women and doctors for years in their agenda to ban abortion completely."
Following release of the first video on July 14, three congressional committees and top officials in several states said they would launch investigations of Planned Parenthood's handling of fetal tissue. Anti-abortion groups have expressed hope that Congress might cut off federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood for family planning and other non-abortion services
Planned Parenthood, in a letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, depicted the videos as "a campaign of corporate espionage" being orchestrated by anti-abortion activist David Daleiden of the previously little-known Center for Medical Progress. The letter said Daleiden was involved in secretly recording Planned Parenthood staff and patients at least 65 times over the last eight years, potentially yielding thousands of hours of recordings.
Planned Parenthood has staunchly defended its role in procuring fetal tissue for researchers, saying it is important work that could help develop treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Asked about the latest video, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, told reporters that "human fetal tissue research has been very important."
"I see no indication that Planned Parenthood has violated federal law," Reed said.
Anti-abortion leaders, however, have questioned the very nature of the fetal-tissue research.
"Planned Parenthood's selling of the broken bodies of unborn children is inhumane and troubling no matter how any investigation concludes," said Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life. "And if Planned Parenthood's conduct does not violate the federal law prohibiting the sale of fetal tissue and organs, then the law must be changed."