WASHINGTON — The president of Planned Parenthood said her organization's clinics never adjust the abortion procedure to better preserve fetal organs for medical research and that the organization's charges cover only the cost of transmission to researchers.
Planned Parenthood has come under congressional scrutiny after the release of two stealthily recorded videos that showed officials discussing how they provide aborted fetal organs for research. Abortion opponents say the videos show the organization is illegally harvesting and selling organs. Three congressional committees are making inquiries.
Planned Parenthood's president, Cecile Richards, said Sunday the group has done nothing illegal and is the target of a political smear campaign.
"I stand behind the health care that we provide at Planned Parenthood. Women trust Planned Parenthood," Richards said. "And I look forward to anyone who wants to look into our policies and procedures."
Richards appeared on ABC's "This Week." It was her first Sunday talk show appearance since a group called the Center for Medical Progress released two videos secretly recorded in 2014 and 2015 by people posing as buyers of fetal tissue. The videos were part of longer discussions, and Richards said the longer videos showed doctors repeatedly saying that Planned Parenthood does not profit from the tissue donations.
In the videos, Planned Parenthood officials discuss the amounts the group charges to provide the organs and the abortion procedures used to obtain the organs. The officials, Richards said, were reprimanded for the tone they used. She also called those who released the video "nothing but militant anti-abortion extremists."
David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress issued a statement saying Planned Parenthood will attack him and his organization, but that does not change what he said the investigation uncovered, "an enterprise-wide operation that traffics and sells baby parts." He told ABC that 10 to 12 more tapes would be released.
Richards said fetal organ donation takes place in a handful of states and that the tissue goes toward medical research.
"This is actually laudable, that women and their families choose to make fetal tissue donations in order to potentially save the lives of other folks," Richards said.