On September 9, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing, “Planned Parenthood: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation’s Largest Abortion Provider.” The hearing follows the controversial release of several videos involving affiliates of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and discussion of the availability of fetal tissue for medical research.
Priscilla J. Smith, associate research scholar in law, senior fellow and director, Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice, Yale Law School, said, “The videos misrepresent the terms of the federal fetal tissue statute by citing the first portion of the statute outlawing the ‘transfer [of] any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration’…without including the statutory section providing that ‘valuable consideration’ does not include ‘reasonable’ payments reimbursing costs. It then leaves the misleading impression that Planned Parenthood is violating the law by juxtaposing the text of the ban on ‘valuable consideration’ with a discussion of financial reimbursement for fetal tissue donation, without mentioning the allowance for reasonable reimbursements. Planned Parenthood states that any ‘[a]ffiliates involved with fetal tissue research comply with the requirement that any reimbursement associated with fetal tissue donation must be reimbursement for actual expenses,’ and nothing in the videos contradicts that statement…In fact, the longer versions of the videos include multiple explicit statements declining any payment beyond reimbursement for costs.”
“In justifying use of fetal tissue in research, those supporting such research have emphasized the need for ‘safeguards’ in a vain attempt to separate induced abortion from the procurement of fetal tissue for research,” said James Bopp, Jr., general counsel, National Right to Life. Mr. Bopp continued, “One such ‘safeguard’ is to prohibit ‘payments and other forms of remuneration and compensation associated with the procurement of fetal tissue…except payments for reasonable expenses occasioned by the actual retrieval, storage, preparation, and transportation of the tissues.’ The Fetal Tissue Transplantation Research Panel viewed it as ‘essential that there be no offer of financial incentives or personal gain to encourage abortion or donation of fetal tissue.’ However, the federal law authorizing the funding of such research went beyond the strict limits recommended by the Panel. The ‘reasonable payments’ authorized by federal law are quite broad, going beyond Planned Parenthood’s actual costs and clearly providing financial incentives to abortion clinics. This promotes substantial abuse as evidenced by multiple conversations recorded by [the] CMP [Center for Medical Progress].”
The following witnesses also testified: