President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Cecile Richards dismissed critics as extremists Wednesday in the wake of videos showing how the group harvests fetal organs.
“Since our very beginning, our health centers, providers and patients have come under outrageous attacks, political and otherwise,” Cecile wrote in an opinion piece for The Washington Post. “The most recent attacks in this decades-long campaign represent a new low.”
It all began July 14 when the first of several videos surfaced showing Planned Parenthood employees discussing abortions. In the first video, Dr. Deborah Nucatola was shot without her knowledge casually discussing, over a salad, how the organization harvests fetal organs after an abortion.
“These extremists created a fake business, made apparently misleading corporate filings and then used false government identifications to gain access to Planned Parenthood’s medical and research staff with the agenda of secretly filming without consent,” Cecile continued. “Then heavily edited the footage to make false and absurd assertions about our standards and services.”
The videos prompted a national backlash. It also renewed calls to end federal funding to the group. The footage was produced by the Center for Medical Progress as part of a three-year investigative effort. Nucatola talked to undercover actors she thought were buyers from a human biologics company.
“While predictably these videos do not show anything illegal on Planned Parenthood’s part, medical and scientific conversations can be upsetting to hear,” Cecile also noted. “I immediately apologized for the tone that was used, which did not reflect the compassion that people have come to know and expect from Planned Parenthood.”
With the increased criticism and calls to defund the organization, supporters of Planned Parenthood have also come out in force. Politicians, labor unions and many within the media have tried to defend the group or just downplay the videos. The media was even criticized by feminist author and former Planned Parenthood member Camille Paglia for its lack of professional and fair coverage.
“While our opponents have been working to create scandal and panic where none exists, doctors and nurses at Planned Parenthood health centers have continued to provide care to thousands,” Cecile went onto say. “Whose efforts are doing more to help families and make our country healthier?”
The whole thing is also shaping up to be a prominent 2016 election issue. Last week, Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul introduced an amendment to cut off federal support to the group. His primary rivals Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have also condemned the videos. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on the other hand has defended the group. She argued the organization is important because it offers services and medical research opportunities.
“Whether Congress chooses to stand with extremists or with the women of the United States is up to them,” Cecile concluded. “Planned Parenthood will always stand with our patients and protect the rights of every woman to access care. Today, we need the American people to stand with them too.”
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