VIDEO sting: sale of human tissue from aborted foetuses
A VIDEO has emerged of two actors posing as representatives of a human biologics company allegedly being offered foetal body parts over a business lunch with a senior director of a not-for-profit family planning NGO.
In the video, Deborah Nucatola, a senior director of medical services at Planned Parenthood, can be heard discussing the best way to handle aborted foetal tissue to protect it.
"We've been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I'm not gonna crush that part, I'm gonna basically crush below," she says.
The video - which has had more than 1.2 million views - has been leaped on by Republicans, who have accused Planned Parenthood of profiting from the sale of foetal tissue. At least one Republican presidential candidate, Bobby Jindal, has called for an investigation.
Planned Parenthood is the US affiliate of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, a global NGO with the aim of promoting sexual and reproductive health and advocates reproductive freedom for individuals.
Warning: this video contains footage that some may find upsetting
In a statement, the group said the "highly edited" video was designed to damage its reputation.
"Similar false accusations have been put forth by opponents of abortion services for decades," it said. "These groups have been widely discredited and their claims fall apart on closer examination, just as they do in this case."
It said it never profited from the sale of foetal material but defended the donation of tissues and organs from abortions.
"At several of our health centres, we help patients who want to donate tissue for scientific research, and we do this just like every other high-quality health care provider does - with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards," it said.
The video was produced by the California-based Centre for Medical Progress, a so-called "citizen journalist group" which released it in collaboration with several national anti-abortion organisations. The project's leader, David Daleiden, has been involved in a number of anti-abortion campaigns and has previously targeted Planned Parenthood.
"Elected officials must listen to the public outcry for Planned Parenthood to be held accountable to the law and for our tax dollars to stop underwriting this barbaric abortion business," he said.
Jon O'Brien, the president of pro-choice group Catholics for Choice said he believed the release of the video was part of a broader culture war playing out in the US over issues such as abortion. He said activists such as Mr Daleiden were trying to end government funding for groups such as Planned Parenthood.
"They are abusing the media with this video," he said of Mr Daleiden's group. "And the more the sensational they make it, the better it is for them. It is designed to smear a reputable group that is trying to help poor women."