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Planned Parenthood health centers have a new policy: no more reimbursement for tissue donation.

Since July, an extreme anti-abortion group has been trying to smear Planned Parenthood, following the same bankrupt pattern of deceptively edited videos and close coordination with anti women’s health politicians. Their attacks are baseless, and clearly about one thing — ending safe and legal abortion in America (the congressional hearing a couple of weeks ago helped make clear this is all part of a political agenda, as did the announcement of a special committee to investigate Planned Parenthood).

To remove any shadow of a doubt that this is about Planned Parenthood’s practices related to fetal tissue donation, which happens at just 1% of Planned Parenthood health centers, Planned Parenthood is going one step farther to take away the anti-abortion movement’s grounds for attacking its limited work in fetal tissue donation. Hence, Planned Parenthood's new policy: no more reimbursement for tissue donation.

What You Need to Know About Tissue Donation

This has never been about the money — donating tissue is about providing the best care to Planned Parenthood's patients, many of whom request the opportunity to donate tissue after an abortion to medical research. One affiliate already took  no reimbursement for things like storage, or travel to a university research center — reasonable expenses for which reimbursement is completely  within the law — and moving forward we will be expanding that policy to any affiliate that does this work.

Planned Parenthood is proud of the health centers that participate in tissue donation research. It's been said over and over again — in the news, in the New England Journal of Medicine, in a letter from over 40 of the nation’s leading medical institutions — that fetal tissue samples are unlike any other cell research, helping scientists find cures for a host of diseases. More importantly, women who visit Planned Parenthood health centers for safe and legal abortion regularly express a desire to donate tissue for research.  

That’s why we still support the practice.  

Background on Tissue Donation at Planned Parenthood Health Centers

  • How it works: Women who visit Planned Parenthood health centers for safe and legal abortion regularly express a desire to donate tissue for research. Health centers may offer this opportunity if researchers in their area request tissue from them.

  • Who does the work: Three Planned Parenthood health centers in three states (California, Washington, and Oregon) are involved in tissue donation — two for fetal tissue research and one for placenta research. Of these, two work directly with research institutions, and one works with a nonprofit that facilitates the donation.

  • What changed: One of the two affiliates involved in fetal tissue research takes no reimbursement at all. That affiliate’s practice is now Planned Parenthood’s national standard.

Planned Parenthood’s New Policy

Planned Parenthood officially made the policy change public this morning when Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards sent a letter to the National Institutes of Health to inform them of it.  Why make the change? To remove, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the ludicrous idea that Planned Parenthood has any financial interest in tissue donation.

Planned Parenthood will manage without getting reimbursed for these costs.

But many people cannot manage without access to high-quality, affordable, reproductive health care. And that’s exactly what the anti-abortion extremists behind the videos want: to defund Planned Parenthood and block patients from getting the health care they need.

Congress and the Agenda to Outlaw Abortion

Here’s the big picture. By taking any questions about money off the table, we aim to lift the smokescreen that both extremists and politicians have been using to attack Planned Parenthood. In doing so, we’ll lay bare their real agenda: to take away access to safe, legal abortion — and, ultimately, to outlaw it completely.

To see why, let’s go down the list of politically motivated happenings so far:

  • From the beginning of the summer, it was painfully obvious that certain politicians were in cahoots with the extremists behind the videos.

  • Then, Not 1, not 2, but FIVE (yes: FIVE) congressional committees are now investigating Planned Parenthood based on false claims that have been totally discredited. The chair of one committee, Congressman Jason Chaffetz has said twice that he has found no evidence of wrongdoing.

  • When those national investigations plus other state-level investigations turned up not even a shred of evidence to back up the videos’ false claims, politicians kept the witch hunt going.

  • By the time of the third congressional hearing on Planned Parenthood, it was clear that neither Planned Parenthood (who wasn’t invited) nor fetal tissue donation was on trial. Rather, safe and legal abortion was — and all the time given to longtime anti-abortion activists during the hearing proves it.

Despite having nothing to back up their claims, the politicians who have been attacking Planned Parenthood likely will unfortunately continue. And that will show, once and for all, that these attacks have nothing to do with concern over fetal tissue donation — and everything to do with outlawing abortion in the United States

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