Planned Parenthood announced Tuesday that it will no longer accept reimbursement for costs related to donating fetal tissue. The change comes after months of Republican-led efforts to strip the reproductive health provider of its federal funding, though it's unlikely to quiet them. Republicans in Congress launched multiple investigates into the organization in response to secretly recorded videos, released by the anti-abortion group the Center for Medical Progress, showing Planned Parenthood staff discussing the organization's participation in fetal tissue donation programs, including recovering the costs involved with obtaining, preserving, and transporting the tissue.
In a blog post published Tuesday, project lead at Center for Medical Progress David Daleiden called the move an "admission of guilt," but five investigations into Planned Parenthood—in Congress and five states—have closed without finding any wrongdoing.
"If the money Planned Parenthood has been receiving for baby body parts were truly legitimate 'reimbursement,' why cancel it?" Daleiden asked.
Because of a persistent campaign of harassment that is getting in the way of serving patients, according to Planned Parenthood. The group's executive vice president Dawn Laguens said that the change is a reflection of Planned Parenthood's commitment to its patients and medical research.
“This is Planned Parenthood standing strong, saying that we are not going to be bullied, even by five congressional committees, into walking away from important research and women’s desire to donate,” Laguens told the New York Times. “We are not going to stand around getting flogged with false accusation for something that’s never been our motivation to participate in tissue donation.”
There are around 700 Planned Parenthood affiliated clinics in the country; two of them participate in fetal tissue donation programs. Of those two, just one, a health center in California, accepts reimbursement for costs related to fetal tissue donation. The other clinic, in Washington state, does not accept money to recover expenses. So, in total, the change will impact exactly one health center, which, according to Laguens, accounts for less than one-tenth of a percent of its annual budget.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, the Republican leading the current investigation into the organization, released a statement calling the change "a good, tangible result of the collective efforts of the House in investigating Planned Parenthood."
But he also pledged to press on. "It is helpful in taking away some questions surrounding their transactions involving fetal tissue," he continued. "Significant questions still remain about Planned Parenthood’s finances. This decision does not answer the question as to why a non-profit, tax-exempt organization reporting approximately $125M in revenue over expenses annually needs a subsidy from the American taxpayer. The Committee will continue its investigation into Planned Parenthood’s use of federal taxpayer dollars.”