The coordinated attempt to block women's access to health care
Relying on old tactics, anti-abortion activists have leveled a new series of false claims against Planned Parenthood since July 2015. Using heavily edited videos, extremists made now widely discredited and debunked accusations about our practices to facilitate fetal tissue donation at a small number of Planned Parenthood health centers. Opponents of safe and legal abortion are pushing to prevent patients who rely on federal funds from accessing care at Planned Parenthood or pass legislation that would severely curtail access to safe, legal abortion.
There are now five separate congressional committees investigating Planned Parenthood and abortion in the U.S., including a newly created select committee created for that sole purpose. Congress has continued to investigate Planned Parenthood, despite public statements from House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz that he has uncovered no wrongdoing after examining more than thousands pages of material provided by Planned Parenthood to his committee, which is conducting one of the investigations.
To date, Planned Parenthood has produced over 25,000 pages of documents to the five congressional committees. Several states have launched investigations into Planned Parenthood, as well, and every state that has concluded an investigation has found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood.
Despite the fact that a Houston grand jury indicted two of the conspirators behind the videos on criminal charges, over the past nine months politicians in at least 24 states have taken action or threatened to end access to care at Planned Parenthood. To fight back, Planned Parenthood has filed 16 new lawsuits since July, including a federal lawsuit against the people behind the widely discredited videos, charging that anti-abortion activists engaged in an elaborate, illegal conspiracy in order to block women's access to safe and legal abortion.
Throughout these political attacks, Planned Parenthood has made three central facts exceptionally clear
- Fetal tissue donation for medical research has led to lifesaving scientific breakthroughs that have saved millions of people’s lives, and this research has long had bipartisan support.
- Planned Parenthood affiliates in just two states, representing one percent of the organization’s health centers, are involved in fetal tissue research. They are involved in this work because it can improve public health and because their patients have requested it.
- Planned Parenthood has had clear guidance in place for more than a decade to ensure that this work, like every other service Planned Parenthood provides, follows high ethical and medical standards and complies with all laws. Planned Parenthood’s guidance in this area goes above and beyond the legal requirements.
Fetal tissue research has broad support in the research community. If not for the polio vaccine, which was developed from human fetal kidney cells in the 1950s, UNICEF estimates that polio would kill 640,000 people every year. The discovery was so transformative that the 1954 Nobel Prize for medicine was awarded to American immunologists who contributed to its development. In 1993, Congress passed the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act in 1993, which permits all tissue to be used for fetal tissue research, with overwhelming support from the House (290 – 130) and Senate (94-3).
Today academic institutions and teaching hospitals across the country receive federal or private grants to support groundbreaking research using human fetal tissue on a wide range of conditions including diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord injuries, hemophilia, leukemia, sickle cell anemia, cortical blindness, fetal aneuploidy, ALS, and others.
- Read 1988 Commission Report on fetal tissue donation
- Read a letter from Janet Heinrich, director of health care - public health issues, at the Government Accountability Office to the Senate Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education on the use of fetal tissue in research (10/4/00)
- Read Frequently Asked Questions on Fetal Tissue Research from the Congressional Research Service (7/31/15)
- Read the letter from Jim Esquea, assistant secretary for legislation at the Department of Health and Human Services, to Senators Joni Ernst and Roy Blunt explaining the current legislation and federal funding for fetal tissue research (8/14/15)
- Read an open letter signed by 41 leading scientists who conduct research using fetal tissue offering support for the patients, physicians, and researchers that contribute to this vital work (10/14/15)
- Read an open letter signed by over 50 of the nation’s leading research institutions expressing grave concerns over attempts to restrict fetal tissue research (11/3/15)
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood has continued to focus on providing high-quality, compassionate health care, thereby retaining its position as one of the nation’s top charities.
- Read from experts about the essential role Planned Parenthood plays in providing care across America
- Read more about the vast majority of Americans who support Planned Parenthood
- Read more about Planned Parenthood’s services in its annual report, and find its audited financial statement and IRS 990 forms
- Read more about the services Planned Parenthood provides and the communities we serve
Additional key documents on this issue and ongoing investigations
- Letter from Roger Evans, Planned Parenthood’s senior counsel, to Congress regarding history of harassment and attacks by anti-abortion opponents (7/20/15)
- Letter from Roger Evans, Planned Parenthood’s Senior Counsel, to Congress regarding the second heavily edited and misleading video released by anti-abortion opponents (7/21/15) (5/2015)
- Letter from Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, to Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), urging an assessment of fetal tissue research to be led by medical experts (7/27/15)
- Letter from Jim Esquea, assistant secretary for legislation at the Department of Health and Human Services, to Senators Joni Ernst and Roy Blunt explains the current legislation and federal funding for fetal tissue research (8/14/15)
- Letter from Cecile Richards to congressional leadership detailing the forensic report on the deceptively edited videos attacking planned parenthood (8/27/15)
- Democrats request committees suspend their “one-sided” investigations into Planned Parenthood (9/3/15)
- Commentary about the research by Alta Charo, J.D., a leading bioethicist, published in the New England Journal of Medicine (9/3/15)
- Report prepared by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates as many as 650,000 women could face reduced access and 390,000 women would lose access to preventive health care in the first year if Congress were to succeed in blocking Medicaid patients from seeking care at Planned Parenthood health centers (9/16/15)
- Letter from Keith Hall, director of CBO, to Representative Kevin McCarthy, Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, projecting the net cost to taxpayers of barring Planned Parenthood from Medicaid would be $130 million over 10 years because of an increase in unintended pregnancies without the high-quality contraceptive care Planned Parenthood provides (9/22/15)
- Cecile Richards’ Written Testimony before the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee (9/29/15)
- Letter from Cecile Richards to Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announcing the handful of Planned Parenthood health centers involved in fetal tissue research will no longer accept reimbursement in order to take away any basis for attacking Planned Parenthood in this area (10/13/15)
- Commentary by Planned Parenthood’s Chief Medical Officer in the New England Journal of Medicine, arguing that the recent smear campaign is a political effort to ban abortion in the U.S. (10/14/15)
- Open letter signed by 41 leading scientists who conduct research using fetal tissue offering support for the patients, physicians, and researchers that contribute to this vital work (10/14/15)
- Letter from Cecile Richards to House Speaker Paul Ryan asking for justification of further congressional investigations (10/30/15)