WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) – White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a briefing July 22 President Obama will resist congressional efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.
Earnest was asked for the White House's response to an amendment offered earlier in the day to a highway and transportation funding bill by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). That amendment would defund more than $500 million sent to Planned Parenthood annually.
Sen. Paul said in a statement that the "continued disregard and disrespect for human life" shown by the abortion provider is "shocking and appalling."
"Recent video revelations, involving potentially criminal activity, make it more obvious than ever that this organization has absolutely zero respect for the sanctity of human life and is an affront to the most basic human dignity enshrined in our founding documents. Not one more taxpayer dollar should go to Planned Parenthood and I intend to make that goal a reality," Sen. Paul said.
I have read the reports, and I'm confident that [the president] has, too, raising significant concerns about the way in which those videos were selectively edited to distort not just the words of the individual speaking, but also the position of Planned Parenthood. They have made very clear that they subscribe to the highest -- they subscribe and implement the highest ethical standards in carrying out their operations. So for questions about that, I'd refer you to Planned Parenthood, obviously.
Earnest said the White House does "not at all support a measure like that."
"And you've heard me take a pretty dim view in the past of ideological riders that are unrelated to the baseline bill, and I think, in this case, that rider that seems to be floated by Senator Paul would fall into that category," Earnest said.
Earnest told reporters he had not discussed with the president the videos, in which two separate Planned Parenthood physicians – both national leaders – discussed the sale of fetal tissue. One of the physicians, Deborah Nucatola, described how she could "crush above" and "crush below" to preserve the fetus's heart, lungs and liver for sale. The other physician, Mary Gatter, said she had not discussed compensation for fetal tissue in a while but, she said, "I want a Lamborghini."
Earnest also said:
"I have read the reports, and I'm confident that [the president] has, too, raising significant concerns about the way in which those videos were selectively edited to distort not just the words of the individual speaking, but also the position of Planned Parenthood. They have made very clear that they subscribe to the highest -- they subscribe and implement the highest ethical standards in carrying out their operations. So for questions about that, I'd refer you to Planned Parenthood, obviously."
Earnest's explanation of the videos parroted the statement from Planned Parenthood's Eric Ferrero, the group's communications director, who said the videos were "heavily-edited" and meant to falsely portray the abortion provider's "participation in tissue donation programs that support lifesaving scientific research." Ferrero also said the abortion provider works to maintain "the highest ethical and legal standards" in its work.
In addition to Paul, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) has also introduced legislation to defund Planned Parenthood.
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood is seeking to get out in front of the next video from the Center for Medical Progress, which has claimed to have as many as a dozen videos showing Planned Parenthood physicians potentially breaking the law.
In a July 20 letter to Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Planned Parenthood's senior legal counsel said the group expected more "heavily edited" videos and "false portrayals" of its activities.
Roger K. Evans claimed in the letter Congress should be seeking to investigate the "deplorable and possibly unlawful actions" of the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress, instead of Planned Parenthood.
"We don't know what the Center will release next, but we know enough to be deeply concerned about the infiltration of Planned Parenthood and its affiliates," Evans said.
"The head of the Center of Medical Progress is David Daleiden, who previously worked for the discredited anti-abortion group Live Action. Over the last eight years, Mr. Daleiden has participated in at least 10 separate attacks on Planned Parenthood involving gaining access to our health centers and offices under false pretenses, taping staff (and sometimes patients) without their knowledge on at least 65 occasions (not counting this latest fraud), and misleading the public with heavily edited tapes and flat-out false charges. In fact, the extremist ties of this latest effort stretch beyond Mr. Daleiden and Live Action."
If Congress does not intervene in the Center's "illicit conduct" and acts of "corporate espionage," Evans hinted that the lives of abortion doctors may be put at risk.
"According to published reports, Troy Newman is registered as a board member for the Center for Medical Progress. Mr. Newman is the head of Operation Rescue, which harassed Dr. George Tiller for a decade until, again according to published reports, one of the group's members murdered Dr. Tiller in his church."
Evans said the fetal tissue procurement company the Center posed as, Biomax, was present at Planned Parenthood's national medical conferences and had obtained access to a "highly sensitive" area in Planned Parenthood facility under false pretenses. Evans warned that the next video may feature this area where "tissue is processed after abortion procedures."
"It is inexcusable that [Planned Parenthood doctors and employees] too often have to fear for their personal safety – and the safety of their families and their patients – because of the likes of Mr. Daleiden and Mr. Newman. Our organization and the women they serve should not be subject to these recurring, deceptive, malicious attacks in some of the most intimate and confidential health care situations imaginable," Evans said.
At least four Democrat lawmakers agree. According the RH Reality Check, a pro-abortion advocacy group, Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), and Yvette Clarke (D-NY) penned a letter on Tuesday to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and California Attorney General Kamala Harris asking them to expose the Center for Medical Progress's "elaborate, multi-year scheme to impersonate corporate officials from a fake biologics company."
Most pro-abortion advocacy groups have been relatively quiet since the release of the undercover videos.
However, on July 22 NARAL Pro-Choice America finally released a statement in support of Planned Parenthood. In it, NARAL's Senior Vice President Sasha Bruce said millions of women trust the abortion provider and fear the undercover videos will "cut women off from care at Planned Parenthood and other health centers."
Bruce's statement, like those from Planned Parenthood and the White House, also referenced the alleged "heavily edited videos" and the "deceit and manipulation" of the Center for Medical Progress.
The Center has published edited and full versions of both videos, as well as transcripts of the conversations between actors portraying Biomax employees and the employees of Planned Parenthood.