Planned Par­ent­hood, for an un­planned video

The Washington Post Sunday - - OUTLOOK - By Chris Cil­lizza Have a can­di­date for the worst week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cil­lizza at chris.cil­lizza@wash­post.com.

It’s never a good look to be sip­ping red wine while dis­cussing the costs as­so­ci­ated with fe­tal tis­sue culled from abor­tions. But that’s the sit­u­a­tion Planned Par­ent­hood found it­self in this past week af­ter a se­nior of­fi­cial was se­cretly taped by the Cen­ter for Med­i­cal Progress. (On its Web site, the CMP calls it­self a “group of citizen jour­nal­ists,” but it op­poses abor­tion and quite clearly has an agenda in these mat­ters.)

In the video, two CMP ac­tivists pos­ing as rep­re­sen­ta­tives of a biotech firm ask about the costs as­so­ci­ated with buy­ing spe­cific spec­i­mens of fe­tal tis­sue. The Planned Par­ent­hood of­fi­cial says costs range from $30 to $100.

At is­sue is whether the Planned Par­ent­hood doc­tor was ref­er­enc­ing the costs as­so­ci­ated with trans­port­ing the tis­sues or the price of the tis­sues them­selves. The first type of charge is le­gal, the sec­ond isn’t — if Planned Par­ent­hood prof­its from the sale.

Repub­li­cans quickly leaped on the video, de­nounc­ing the doc­tor’s cal­lous­ness and Planned Par­ent­hood’s al­leged prof­i­teer­ing in one fell swoop. Pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Jeb Bush called it “a shock­ing and hor­rific re­minder that we must do so much more to foster a cul­ture of life in Amer­ica.”

Ce­cile Richards, pres­i­dent of Planned Par­ent­hood, re­leased a video Thurs­day amid the hub­bub, apol­o­giz­ing for the tone of the em­ployee but de­fend­ing her or­ga­ni­za­tion’s prac­tices. “This is un­ac­cept­able, and I per­son­ally apol­o­gize for the staff mem­ber’s tone and state­ments,” Richards said. “The al­le­ga­tion that Planned Par­ent­hood prof­its in any way from tis­sue do­na­tion is not true.”

No mat­ter. A con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tion had al­ready been launched in re­sponse to the un­der­cover video, en­sur­ing that Planned Par­ent­hood and its prac­tices will be front and cen­ter in the days to come.

Planned Par­ent­hood, for be­ing flip about aborted fe­tuses, you had the worst week in Washington. Con­grats, or some­thing.

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