The controversial reproductive health organization Planned Parenthood has issued an apology on Thursday for the "tone and statements" of one of its senior staff members who appeared in an undercover viral video. The video, produced by an anti-abortion group, implied that the nonprofit sells aborted fetal tissue.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, issued an apology on the organization's website. She contended that no profits are made from fetal tissue donation.
"Our top priority is the compassionate care that we provide," Richards said. "In the video, one of our staff members speaks in a way that does not reflect that compassion."
Although Richards did not mention her name in the video, Letitia Stein of Reuters pointed out that the comments came from Dr. Deborah Nucatola, the organization's senior director of medical services.
"This is unacceptable, and I personally apologize for the staff member's tone and statements," Richards said.
According to Reuters, the controversial video was released on Tuesday by California-based group Center for Medical Progress, which claimed that the footage showed Planned Parenthood's involvement "in the illegal sale of aborted fetuses."
"Widely circulated online, the video already has led to the start of investigations by the judiciary committee and the energy and commerce committee in the House of Representatives," Stein wrote.
Reuters reported that two House Democrats came out to support Planned Parenthood on Thursday. Reps. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan and Steve Cohen of Tennessee issued a joint statement.
"The video does not demonstrate that Planned Parenthood is 'selling' fetal tissue," Conyers and Cohen said.
Richards stood by the organization's work and "lifesaving" research, vowing to keep abortion legal.
"We know the real agenda of organizations behind videos like this," Richards said. "Their mission is to ban abortion completely and cut women off from care at Planned Parenthood and other health centers. We will never let that happen."
According to a report from Fox News, Republicans in both the House and Senate have started several concurrent congressional investigations on Planned Parenthood's practices. House Speaker John Boehner called the video "disgusting" on Thursday, while Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee," wrote a letter to Richards stating that federal law prohibited the "alteration of abortion methods and procedures solely in order to obtain fetal tissue."
"Title IV of the Public Health Service Act says abortion providers cannot alter the 'timing, method, or procedures' used to terminate a pregnancy solely for the purpose of obtaining tissue," Fox News wrote.
Grassley added that in addition to a congressional inquiry on the matter, he sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch about these issues.
"[The discussion] raises questions about whether the actions of abortion providers, and in particular those employed by Planned Parenthood and its affiliates, are consistent with federal law," Grassley wrote.
According to Fox News, Grassley told Lynch that the video raised questions on whether or not Planned Parenthood violated the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.
"I respectfully request that you provide the Committee with a description of any and all actions taken by the Department to ensure compliance with this statute," Grassley wrote.
Fox News pointed out that it has been legal to conduct stem cell research using fetal tissue for decades, provided that the mother gives informed consent about its use and a statement is signed by physicians "promising to adhere to specific guidelines." However, abortion doctors are prohibited from generating revenue "in return for human fetal tissue donations."