By Sarah Ferris - 07/16/15 02:06 PM EDT
The president of Planned Parenthood on Thursday apologized for the “tone and statements” of its chief medical officer, whose candid comments about fetal organ removal have generated heavy attacks against the organization.
“Our top priority is the passionate care that we provide. In our video, one of our staff members speaks in a way that does not reflect that compassion,” president Cecile Richards said in a video statement released Thursday afternoon.
“This is unacceptable, and I personally apologize for the staff member’s tone and statements,” she said.
Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services, was filmed discussing the demand for fetal organs such as livers, lungs and “intact” hearts. The video has racked up more than 1.5 million views since it was released Tuesday.
Nucatola has since been "reprimanded," vice president of communications Eric Ferrero wrote in a statement to The Hill, though the organization declined to provide specifics.
The secretly recorded video, which depicts Nucatola sipping wine over lunch, was created by anti-abortion advocates who posed as buyers from a medical research company.
Since its release, two congressional committees and multiple states have launched investigations into the organization’s fetal tissue donation process.
Planned Parenthood has released more than a dozen pages of counterattacks against what they called a “smear video” filmed by abortion opponents who want to permanently ban the procedure.
In the video, Richards also doubles down on her defense of fetal tissue donation — which she said contributes to “life-saving research.” She said the donations are only done with the woman’s consent and never for profit.
“I want to be really clear. The allegation that Planned Parenthood profits in any way from tissue donation is not true,” Richards adds.
— Updated at 5:14 p.m.