White House defends Planned Parenthood

White House defends Planned Parenthood

White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Wednesday dismissed claims that Planned Parenthood has illegally profited from harvesting fetal tissue, saying the organization holds itself to “the highest ethical standards.”

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Earnest defended Planned Parenthood one day after it was targeted by a second secretly recorded video that appears to show an organization official haggling over prices of fetal organs with a medical research firm.

The footage was filmed by anti-abortion activists from the Center for Medical Progress, which has threatened to release more videos until the government cracks down on Planned Parenthood.

When asked in a news conference whether President Obama had concerns about the video, Earnest pointed concerns about the video's accuracy.

Earnest pointed to media reports that raise "significant concerns about the way those videos were selectively edited to distort not just the words of the individual speaking, but also Planned Parenthood."

“They subscribe [to] and implement the highest ethical standards in carrying out their operations,” he said of the nonprofit health group.  

Republicans have seized on the hidden-camera controversy over the last week and a half.

Two senators running for the GOP presidential nomination, Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Defense: Pompeo blames Iran for oil tanker attacks | House panel approves 3B defense bill | Trump shares designs for red, white and blue Air Force One Senate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales Senate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales MORE (R-Ky.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz, Ocasio-Cortez efforts on birth control access face major obstacles Ocasio-Cortez and Cruz's dialogue shows common ground isn't just for moderates Ted Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists MORE (R-Texas), have threatened to add an amendment to defund Planned Parenthood to this month’s must-pass highway bill.

“Obviously, we do not at all support a measure like that,” Earnest said when asked if the president would sign a bill that included a Planned Parenthood rider, though he stopped short of issuing a specific veto threat.

Earlier Wednesday, 11 Republican senators wrote to the Obama administration urging the Justice and Health and Human Services departments to order investigations into claims of Planned Parenthood’s illegal activity.

Planned Parenthood has strongly denied any wrongdoing implied by the heavily edited videos. Its president, Cecile Richards, apologized for the “tone and statements” of one of its executives, who was filmed in 2013, but argued that the organization does not profit from selling fetal tissue.