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New Planned Parenthood video released amid shutdown fight

The anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a new undercover Planned Parenthood video on Tuesday, right in the thick of a GOP debate over whether to risk a government shutdown by blocking funding to the healthcare organization.

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The latest video shows a number of Planned Parenthood officials discussing how issues around the use of fetal tissue could become a public relations problem for the organization. 

“We’re trying to figure this out as an industry, about how we’re going to manage remuneration,” said a woman identified as Deborah VanDerhei, national director for the Consortium of Abortion Providers at Planned Parenthood. “Because the headlines would be a disaster. 

“If you do decide that you want to engage in remuneration, then you need to, like, think that through, and think New York Times headline when you’re creating your policy,” she says.

Eric Ferrero, vice president for communications at Planned Parenthood, called the new release "yet another heavily edited video making false claims about Planned Parenthood."

“Even on this heavily edited video, Planned Parenthood staff are seen making it clear that fetal tissue donation must follow all laws and that there is no 'profit' or financial incentive for fetal tissue donation," he said in a statement.

“For more than a decade, Planned Parenthood has had clear guidance related to fetal tissue donation, which complies with all laws and actually goes well beyond the legal requirements," he added.

The CMP videos have created a storm for Planned Parenthood by repeatedly showing officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue. 

The videos are meant to cast the organization in a negative light, and have even led to some criticism from Democrats.

Planned Parenthood officials have argued the videos are part of a smear campaign. They say the videos show that Planned Parenthood doesn't sell fetal tissue to profit but only to cover expenses, and the group has launched a public relations counteroffensive to buck up support.

It points out that government investigations in several states have found no wrongdoing, and that it only has fetal tissue donation programs in two states, California and Washington.  

Conservatives want to block federal funding for Planned Parenthood as part of a measure to keep the government operating on Oct. 1. Thirty-one House Republicans have backed taking that stand, creating a problem for GOP leaders who worry their party would be blamed for a government shutdown. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats slide in battle for Senate McConnell and wife confronted by customers at restaurant Pelosi, Schumer: Trump 'desperate' to put focus on immigration, not health care MORE (R-Ky.), in an interview with Politico on Friday, called the fight an exercise in futility.

In the new video, officials also say that Planned Parenthood chooses not to have a written policy around the issue of fetal tissue. 

Deborah Nucatola, another Planned Parenthood official, says the organization has answers to common questions about fetal tissue donation, but “we don’t have a policy per se, and that is by choice.”

VanDerhei says other organizations make income through fetal tissue. “We have independent colleagues who generate a fair amount of income doing this,” she says.” And if they have smaller margins or don’t have the ability to fundraise because they’re not a nonprofit, that’s really helpful.”

Another official, Vanessa Russo, identified as a Planned Parenthood official in Pennsylvania, says, “A company like this that wants to give our organization money for the tissue, I think that that’s a valid exchange and that that’s OK. Providing that we are very sensitive to the patient and consent and all of that.” 

--This report was updated at 2:27 p.m.