MSNBC Helps Planned Parenthood Spin End of 'Reimbursement' for Baby Parts

On Tuesday's Live with Thomas Roberts, the MSNBC host relayed the recent decision by Planned Parenthood to no longer seek "reimbursement" for tissue from aborted fetuses. Roberts noted that the criticism against Planned Parenthood’s operation were due to the “highly edited, undercover videos from an anti-abortion group.”

Prior coverage by NewsBusters on this angle has shown that "highly edited" or "doctored" narrative to be false, but that didn’t stop Roberts. Roberts asked NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell if the move was simply to “calm critics out there and ease pressure off of Planned Parenthood?”

O’Donnell replied that after a “heated summer of rhetoric” Planned Parenthood was seeking a way to alleviate the pressure of those "highly edited" videos, O’Donnell helpfully read from the official press release by Planned Parenthood. 

“This removes beyond the shadow of a doubt the ludicrous idea that Planned Parenthood has any financial interest in fetal tissue donation and shows the real agenda behind these attacks. This policy takes away the smokescreen that extremists have been using to attack Planned Parenthood and lays bare their real agenda.” 

She added the House Oversight Committee saw the action as a fitting result from its inquiry.

Finally, O’Donnell pointed out that the scrutiny by House Oversight Committee is on the need of federal funding for an “organization, which is a nonprofit, but also shows according to the committee a revenue stream of about $125 million a year.” The point of that review is to see whether “an organization that is able to generate income and get donations really need federal help in terms of direct grants to the organization.” Roberts finished the segment by commenting, “Yes, we will see if this is truly a compromise for all sides.”

See the relevant transcript below.

2015-10-13, MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts

THOMAS ROBERTS: Now to a big development in the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood. The organization announcing today that while it will continue to donate fetal tissue for medical research, it will no longer accept reimbursement for it. The organization was recently criticized after highly edited undercover videos from an anti-abortion group spurred angry backlash from Republicans. NBC's Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O’Donnell joins me with more on this. And Kelly, is this just a way to calm critics out there and ease the pressure off of Planned Parenthood and potential federal funding?

KELLY O’DONNELL: I think that's exactly right Thomas. By removing this one issue from a very controversial set of facts and a heated summer of rhetoric, this could be a way for Planned Parenthood to take some of the pressure off. So Cecile Richards wrote to the National Institutes of Health to explain this change in policy. The law does allow for reimbursement of reasonable costs associated when fetal tissue from an abortion is donated for medical science. And the organization has done that in a limited way over time and that came out through those videos that you referenced. They're not going to do that any longer. The organization had also some strong words in a written statement today, saying that this removes beyond the shadow of a doubt, the ludicrous idea that Planned Parenthood has any financial interest in fetal tissue donation and shows the real agenda behind these attacks. This policy takes away the smokescreen that extremists have been using to attack Planned Parenthood and lays bare their real agenda. Now from the other side Thomas, I have just heard back from the House Oversight committee, the republican-led committee that's doing some of the investigation into Planned Parenthood, and they describe this as a good and tangible result of the inquiry that's been going on. And one of the issues, in addition to those who just under any circumstances oppose abortion rights, that has been part of what has fueled this, but beyond that, the Republican committee has been looking at the federal funding to the organization, which is a nonprofit, but also shows according to the committee a revenue stream of about $125 million a year and the question they're probing is does an organization that is able to generate income and get donations really need federal help in terms of direct grants to the organization. So this has been very, hot button issue, very emotional, and this is a step today from the organization trying to turn it down and at least a welcomed sign from House Republicans on this, one narrow piece of a very big argument. Thomas.

ROBERTS: Yes, we will see if this is truly a compromise for all sides. NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell, great to see you. Thank you. 

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