Hillary Clinton defended Planned Parenthood last week after an anti-abortion group released undercover videos purporting to show the family planning services provider selling fetal tissue. But the Democratic presidential candidate hedged her support a bit on Tuesday, telling the New Hampshire Union Leader that she finds the videos "disturbing."
“I have seen pictures from them and obviously find them disturbing,” Clinton said in a sit-down interview with the newspaper.
The heavily edited undercover videos, filmed by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress, show Planned Parenthood doctors discussing how they would preserve fetal organs during an abortion in order to donate them for medical research. The doctors discuss dollar amounts per specimen, which Planned Parenthood says is just the reimbursement amounts the provider accepts for the expenses of donating tissue -- a legal practice. In the full, unedited version of one video, a doctor says multiple times that Planned Parenthood clinics are not interested in profiting off the donations. But Republicans claim the videos show Planned Parenthood illegally selling fetal tissue for profit and have launched a federal investigation into the health care provider.
Clinton reiterated her support for Planned Parenthood as a whole, which she said "has done a lot of really good work for women: cancer screenings, family planning, all kinds of health services," but she said the organization does have some questions to answer. Still, the congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood, she said, should look at all organizations who donate fetal tissue for medical research.
"This raises not questions about Planned Parenthood so much as it raises questions about the whole process, that is, not just involving Planned Parenthood, but many institutions in our country,” said the former secretary of state. “And if there’s going to be any kind of congressional inquiry, it should look at everything and not just one [organization]."
Republicans have escalated their political attacks on Planned Parenthood after the videos' release. Two Republican presidential candidates who oppose abortion rights, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), are leading the charge to defund Planned Parenthood and have each introduced a bill to do so. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who voted for the 1993 legislation that legalized fetal tissue donations after abortions, is fast-tracking Paul's bill to strip all federal funds from the family planning provider. Planned Parenthood uses federal money to subsidize non-abortion-related health care, like cancer screenings, sexually transmitted infection tests and contraception.
Clinton, on the other hand, said she remains an abortion rights supporter despite the controversy.
“I’m well aware that passions are very high,” she told the Union Leader. “I have said for more than 22 years that abortion should be legal, safe and rare. As First Lady, I led an effort to try to lower the number of teenage pregnancies and we succeeded, and as President I will continue to work toward that so that women are fully empowered, they can afford to make responsible decisions, and I hope we will be successful at that.”