Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards didn't pull any punches after her congressional testimony this week, calling Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina a liar and defending her organization from claims it had grown too political in a pre-taped interview "Meet the Press" interview Sunday.
Planned Parenthood has repeatedly asserted that the undercover videos exposing executives discussing prices for aborted fetal organs were "highly edited," despite forensic evidence to the contrary. Forensic analysis of the Center for Medical Progress tapes found that far from being "highly edited," the sections removed were "non-pertinent" to the investigation and fell into five categories: commuting, waiting, adjusting recording equipment, meals and restroom breaks.
Despite this, NBC host Chuck Todd assisted Planned Parenthood's narrative when he introduced Richards saying: "Controversial and highly edited videos of doctors talking about harvesting fetal tissue from abortions has made the future of Planned Parenthood one of the most emotive issues of the Republican presidential campaign."
Todd then asked Richards to respond to Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, who spoke passionately during the CNN debate about a scene in one of the videos where a technician recounts having to cut through the face of an aborted fetus in order to harvest its brain.
"Planned Parenthood is aborting fetuses, alive, to harvest their brains and other body parts. That is a fact," said Fiorina in the clip.
"Ms. Richards, how do you respond to Ms. Fiorina?" asked Todd.
"It is extraordinary that someone running for president would lie in that way," Richards told Todd. "That has been completely discredited by every reputable news source, and yet Carly Fiorina seems to continue to repeat the same lie."
"I think it also shows how using distortive and deceptive videos, as the ones that have been used against Planned Parenthood, they're not credible," said Richards. "And it's not a basis upon which to make decisions about an organization or a public policy."
Richards continually asserted that the videos were "highly edited," distorted and "deceptive," a claim that went unrebutted by Todd, who never brought up the forensic evidence of the tapes.
When Todd asked why Planned Parenthood doesn't stop fetal tissue donation, since according to Richards, only 1 percent of their health centers conduct it, Richards said that fetal tissue donation has "led to all kinds of important medical research."
Todd asked why not make the number of clinics that participate "0 percent?"
"One, because I do think the research is important," she replied. "And many bioethicists and medical researchers —"
"So, you're not going to bend on this practice?" asked Todd.
"We have women, ironically, Chuck, actually after all of this has come out, we have many women voluntarily asking," said Richards, adding that women come into clinics and say, "I'd like to make a fetal tissue donation."
"Why not just make it a full-fledged donation and not take any money?" Todd asked, honing in on the financial aspect of the organ sales.
Richards said that Planned Parenthood takes "no reimbursement," but then said, "It's all reimbursement for costs, such as legal, under the law."
In one of the videos, Planned Parenthood executive Dr. Mary Gatter appears to be haggling over the prices for aborted fetal organs, and says, "I want a Lamborghini."
When Todd asked why Gatter wasn't relieved of her duties, Richards replied: "I think that making decisions on medicine, on healthcare based on highly sensationalized and now fully discredited videotapes, it's not good practice." She added that Gatter is an "excellent doctor."
Richards asserted that the congressional hearing this week wasn't about fetal tissue research, but "about whether, frankly, abortion is going to be safe and legal for women in the United States of America."
Two years after Richards became president of Planned Parenthood, she said in The New York Times in 2008 that she wanted to make it "the largest kick-butt political organization." Todd asked whether Planned Parenthood had become too political, noting that Richards is "not a women's health specialist," but someone who "came from the world of politics."
"Well, when I think of politics, I think of advocating for the women that we serve. And that's essentially what we do," said Richards.
"I believe if we were not as active as an advocacy organization for women and women's health, women in this country would have fewer rights than they do today," she said. "And we can't let that happen."
In the interview, Richards distinguished between the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the group's political activist arm, and the main organization itself, which strictly provides healthcare.
A Washington Examiner analysis shows that Planned Parenthood and affiliates spent almost $5 million dollars in election ads promoting Democratic lawmakers in 2014, and additionally, has contributed $679,596 directly to federal candidates, $676,885 of that to Democrats, in 2014.
Planned Parenthood was in the top 10 percent of nearly 200 outside expenditure groups in 2014, and the analysis shows that the abortion giant spent $0 on ads attacking Democratic candidates.
Todd didn't ask about Planned Parenthood and its affiliates' political donations, but he did ask Richards whether she believes "you would be a target if you weren't as active ... a participant in campaigns as you are?"
"I believe if we were not as active as an advocacy organization for women and women's health, women in this country would have fewer rights than they do today," she replied. "And we can't let that happen."
Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, was a former supporter of Planned Parenthood who called for a Department of Justice investigation into Planned Parenthood's fetal tissue donations after the videos' release this summer.
"The callousness with which Planned Parenthood employees discussed the sale of fetal tissue is appalling," Collins said on the Senate floor in August. "It deserves our attention."
Todd said that Planned Parenthood "was upset with a vote she made on one Supreme Court Justice" and that Collins feels the group has become "too politicized."
"It's too much of an arm of one party," said Todd, summarizing Collins' position.
Richards didn't respond to Todd's question, and instead hit at GOP leadership, saying that Planned Parenthood has the support of Republicans, but not the Republican party.
"The Republican party leadership, not the party, has abandoned mainstream moderate Republicans," she said.