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26-year-old behind Planned Parenthood videos debates future funding of the organization

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Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc. testifies during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Planned Parenthood's president Cecile Richards appeared before a congressional committee on Tuesday, the first time she's done so since the release of undercover videos.

The videos show Planned Parenthood officials talking about how they remove fetal organs and tissue for research. The officials also describe how clinics are paid for the organs provided.

The Center for Medical Progress's David Daleiden, founder of the Irvine group which made those videos, told KPCC that what they did wasn't entrapment, contrary to what the head of Planned Parenthood told Congress.

"The primary purpose of this investigative journalism study was to really clearly document and illustrate the way that Planned Parenthood, in real life, over the past five years, has partnered with multiple private and for-profit biotech companies in order to harvest and sell aborted baby parts," Daleiden said.

Republicans want to defund Planned Parenthood, claiming the procedures described and the financial compensation for the organs both violate federal laws. That defunding battle was one of the reasons House Speaker John Boehner resigned last Friday.

"When the Republicans are interviewing [Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards], it does seem like every time she starts to speak an uncomfortable truth, they interrupt her and don't allow her to answer the questions, so that's a little frustrating," freelance journalist Amanda Marcotte told KPCC. She's covering the Planned Parenthood story for Slate.

Marcotte said that she believes that the videos show how doctors speak to each other when they think they're talking to colleagues, and that that's not what she thinks should be at issue.

"I think the relevant issue here is whether or not the Center for Medical Progress got any actual evidence of this supposed selling of fetal tissue. They got none," Marcotte said. "If you actually watch the videos, you'll see that there is not only no evidence of selling, that the money that is discussed is repeatedly described as and talked about as reimbursement, and the doctors that they speak to repeatedly say that they are not going to sell fetal tissue, that that's not what they do, that that's against the law and they follow the law."

Planned Parenthood denies that it alters abortions to preserve organs and that it profits from the money researchers pay to the clinics.

"There is a federal law that you cannot alter and make a procedure more dangerous, that you still have to pick the safest procedure to do the abortion, but there is no evidence against that," Marcotte said. "The procedures talked about are equally safe to other procedures being used."

Marcotte said that she believes that, if patients want to donate fetal tissue, they should be allowed to do that.

Guests:

David Daleiden, founder of the Irvine-based Center for Medical Progress, which made the Planned Parenthood videos.

Amanda Marcotte, freelance journalist who’s been covering the Planned Parenthood story for Slate. She's also the author of "It's A Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments."

This story has been updated.

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