White House press secretary Josh Earnest claimed Monday not to have seen any of the four undercover videos released concerning Planned Parenthood, but was certain their impact came from shock value, not newsworthiness.
"There's no denying the fact that the organization [Center for Medical Progress] that is clearly anti-Planned Parenthood that put out the videos put them out not because of news value, but shock value," Earnest told CNN's "New Day" host Chris Cuomo
"I haven't seen the videos," he said. "Even based on the news coverage, the videos are shocking."
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Earnest said those who have seen the videos have raised concerns about their authenticity, and "whether or not they have been selectively edited in a way to distort or mislead about what Planned Parenthood does."
Again, though, he could not render his own judgment on videos he hasn't seen, but "I think anybody would question the source. I think that's legitimate."
Meanwhile, he insisted that President Barack Obama believes Planned Parenthood provides valuable healthcare services to men and women, and "he would veto any legislation that tries to advance wholesale defunding for Planned Parenthood," as "federal rules require they cannot use federal money for abortion."
Planned Parenthood does use the federal funding to provide healthcare services, Earnest said, and "that's a valuable service. It would be a shame if we saw Republicans once again trying to take a step that would limit women's access to healthcare."
Tennessee Rep. Diane Black, one of the Republicans fighting for a House bill to defund Planned Parenthood that was also on the program, said that she finds it unacceptable that Earnest is speaking about the credibility and value of videos he hasn't watched.
"Those videos have been out there," Black said. "If he's going to be talking about it, he ought to know what is on the video before he makes the comments."
And while there have been some complaints that statements on the released segments of the videos were taken out of context, Black said she's seen the full versions of them, and when compared to the videos that were released "you can see it's not a cut and paste."
She also said that "anybody who has any conscience at all should be appalled by the activity that is on that video; the callous, cavalier attitude about what life is and what they're doing to life, I can tell you it is not a cut and paste."
According to federal law, the use of fetal tissue
is permitted for research purposes, but the law forbids "alteration of the timing, method, or procedures used to terminate the pregnancy ... made solely for the purposes of obtaining the tissue."
On the released videos, Planned Parenthood officials are shown purportedly discussing different techniques used so more viable tissue can be harvested and sold.
"We see in the video they talk about doing that," Black said. "The doctors actually talk about, well, if you need a heart or a lung or a liver, we can do a less 'crunchy' procedure. One of the doctors says we'll crunch above and below. That is against that act."
Further, the law forbids the sale of fetal tissue for profit, saying that the aborted fetuses must be donated from the mother undergoing the abortion procedure.
But when it comes to selling organs, said Black, the videos show doctors negotiating prices, not mentioning administrative fees that are permissible to be charged for harvesting the tissue, and "you wouldn't be having a negotiation for that particular part."
Black pointed out that there are other places that can provide health services beyond Planned Parenthood, and by defunding that organization, the money can be spent elsewhere.
"Planned Parenthood, who performs over 327,000 abortions a year, gets half a billion dollars of taxpayer money," Black said. "That money could be given to the other clinics. I can tell you there's a lot of competition out there to get the money."
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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