Planned Parenthood said on Tuesday a secretly recorded video that surfaced on the Internet falsely portrayed the reproductive health group's participation in the sale of tissue and body parts from aborted fetuses.
The non-profit organization said the video had been heavily edited and recorded by a group that was established to damage its reputation. It said in a statement the video "falsely portrays Planned Parenthood's participation in tissue donation programs that support lifesaving scientific research."
The video, which has gotten widespread exposure on the Internet, was produced by the California-based Center for Medical Progress, a self-described organization of citizen journalists dedicated to monitoring and reporting on medical ethics and advances.
Reaction to the video from some Republican presidential contenders was swift. One of them, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, called for an investigation of Planned Parenthood.
Another, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, called the video "a disturbing reminder" of what he characterized as "the organization's penchant for profiting off the tragedy of a destroyed human life."
The video identified a woman speaking about selling fetus body parts as Planned Parenthood Federation of America's senior director of medical services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola. Planned Parenthood confirmed on Tuesday that Nucatola was in the video.
The Center for Medical Progress said the video showed Nucatola discussing the sale of body parts from aborted fetuses during lunch with actors posing as buyers from a biological company.
Representatives for the group were not immediately available for comment.
The Center for Medical Progress said it was founded in 2013 but appears to have begun posting on Twitter and Facebook in the past few months.
Planned Parenthood explained in its statement, "Patients sometimes want to donate tissue to scientific research that can help lead to medical breakthroughs, such as treatments and cures for serious diseases.
"At several of our health centers, we help patients who want to donate tissue for scientific research, and we do this just like every other high-quality health care provider does – with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards.
"There is no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or for Planned Parenthood."
In addition to abortions, Planned Parenthood health centers across the United States provide healthcare and information regarding birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, cancer and other reproductive issues.
On its website, the organization dates its beginnings to 1916 when activist Margaret Sanger and others opened the United States' first birth control clinic in Brooklyn.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Additional reporting by Patrick Enright in Seattle and David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Toni Reinhold)