Planned Parenthood Retreats, GOP continues to advance

House Republicans are pressing ahead with their probe into Planned Parenthood even after the group retreated from the most controversial part of its fetal tissue program on Tuesday.

Planned Parenthood said Tuesday it will no longer receive compensation for procuring fetal tissue for medical research, its strongest response yet to a months-long controversy driven by anti-abortion activists. But top Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), are dismissing the move as a public relations gambit as the group continues to deny any wrongdoing.

“While Planned Parenthood and other organizations may try to publicly distance themselves from the gruesome industry of selling of fetal baby parts, today’s announcement does not change the facts of the investigation,” Boehner wrote in a statement Tuesday.

Boehner’s statements were echoed by anti-abortion leaders like Tennessee Republicans, Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Diane Black, as well as the chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Ohio).

Chaffetz, who is running to replace the outgoing Boehner as speaker, hailed the move as a “good, tangible result” of the GOP’s investigations, which he said were far from over.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards announced the change through a letter to the National Institutes of Health on Tuesday, bending to months of political pressure.

Still, Planned Parenthood officials aren’t expecting to silence their critics – only to force them to change the conversation, Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said in an interview Tuesday.

“I do hope that they will change their ways, but I’m not hopeful,” Laguens said. “They are being held hostage by the far right, anti-abortion extremist element that run the Republican party process. I don’t see that they have a way out of it.”

Instead, she hopes that Planned Parenthood’s publicized decision not to accept from reimbursement will make clear that it has not committed any wrongdoing.

“I do believe this will further reveal to the American people, which is who we care about, that there was never any ‘there’ there, and that this is an anti-abortion witch hunt,” she said.

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