Hillary Clinton: Controversial Planned Parenthood videos are "disturbing"

Hillary ClintonAPDemocratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the Democratic Party of Arkansas Jefferson Jackson dinner in North Little Rock, Ark.

Hillary Clinton says controversial videos showing a Planned Parenthood representative discussing harvesting fetal tissue from aborted fetuses are “disturbing.”

In an interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader, the Democratic front-runner acknowledged that images from the videos — which show a Planned Parenthood executive drinking wine while discussing how the agency uses aborted fetal tissue for medical research — raised questions about abortion-related procedures nationwide.

“I have seen pictures from them and obviously find them disturbing,” Clinton said of the procedures described in the videos, which have been released over the past few weeks by an anti-abortion group.

Reiterating that she supports ” legal, safe, and rare” abortion, Clinton said that the videos brings up issues about industry-wide practices involving fetal-tissue research.

“Planned Parenthood for more than a century has done a lot of really good work for women: cancer screenings, family planning, all kinds of health services,” Clinton said. “And this raises not questions about Planned Parenthood so much as it raises questions about the whole process, that is, not just involving Planned Parenthood, but many institutions in our country.”

Clinton has previously been somewhat more vocal in her support of Planned Parenthood in more public settings.

“I think it is unfortunate that Planned Parenthood has been the object of such a concerted attack for so many years,” Clinton said at a recent campaign event in South Carolina after some of the footage had been released, according to Think Progress. “And it’s really an attack against a woman’s right to choose, to make the most personal, difficult decisions that any woman would face, based on her faith and the medical advice that she’s given.”

Hillary clintonREUTERS/Jim YoungU.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton listens to remarks at a roundtable campaign event with small businesses in Cedar Falls, Iowa, United States, May 19, 2015.

But her comments in New Hampshire suggest a shift to a more cautious tone on a divisive topic.

During the 2012 election, Democrats capitalised on careless, at-times bizarre statements about abortion from Republican candidates. Then-Senate candidate Todd Akin’s comments about “legitimate rape” cost him in a close election, and forced national candidates like Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney to go on the defensive.

For its part, the GOP has pounced on the Planned Parenthood videos.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has called for a Department of Justice investigation into Planned Parenthood, while Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) suggests that Congress should cut funding to the agency entirely. The Senate is set to vote on a bill that would bar federal aid to Planned Parenthood before Congress goes on recess in August.

Planned Parenthood has maintained it did nothing wrong, and that the original videos have been heavily edited.

“A group of extremists who have intimidated women and doctors for years — in their agenda to ban abortion completely — are not ‘documenting’ misdeeds; they are trying to create them, quite unsuccessfully,” the organisation said, according to The Associated Press.

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