Vos, Steineke elected to top GOP Assembly leadership positions (copy) (copy)

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (left) and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (right) are asking Democrats to return campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood.

Associated Press

Days after two Republican lawmakers called for an investigation of the state activities of Planned Parenthood, GOP leaders are asking Wisconsin Democrats to return any campaign contributions from the organization.

Those moves follow the national release, by anti-abortion activists, of a controversial video depicting a Planned Parenthood official explaining how the organization provides fetal tissue to researchers. The group behind the recording says it proves the organization is illegally selling fetal organs for a profit.

There is no indication the video had any ties to Wisconsin, but other states, including Louisiana and Arizona, have launched similar calls for investigation.

While it is illegal to sell fetal parts for profit, it's not illegal to transfer fetal tissue as long as the payments involved are only for the costs of processing and transportation. Women who have abortions may choose to donate fetal tissue for scientific research.

None of Planned Parenthood's clinics in Wisconsin offer tissue donation services.

But Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, sent a letter to Assembly Democrats on Monday asking them to "immediately return all donations received from Planned Parenthood."

Vos and Steineke said the video "calls into question every aspect of Planned Parenthood’s supposed values, and is a scathing indictment of an organizational culture that fails to value basic human life and decency," adding that the organization has "no defensible explanation" for the content of the video.

"These revelations are truly reprehensible and disgusting," Vos and Steineke said in a joint statement. "There is nothing more sacred than basic human decency and the sanctity of human life. Planned Parenthood has clearly disregarded these fundamental human values in favor of turning a profit."

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Planned Parenthood officials have said the video is misleading and inaccurate.

The California-based group behind the video, the Center for Medical Progress, is relatively new but has ties to other anti-abortion groups.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin executive director Tanya Atkinson said last week the call for an investigation is part of a series of "ongoing and unwarranted political attacks" on the organization.

"Wisconsin politicians who oppose women’s health access have seized this opportunity to rally their supporters and threaten PPWI's continued services," Atkinson said in an email last week. "Wednesday afternoon, one Wisconsin legislator went as far as to request a state investigation of PPWI. Despite the fact we don’t offer tissue donation services, the politician behind the call to investigate PPWI is a staunch women’s health opponent who is utilizing this latest smear campaign to harass and discredit PPWI in his effort to take away essential health care for women and families. Similar political threats targeting Planned Parenthood are to be expected in the near future by our opponents. We will not back down."

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Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.