WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — The head of anti-abortion group Operation Rescue boasted Thursday that his organization and the Center for Medical Progress are "taking down" Planned Parenthood on a $120,000 budget, the amount raised over three years for the undercover video operation that has set off a national debate over use of tissue from aborted fetuses in medical research.
Operation Rescue president Troy Newman — who also serves as secretary of the California-based center that released hidden-camera videos — cited the small cost of the videos during an interview with The Associated Press.
"We are one of the most effective pro-life organizations in the country on the smallest budget," Newman said of Wichita-based Operation Rescue. "I mean, look what we did with the Center for Medical Progress. I mean, we are taking down Planned Parenthood on a $120,000 budget. There are organizations that spend that in one day."
Newman is back in Wichita following his deportation from Australia, where he had gone for a speaking tour. Newman was detained and deported after trying to enter Australia even though officials had already canceled his visa. He was deported after Australia's highest court ruled that he posed a threat to public order.
Newman says he potentially faces fines as high as $10,000 to $20,000 stemming from the proceedings in Australia, but had not yet been fined.
Operation Rescue sent out a fundraising email Thursday under the subject line "Operation Rescue crippled?" that sought to raise funds to pay such a fine. That email was the latest effort by the group to raise money in the wake of the release of the undercover videos. An earlier appeal sought to raise money to fight a lawsuit filed by the National Abortion Federation against Newman and others involved in the undercover operation.
Laura McQuade, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said the small amount of money abortion foes raised to produce the secret videos and Newman's comment shows how out of touch they are with the American public.
"They raised $120,000 over three years because they don't have the support of the American public to be doing what they are doing," McQuade said.
Planned Parenthood has been fending off attacks since the release of the secretly-recorded videos showing its officials talking about how they harvest tissue from aborted fetuses for medical researchers. The anti-abortion activists say the group illegally sells the tissue for profit. Planned Parenthood contends that it only recovers its expenses for providing fetal tissue to researchers, which is legal, and says the videos were heavily edited.
The Republican-led U.S. House voted on Wednesday to create a special panel to investigate Planned Parenthood and some GOP Senators have tried unsuccessfully to block federal funding for the abortion provider. That battle could resurface in mid-December, when the stop-gap measure to keep the government functioning runs out. President Barack Obama has promised to veto legislation that cuts the group's funding.
"Planned Parenthood is not going anywhere either in the region or across the United States," McQuade said. "And just like we have emerged from other unfounded attacks ... we will emerge stronger than ever."