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Head of Planned Parenthood to speak in Fargo tomorrow

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The leader of Planned Parenthood will be in North Dakota this week, and is expected to talk about last week's deadly shooting in Colorado, as well as the controversy surrounding the use of fetal tissue.

Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, is a guest speaker at Thursday's "Progress on the Prairie" in Fargo, an annual conference hosted by the nationwide clinic, according to its website.

The event, now in its 11th year, is described as "honoring leaders of North Dakota’s past, present, and future."

One issue Richards will be addressing, Planned Parenthood North Dakota official Amy Jacobson told the Forum, is the "hostility" the organization has faced since the release of controversial undercover videos purporting to show high-ranking officials in the organization discussing the sale of fetal tissue.

The videos raised concerns that the clinic was discussing making profit off of aborted fetuses for research purposes (which would be illegal), but others have said the pieces are heavily edited. According to, the unedited version shows an executive "repeatedly" saying the sales would cover cost, and not generate profit.

Nevertheless, the videos resulted in calls to cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood, but Richards's message in Fargo will be, "No matter what, Planned Parenthood will be here for the women and families of our country," Jacobson told the Forum.

Tickets are available here and start at $50 individual donations.

Richards is also expected to address the November shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, WDAY reports. The attack left three people dead. This week, suspected shooter Robert Dear made his first court appearance.

Investigators have said he made a comment along the lines of "No more baby parts" after being arrested, NBC News reports.

The shooting has put Planned Parenthood clinics on alert here in Minnesota, with FOX 9 saying the organization is "redoubling" safety efforts at its 19 locations in the Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota region.

Abortion laws in North Dakota

There is only one abortion provider – Red River Women’s Clinic – in all of North Dakota, and in 2013 the state passed a law making abortion illegal whenever a fetal heartbeat can be detected (which can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy).

That law was eventually struck down by a federal court as unconstitutional, but now, North Dakota is challenging the decision in the U.S. Supreme Court, KFGO notes.

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