Earlier today, an eight-minute “undercover” video surfaced purporting to show Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services talking about selling the body parts of aborted human fetuses for the non-profit’s financial gain. Which would be shocking, certainly—if any of it were true.
In the video, Planned Parenthood Senior Director Deborah Nucatola says some pretty graphic and seemingly disturbing things about tissue donation:
A lot of people want intact hearts these days, because they’re looking for specific nodes... Some people want lower extremities too, which, that’s simple. I mean, that’s easy.
She then goes on to talk about what sounds like Planned Parenthood’s monetary reward:
Every provider has had patients who want to donate their tissue, and they absolutely want to accommodate them. They just want to do it in a way that is not perceived as, “This clinic is selling tissue, this clinic is making money off of this.”
Except that, as Planned Parenthood told The Hill, its affiliates “can legally receive reimbursement from a tissue donation procedure for the ‘additional expenses related tissue donation, which can vary based on individual circumstance,’ but it does not go to staff members or providers.” These “additional expenses” might be the $10-30 it costs to transport the tissue being donated, which Planned Parenthood notes is “standard across the medical field.” And no, the patient donating the tissue doesn’t receive any financial reimbursement either.
In reality, the donation of fetal tissue is no different than any other situation in which a patient might donate tissue to scientific research. No money changes hands, and the donation could help pave the way to any number of medical breakthroughs.
Of course, that doesn’t stop the people behind the video’s release from going to great lengths to try to paint Planned Parenthood as operating outside the law. According to The Center for Medical Progress’s accompanying release, “The video is the first by The Center for Medical Progress in its ‘Human Capital’ series, a nearly 3-year-long investigative journalism study of Planned Parenthood’s illegal trafficking of aborted fetal parts.”
While Planned Parenthood notes that the group is “a long time anti-abortion activist that has used deceptive and unethical video editing, and that has created a fake medical website as well as a fake human tissue website that purports to provide services to stem cell researchers.” (For what it’s worth, the Center for Medical Progress did finally release the full video, though its claims remain just as flawed.)
The video itself opens with a short clip of former Planned Parenthood president Gloria Feldt that is edited to give the appearance of condemning the recorded conversation that follows. But the 20/20 segment on which Feldt appears is actually an investigation into abuses made by private sector “tissue and organ procurement companies.” And Feldt even went on to later affirm that “Planned Parenthood supports research using fetal tissue in accordance with legal and ethical guidelines and are deeply concerned about the attempt by some to profit from the humanitarian contributions of courageous women.”
In other words, this is a case of words being taken grossly out of context. Planned Parenthood is doing nothing even remotely shady here, nor are they doing something they haven’t publicly discussed before on multiple occasions. The real question now, though, is who’s behind this whole campaign in the first place.
The video, which had supposedly been held onto for a year before being released earlier this morning, was put out by The Center for Medical Progress, which describes itself as “a group of citizen journalists dedicated to monitoring and reporting on medical ethics and advances.” Oddly enough, 10 of the the 11 total tweets made by the group’s Twitter account are from today, while the only two posts on its website seem to be about the Planned Parenthood video. And just like its Twitter account, the group’s Facebook page is only a few months old.
We do at least know that this is not the same group as the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Medical Progress, which has made sure to put up the following banner on its landing page in light of the recent drama.
It’s also worth noting that that Center for Medical Progress (which is part of a larger conservative think tank) has received quite a bit of Koch brother funding. So even Koch Brothers affiliates are trying to keep themselves the hell away from whatever it is this group is actually up to.
But Bobby Jindal sure isn’t! He’s taken the deeply flawed (not to mention false) attack and run with it, issuing an order for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to investigate Planned Parenthood. Despite no indication in the video itself that it had any relation to Louisiana in the first place.
But according to The Times-Picayune, “Jindal said he was ordering an investigation in part because Planned Parenthood is planning to open a clinic in New Orleans.” A clinic that, now, won’t be able to open at all thanks to Jindal’s order including the suspension of any new licenses. How convenient.
According to Snopes, the man currently being credited as the “leader” of the Center for Medical Progress, David Daleiden, is directly linked to James O’Keefe—otherwise known as the right-wing zealot behind the heavily edited and profoundly misleading videos that instigated the ACORN controversy back in 2009.
James O’Keefe is a friend of David Daleiden’s. O’Keefe and Hannah Giles have been going coast to coast documenting instances of ACORN employees willingly giving advice on how to avoid paying taxes and shielding a would be pimp (running for congress) and a prostitutent from the watchful eye of the law.