By Randall K O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRL Dir of Education & Research
The big newspapers and the networks could not be bothered to give much coverage to the original videos showing mangled baby parts and Planned Parenthood abortionists callously talking about “less crunchy techniques” and haggling over “reimbursement” costs. But many rushed to publish news of a study supposedly exonerating Planned Parenthood that PPFA forwarded to Congress.
The “study,” sent along with an August 27th letter to the leaders of Congress, claims that the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) “edited content out of the alleged ‘full footage’ videos, and heavily edited the short videos so as to misrepresent statements made by Planned Parenthood representatives.”
Neither the letter nor the study actually get into the really troubling “content” of those tapes, which have Planned Parenthood employees casually talking about the disposition of organs, tissues, and body parts of babies they’ve just aborted.
PPFA says Fusion GPS, the firm hired by Planned Parenthood to analyze the videos, “ultimately concluded that the manipulation of the videos and the transcripts means they have no evidentiary value in a legal context and cannot be relied upon for any official inquiries unless supplemented by the original video in unaltered form.”
Newspapers dutifully reported that “Planned Parenthood Video Was Altered, Analysis Says” (NY Times 8/28/15), “Videos deceptively edited, Planned Parenthood tells Congress” (Washington Post, 8/27/15), or “Planned Parenthood alleges ‘smear’ in letter to Congress (AP, 8/31/15).
These allegations may not be as dramatic as they sound. Fusion GPS admits that in more than 12 hours of tape, “This analysis did not reveal widespread evidence of substantive video manipulation, but we did identify cuts, skips, missing tape, and changes in camera angle.”
It went on to say “many of these edits removed likely irrelevant content from the beginning and end of the interviews, [but] all four videos also contained intentional edits that removed content from the middle of the videos.”
CMP claims that some of the larger edits were simply gaps between meetings, or when someone went to the restroom. (CMP’s full response can be found here.)
Fusion GPS analysts try to argue that damning statements like “another boy,” while showing no evidence of being spliced in or manipulated on the tape, may have been preceded by edited out comments from the CMP actors designed to elicit comments about the aborted baby’s gender.
When the videos clearly show people in the Planned Parenthood labs clinically picking over fetal parts like brains, eyes, hearts, livers, arms or legs, disputes over exactly what prompted Planned Parenthood employees to make awkward admissions of the baby’s sex and humanity seem to be mere diversions.
Planned Parenthood wants Congress to put these images out of their minds and focus on the editing of the videos.
Planned Parenthood and its lawyers and PR team have tried to make it seem as if the only serious issue up for discussion was whether or not Planned Parenthood broke any laws, altered the method of their abortions to obtain fetal tissue, and then sold fetal tissue at a profit. While the video does seem to show several Planned Parenthood employees flirting with the idea of higher profits (“I want a Lamborghini”), and using “less crunchy” techniques, it may take various congressional probes to ferret out the whole truth.
This, however, TOTALLY fails to appreciate or address the fundamental cause of the public horror and outrage these videos have prompted. Various highly-placed Planned Parenthood officials casually discussed the business of harvesting and transferring baby parts, by whatever financial arrangement, with absolutely no consideration of the obvious humanity of those children. That is what has left the public that has heard the truth aghast.
In their August 27, 2015, letter to the heads of both parties in the Senate and the House, Planned Parenthood denied it had broken any laws and both minimized and defended its involvement in what it euphemistically calls “fetal tissue research.”
Planned Parenthood claims that only two of its 59 affiliates and 1% of its nearly 700 “centers” are currently involved in “fetal tissue research.” This, of course, is Planned Parenthood playing its usual game with percentages, downplaying the sheer volume of abortions that just one of its giant mega-clinics may perform.
PPFA admits that affiliates in California and Washington are involved and says that four additional affiliates, including one in Texas and another in Colorado, featured in CMP videos, have been involved in the past.
Nevertheless, Planned Parenthood tells Congress in the letter that it is “proud to have a role in fetal tissue research,” claiming without any detectable sense of irony, that “it has led to life-saving discoveries that are helping millions of Americans.”
It offers no proof of this grand assertion, other than the broad assurance of the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services that “fetal tissue continues to be a critical resource for important efforts such as research on degenerative eye disease, human development disorders such as Down syndrome, and infectious diseases, among a host of other diseases.”
It would never occur to Planned Parenthood that they could save millions of lives simply by shutting down their abortion clinics.
Planned Parenthood assures Congress that it “adheres to the highest standards and follows all laws.” While PPFA is certainly not the last word regarding what federal laws say or mean, it is worthwhile to quote the guidance that PPFA headquarters provided to affiliates as recently as May of this year:
Federal law prohibits the payment or receipt of money or any other form of valuable consideration for fetal tissue, regardless of whether the program to which the tissue is being provided is federally funded or not. There are limited exceptions that allow reimbursement for actual expenses (e.g., storage, processing, transportation, etc.) of the tissue. If an affiliate chooses to accept reimbursement for allowable expenses, it must be able to demonstrate the reimbursement represents its actual costs.
For those affiliates engaging in fetal tissue transfer, Planned Parenthood says reimbursement costs are minimal, $60 per tissue specimen or less, amounts they said were “intended to recover only their costs, as allowed under federal law and our guidance.”
How much money Planned Parenthood makes as a supplier of fetal tissue and whether or not these represent actual expenses is something Congress is probably investigating. But even a professional football player understands the issue is something far deeper. On this Facebook page, Ben Watson, tight end for the New Orleans Saints, said
As horrific as it is, the issue isn’t really the sale of human parts. It’s the legal practice that allows this to even be a possibility. Killing children and simply discarding the leftovers is not any more acceptable than profiting off of them. #PlannedParenthood
Planned Parenthood tells Congress that while they are not subject to federal laws regarding research on the transplantation of human fetal tissue for therapeutic purposes, they nonetheless include the “substance” of the federal regulation in their own requirement that there be “no substantive alteration in the timing of terminating the pregnancy or of the method used was made for the purpose of obtaining the blood and/or tissue.”
Though there are multiple occasions on the tapes where Planned Parenthood abortionists discuss changing the “procedure” in order to get better “specimens,” more “intact” specimens, Planned Parenthood tells Congress in the letter that the only abortion method used at its centers, from about 13 weeks of pregnancy, is what it considers to be “dilation and extraction” (D&E), and any variations are merely “adjustments” to that “method.”
In performing the selected method [of abortion], a physician may need to make multiple adjustments to the method as the surgery proceeds. These adjustments are clinical judgments – not a change of method – made by the physician as the abortion proceeds and are always intended to achieve the woman’s desired result as safely as possible. The key point, as the 1988 blue-ribbon commission [that helped draft the original tissue donation law] recognized, is that there be no change that would impact the safety or well-being of the patient.
So, in a rather elaborate fashion, Planned Parenthood is trying to sell a reading of their official policy in which an “adjustment” to the procedure, even if made to facilitate the harvesting of organs or tissues, doesn’t actually constitute a change in “method.” Under this doctrine, the abortionist can tinker with the method or timing for any reason – even if only to obtain a more “intact specimen” – so long as patient safety isn’t compromised.
This seems a real stretch, however, from the plain English of the official consent statement Planned Parenthood’s Mar Monte affiliate has those wishing to “donate” fetal tissue sign. That declares, in rather clear and direct language, that “I understand that there will be no changes to how or when my abortion is done in order to get my blood or the tissue.”
Turning a baby around to deliver breech so you can obtain an “intact calvarium” (skull) or being “cognizant of where you put your graspers,” going “above and below the thorax” so as to “crush below,” “crush above,” to “see if I can get it all intact” so that you’re “very good at getting heart, lung, liver” as Planned Parenthood’s Senior Director of Medical Services Deborah Nucatola says in the first CMP video, seems a clear violation of that policy.
Planned Parenthood maintains that even with the “distortions and selective editing,” what is missing from the videos is “any evidence that Planned Parenthood has done anything wrong. This is where Planned Parenthood confuses a hair-splitting legal defense with a defense of acts and attitudes that addresses what the public finds ethically appalling and morally indefensible.
The folks at Planned Parenthood would have you forget they were still talking casually, clinically about cutting up living, healthy human unborn babies and harvesting their organs–not to mention intact babies that “just fell out” of their mothers!
What was offensive, shocking, and eye opening for so many people was how little regard they had for the human life, even at 11, 18, or 22 weeks, when Planned Parenthood employees see and sort through delicate, clearly recognizable fetal arms, legs, genitals, organs, brains.
The lack of any regard, any basic human sympathy or sensitivity towards these innocent children is what has created Planned Parenthood’s PR nightmare, and Planned Parenthood is so blind, so dismissive of the obvious humanity of the unborn child, that they don’t even see the problem.
Where is the evidence of doubt or even discomfort in their talk or tone about ending these babies’ lives? There is none. And as you watch the videos, there is nothing in their voices, in their eyes that would indicate even a flicker of respect or common decency for their fellow human beings.
They simply meet and talk shop, have lunch and a few drinks, and then put down the salad fork and head back to the clinic where they can dismember babies and sort through the body parts and organs harvested from children alive and thriving just hours or minutes before.
The cold and callous way Planned Parenthood employees talked about the killing they did was not the product of camera angles or creative editing.
The problem was not what the videos didn’t show, but what they did show. They showed what Planned Parenthood is really like, what they really do. Hundreds of thousands of times a year, bringing in well over a hundred million dollars from abortions just like these.
That’s why so many people across America are troubled that this group not only operates in the U.S., but has so many defenders in the media, and gets half a billion dollars a year from various levels of government.
Those images and memories of those massacred babies are ones that cannot be so easily erased or edited from their minds.