CMP Responded To Federal Injunction With Deceptive Video Baselessly Alleging “Kickback Arrangement” For Fetal Tissue

An injunction issued by a federal court bars the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress (CMP) from releasing further footage gathered illicitly during National Abortion Federation (NAF) conferences or events. Despite the order, on February 8 CMP released another smear video that baselessly suggests NAF approves of “kickbacks” for the sale of fetal tissue, and includes deceptively edited video of a speech by the executive director of NAF.

CMP Releases 12th Video Unsuccessfully Attempting To Smear Planned Parenthood And NAF

12th Video Claims NAF Officials Encouraged CMP Actors To Participate In An Improper “Group Purchasing Program” For Fetal Tissue. In this latest video, CMP selectively edited stealth footage of NAF employees to make a baseless claim of wrongdoing by NAF and its partner, Planned Parenthood. The 12th video cherry-picks bits of conversation between NAF representatives and CMP actors -- fraudulently purporting to represent a tissue-procurement service -- and omits critical context. CMP says the video shows NAF encouraging a “group purchasing program” for the sale of fetal tissue and distribution of “kickbacks.” “Group purchasing program” is a reference to a standard way of organizing multiple vendors' interactions with individual affiliates or franchises of a corporation, while the idea of “kickbacks” suggests unlawful compensation. From CMP's press release:

When the actors explain, “We do donate the fees that we get from our researchers, we give a portion back to the clinics as just a thank you for letting us come in,” one NAF representative replies, “Yeah, it definitely sounds like something some our members would be really interested in.” The second NAF representative affirms this kickback arrangement to split the money from fetal parts as “a win-win” for the abortion clinics.

Both NAF representatives also suggest that the purported fetal body part harvesting company exhibit at NAF's annual meeting and join NAF's group purchasing program as an approved vendor for its member abortion clinics: “We have an exhibit hall and then we also have the general conference. But I mean, this is a very great way to talk to our members. We have a group purchasing program through our membership,” says one, “So it seems like this would be a really great option to be able to offer our members as well.” [The Center for Medical Progress, 2/7/16]

Like Previous Videos, New Footage Offers No Evidence That Planned Parenthood Or NAF Broke Laws. Like the 11 previous deceptively edited videos CMP has already released, the latest effort to smear Planned Parenthood and NAF does not include any evidence of illegal activity.[Media Matters, 8/31/15]

Video Alleges NAF Officials Support “Kickback” Payments For Fetal Tissue Through A “Group Purchasing Program,” Fear They Will “Lose” CMP Litigation

Edited Video: CMP Attempts To Show NAF Officials Support An Illegal “Win-Win” Arrangement For Clinics To Sell Fetal Tissue For Profit. According to the deceptively edited 12th video, NAF training and education representatives Sandy Fulkerson and Jennifer Hart agreed to an illegal “win-win” fetal tissue donation scheme, saying that “some of [their] members would be very interested in” pursuing such an arrangement. Here is the transcript of the edited video:

SANDY FULKERSON: Well, do you all know about our organization, National Abortion Federation? Past what we say -- we're the professional organization of abortion providers in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico City, so we have a conference as well if you're interested it.

CMP ACTOR: Yes!

FULKERSON: It would be a really great place to meet -- I mean, this is, ARHP is a great place to meet a lot of our -- a lot of the same people come. But then it's just our conference is a bit bigger and it's --

FULKERSON: So, our department puts on the meeting --

CMP ACTOR: OK.

FULKERSON: And we have an exhibit hall, and then we also have the general conference. But I mean, this is a very great way to talk to our members. We have a group purchasing program through our membership, and, like, I'm just thinking of how we have disposal -- like we have bio-disposal companies that work with us -- so it seems like this would be a really great option to be able to offer to our members as well.

CMP ACTOR: So they would be people that would be interested?

FULKERSON: Yeah.

CMP ACTOR: We do donate the fees that we get from our researchers, we give back to -- a portion -- back to the clinics as just a thank you for letting us come in and --

FULKERSON: Yeah, I mean, it definitely sounds like something that some of our members would be really interested in.

[...]

FULKERSON: So, she was saying ... hmm this would be a really good fit to introduce her to Rob, who's our group purchasing director --

JENNIFER HART: To exhibit?

FULKERSON: Exhibit, yeah.

CMP ACTOR: Mhm

HART: That sounds great!

CMP ACTOR: And the fees that we charge, a portion of that we give back to the clinics, so it's --

HART: Oh, a win-win. Yeah.

CMP ACTOR: Win-win for clinics, win-win for research, win-win. [The Center for Medical Progress, 2/7/16]

Video Also Suggests NAF Sought Injunction To Conceal Wrongdoing: “What Are They Hiding?”  The video has snippets of a speech given by NAF executive director and CEO Vicki Saporta, which CMP inaccurately represents as her expressing concern that the organization could “lose” in its legal action against CMP. NAF has an injunction barring CMP from releasing footage surreptitiously filmed at NAF conferences in violation of confidentiality agreements. [The Center for Medical Progress, 2/7/16]

But The Video Contains At Least 4 Examples Of Cherry-Picking And Selective Editing

1. Speech By NAF's Executive Director/CEO Predates Smear Campaign And Is Taken Out Of Context. The 12th smear video features an excerpt from a speech given by NAF's executive director and CEO, Vicki Saporta, discussing NAF's past utilization of the ACLU as counsel. CMP's selective framing suggests Saporta is responding to the legal fallout following the release of the deceptively edited videos targeting Planned Parenthood. However, as Saporta explained to U.S. News & World Report, the speech in question took place before the release of CMP's videos and is entirely unrelated to CMP. Saporta described the 12th CMP video as “total retribution,” explaining that CMP's David Daleiden was “trying to cut and splice and make it seem as though I'm concerned about the case that's going on now -- it's nonsense.” [U.S. News & World Report, 2/8/16; National Abortion Federation via YouTube, 7/6/15]

2. Full Footage Shows NAF Officials Are Discussing Existing Tissue Disposal Practices -- Not Donation -- And The Only Mention Of “Making It Profitable” Comes From CMP. The full footage of CMP's interaction with Sandy Fulkerson reveals that the anti-choice organization selectively omitted crucial context about NAF's interest in providing fetal tissue for research, not profit. The edited video leaves out almost all of Fulkerson's comments about facilitating tissue donation to researchers as an alternative to negotiating contracts with discriminatory tissue disposal companies -- at no point does she discuss NAF's donation or reimbursement practices. The only suggestion of making fetal donations “profitable” comes from CMP's actor. The full footage of the interaction shows that the following bold parts were omitted from the edited video:

SANDY FULKERSON:So, the idea is that if someone has a termination they can donate the fetal tissue to this research?

CMP ACTOR: Well, what we're trying to do is -- I would really like to meet medical directors of clinics here to just let them know about the business. We have the researchers that want it -- she's at USC -- and so they're looking, looking, looking for tissue and it's just not available in the quantities --

[...]

CMP ACTOR: OK, so they would be people who would be interested. We do donate the fees that we get from our researchers -- a portion -- give back to clinics as just a thank you for letting us come in and ...

FULKERSON: Yeah, I mean that definitely sounds like something some of our members would be really interested in, especially since there's been a lot of problems with finding disposal services that'll work with them. Again, because of the stigmatization so some of like the big names in the industry won't touch them because of what they do. And it's like, please, whatever, you're picking up disposal services for the exact same thing at the hospital down the street for miscarriage management or for elective termination but because it's a freestanding abortion clinic they're being discriminated against and stigmatized against, so

[...]

CMP ACTOR: Win-win for clinics, win-win for research, win-win -- what I'm looking at, because I'm coming out of -- is the women. Being able to talk to them about, “Do you know what, kind of down the road, what could come from this.”

FULKERSON: Yeah, and even if it's not as intensive of giving somebody a personal one-on-one conversation about it, I'm imagining something up in a recovery room that says, “Did you know? All of our tissue remains are donated to science or are used in research?” I think that's something that if I was a patient I would love to see, like, “Wow, that's really cool!” [The Center for Medical Progress, 2/7/16]

3. 12th Video Omits Crucial Details About “Portion” Of “Fees” That CMP Press Release Calls A “Kickback Arrangement” For Illegally Selling Fetal Tissue. In both the edited video and full footage, NAF employees hear CMP's actors describe only a hypothetical arrangement in which clinics would receive “a portion” of the procurement fee, without more detail of what that might include. Federal law regarding the use of human fetal tissue does not prohibit the use of donated materials, nor does it bar minimal monetary compensation to cover “reasonable expenses” for tissue “retrieval, storage, preparation and transportation.” Waste management contracts for the disposal of fetal tissue not used for donation, such as those discussed by NAF, are standard. The full context of the conversation reveals neither Fulkerson nor Hart ever expressed interest in an illegal payment agreement for the donation of fetal tissue. [The Center for Medical Progress, 2/7/16Media Matters 8/4/15]

4. Removed Portion Reveals That “Group Purchasing Program” Discussion Was About Facilitating A Standard Vendor Agreement To Exhibit At NAF Conferences. The edited video suggests NAF representatives were encouraging CMP actors to become part of a “group purchasing program” -- allegedly to profit from fetal tissue sales. But not included in the edited video is the full context: that Fulkerson was interested in getting them to exhibit at NAF conferences. Further discussion makes clear that the reason for introducing the CMP actor to NAF's group purchasing director was that “he oversees the exhibit hall” where CMP was trying to secure space for a presentation booth. The full footage shows that the following bold parts were omitted from the edited video:

SANDY FULKERSON: It would be a really great place to meet -- I mean, this is, ARHP is a great place to meet a lot of our -- a lot of the same people come. But then it's just our conference is a bit bigger and its --

CMP ACTOR: Where is it? Is it held at the same place?

FULKERSON: No, this April it's going to be in San Francisco. Let me give you my card --

CMP ACTOR: Oh, I'd love that

FULKERSON: So, I want you to meet -- Jen is the director of training education, so you met her. So, our department puts on the meeting --

CMP ACTOR: OK.

FULKERSON: And we have an exhibit hall, and then we also have the general conference. But I mean, this is a very great way to talk to our members. We have a group purchasing program through our membership, and, like, I'm just thinking of how we have disposal -- like we have bio-disposal companies that work with us -- so it seems like this would be a really great option to be able to offer to our members as well.

CMP ACTOR 2: Maybe we could get a booth there.

CMP ACTOR: Right, we tried to get a booth here, but we were just a little too late. So when is it in ...

FULKERSON: April in San Francisco

CMP ACTOR: So maybe you could give a card, so that if I call you you'll have my number. Do you have a card?

FULKERSON: Yeah, we'll be putting out the exhibitor prospectus --

CMP ACTOR: Okay, so do you work with or do you know medical directors that --

FULKERSON: I mean, our members are administrators, medical directors, absolutely.

[...]

FULKERSON: Yeah, I mean that definitely sounds like something some of our members would be really interested in, especially since there's been a lot of problems with finding disposal services that'll work with them. Again, because of the stigmatization so some of like the big names in the industry won't touch them because of what they do. And it's like, please, whatever, you're picking up disposal services for the exact same thing at the hospital down the street for miscarriage management or for elective termination but because it's a freestanding abortion clinic they're being discriminated against and stigmatized against, so

CMP ACTOR: Uh-oh.

CMP ACTOR 2: I didn't realize that was a problem.

FULKERSON: It's one of those absurd trickle-down vendor issues that it's like, they have the same problems with 'Oh, I want to hire ... or like we want to have a film company but the film company doesn't want to work with us.' Just like there's these stupid little vendor relationships that are really difficult for clinics because many of them are freestanding abortion providers and that's their bread and butter, what they do.

CMP ACTOR: Mhm. Well this is a perfect fit then. And they would -- we could -- make it profitable ... or not profitable, but just ...

FULKERSON: It's just problem solving.

CMP ACTOR: That they could see a good fit for it. Wonderful, thank you so much.

[...]

FULKERSON: So I was thinking the fact that so many of our independent clinics have issues working with the normal waste management vendors. ... But the stigmatization that they face and we've seen that -- we had like a whole session on that at our last conference -- how to work around being discriminated against by your local waste management pickup. So, as she was saying this would be a really good fit to introduce her to Rob, who's our group purchasing director.

JENNIFER HART (NAF): To exhibit?

FULKERSON: Exhibit, yeah.

CMP ACTOR: Mhm.

HART: That sounds great!

CMP ACTOR: And the fees that we charge, a portion of that we give back to the clinics, so it's --

HART: Oh, a win-win. Yeah.

CMP ACTOR: Win-win for clinics, win-win for research, win-win ...

[...]

HART: Stay in touch because our exhibitor prospectus comes out at the end year.

CMP ACTOR: OK.

HART: And I can put you in touch with Rob, who's our group purchasing director and he oversees the exhibit hall. We work very closely together. [The Center for Medical Progress, 2/7/16]