The New York Times called out the “campaign of deception” behind the Center for Medical Progress' selectively edited videos attacking Planned Parenthood and accusing them of selling “baby parts,” as well as conservatives' efforts to exploit the media frenzy to defund the organization.
On July 21 anti-choice conservative group The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a deceptively cut video claiming to have recorded a Planned Parenthood official “haggling over” prices for fetal tissue donations and offering to change procedure techniques “to get more intact fetuses.” A previous undercover video from CMP purported to show another Planned Parenthood official on tape discussing prices for the sale of fetal tissue. Both videos have been deceptively edited to leave out crucial context which debunks both claims.
Right-wing media seized on the videos to attack Democratic candidates, call for an FBI investigation into Planned Parenthood, and accuse the organization of “celebrating its practice of harvesting the organs of aborted fetuses for money.” Despite the fact that the original “shady video” was quickly denounced in mainstream media for “show[ing] nothing illegal,” Republicans are trying to capitalize on right-wing media's phony outrage to defund Planned Parenthood and fundraise for presidential campaigns.
The Times blasted those “howling to defund Planned Parenthood,” in a July 22 editorial, arguing they “care nothing about the truth here, being perfectly willing to undermine women's reproductive rights anyway they can.” Pointing to the deceptive edits and missing context left out of the video, the editors wrote that “clearly, the shorter version [of the video] was edited to eliminate statements” about how the organization doesn't profit from fetal tissue donation. The editorial went on to explain that the research enabled by fetal tissue donation is a critical tool for fighting a number of diseases and Planned Parenthood is just one of a number of organizations contributing to the effort:
The full video of the lunch meeting, over two hours long and released by the Center for Medical Progress after complaints by Planned Parenthood, shows something very different from what these critics claim. Clearly, the shorter version was edited to eliminate statements by Dr. Nucatola explaining that Planned Parenthood does not profit from tissue donation, which requires the clear consent of the patient. Planned Parenthood affiliates only accept money -- between $30 and $100 per specimen, according to Dr. Nucatola -- to cover costs associated with collecting and transporting the tissue. “This is not something with any revenue stream that affiliates are looking at,” she said. Under federal law, facilities may be reimbursed for costs associated with fetal tissue donation, like transportation and storage.
Researchers use fetal tissue to study and develop treatments for diseases and conditions like H.I.V., hepatitis, congenital heart defects, retinal degeneration and Parkinson's. Last year, the National Institutes of Health gave $76 million in grants for fetal tissue research. Planned Parenthood is certainly not the only collector of fetal tissue -- clinics associated with universities also supply tissue for research.
The Center for Medical Progress video campaign is a dishonest attempt to make legal, voluntary and potentially lifesaving tissue donations appear nefarious and illegal. Lawmakers responding by promoting their own anti-choice agenda are rewarding deception and putting women's health and their constitutionally protected rights at risk.
The Times editorial comes just hours after Fox News' Kirsten Powers penned a USA Today column titled “Crush Planned Planned Parenthood.” Powers claimed that "[i]t's a measure of how damning the video is that Planned Parenthood's usual defenders were nowhere to be found. There was total silence from The New York Times editorial board and their 10 (out of 11) pro-abortion rights columnists."