The Center for Medical Progress' fifth undercover video attempting to smear Planned Parenthood using deceptively-edited footage again falls flat. The video claims to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing changes to procedures to accommodate tissue donation, but the full, unedited transcript reveals that portions of sentences and extensive discussion of patient safety protocols were edited out to mislead viewers.
Anti-Choice Group Releases Fifth Video Smearing Planned Parenthood
The Center For Medical Progress Releases Fifth Video Claiming That Planned Parenthood Is Engaging In “Fetal Tissue Sales.” An August 4 video released by the anti-choice organization Center for Medical Progress (CMP) claimed to have caught Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast director of research, Melissa Farrell, “advertising the Texas Planned Parenthood branch's track record of fetal tissue sales.” According to the organization's press release:
HOUSTON, Aug. 4--The fifth undercover video in the controversy over Planned Parenthood's sale of aborted baby parts shows the Director of Research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Melissa Farrell, advertising the Texas Planned Parenthood branch's track record of fetal tissue sales, including its ability to deliver fully intact fetuses.
In the video, actors posing as representatives from a human biologics company meet with Farrell at the abortion-clinic headquarters of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in Houston to discuss a potential partnership to harvest fetal organs.
“Where we probably have an edge over other organizations, our organization has been doing research for many many years,” explains Farrell. When researchers need a specific part from the aborted fetus, Farrell says, “We bake that into our contract, and our protocol, that we follow this, so we deviate from our standard in order to do that.”
Asked specifically if this means Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast can change abortion procedures to supply intact fetal specimens, Farrell affirms, “Some of our doctors in the past have projects and they're collecting the specimens, so they do it in a way that they get the best specimens, so I know it can happen.”
The investigators ask Farrell how she will frame a contract in which they pay a higher price for higher quality fetal body parts, and she replies, “We can work it out in the context of--obviously, the procedure itself is more complicated,” suggesting that “without having you cover the procedural cost” and paying for the abortion, the higher specimen price could be framed as “additional time, cost, administrative burden.”
Farrell finally summarizes her affiliate's approach to fetal tissue payments: “If we alter our process, and we are able to obtain intact fetal cadavers, we can make it part of the budget that any dissections are this, and splitting the specimens into different shipments is this. It's all just a matter of line items.” [The Center for Medical Progress, 8/4/15]
New Video Fails To Uncover Evidence That Planned Parenthood Broke The Law. Like the four previous deceptively-edited videos CMP has already released, their latest effort to frame Planned Parenthood does not include any evidence of illegal activity on the clinic's behalf. Instead, the video once again features strategically-edited conversations that merely show that the organization is being reimbursed for costs associated with the consensual procurement of fetal tissue, which federal law allows. [Media Matters, 7/14/15, 7/21/15, 7/28/15, 7/30/15]
Video Falsely Alleges Planned Parenthood Official Agrees To Illegally Alter Procedure
Edited Video: The Center For Medical Progress Makes It Appear That Official Is Agreeing To Alter The Procedure Purely For Tissue Procurement, Which Could Put Patients At Risk And Would Be Illegal. According to the deceptively-edited 15-minute video released by CMP, Farrell appears to admit that the clinic “deviates from our standards” in performing procedures, in order to obtain better tissue samples. According to the video:
FARREL: Well so under the scope of where we probably have an edge over other organizations, our organization has been doing research for many many years. And we've had studies in which the company or, in the case of the investigator, has a specific need, for certain portion of the products of conception.
FARREL: And we bake that into our contract, and our protocol, that we follow this. So we deviate from our standard in order to do that. Telling you then we can get creative about when and where and under what conditions can we interject something that is specific to the tissue procurement needs. [The Center for Medical Progress, 8/4/15]
But The Video Contains At Least 4 Examples Of Cherry-Picking And Heavy Editing
1. Full Transcript Of Video Shows CMP Cut Out Several Key Sentences, Where The Official Clarifies That They Still Use The “Standard Process” And Ensure Patient Safety. The Center for Medical Progress' full-transcript of their undercover video reveals that the anti-choice organization cut-out portions of Farrell's comments in order to make it appear that the official was suggesting changes to protocol that could endanger a patient. The short video skipped over Farrell explaining that everything done “is there for the safety of the patient” and under “our standard process” (emphasis added to portion removed from video):
FARRELL: And we bake that into our contract, and our protocol, that we follow this. And we deviate from our standard in order to do that. So, you know, we can do it in a way that we're still verifying that everything is there for the safety of the patient, but then we maintain the integrity of that sample. So yeah, that's definitely something we can do. So as far as, this is our standard process, telling you then we can get creative about when and where and under what conditions can we interject something that is specific to the tissue needs. [The Center for Medical Progress, 8/4/15]
2. Removed Portion Reveals PPFA Official Explained That Clinic Will Not Alter Or Delay Procedure For Tissue Donation, Per Planned Parenthood And Tissue Donation Guidelines. Not included in the 15-minute version of the video is Farrell's further explanation that the clinic would not alter or delay a procedure for the sake of fetal tissue donation, per Planned Parenthood and tissue donation guidelines. From CMP's full transcript (emphasis added):
FARREL: If it's just becoming more complicated in a state by state basis, I think that this is hard to implement. And you really don't want to enact a policy or guideline that everybody can't follow. “Affiliate fetal tissue donation programs will be monitored upon the affiliate recertification process.” That's why I was saying --
ACTOR: Has that ever happened?
FARRELL: Yea, because it falls under research. They lump it in and as far as the “monitoring” goes, that's our registration and stuff. Counciling. “The following must be involved in protocol” So here's information about what we have to say, in the protocol itself. The consent forms that we have to use. “The clinician has to sign a form that says the tissue was donated, the consent was obtained prior to collecting the tissue, and no alteration in the timing of the termination of the pregnancy, or the method used was made for obtaining the tissue.” That's why I said we can do it in terms of this, but we can't delay an abortion in order to get a later gestation. Of course, that's unethical or anything that's going to put her at risk in terms of “no alteration was made in terms of the timing of the termination or the method used.” So if we're going to be doing a surgical procedure, the surgical procedure is going to be the same. We're not going to say hey, let's experiment with giving you, you know, whatever medication. [Center for Medical Progress, 8/4/15]
3. Full Transcript Reveals That PPFA Official Explained That Any Changes To Procedure Must Be Approved By Doctors And Pose No Risk To The Patient. The unedited transcript reveals Farrell explaining that any changes to the procedure would need to be cleared by doctors and pose no threat to the patient (emphasis added):
ACTOR: So it sounds like you have physicians that would be able to change the procedure, that if they're knowing--
ACTOR: That okay, this patient could provide certain specimens, and we want 'em intact, so that physician has the knowledge and the ability to change the procedure a bit just to make sure we can get--
FARRELL: Right. And it will depend, obviously the change in the procedure will have to be where it's not gonna put the patient at more risk, prolong the procedure and put her at more risk. And alter the procedure so we leave things in the patient--
ACTOR: We want all of it! I don't know why we would leave any--[laughter]
FARRELL: Right. And that's something we'll have to discuss with our doctors and see how they could do it. Because some of our doctors have projects and they're collecting the specimens, so they do it in a way they can get the best specimens. So I know it can happen-- [Center for Medical Progress, 8/4/15]
4. Full Transcript Shows Planned Parenthood Official Explicitly Stated That Any Reimbursement Only Covers Administrative Costs. The full, unedited transcript reveals Farrell's explanation that any reimbursement for the costs incurred by the clinic cover only administrative costs, and would not be calculated on a per-specimen basis (emphasis added):
FARRELL: Yeah, and gosh, I wish we were further along there. Because they, most of the time when folks come in and they've made that decision already, they're there, there's no boohoo, and grief, and things that are often portrayed. But to see some benefit to the situation, a lot of women ask to be able to donate the fetal tissue somehow. so, and I'll show you when we go towards our storage we already have contracts with dry ice companies. We have two minus twenty-two refrigerators. two incubators, so we do a lot of research because we have capacity that maybe other facilities that only do clinical don't have. We get what we need to do to alter our standard of care so that we're still maintaining patient safety, still maintaining efficiency in clinic operations, but we integrate research into it.
ACTOR: Okay. So it sounds like as far as your cost, it's not going to be, it'll just be, you're already set up.
FARRELL: We're already set up, we will definitely need to work out something as far as covering additional cost for additional things related to it--
ACTOR: Exactly, exactly.
FARRELL: I'm very particular about working with the language of the budgeted contract to where the language is specific to covering the administrative costs and not necessarily the per-specimen, because that borders on some language in the federal regs that's a little touchy.
FARRELL: And of course, we don't offer the patient any compensation at all, and of course you know that. [Center for Medical Progress, 8/4/15]