The seventh video from the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress (CMP) falls flat in its attempt to smear Planned Parenthood, once again showing no clear evidence that the Planned Parenthood clinics broke any laws in obtaining fetal tissue donations from consenting patients. The latest video again relies on footage already debunked as highly edited, features conversations with third-party providers who acted as the middlemen between researchers and clinics, and relies heavily on the account of a technician who did not work for Planned Parenthood and who has been accused of violating her employment agreement with a third-party provider.
Center For Medical Progress Releases Seventh Video Attempting To Smear Planned Parenthood. On August 19, the Center for Medical Progress released the third video in their "'Human Capital" documentary web series, their seventh attempt to use deceptively-edited video footage in order to attack Planned Parenthood. According to the organization's press release:
The third episode in a new documentary web series and 7th video on Planned Parenthood's supply of aborted fetal tissue tells a former procurement technician's harrowing story of harvesting an intact brain from a late-term male fetus whose heart was still beating after the abortion.
The “Human Capital” documentary web series, produced by The Center for Medical Progress, integrates expert interviews, eyewitness accounts, and real-life undercover interactions to explore different themes within Planned Parenthood's sale of aborted fetal tissue. Episode 3, “Planned Parenthood's Custom Abortions for Superior Product,” launches today at: http://www.centerformedicalprogress.o...
The series focuses on the personal narrative of Holly O'Donnell, a former Blood and Tissue Procurement Technician for StemExpress, a biotech start-up that until last week was partnered with two large northern California Planned Parenthood affiliates to purchase their aborted fetus parts and resell them for scientific experimentation.
The video also features recordings of Dr. Ben Van Handel, the Executive Director of Novogenix Laboratories, LLC, and also of Perrin Larton, Procurement Manager of Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc. (ABR). Novogenix is the company that has harvested fetal organs from abortions done by Planned Parenthood Federation of America's Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, in Los Angeles, while ABR is the oldest fetal tissue procurement company and works with Planned Parenthood in San Diego and other clinics around the country. Van Handel admits, “There are times when after the procedure is done that the heart actually is still beating,” and Larton describes abortions she has seen where “the fetus was already in the vaginal canal whenever we put her in the stirrups, it just fell out.” [The Center for Medical Progress, 8/19/15]
1. Video Still Shows No Clear Evidence Of Illegality And Key Witness Provides No Evidence That Planned Parenthood Broke The Law
Latest Video Still Offers No Clear Evidence That Planned Parenthood Broke The Law. Like the six previous deceptively-edited videos CMP has already released, their latest effort to frame Planned Parenthood does not include any evidence of illegal activity on a Planned Parenthood clinic's behalf. [Media Matters, 7/14/15, 7/21/15, 7/28/15, 7/30/15, 8/4/15; 8/12/15]
Politico: "There Is Nothing In The Video ... To Support O'Donnell's Claims." Politico explained that the seventh video features former procurement technician Holly O'Donnell, who claims that, in one instance when she was obtaining fetal tissue (emphasis added):
The fetus's heart began to beat when another technician tapped it. That could have been a short-lived spontaneous reaction of the heart muscle.
There is nothing in the video -- which includes footage from older tapes -- to support O'Donnell's claims. [Politico, 8/19/15]
Two Additional Interviews Featured In Latest Video Are With Other Third-Party Tissue Procurement Companies, Not Planned Parenthood. Two of the undercover interviews featured throughout the latest documentary video were with other third-party tissue procurement companies like StemExpress -- not Planned Parenthood. Those featured were from for-profit tissue procurement companies Novogenix Laboratories LLC and Advanced BioScience Resources. [The Center for Medical Progress, 8/19/15]
3. Video Uses Highly-Edited Clips Of Planned Parenthood Officials Already Debunked As Deceptively Edited And Showing Nothing Illegal
Documentary Relies On Previous Videos Debunked As Deceptively Edited To Leave Out Crucial Context. The latest video is the third entry in a series released by The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) and again relies heavily on their previous undercover footage -- all of which has been found to have been deceptively edited in order to leave out crucial context. The first was a July 14 video, which relied on strategic edits to falsely claim Planned Parenthood Federation of America's Senior Director of Medical Services Dr. Deborah Nucatola had discussed how the organization “sells the body parts of aborted fetuses.” The latest documentary also features footage from an August 4 video falsely claiming Planned Parenthood was “engaging in fetal tissue sales.” The full, unedited footage of both videos debunked CMP's claims, showing the Planned Parenthood officials explained that any variation in the abortion procedure is done pursuant to medical advice and patients are not put at additional risk. The unedited videos also showed that the compensation being discussed referred to legal reimbursement for costs associated with tissue donation. [Media Matters for America, 7/14/15; 8/4/15]
Multiple Media Outlets Have Consistently Called Out CMP's Videos For Showing “Nothing Illegal” And Taking Planned Parenthood “Grossly Out Of Context.” Multiple media outlets, including the New York Times¸ the Guardian, the Huffington Post, and the Daily Beast, have blasted the Center for Medical Progress' deceptively-edited videos as the anti-choice organization continues to release them. After the first video, FactCheck.org debunked CMP's claim that Planned Parenthood was “selling aborted baby parts,” detailing how it was inaccurate and unfounded. The videos have also been called out for taking Planned Parenthood personnel's words “grossly out of context” and for showing “nothing illegal.” The New York Times similarly wrote that the videos were engaging in a “campaign of deception,” criticizing those using the videos for political purposes for caring “nothing about the truth.” [Media Matters for America, 7/15/15;7/21/15; 7/22/15]
4. Video Again Largely Relies On Third-Party Technician Who Did Not Work For Planned Parenthood, But Worked For A Middleman Company That Sold Fetal Tissue Donations To Researchers
Former Procurement Technician Featured In Latest Video Worked For StemExpress, Not Planned Parenthood. As in the previous videos released by CMP's Human Capital Project, this video again features Holly O'Donnell, whom CMP identifies as a former staff member of for-profit biomedical procurement company StemExpress. StemExpress previously partnered with Planned Parenthood as a middleman company, but O'Donnell was not employed by Planned Parenthood at the time. [Center For Medical Progress, 8/12/15]
“Middlemen” Like StemExpress Reimburse Abortion Providers For Donation Costs Before Selling Fetal Tissue To Researchers “For Higher Prices.” The New York Times reported that companies like those discussed in The Center For Medical Progress' videos are the “middlemen” in the supply chain of fetal tissue destined for vital medical research. The article outlined how these companies procure fetal tissue from abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood and reimburse them for associated expenses related to donation before reselling to researchers with “higher prices that reflect the processing” (emphasis added):
Fetal tissue can be used only with the consent of the woman having an abortion. Some researchers receive the tissue from abortion clinics at their own institutions, or from tissue banks maintained by some universities. Many buy the tissue from companies that act as middlemen. Those companies pay small fees, usually $100 or less a specimen, to abortion providers like Planned Parenthood, who say they charge only what they need to cover their expenses. The companies then process the tissue and sell it to researchers for higher prices that reflect the processing.
The fees, which can run to thousands of dollars for a tiny vial of cells, do not break the law, according to Arthur Caplan, the director of the division of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center. [The New York Times, 7/27/15]
Biomedical Procurement Company StemExpress Denies Allegations In CMP Video. In a statement to IJReview, StemExpress denied CMP's previous video allegations that the third-party biomedical procurement company obtained fetal tissue donations without patient consent while partnered with Planned Parenthood. StemExpress said:
“StemExpress unequivocally denies the allegations ... reaffirming that it has never obtained blood or tissue samples from a patient without first obtaining consent. ... CMP's continued efforts to malign StemExpress ... will only serve to slow the pace of life-saving medical research aimed at curing disease and extending quality of life for millions of Americans.” [IJReview, 8/12/15]
StemExpress: Former Technician Violated Employment Agreement By “Stealing Confidential Documents” To Give To CMP. In a statement to Jezebel, StemExpress stated O'Donnell violated a confidentiality agreement by providing documents to CMP. The company explained (emphasis added):
Ms. O'Donnell was a 1099 independent contractor, subject to written confidentiality restrictions and Code of Conduct agreements which she signed and which she has violated by stealing confidential documents from StemExpress and disclosing them to CMP. Contrary to her assertions, Ms. O'Donnell responded to and applied for a contract opening as a procurement technician. She was contracted only after interviewing for that specific position. Her other representations in the video are also false. Ms. O'Donnell's resignation letter states she was thankful for the opportunities and experience she received from the company and expressed regret she was leaving. She further stated that due to financial difficulties and lack of opportunities for work with StemExpress, she must seek out other employment to provide herself more financial stability. In other words, she was not earning enough money as a StemExpress procurement technician. She worked for StemExpress from Dec. '12 thru April '13. [Jezebel, 8/12/15]