FactCheck.org Debunks Deceptively Edited Video Smearing Planned Parenthood

FactCheck.org debunked a deceptively edited video from the Center for Medical Progress smearing Planned Parenthood by falsely claiming the organization has been “selling” fetal tissue donations, pointing out that the unedited video shows the clinics just “want to cover their costs, not make money” when making donations.

Discredited anti-choice organization Center for Medical Progress released a deceptively cut video claiming to have caught a Planned Parenthood official discussing the “selling [of] aborted baby parts” on July 14. Conservatives jumped on the opportunity to call to defund Planned Parenthood, despite mainstream media calling out the attack for “show[ing] nothing illegal.”

FactCheck.org further demolished the video's credibility in a July 21 post explaining that, despite Center for Medical Progress' claim, the video does not show Planned Parenthood violated any laws. Noting that the official in the video “repeatedly say[s] its clinics want to cover their costs, not make money, when donating fetal tissue from abortions for scientific research,” the fact-check quotes “biorepository” experts explaining that the fees discussed in the video would not generate “a profit at that price” -- it'd just offset some of the costs associated with the process:

We also asked experts in the use of human tissue for research about the potential for profit. Sherilyn J. Sawyer, the director of Harvard University and Brigham and Women's Hospital's “biorepository,” told us that “there's no way there's a profit at that price.” She continued in an email:

Sawyer, July 20: In reality, $30-100 probably constitutes a loss for [Planned Parenthood]. The costs associated with collection, processing, storage, and inventory and records management for specimens are very high. Most hospitals will provide tissue blocks from surgical procedures (ones no longer needed for clinical purposes, and without identity) for research, and cost recover for their time and effort in the range of $100-500 per case/block. In the realm of tissues for research $30-100 is completely reasonable and normal fee.

Jim Vaught, president of the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories and formerly the deputy director of the National Cancer Institute's Office of Biorepositories and Biospecimen Research, told us in an email that "$30 to $100 per sample is a reasonable charge for clinical operations to recover their costs for providing tissue." In fact, he said, the costs to a clinic are often much higher, but most operations that provide this kind of tissue have “no intention of fully recovering [their] costs, much less making a profit.”

Carolyn Compton, the chief medical and science officer of Arizona State University's National Biomarkers Development Alliance and a former director of biorepositories and biospecimen research at the National Cancer Institute, agreed that this was “a modest price tag for cost recovery.” Compton told us in an email: " 'Profit' is out of the question, in my mind. I would say that whoever opined about 'profit' knows very little about the effort and expense involved in providing human biospecimens for research purposes."