Hillary Clinton has said several times that abortion should be safe, legal and rare.
In 2008, she explained that Americans on both sides of the abortion issue should work together to try to reduce the number of abortions to zero, adding that it “should not be in any way diminished as a moral issue,” and portrayed the choice as a wrenching one for “a young woman, her family, her physician and pastor.”
Pro-lifers, of course, jumped all over the statements.
From any angle, the abortion issue becomes so involved, so intense, so complex. Secular arguments create bitter responses from religious groups, especially fundamentalists whose whole existence seems to be the fight against abortion.
Those right-to-lifers bent on stopping the procedure at all costs have gone so far as to kill doctors and threaten those out-patients entering a pro-choice clinic. A new strategy is coming into play, one that is a low-down, no-good ugly course of action that entails what some call a criminal act against privacy laws.
The target of the vicious attacks by the pro-lifers so often is Planned Parenthood. And the latest scheme goes after the women’s health center with stealth and sting.
A deceptive video from a conservative group purports to show a Planned Parenthood official discussing prices for the illegal sale of fetal tissue from abortions. But the full, unedited footage and transcript released recently by the group undermines its sensationalist claims, showing at least three crucial edits that reveal the Planned Parenthood official was instead discussing the reimbursement cost for consensual, legal tissue donations.
The Center for Medical Progress, self-described as a group of citizen journalists dedicated to monitoring and reporting on medical ethics and advances founded by pro-life activist David Daleiden in 2013, made the video. The center claimed to have recorded Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood Federal of America’s Senior Director of Medical Services, discussing how the organization “sells the body parts of aborted fetuses.” The nearly 9-minute video and an accompanying press release that claimed the health organization was in violation of federal law regulating the use and sale of fetal tissue.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, said the effort by the Center wasn’t intended to discover problems with how her group facilitates fetal tissue donations for medical research, but rather was an attempt to entrap Planned Parenthood doctors. Her comment were broadcast last Sunday during an interview on ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos.
Federal law permits fetal tissue to be donated if the women who underwent the abortions give consent and it’s not for profit. Payments discussed in the secretly recorded videos were for reimbursement, not profit, a Planned Parenthood spokesman said.
“This has been a three-year, well-funded effort by the most militant wing of the anti-abortion movement in this country to try to entrap doctors,” Richards said.
She termed the videos highly doctored, adding that they were being used to “impugn and smear the name of Planned Parenthood.”
Clinton said videos were “an attack on women’s right to choose.”
A group of House Democrats has called for investigations into the Center. On the other side, 11 Republican senators sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch requesting an investigation into whether Planned Parenthood had violated a federal law that bans the sale of fetal tissue. But the Justice Department is going to investigate the Center instead. Democrats wrote to Lynch demanding a probe of the group that made the videos, saying the recording was done without Planned Parenthood’s consent.
“This is a new low, even for anti-abortion activists who will stop at nothing in their effort to undermine a woman’s right to choose,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said in a statement. “I believe the Center for Medical Progress may have broken the law in developing and executing this unbelievably elaborate and troubling scheme.”
Lynch said that Justice would “review all of the information and determine what the appropriate steps moving forward would be.”
Daleiden worked for Live Action, a pro-life non-profit organization known for its undercover video sting operations on Planned Parenthood clinics. Daleiden set up the Center for Medical Progress and registered it as a tax-exempt biomedicine charity. It receives advice, consulting and funds from the long-time abortion foe, Operation Rescue.
The CMP’s website initially described the organization as “dedicated to informing and educating both the lay public and the scientific community about the latest advances in regenerative medicine, cell-based therapies, and related disciplines.” Amid questions about the group’s tax exempt status, the site was changed to state its mission as “a group of citizen journalists dedicated to monitoring and reporting on medical ethics and advances.”
Daleiden set up a fake biomedical research company, called Biomax Procurement Services, and secretly recorded top Planned Parenthood officials “price haggling” over “baby parts.”
A transcript shows the video jumped nearly eight minutes in the middle of one conversation about money. Dr. Nucatola discussed the cost of the tissue, but timestamps on the footage reveal nearly eight minutes of conversation was removed. The unedited footage revealed that she was discussing reimbursement costs for legal donation process during those missing minutes. Right after the video jumps forward, she specifically referenced exact “shipping” and other associated costs which could legally be reimbursed, before discussing affiliates’ general “bottom line” attempts to “break even.”
Dr. Nucatola repeatedly referred to “tissue donation” not “sales” during the conversation.
In a July 17 statement, Eric Ferrero, Planned Parenthood’s vice president of communications, explained that the organization’s clinics “help patients who want to donate tissue for scientific research” with “the highest ethical and legal standards.” Ferrero noted that the organization received “no financial benefit” from the arrangement aside from reimbursement of “actual costs, such as the cost to transport tissue” — consistent with industry standards.
Ferrero said, ” Similar false accusations have been put forth by opponents of abortion services for decades. These groups have been widely discredited and their claims fall apart on closer examination, just as they do in this case.”
Federal law regarding the use of human fetal tissue does not prohibit the use of donated materials.
The set of standards outlined by the Health And Human Services Independent Review Board guidebook, the industry standard for medical research, explains that payment for fetal tissue may be obtained “for reasonable expenses occasioned by the actual retrieval, storage, preparation, and transportation of the tissues.”
Planned Parenthood is under constant attack by these groups and the victims become those patients seeking help. Many cannot afford regular health care and Planned Parenthood, although under considerable duress, continues to do all it can to provide services, more from general health than performing abortions. Abortions make up only 3 percent of the health services provided, Planned Parenthood reports show. Also, remember this: the Supreme Court ruled abortions are legal.