Last week, a hidden-camera video was released. It claimed to show that Planned Parenthood was illegally selling tissues from aborted fetuses. The video’s release went viral, leading politicians and anti-abortion activists to seize the initiative.
Senator Rand Paul vowed to “introduce an amendment to pending Senate legislation to immediately strip every dollar of Planned Parenthood funding.” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas likewise called for defunding and for “an investigation of Planned Parenthood’s activities regarding the sale and transfer of aborted body parts.”
The New York Times editorial on Wednesday called it “the latest in a series of unrelenting attacks on Planned Parenthood, which offers health care services to millions of people every year.” The Times argues that, while the video purports to show Planned Parenthood illegally selling tissues from aborted fetuses, “it shows nothing of the sort.”
They add, “The politicians howling to defund Planned Parenthood care nothing about the truth here, being perfectly willing to undermine women’s reproductive rights any way they can.”
The video is a nine-minute video clip released by the Center for Medical Progress. It invites viewers to “Hold Planned Parenthood accountable for their illegal sale of baby parts.”
The shows Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, discussing the collection of fetal tissue in a lunch meeting with two people posing as potential tissue buyers. In fact, the full video of the lunch meeting is over two hours long. It shows a very different picture than critics claims.
The New York Times writes, “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.
From a local angle, a letter sent by attorneys from Planned Parenthood indicated that the head of the Center for Medical Progress is David Daleiden. Mr. Daleiden is a 2007 Davis High School Graduate. His mother is Gina Daleiden, a former Davis School Board member and current Chief Deputy to Supervisor Jim Provenza.
According to the Planned Parenthood attorney, “Over the last eight years, Mr. Daleiden has participated in at least 10 separate attacks on Planned Parenthood involving gaining access to our health centers and offices under false pretenses, taping staff (and sometimes patients) without their knowledge on at least 65 occasions (not counting this latest fraud), and misleading the public with heavily edited tapes and flat-out false charges.”
Three years ago, Mr. Daleiden allegedly “created what we now know to be a phony company called Biomax Procurement Services, which held itself out as a legitimate tissue procurement organization. Biomax then embarked on a campaign of corporate espionage with Planned Parenthood and its affiliates as its target.”
The letter continues, “The sham company used the false pretense of seeking tissue for research purposes to gain access to our facilities and staff. These fraudulent efforts appear to have been meticulously planned.” To cite one example, “Biomax set up exhibits at our National Medical Conference and our National Conference over the last couple of years.”
Mr. Daleiden engaged in secretly recording Planned Parenthood staff and patients at least 65 times over the last eight years, potentially yielding thousands of hours of recordings.
Mr. Daleiden talked the New York Times for an article on Tuesday. He told the Times he had been an anti-abortion activist for more than a decade, forming an anti-abortion group at his school.
He continued his work as a student at Claremont McKenna college, where he got a degree in government.
According to some background information, Mr. Daleiden was temporarily banned from the Pomona College campus after videotaping a presentation by Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles public affairs manager Serena Josel and asking “tough questions.” The tough questions were apparently asking a “Planned Parenthood official there for proof that the group was covering up statutory rape.”
In 2012 while serving as the Research Director for Live Action, David Daleiden participated in a hoax with a “sting” that included establishing a fake medical website, which raised concern from the California Attorney General.
Mr. Daleiden worked for Live Action in college and became director of research in 2008. In his Live Action bio, Mr. Daleiden attributed his anti-abortion militancy to seeing images of aborted fetuses as a teenager. But in the interview, he also said, “I am the child of a crisis pregnancy.”
He told the Times that “his parents, who are now divorced, were juniors in college when his mother became pregnant. He said he had grown up ‘culturally Catholic,’ that is, not particularly religious.”
The Times notes that he now calls Pope Francis “my inspiration,” although Mr. Daleiden’s activism long predates the pope’s ascension, and he points to Francis’ “emphasis on just being active, on going outside of yourself to accomplish things.”
In 2013, Mr. Daleiden formed the non-profit, the Sacramento-based Center for Medical Progress. The Internal Revenue Service granted the Center for Medical Progress tax-exempt status, allowing donors to deduct contributions, as a nonprofit under the agency’s category for “Diseases, Disorders, Medical Disciplines: Biomedicine, Bioengineering.”
According to the editorial, the Center for Medical Progress “appears to have done little beyond producing the undercover video.”
In a statement last week, Cecile Richards, the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said that “our donation programs — like any other high-quality health care providers — follow all laws and ethical guidelines” and that “Planned Parenthood stands behind our work to help women and families donate tissue for medical research when they wish to.”
The Times notes, “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 Times concludes, “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.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting