On July 14, anti-abortion activists with a long record of deceiving the public released their latest campaign — the latest in a seven-year string of false bills of goods they seek to sell to the media and the public.
Beyond the media coverage (which showed that the accusations have no evidence), here are five facts about these videos that you need to know.
1. Nowhere does anyone from Planned Parenthood discuss "selling" fetal tissue.
Even the heavily edited video from extreme anti-abortion activists doesn't show this or make this accusation. It simply doesn't happen.
On the video, the Planned Parenthood staff member talks about standard reimbursement fees for costs associated with tissue donation programs, which every health care provider has and which the federal law provides for.
2. Planned Parenthood helps patients who wish to donate fetal tissue, just like other health care providers do.
Some Planned Parenthood affiliates have programs for women and families who want to donate tissue to leading research institutions that will use it to help find treatment and cures for diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
These programs are just like any other high-quality health care provider's — they follow all ethics and laws, patients consent fully, and nobody benefits financially.
3. The people who launched this campaign have a track record of making totally false claims.
The person leading this campaign used to be a senior staff member at Live Action, which for seven years has made false claims that have been widely discredited by journalists and independent organizations; Forbes Magazine noted that their claims about Planned Parenthood "fall apart upon close inspection."
4. The fact that far-right, anti-abortion politicians are latching onto this doesn't make it any more credible or real.
GOP politicians remain in a race to prove who can be the worst on women's health, and this story is no exception.
Whether it's Carly Fiorina's social media page or Bobby Jindal's sham "investigation," none of the partisan attempts to make this a real story change the fact that it's a highly edited video from anti-abortion activists who have made false charges for years, now making claims with no basis in reality and no evidence to back them up.
5. The full, 2.5-hour video shows selective editing that twists and distorts what was said on the tape.
Late in the day, the Live Action-offshoot group released a longer video. It shows that the Planned Parenthood staffer was talking in the context of stem cell research, and was talking about standard reimbursement rates for costs associated with tissue donation — all of which was edited to change the meaning.
The 2.5-hour video also shows that the Planned Parenthood staffer's discussion of brain stem tissue that can help researchers study brain tumors and spinal cord injuries was distorted by editing to make it appear that she was talking about trafficking body parts, which she clearly wasn't.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America released a statement yesterday on the undercover video:
“In health care, patients sometimes want to donate tissue to scientific research that can help lead to medical breakthroughs, such as treatments and cures for serious diseases. Women at Planned Parenthood who have abortions are no different. At several of our health centers, we help patients who want to donate tissue for scientific research, and we do this just like every other high-quality health care provider does -- with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards.
"There is no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or for Planned Parenthood. In some instances, actual costs, such as the cost to transport tissue to leading research centers, are reimbursed, which is standard across the medical field.
"A well funded group established for the purpose of damaging Planned Parenthood’s mission and services has promoted a heavily edited, secretly recorded videotape that falsely portrays Planned Parenthood’s participation in tissue donation programs that support lifesaving scientific research. 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."
Update - Planned Parenthood released the following statement today:
"These outrageous claims are flat-out untrue, but that doesn't matter to politicians with a longstanding political agenda to ban abortion and defund Planned Parenthood. Women and families who make the decision to donate fetal tissue for lifesaving scientific research should be honored, not attacked and demeaned. Our medical practices and guidelines in this area are clear, and we do this important work just like other high-quality health care providers -- with full, appropriate consent from patients, under the highest ethical and legal standards, and with no financial benefit for the patient or Planned Parenthood."