Videos released by anti-abortion activists calling themselves the Center for Medical Progress have been heavily edited in order to significantly change the meaning of what Planned Parenthood staff said and, ultimately, to deceive the public. Discredited video editing has been used to perpetuate a smear campaign against Planned Parenthood and its employees.

The videos falsely accuse respected clinicians, researchers and staff of unprofessional and illegal behavior. Some media outlets and public officials have repeated these unsubstantiated claims.

Summary

  • Collectively, the first five heavily edited videos have at least 42 splices where content is edited out but the conversations appear seamless.

  • Critical context is left out of the videos dozens of times, including Planned Parenthood staff members repeatedly saying that affiliates do not “profit” from tissue donation and should not, that tissue-donation programs must follow the law, and that substantial changes to medical procedures would not occur.

  • Quotes are attributed to Planned Parenthood staff members with no evidence that the quote was actually made by the person to whom it was attributed. Among these is one provocative quote that theWashington Post used in an editorial and about which it later issued a correction. Forensic analysts have since determined that the statement attributed to a Planned Parenthood staff member was actually “unintelligible” on the video.

  • Longer videos and transcripts that have been released after the short, sensationalized videos are also heavily edited. The group releasing these videos has not released full, unedited source footage, making it impossible to know the full extent of the deceptive editing.

  • The following examples are far from comprehensive, and are based on comparisons of the short, publicly released videos to the longer edited videos or transcripts.

Video #1 (PPFA)

  • 10 separate times, the Planned Parenthood staff member makes clear that the organization does not “sell” fetal tissue or “profit” from fetal tissue, and 9 out of 10 of those instances are edited out of the video.

  • 6 separate times, footage was spliced to make it look like a seamless statement or conversation, when in fact it is pieces of a conversation spliced together deceptively. For example, on the long video, the Planned Parenthood staff member makes statements about the different points of view that people in the medical field hold about the so-called “partial birth abortion” ban. The short video pulls carefully isolated phrases from the long video and removes references to what “some people” say and what “other people” say. This editing misleads the viewer into thinking the staff member is describing her own views and practices – thus changing the meaning of her remarks. The false, strung-together “quote” was picked up by many media outlets and conservative politicians as “proof” that she was endorsing one practice, when in fact she was simply describing several practices and views.

Video #2 (Pasadena)

  • 6 separate times, content is spliced together to create the appearance of a seamless conversation.

  • The Planned Parenthood staff member clearly states that the only money involved in tissue donation is for fees and expenses, not profit, stating that “we are not in this for the money” and “there are costs associated with the use of our space and all that kind of stuff.” In response to a reasonable estimated reimbursement of actual costs by the Planned Parenthood representative, the fake company representatives both suggest a reimbursement scheme that is complex and simultaneously offer higher amounts – all to create the false impression of negotiation.

  • The Planned Parenthood staff member says “it’s been years since I’ve talked about compensation” and repeatedly references review by PPFA, legal forms, and the need to check with others. The conversation is not a contract negotiation, but it is edited to make an exploratory conversation look like a contract negotiation.

  • At least twice, the Planned Parenthood staff member responds to inappropriate suggestions regarding adjusting how the abortion would be done. In one instance, she states flatly, “That’s not going to happen.”

  • 4 separate times, the Planned Parenthood staff member makes clear that she must check with the doctor regarding any issues involving medical procedures, and all but one instance is edited out of the video.

Videos #3-4 (Colorado)

  • 13 separate times, Planned Parenthood staff members say that any arrangements related to fetal tissue donation need to be reviewed by attorneys and follow all laws; all 13 are edited out of the video, and two are edited out of the supposedly “unedited” transcript.

  • The video and transcript claim that a staff member says, “It’s a baby,” when reviewing tissue to determine its utility for lifesaving medical research. In fact the phrase on the video is unintelligible and appears to have been added to the transcript either by transcription error or intentional fabrication. The false claim and deception caused both the Washington Post and the Speaker of the House to repeat flat-out inaccurate information. The Washington Post subsequently issued a correction.

Video #5 (Texas)

  • There are at least 15 substantial, unexplained edits in the video, splicing together words to create the appearance of continuous conversations. For example, on the long video, the Planned Parenthood staff member made statements about protocols in the lab that maintain the integrity of tissue samples – but the video is edited to make it sound like she is talking about changing the abortion method.

  • Phrases from the long video are isolated and strung together to combine unrelated sentences on the short video that completely change the meaning of what the Planned Parenthood staff member actually said. Anti-abortion activists and the mainstream media then ran the doctored “quote” from the edited video, with false claims that she was talking about changing how the abortion would be done.

  • 4 separate times, the Planned Parenthood staff member makes clear that abortion methods are not substantively changed because of a patient’s decision to donate tissue, and all 4 are edited out of the video.

  • 9 separate times, the Planned Parenthood staffer makes clear that there is no “profit” related to fetal tissue donation – even saying that she has used a stopwatch to track the staff’s time, so that fees for time are calculated precisely – and all 9 are edited out of the video.

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