Last night, at the Republican presidential primary debate broadcast on CNN, Carly Fiorina said:
As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.
This is completely and totally untrue. Every part of what she said is flat-out false. And we’re calling her on it.
She’s talking about videos that have been released by anti-abortion extremists and have been so heavily edited that experts say they distort the truth and are not reliable. But even on the heavily edited and discredited videos, what Carly Fiorina claims exists actually doesn’t. We think she’s referring to a video where a woman who never worked for Planned Parenthood makes totally unsubstantiated claims about what she saw at health centers. As she talks, a photograph of a fetus appears on the screen. Days after the video was released, the anti-abortion extremists behind this smear campaign admitted that the photo was actually the stillborn baby of a woman in Pennsylvania who had a miscarriage. They used it without her knowledge or permission. At the time, we called these extremists out for the depth of their deception and for the horrible invasion of this woman’s privacy, and some media outlets did, as well. At another point while the same woman is talking, images of another fetus appear that are credited as archival footage from an anti-abortion group; no circumstances about those images are known, but it is clearly not related to a Planned Parenthood health center or to the speaker on the video.
The images show nothing like what Carly Fiorina said they do, and they have nothing to do with Planned Parenthood. The video footage that she claims exists – and that she “dared” people to watch -- does not exist.
We have a word for that: It’s a lie. And it’s not the first time Carly Fiorina has lied.
This is part of a much larger pattern of deception and dishonesty that has marked Carly Fiorina’s careers in both politics and business for decades. In August, at the Iowa State Fair, she made totally false claims about Planned Parenthood health centers’ work with communities of color. She used statistics that are not true and never have been. She hasn’t just misled the public about Planned Parenthood’s work – but about her own. Multiple journalists have reviewed her claims about growth at Hewlett Packard under watch and found her claims misleading and cherry-picked
Her statement last night was more than misleading. It was deceptive. Today, Planned Parenthood Action Fund Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens reached out to Fiorina directly with a letter asking her to stop making false statements about Planned Parenthood – and inviting her to visit a Planned Parenthood health center to see the truth about what we do and how we impact millions of people’s lives. The full letter is linked here, and pasted in below.
We’re calling her on her lie last night, and we aren’t the only ones. Before the debate even ended, the New York Times and Politico had tweeted to say that Fiorina’s claim about Planned Parenthood was false. This morning on Good Morning America, she was confronted with the fact that the scene she describes appears nowhere on the videos, and all she could say was that people should “rest assured” that she had seen such a scene and that it was real. Following are just a few of the fact checks following the debate:
Washington Post: Video does not exist: “Fiorina might have trouble finding this video to show to Clinton. No video has surfaced showing the scene Fiorina describes taking place inside a Planned Parenthood facility.”
- Vox: “Pure fiction”: “Fiorina is wrong: Nobody watching the Planned Parenthood tapes would see those things. I know, because I recently watched all 12 hours of footage…. there is no moment where Planned Parenthood discusses procuring fetal tissue for profit, nor is there the scene that Fiorina describes…. The things Fiorina describes — the legs kicking, the intact ‘fully formed fetus,’ the heart beating, the remarks about having to ‘harvest its brain’— are pure fiction.”
Slate: “It’s simply not true”: “There is nothing in the videos made by CMP, either in the edited or full-length versions, that has anything approaching images of legs kicking or hearts beating. To be sure, Fiorina wasn't the only person lying about Planned Parenthood on stage. The claim that Planned Parenthood sells fetal body parts was stated as fact by multiple candidates. It's simply not true, and repeating it will not make it more true. But describing such a vivid and grisly scene that never happened—that is taking it to another level.”
Fusion: Factually wrong: “To be clear, Fiorina, like the other Republicans attacking Planned Parenthood, doesn’t have her facts straight. None of the videos have anyone talking about “harvesting” brains.”
Refinery29: “Totally made-up”: “How could Fiorina get something so easily disproved so wrong? At this point, it's not important. We've all heard her horrifying description, and opponents of reproductive rights will seize on it and repeat it, and it will become another talking point for people who want to take essential health care — everything from birth control to access to the earliest abortions — away from women.”
Bustle: “Categorically false”: “That, I would venture to say, is one of the more graphic things that we heard from anyone about the Planned Parenthood debate. And it was also categorically false.”
Politico: Wrongometer: “The videos … don’t show what Fiorina claims.”
Politifact: Claims are untrue: “Fiorina makes it sound as if the footage shows what Planned Parenthood is alleged to have done. In fact, the stock footage was added to the video to dramatize its content.”
Factcheck.org: No video exists showing what Fiorina claims: “We are aware of no video showing such a scene…the scene Fiorina “dares” others to watch is not present in any of the Planned Parenthood videos.”
September 17, 2015
Carly for President
1020 N Fairfax Street., Ste. 200
Alexandria, VA 22314
Dear Ms. Fiorina:
Last night in the Republican primary debate, you challenged people to watch videos of Planned Parenthood, which you said included graphic and disturbing images that you described.
I am writing to tell you directly that your claims are completely false and that the video footage you described simply does not exist. Literally, there is no such scene on any of the heavily edited, widely discredited videos that have been released by anti-abortion extremists. Your statements last night, while vivid and attention-getting, were completely untrue.
This is not the first time you have made flat-out false statements about Planned Parenthood. In the first debate, you made claims about the number of Planned Parenthood health centers that are in communities of color, using numbers that were just not true.
I understand that you sincerely believe abortion should not be legal in the United States. We disagree about this. I believe that abortion should be safe and legal, and that all women should have full access to reproductive health care that can help them lead healthy lives and pursue their goals and dreams. We can have an honest conversation about whether abortion should be safe and legal in this country, but you should not come at it dishonestly, with patently false statements about what Planned Parenthood does.
I'd like to invite you to visit a Planned Parenthood health center, learn more about the full range of services it provides, spend time with the extraordinary doctors, nurses, and clinicians there, and meet some of the women who rely on Planned Parenthood for high-quality health care. The patients you will meet depend on Planned Parenthood health centers as one of their few -- sometimes only -- sources of affordable, compassionate, high-quality health care. These are the people whose health would be jeopardized if Planned Parenthood were defunded, as you advocate.
Planned Parenthood has approximately 700 health centers around the country that provide birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, abortion services, and other high-quality reproductive health care every day. We can help arrange for you to visit a health center in virtually any city you're traveling to, and my staff will follow up with your office later today about possibilities.
Executive Vice President
Planned Parenthood Action Fund