Washington, D.C. -- As polls show Ted Cruz more than 20 points down in South Carolina, and the campaign faces criticism over an ad pulled because of an actor’s past work history, it seems Cruz is getting desperate --- and is now leaning on indicted criminals for his latest TV spot. A new ad from the Cruz campaign centers around the discredited anti-abortion videos produced by indicted criminal David Daleiden.

Earlier this month, a federal judge issued an injunction on the anti-abortion extremists behind the videos, outlining the vast criminal conspiracy that went into the campaign to target Planned Parenthood, and making clear that the video’s accusations are “baseless.” At the beginning of February, after two months of investigation, a grand jury in Texas not only cleared Planned Parenthood of all wrongdoing, it instead indicted the makers of the videos on felony charges. The makers of the videos were arrested and posted bail earlier this month.

Officials in twelve states (Nevada, Kansas, Florida, Ohio, Washington, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri and South Dakota) have concluded investigations into claims that Planned Parenthood profited from fetal tissue donation and each one has cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing. Officials in eight states (California, Iowa, Delaware, Idaho, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Colorado) have declined to even investigate citing a lack of any evidence to suggest wrongdoing.

Statement from Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“This is a despicable and desperate attempt to lie to voters, with dangerous and inflammatory rhetoric. These videos were fake, the accusations were complete lies, and Ted Cruz should be ashamed of himself. Even after the extremists behind these videos were exposed and arrested on felony charges, and Planned Parenthood was cleared of all wrongdoing, Cruz is still embracing reckless and dangerous rhetoric to attack the basic, lifesaving health care that millions in this country rely on.

“Ted Cruz already spent six months waging an unpopular and unsuccessful campaign to try to shut down the government in order to decimate women’s health care in this country.  There’s a reason the American people rejected Cruz’s crusade --- Planned Parenthood is a trusted health care provider that one out of five women has turned to in her lifetime. Both Trump and Cruz want to ban abortion, block patients from accessing care at Planned Parenthood, and would eliminate insurance coverage for birth control. Whomever the Republicans nominate, it's clear that they'd be a disaster for women's health. The American people have no appetite for cutting women off from accessing cancer screenings or birth control --- especially when you’re relying on lies and indicted criminals to do so.”

Cruz carried out an unsuccessful and unpopular crusade to “defund” Planned Parenthood last year — threatening to shut down the government over whether or not low-income, uninsured individuals and those enrolled in Medicaid could continue to turn to Planned Parenthood health centers for basic preventive care like breast exams, lifesaving cervical cancer screenings, and birth control or from participating in specific public health programs, such as family planning programs and sex education programs. Planned Parenthood provides birth control, cancer screenings, annual exams, and other high-quality health care services to 2.5 million people at more than 650 nonprofit community health centers nationwide.

Ted Cruz’s positions have garnered attention and support from the most extreme and dangerous elements of the anti-abortion movement --- namely the leader of Operation Rescue, Troy Newman.  Newman is so extreme that Australia literally won’t let him in their country.  A member of Newman’s Operation Rescue is responsible for murdering Dr. George Tiller. One of the group’s current spokeswomen, Cheryl Sullenger, served two years in prison for attempting to bomb a women’s health center that provided abortions. Newman himself has defended multiple other extremists and called the murder of an abortion clinic doctor a “justifiable defensive action.”

Despite repeated attacks by Ted Cruz and anti-abortion extremists, 14 national polls have shown widespread popular support for Planned Parenthood and the care it provides --- and strong opposition to attempts to block patients from accessing care at the non-profit health care provider.

Trump, just like every other leading candidate running for the Republican presidential nomination, wants to block patients from accessing reproductive care at Planned Parenthood — leaving more than a million people across the country with no place to turn for basic, essential health care. He wants to ban safe, legal abortion — which could lead to a whole nation that looks like Texas, where researchers estimate at least 100,000 women have attempted to self-induce their own abortions without the care of a doctor or medical professional. And he wants to roll back insurance coverage of birth control, meaning women would pay an estimated $1.4 billion more a year to cover their birth control. These policies would be devastating for women — and particular for low-income women and communities of color, a troubling trend throughout his campaign.