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“It appears that the only people who have broken laws are the extremists who have been hounding women and doctors for years,” letter to Congress says

WASHINGTON, DC – Planned Parenthood today told a Congressional committee that an elaborate fraud related to tissue donation for medical research is part of a decade-long pattern of illegal harassment by extremists whose focus is banning abortion and preventing women from accessing preventive health care at Planned Parenthood health centers.

In a letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, Planned Parenthood outlined how a video released last week was edited to falsely claim that the organization violated laws, as well as how the broader attack was perpetrated, the extremist ties of the individual who led the fraud, and what additional tapes they may be planning to distort in order to make false charges.

“Planned Parenthood is the most trusted women’s health care provider in this country, and we have been for nearly 100 years. Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our patients, which is why we are fighting back hard and calling this what it is – part of a decade-long campaign of deceiving the public, making false charges, and terrorizing women and their doctors, all in order to ban abortion and cut women off from care at Planned Parenthood,” said Eric Ferrero, Vice President for Communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Already, conservative politicians have begun to use this fraud campaign to justify legislation to defund Planned Parenthood, which would cut women off from birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, and other services, and to push for legislation banning abortion federally and in states.

In particular, the letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, responding to a request Friday, included the following information:

  • An analysis of the heavily edited, nine-minute video released last week, compared to a longer 150-minute video, shows that a Planned Parenthood staffer said 10 different times that Planned Parenthood would not sell tissue or profit from tissue donations and that all 10 instances were cut out and the video was edited to falsely claim she said the opposite. 
  • The man who perpetrated the fraud, David Daleiden, has participated in at least 10 separate fraud campaigns over the last eight years involving gaining access to Planned Parenthood health centers or offices under false pretenses, taping staff (and sometimes patients) without their knowledge on at least 65 occasions (not counting the latest fraud), and misleading the public with heavily edited tapes and false charges. Another man involved in the fraud, Troy Newman, is the leader of Operation Rescue, whose members have bombed abortion clinics and murdered Dr. George Tiller in his church.
  • This latest attack started approximately three years ago, and included the creation of a phony company claiming to be a health care organization, which then embarked on a campaign of corporate espionage with Planned Parenthood as its target.
  • The fraud included possible violations of state and federal recording laws and tax laws, as well as the use of a false state identification card.
  • Based on initial analysis, Planned Parenthood believes that Daleiden may have thousands of hours of videotape that he will use to edit deceptively into short clips to make false claims, likely for many months. Among the areas that Planned Parenthood said it expects to see on tapes are:
  • Illegal, secret recording in a highly sensitive area of a health center where tissue is processed after abortion procedures, a serious invasion of women’s privacy and dignity.
  • Offers from impersonators posing as health care professionals to pay various sums of money for tissue or organs, from $100 to $1,600 – offers which could be illegal, and which Planned Parenthood staff refused.
  • Leading and vague questions and discussions about how abortions are performed, to get footage that could be edited to suggest wrongdoing, regardless of the fact that Planned Parenthood staff made clear they would not violate laws.
  • Particularly cynical and ugly questions about whether tissue from African-American patients could be isolated to use for research to find a cure for sickle-cell anemia, presumably to edit deceptively and manufacture false and inflammatory video involving race.

The letter concludes: “As a high-quality health care provider, Planned Parenthood has extremely high standards, and any time those standards are not being met, we take swift action. But what we know right now is that a group of extremists who have intimidated women and doctors for years – in their agenda to ban abortion completely – are not “documenting” misdeeds; they are trying to create them, quite unsuccessfully. Indeed, from all that is known today, the only people who have broken laws are the extremists who have been hounding women and Planned Parenthood doctors for years.”

To see the letter in full, go here.

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Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With approximately 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.

 

Key background:

Statement from Cecile Richards

See a video statement with written transcript from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, here.

Background: Daledien’s Video is Clearly and Deceptively Manipulated:

  • Politifact: “Put simply, there’s no clear gotcha.”
     
  • Gawker: "This is a case of words being taken grossly out of context."
     
  • The New York Times: While the video...alleges that Planned Parenthood is guilty of the crime of selling fetal remains, the official tells her questioners more than once that the cost, $30 to $100, is reimbursement for clinics' expenses.”
     
  • Washington Post: “The group behind the sting edited a three-hour meeting down to eight minutes of detailed medical description, then blasted it across the country proclaiming that they have evidence that Planned Parenthood is harvesting baby parts for profit. Um, no — not even remotely….The truth is, this video is nothing more than another one of those graphic abortion protest posters of mutilated fetuses waved at people and passing children on the street. Totally out of context and totally horrible.”
     
  • MSNBC: “The group that recorded a secret video of Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services says it shows “how Planned Parenthood sells the body parts of aborted fetuses, and admitting she uses partial-birth abortions to supply intact body parts.” But their own transcript contains several clear statements to dispute that.”
     
  • Yahoo: “The video, through not-so-subtle editing, implies that Planned Parenthood is in the business of encouraging women to abort fetuses so that the organization may then sell the fetal parts for profit. Nucatola appears to say that it costs $30 to $100 purchase baby organs. This has been markedly denounced as untrue by both Planned Parenthood itself and outside journalistic entities.”
     
  • Guardian: “The truth of the video, however – which was released by a previously unheard-of organization led by a man who has described himself as an “amateur varanid keeper” – is that it shows nothing illegal.”

Pattern of Unlawful Harassment:

  • Slate: “Live Action is, above all, a group of propagandists who roll out lurid and titillating videos to push an agenda that expands far beyond just trying to ban legal abortion.”
     
  • Daily Beast: “David Daleiden has been trying to destroy Planned Parenthood for nearly his entire life”
    • After Daleiden graduated from high school...he ran a chapter of Live Action and became the organization’s director of research “during the early stages of the Mona Lisa Project,”....an undercover video series produced by Live Action in which [Live Action founder Lila] Rose posed as a 13-year-old girl who had supposedly been impregnated by an adult and spoke with a nurse’s aide at a Bloomington, Indiana, Planned Parenthood clinic.
    • Rose has gone on to release several videos inside Planned Parenthood clinics that closely resemble the style of yesterday’s video release from the CMP: heavily-edited and full of misdirection. In 2011, for instance, when Daleiden was still with the organization, Live Action actors went undercover as a pimp and a sex worker asking Planned Parenthood workers about abortion access for underage sex workers. TheFBI looked into the video and did not prosecute.
       
  • The Nation: “[CMP Board member Troy Newman is also] the president of Operation Rescue, a pro-life group that ran the multi-decade harassment campaign of Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas, a campaign that only ended when Scott Roeder, who was an active part of Operation Rescue activities in Wichita, murdered Tiller in his church in 2009.”
  • Huffington Post: Group Behind Planned Parenthood Sting Video May Have Committed Tax Fraud.
    • “The anti-abortion group that released an undercover "sting" video of a Planned Parenthood doctor this week appears to be a dummy nonprofit that may have deceived the Internal Revenue Service and the public about its mission.”
    • “The Center for Medical Progress appears to be nothing more than a front organization for the anti-abortion group Live Action.”
    • “The IRS likely mistook the Center for Medical Progress as a biomedicine charity....But the only thing the Center for Medical Progress appears to have done in the past two years is produce this undercover video investigation into Planned Parenthood….If the Center for Medical Progress deliberately misled the IRS and donors about the nature of its nonprofit work, it could be subject to civil and criminal fraud penalties.”
       
  • MSNBC: Group May Have Violated State Recording Laws in Making Planned Parenthood Video
    • "Another question has been largely overlooked: Whether the creation of the video was illegal under California’s strict recording laws. “
    • “California is an all party consent state – meaning a person can be liable for invasion of privacy if they record without the consent of all the parties to a confidential communication.”
    • “According to the Digital Media Law Project, ‘In addition to subjecting you to criminal prosecution, violating the California wiretapping law can expose you to a civil lawsuit for damages by an injured party.’”
       
  • Daily Dot: Group Was Created for the Specific Purpose of Taking Down Planned Parenthood
    • “Percolating beneath this high-horse is a tangle of anti-abortion activists and shell organizations created for the specific purpose of taking down Planned Parenthood.”
    • “In a Wednesday article, the New York Times describes CMP only as a “little-known” group. However, CMP is for the most part unknown because, for all intents and purposes, it didn’t exist more than a week ago....Described by Marcotte as a “fly-by-night organization,” CMP is apparently an offshoot of Live Action, an anti-abortion group with a dubious reputation and ties to criminal activity.”
    • “According to the California Secretary of State, Biomax was established in October 2013 as a limited liability company with the aid of Ventura County attorney Phillip Cronin. Its address sits somewhere in a Norwalk shopping center between a 7-11 convenience store, a Chuck E Cheese’s, and a donut shop.”