New Planned Parenthood video reignites anti-abortion outrage

A seventh Planned Parenthood video has been released by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), a California-based anti-abortion group accusing the women’s health organization of profiting off the sale of fetal organs.

“Today’s video contains heartrending admissions about the absolute barbarism of Planned Parenthood’s abortion practice and baby parts sales in which fetuses are sometimes delivered intact and alive,” CMP leader David Daleiden said in a statement.

The videos published by CMP have led to a firestorm of anti-abortion rhetoric by conservatives lawmakers.

In the latest video, Holly O’Donnell, a former procurement specialist for StemExpress, a biomedical research company, claims to have witnessed a fetus’s heart begin to beat after Planned Parenthood sent the fetus to her lab.

“This is the most gestated fetus and closest thing to a baby I’ve ever seen,” said O’Donnell, who is seen in other CMP videos and describes herself as “pro-life.” CMP offers no evidence, however, aside from O’Donnell’s anecdote, to support the allegation. 

Wednesday’s video also contains footage recycled from other previously released CMP videos. 

In statement on Wednesday, Eric Ferrero, Planned Parenthood’s vice president of communications, accused CMP of having close ties to “organizations and individuals who have been linked to the firebombing of abortion clinics and threats to the physical safety of doctors who provide abortions.”

“The real agenda of these baseless attacks has become totally clear: to ban abortion and limit women’s access to reproductive health care at Planned Parenthood,” said Ferrero, who claims the vast majority of the public stands with his organization.

The videos published by CMP have led to a firestorm of anti-abortion rhetoric by conservatives lawmakers. Several Republican presidential candidates have made defunding Planned Parenthood a top priority on the campaign trail. 

“This isn’t about choice,” Carly Fiorina, a GOP presidential candidate, wrote on Facebook. “It’s about profiting on the death of the unborn while telling women it’s about empowerment.”

On Twitter, Sen. Rand Paul described CMP’s video as Planned Parenthood’s “top doctor describing how she performs late-term abortions to sell body parts for profit!”

The allegation that Planned Parenthood is “selling” organs and tissue, however, has been debunked on many occasions. Abortion clinics donating specimens to medical research facilitates are permitted under the law to receive reimbursement for storage and transportation costs. The figures cited in CMP’s videos by clinic officials—$30 to $100 per patient—don’t amount to profit, experts say. 

Sherilyn J. Sawyer, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told FactCheck:

In reality, $30-100 probably constitutes a loss for [Planned Parenthood]. The costs associated with collection, processing, storage, and inventory and records management for specimens are very high. Most hospitals will provide tissue blocks from surgical procedures (ones no longer needed for clinical purposes, and without identity) for research, and cost recover for their time and effort in the range of $100-500 per case/block. In the realm of tissues for research $30-100 is completely reasonable and normal fee.

In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott’s administration tried to shut down three clinics accused of performing second-trimester abortions. After Planned Parenthood requested an emergency injunction against the state’s health care agency to prevent it from pursuing regulatory action, Scott conceded on Wednesday that the abortions being performed by the clinics were legal.

Planned Parenthood officials said the turn of events in Florida only proved that CMP has launched a baseless smear campaign against its clinics, which provides women across the country access to birth control, cancer screenings and STD testing.  

“In every state where these investigations have concluded—in Georgia, South Dakota, Indiana, and Massachusetts—officials have cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing,” said Dawn Laguens, Planned Parenthood’s executive vice president. 

Illustration by Jason Reed

Dell Cameron

Dell Cameron

Dell Cameron was a reporter at the Daily Dot who covered security and politics. In 2015, he revealed the existence of an American hacker on the U.S. government's terrorist watchlist. He is a co-author of the Sabu Files, an award-nominated investigation into the FBI's use of cyber-informants. He became a staff writer at Gizmodo in 2017.