NOTE: I spent a lot of time in the past two days reading about the infamous Planned Parenthood Videos prepared by the Pro Life Center for Medical Progress. My major sources are listed below my post and links in the post are embedded. Here are my findings.


On Wednesday night Carly Fiorina had one of her best moments according to those who measure audience reaction when she passionately described a graphic scene from an undercover video of Planned Parenthood in which a fetus that survived an abortion waits, its “heart beating” and “legs kicking,” for a technician to harvest its brain.

Today, House Republicans passed a pair of bills inspired by the same videos: One measure would defund Planned Parenthood and another would protect “abortion survivors.”

The problem is, the videos are so heavily edited that they bear little resemblance to reality, and the scene Fiorina described doesn’t exist in the video.


There is a video which has become associated with the Planned Parenthood videos created by “The Center for Medical Progress” an ardent “pro life” group which produced the videos of meetings between members of the Planned Parenthood staff and members of the staff from the Center for Medical Progress posing as tissue buyers.

They argue that Planned Parenthood has profited from procuring fetal tissue for researchers. The videos do show Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue, sometimes in ways that are callous and jarring. But there is no moment where Planned Parenthood discusses procuring fetal tissue for profit, nor is there the scene that Fiorina describes.


That video is most likely referring to the video in which Holly O’Donnell, a former procurement technician for a biomedical company, talks about having seen a fully formed aborted fetus, with its heart still beating, in a pathology lab. The video doesn’t show any footage from the scene, but instead shows a graphic image of someone holding a small fetus in their hands. That image is not an aborted fetus, as the video suggests. Rather, it was taken from the blog of a woman named Alexis Fretz, who miscarried at 19 weeks and posted images of her still-born baby online.

There is another image in the videos of a fetus that’s moving, similar to the one Fiorina described. But as the Los Angeles Times points out, this image wasn’t captured by the Center for Medical Progress during its undercover sting; it’s credited to two other anti-abortion groups. There’s no evidence to suggest that image is from an abortion or related to Planned Parenthood, and no one in the video is saying they want to keep the fetus alive to harvest its brain.

These outside images blend into one when watched with the videos filmed by the CMP. The result is very misleading.



They are not the only misleading moments in the videos.Separate conversations are cut and spliced together to appear as if they are one line of discussion. Subtitles in the videos do not match the words being said. Entire chunks of time are missing from the footage — even from the supposedly full, “unedited” videos that the Center released along with the more heavily edited ones.

A forensic analysis of the videos by Fusion GPS found they are so egregiously manipulated that the videos would never be accepted as evidence in a court of law. So far that analysis remains unchallenged by CMP or by any other group.

Congress requested the real, unaltered videos of Planned Parenthood from the Center for Medical Progress earlier this week, but the Center has not yet released them to anyone but the GOP acted without them anyway. Meanwhile, 37 state investigations and a federal investigation into the accusations against Planned Parenthood have failed to produce any evidence to support the claims in the videos.

Republicans lawmakers continue to legislate based on the videos. GOP members of Congress screened the videos at a legislative hearing Thursday afternoon to support their effort to defund Planned Parenthood, as Democrats balked in disbelief. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) skewered his GOP colleagues once the videos ended.

“I just think it’s so irresponsible to use this type of material — false material, inaccurate, misleading videos — to make any case at what is supposed to be a legislative hearing,” Pallone said. “Yet Republicans are openly ignoring the mounting evidence that the videos are fake and continuing to legislate based on them.”

The criticism fell on deaf ears.

“They’re not doctored,” Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) said of the videos on the House floor Friday morning before the votes. “I daresay none of these folks we’re hearing from on the other side of the aisle have watched them.”

“Harvesting body parts, how could anyone defend that?” Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) shouted into the microphone during the emotional debate.



The videos, even in their heavily edited form, do not show Planned Parenthood harvesting and selling body parts. What they do show is Planned Parenthood doctors having frank, technical conversations about abortion procedures with actors that are posing as fetal tissue procurement technicians. The doctors discuss the modest reimbursements Planned Parenthood is legally allowed to receive to cover the costs of donating fetal tissue for medical research AND the requirements that would have to be meet by any lab acquiring fetal tissue.

One doctor makes an inappropriate joke about wanting to buy a Lamborghini with the reimbursements, which amount to a maximum $60 per specimen donated. Considering that only two Planned Parenthood clinics in the country actually donate fetal tissue, and the $60 fee has to cover the costs of preserving and transporting each specimen, it’s absurd to think the doctor was serious about buying a luxury sports car with that money.

The Republican effort to defund Planned Parenthood is unlikely to succeed anyway. The Senate doesn’t have the votes to pass it, and President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the bill if it were to somehow make it to his desk. But the videos have already become a major issue in the 2016 presidential campaign, with the Republican candidates accepting their claims as fact.

“Let’s ask Hillary Clinton,” Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) said during the debate. “She believes in the systematic murder of children in the womb to preserve their body parts in a way that maximizes their value for sale.”

Clinton responded in an email to reporters. “Repeating false statements doesn’t make them true, no matter how many times you do it,” she said.







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4 years ago

Very well researched and written, Murph.

The PR problem is that even the news networks refer to the videos, without qualifications in many cases, as videos of discussions about selling body parts from fetuses. A correct journalistic description might be “heavily edited and manipulated video that the makers claim shows…”.

Instead, the propaganda that the videos are “of Planned Parenthood talking about selling fetal body parts”.

The rush by Republicans to capitalize on this smear is also unprincipled and should be hammered hard, not one entity has found these lies to be true and yet even before any investigation that proves otherwise, they are trying to play judge, jury and executioner of Planned Parenthood.

And what about the cowardly Dr. Ben Carson who has worked with fetal tissue standing up and admitting it is a standard and necessary research practice to use fetal tissue?

Fortunately, this truly evil scheme to smear PP and get Repubs in Congress to slash funding for women’s health will fail because this scam has been tried and revealed as fraud before.

But that won’t stop them from trying again.

4 years ago

Excellent investigative reporting Murph! As for Carly Fiorina, I’m still dumbfounded to see that a week after those infamous lies she told, she still hasn’t really been held accountable for what she said. Have we become a nation that is willing to allow those that run for public office to say whatever they want whether it be truth or an obvious lie and not publicly call them on it? It appears we are headed in that direction, seems as though lying has become part and parcel of what politicians call the “art” of running for office. Why the citizens of this nation who will eventually be governed by people of this low caliber continue to accept this is beyond my understanding.

As for the videos, I call for the justice department to get involved in this. Is this not libel? If it isn’t, then what would libel be in your estimation? Is this not assassination of character when it comes to misrepresenting what PP does now and has done for so many years to aid women in their quest for equality when it comes to healthcare? We should be ringing the alarm so loud that the DOJ without earplugs would become deaf from the thunderous roar.

Since the days of back ally and coat hanger abortions, republicans have fought not to keep fetuses from harm, but for control over women, something they consider a commodity, something they used to control as property more or less, something euphemistically called chattel by some. I believe they, those that consider PP nothing more than an abortion clinic are utilizing the fact that so many citizens in this nation, male mostly, are ignorant of the facts. The nation needs to be educated as to what happens when it comes to how PP has aided women of all economic backgrounds, races, creeds, or colors in their quest to remain healthy and on solid footing when it comes to caring for themselves throughout their reproductive age. This care helps in so many ways it is impossible to name them, but let’s be sure, it helps women and men benefit from the peace and tranquility it brings to a relationship when a woman is educated regarding her gynecological health. It is not easy for the person who has to make that grandiose decision to become a parent, much of this falls on the woman who needs to be prepared for this both mentally and physically. Planned Parenthood helps with this, I know that other organizations, more costly to the person seeking health advice are available, but the U.S. is overloaded with inequality and many who need these services would not be able to afford them if they had to seek help from these for profit organizations. Also too, for those who do not wish to procreate, PP aids in helping to maintain gynecological health so that that person can avoid pregnancy, which is something every couple in this nation should have the right to choose. None of us should be obligated to become parents by accident so that congress can be happy until the baby arrives.

In summation, I submit yet again, the tapes are a ploy to help those that would return women to the days of chattel. The tapes are a side show, a tactic used by mostly republicans and organizations representing their cause to try to return the nation to yesteryear when women were a possession, something better kept under lock and key, preferably barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. That’s my two cents on the subject. Thanks for all your work in putting this together, excellent project, very well done. πŸ™‚

4 years ago
Reply to  MurphTheSurf3

Yes, I read the Esquire article, and anyone who reads it should realize when a politician is pandering to the electorate in order to gain ground while he/she maneuvers their way into a position of power. Give them what they want, tell them what they would like to hear, and throw in a verse or two from the Bible to seal the deal. A game, for many who are shouting to the top of their lungs their outrage when it comes to allowing women to have control over the reproductive process….How dare they, men are the deciders, yes even when it comes to the most precious thing a woman has, her body, her being, her tranquility, her sanity. I sometimes feel I have fallen asleep and then awakened to a world where education and knowledge not to mention the law has become a game for some. Let’s see, I have my side, you have your side, and we keep the serfs happy by arguing back and forth as if in a tug of war so that the rest of the populace has no time to think about all of the other underhanded things we are doing while we are suppose to be representing them. After all:

A Majority of Americans Still Support Roe v. Wade Decision


As for Jindal, he rejected Medicaid expansion in LA…This is suppose to be someone who cares about the health of everyone in his state, including unborn fetuses? LOL!! Bobby Jindal is a joke, as are many of those that have been helped to gain public office by the puppeteers behind our elections in this country.

As you have so wisely stated, the law of the land is Roe v Wade, but that hasn’t stopped the depraved from trying to have their way in this. I repeat, this has nothing to do with aborted fetuses, this is all about men wanting to have control over women. If the fetuses were that important, those that are so hell bent against abortion would take the money they are wasting on trying to defund PP and all of the other causes they support to try to overturn Roe v. Wade and use it to convince those that they claim are having needless abortions to allow them to care for the fetus while in the womb and then help to maintain the child at least by providing health care, education and sustenance for those children whose parents are unwilling or unable to do so. Oh, that’s right, I forgot, we can’t do that, that means extending a helping hand, that means welfare for someone other than our brothers and sisters the corporations. For me, this game is just that, a ridiculous attempt by those who need to use religion in order to gain power and who need to appear to be against anything they interpret would be against God…of course they cherry pick this too. Adultery, divorce, and the list could go on, somehow doesn’t merit their contempt, too many people engaged in that, it wouldn’t fly, but well coming to the rescue of a helpless fetus…somehow that has a ring to it, that just might help them regain control while helping them at the same time reach the next rung on their ladder to what they call success, and all those trampled under foot without a PP to come to their aid, well too bad, their lives be damned. These politicians are sad, sad human beings IMHO. πŸ™‚

4 years ago
Reply to  MurphTheSurf3

A perfect example of the misuse of intelligence. It is sad to find a person that is intellectually capable but shows the appearance of lacking the slightest bit of common sense when it comes to figuring out the difference between right and wrong.

“With respect to the responsibility of intellectuals, there are still other, equally disturbing questions.

Intellectuals are in a position to expose the lies of governments to analyze actions according to their causes and motives and often hidden intentions. In the Western World, at least they have the power that comes from political liberty, from access to information and freedom of expression.

For a privileged minority, Western democracy provides the leisure, the facilities, and the training to seek the truth lying hidden behind the veil of distortion and misrepresentation, ideology and class interests through which the events of current history are presented to us.

The responsibilities of intellectuals, then, are much deeper than what Macdonald calls the “responsibility of people,” given the unique privileges that intellectuals enjoy.”
~~~~~~~Noam Chomsky

****TWENTY-YEARS AGO, Dwight Macdonald published a series of articles in Politics on the responsibility of peoples and, specifically, the responsibility of intellectuals. I agree with his findings πŸ™‚ πŸ˜‰

4 years ago

Murph, what an excellent article!
I hope this gets out to everyone because the truth seems to be overlooked by too many voters. Also hope this will be the end of Carly and her campaign.

It is a lie and the republicans in Congress have fallen for it. They believe lies instead of facts!

Thanks for posting this article, Murph.

4 years ago

Marvelous Research and great reportage, Murph. Congrats. The only thing that I can say is that I’m not the least bit surprised at the lengths the GOP/TP will go to push their sick agendas. I mean, look at Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran/contra, Vietnam War. 99%BS got us into those tragedies with devastating effects on the psyche of the Country, not to mention the appalling waste of human lives. Even now, they are lying about the effect US involvement is having on ISIS. So I can only sigh and hope that when the nightmare of the current lot in Washington comes to an end, and the SCOTUS reverts to a more liberal stance, the country can get back to somewhere approaching normal, whatever that may be!

4 years ago

Murph, this is a very nicely done piece of investigative journalism. It’s very time-consuming to dig into this complex material and sort it all out, but you’ve done just that.

I don’t doubt that you discovered along the way that David Daleiden (of the “Center for Medical Progress” — even the name is a lie) and James O’Keefe (who dressed up in that absurd pimp outfit to do ambush interviews with ACORN staff members to try to destroy that organization) are BFFs! Fancy that! Two lying Breitbart-type saboteurs who know each other intimately.

If the GOP were capable of shame, I’d say they ought to be ashamed. But we both know better.

4 years ago
Reply to  MurphTheSurf3

Your last sentence sums it up perfectly.

4 years ago

Great article Murph. Was watching C-Span last week and the photo shopped photos were creatively grotesque. I’m not certain that they realize what percentage of the population has availed themselves of PP’s service. It was my first gyn exam, advice and six months of birth control pills.

In answer to KT’s question, the GOP hate women because no one touched their pee pee when they were a teenager and now are taking it out on all women.

4 years ago
Reply to  MurphTheSurf3

That’s like saying GOP women never have abortions. Same BS. Just because they are self-loathing liars, doesn’t mean they were less likely to use PP at one time in their life.

4 years ago
Reply to  MurphTheSurf3

Maybe so Murph, but it doesn’t mean they haven’t used it in their lifetime. And not for nothing, but you don’t exactly live in a state that supports rational policy. Not that many of us do.

4 years ago
Reply to  sillylittleme

LOL! Yeah, they were nerds before nerds became popular! πŸ˜‰ They still carry a grudge.

4 years ago
Reply to  KillgoreTrout

Not nerds, bullies. These were the same boys who pushed girls around on the playground and then expected us to swoon now that they weren’t being mean…

4 years ago

Hey Murph, thanks for the article. It’s hard to believe that people who are intelligent, have integrity and responsibility and ethics, no longer occupy seats in our house of representatives and senate, on the republican side.

How can anyone with integrity and an ounce of honesty, attempt to write legislation based on dishonest videos that they know are doctored yet pretend that they’re not. That is bad enough, in itself, but they continue their dishonesty by pretending that Planned Parenthood is in the abortion business. They are not. Only 3% of what PP does involves abortions.

When they are reminded that PP provides essential medical services to woman across America, such as PAP smears, breast x-rays, contraception…etc, they claim there are thousands of other agencies that provide the same services and PP is not necessary.

Why do these GOP assholes hate women so much?