Politics

Planned Parenthood Videos Were Manipulated, Analysis Finds

| by Kathryn Schroeder

The secretly recorded Planned Parenthood videos that were released by the Center for American Progress, an anti-abortion group, have been found to be manipulated and unreliable for any official inquiry, according to an independent analysis.

The videos show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the donation of fetal tissue after abortions, which is legal, the Huffington Post notes. However, the edited versions of the videos appear to show the officials engaged in the illegal activity of selling fetal tissue for profit and modifying abortions in order to sell intact specimens. 

One of the videos featured the director of medical services at Planned Parenthood allegedly negotiating with a buyer for body parts from aborted fetuses, Opposing Views reported.

The videos prompted Republican House Speaker John A. Boehner to have the House Energy and Commerce Committee open an investigation into Planned Parenthood.

A new video has been released nearly every week since July.

Planned Parenthood has denied the charges against them and says the videos were deceptively and misleadingly edited.

The independent analysis by Fusion GPS, a Washington-based research and corporate intelligence agency, agrees with Planned Parenthood, The New York Times reports.

“A thorough review of these videos in consultation with qualified experts found that they do not present a complete or accurate record of the events they purport to depict,” the analysis concluded.

The analysis’ findings were given to the committee and congressional leaders by Planned Parenthood on Thursday.

The Center for American Progress said after the analysis was released that the attempt to debunk the videos was “a complete failure” and that the time gaps found in the footage were for “bathroom breaks and waiting periods.”

For the analysis, reviewers looked both at edited videos that are about eight to 15 minutes long and at what are said to be the full-length recordings, some more than two hours long.

A transcription service was also used to transcribe the videos for the analysis. They were not told they were part of the Planned Parenthood case. A video forensics expert and a television producer were also hired to review the footage.

The analysis found “substantive omissions” in the Center for American Progress’ versions of the videos.

The investigation’s reviewers could not determine “the extent to which C.M.P.’s undisclosed edits and cuts distort the meaning of the encounters the videos purport to document.”

"In our view, CMP created the purported statement, 'It's a baby,' either through transcription error or intentional fabrication," Glenn Simpson, a partner at Fusion GPS and former Wall Street Journal reporter, told reporters on Thursday.

Recordings from Houston and Denver Planned Parenthood centers were found to be missing about 30 minutes of video, based on the time stamps and frame counters on the recordings.

The videos as given were found to not be usable in a legal context.

“The manipulation of the videos does mean they have no evidentiary value in a legal context and cannot be relied upon for any official inquiries” unless the investigators are provided the original material from the Center for American Progress.

"It appears they commit what I would call 'wishful thinking' about what was said," Simpson added.

Planned Parenthood is considering taking legal action against the Center for American Progress, Huffington Post reports.

"Certainly, these findings raise additional questions for us, and I think everyone, about the methods that are being used by the so-called Center for Medical Progress to try to entrap us and make a story out of something that actually isn't there," Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood, said.

Lageuns also noted that fetal tissue donations are only occur at 1 percent of Planned Parenthood centers, and they are crucial for "lifesaving medical research."

Cecil Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, also wrote a letter to Congress detailing the legal procedures they follow in donating fetal tissue. In the letter, she wrote that Planned Parenthood centers only receive $60 or less per specimen donated, and this amount is only to cover the costs of transporting and preserving the tissue. She added that they only adjust abortion methods to keep a specimen intact if the patient requests that the fetal tissue be donated.

A 1993 law cited by the Huffington Post made this procedures that Richards detailed entirely legal. This law was signed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as other Republicans.

Sources: The New York Times, Huffington Post, Opposing Views

Photo Source: Jason Taellious/Flickr CC, Charlotte Cooper/Flickr CC