As of this moment, the Wikipedia entry for the Center for Medical Progress seems to have the story right (though that could change any minute, as anyone can go it and edit it), so here’s what it says now:
The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) is an anti-abortion organization founded by David Daleiden in 2013. Daleiden set up a fake biomedical research company, called Biomax Procurement Services, as a cover to pose as buyers of fetal tissues and secretly record Planned Parenthood officials during meetings.
David Daleiden formed the Center for Medical Progress in 2013 after working for Live Action for five years. He was that organization’s director of research “during the early stages” of the project to make secret recordings of Planned Parenthood clinics.
The CMP receives advice, consulting and funds from Operation Rescue. Their website initially described the organization as “dedicated to informing and educating both the lay public and the scientific community about the latest advances in regenerative medicine, cell-based therapies, and related disciplines.” It was initially registered by Daleiden as a tax-exempt biomedicine charity, but after questions about the group’s tax exempt status the organization’s stated mission was changed to “a group of citizen journalists dedicated to monitoring and reporting on medical ethics and advances.”
Undercover videos controversy
Daleiden’s organization posed as a fake biomedical research company, called Biomax Procurement Services. Under this guise, they posed as potential buyers of aborted fetal tissue, and secretly recorded Planned Parenthood officials during meetings. The edited videos are promoted as showing Planned Parenthood officials “price haggling over ‘baby parts'”, however, a Factcheck.org article notes that the full, unedited video “shows a Planned Parenthood executive repeatedly saying its clinics want to cover their costs, not make money, when donating fetal tissue from abortions for scientific research.” According to the lawyer for Planned Parenthood, Roger K. Evans, Biomax proposed “sham procurement contracts,” offering US$1,600 for liver and thymus fetal tissues.
In July 2015, the Center for Medical Progress began releasing a series of videos that purportedly show executives at Planned Parenthood haggling over the price for fetal tissue donations. In the first video clip, the senior director of medical services at Planned Parenthood is purportedly describing altering the abortion procedure to preserve fetal organs. In the video clip, the Planned Parenthood representative is heard as saying, “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver because we know that, I’m not going to crush that part.” In a second video clip, a Planned Parenthood official is seen saying that if patients provide informed consent for fetal tissue donation then “If our usual technique is suction, at 10 to 12 weeks, and we switch to using an Ipas or something with less suction, and increase the odds that it will come out as an intact specimen, then we’re kind of violating the protocol that says to the patient, ‘We’re not doing anything different in our care of you.'”
In July, a Los Angeles judge placed an injunction on the release of further videos of employees of Stemexpress, one company with which Planned Parenthood does business, based on California’s anti-wiretapping law.
A Superior Court judge in Los Angeles, and a federal judge in San Francisco ordered the group not to publish footage, and prohibits them from disclosing names or addresses of National Abortion Federation members, or dates and locations of future meetings.
The videos were shown to Republicans Trent Franks and Tim Murphy two weeks before being made publicly available, leading commentators to note that the timing of the release appears to coincide with a bipartisan bill to raise money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Rand Paul and Diane Black introduced pre-prepared legislation to strip Planned Parenthood of all federal funding. On July 14, 2015, House Speaker John Boehner ordered congressional hearings into these practices of Planned Parenthood, and at least one committee committed to scheduling a hearing.
As a direct consequence of the videos, Republicans sponsored a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. On August 3, 2015, that bill failed to pass in the Senate. The White House said it would oppose Congress defunding the organization.
Several Republican Presidential candidates have focused on comments made by Planned Parenthood officials, characterizing tissue donation as a way to profit from abortion: Rick Perry stated “The video showing a Planned Parenthood employee selling the body parts of aborted children is a disturbing reminder of the organization’s penchant for profiting off the tragedy of a destroyed human life.”
Carly Fiorina declared “This latest news is tragic and outrageous. This isn’t about “choice.” It’s about profiting on the death of the unborn while telling women it’s about empowerment.” Rand Paul posted on Twitter “…a video showing [Planned Parenthood]’s top doctor describing how she performs late-term abortions to sell body parts for profit!” and vowed to campaign to defund Planned Parenthood.
A New York Times editorial wrote that the “video campaign is a dishonest attempt to make legal, voluntary and potentially lifesaving tissue donations appear nefarious and illegal.” Supporters of Planned Parenthood have complained that the videos were edited, although the Center for Medical Progress has released unedited videos along with the much shorter edited versions.
In response to the videos, Planned Parenthood said that they may donate fetal tissue at the request of a patient, but that such tissue is never sold. In response to Planned Parenthood, CMP issued a statement saying: “The Center for Medical Progress follows all applicable laws in the course of our investigative journalism work, and we look forward to showing the public more clear evidence that Planned Parenthood routinely profits from the sale of baby parts and changes the abortion procedures it uses on pregnant women in order to do so. Congress and state authorities are right to continue to hold Planned Parenthood accountable for these atrocities against humanity.”
Sherilyn J. Sawyer, the director of Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s biorepository told FactCheck.org that “there’s no way there’s a profit at that price.” She wrote that non-profit hospitals provide adult “tissue blocks from surgical procedures” at around $100–500 per block, and noted that “$30-100 is completely reasonable and normal fee.” Jim Vaught, president of the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories said that “$30 to $100 per sample is a reasonable charge for clinical operations to recover their costs for providing tissue.” Carolyn Compton, the chief medical and science officer of Arizona State University’s National Biomarkers Development Alliance said this was “a modest price tag for cost recovery.” Art Caplan, a professor of bioethics at New York University told CNN that “In abortion the primary goal is to give the safest abortion possible, your sole concern has to be the mother and her health.” He told The Washington Post that it is “ethically very dangerous” to “put the mom’s health secondary.”
On July 30, 2015, Indiana Republican Governor Mike Pence announced that the state’s investigation did not find any evidence of wrongdoing in the handling of fetal tissue at Planned Parenthood’s Indiana locations.
Pretty factual stuff there. Now check out this article written by Frederick Clarkson, “Catholic Democrats and the Group Behind the Anti- Planned Parenthood Videos.” Clarkson joined me on the show this morning and pulled back the curtain in front of these propagandists in the latest smearing of the womens’ health services provider.
While you’re navigating the social media muddy waters and talking with friends and family members who might be buying the bullshit, a few resources to help you out… From ThinkProgress, “Everything You Need To Know About The Anti-Abortion Groups Trying To Discredit Planned Parenthood,” from Alternet, “6 Things to Say to Your Conservative Relatives Who Buy Into Anti-Planned Parenthood Propaganda,” and don’t miss Ultraviolet’s “What the fuck has Planned Parenthood Done?” factoid generator!
In hour two, I was thrilled to welcome Stephanie Kelton back to the show. She’s currently on leave from her role as Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She left at the beginning of the year to move to DC as Chief Economist for the Democrats on the US Senate Budget Committee under ranking member Senator Bernie Sanders!
We discussed the Greek economic crisis, Puerto Rico’s similar problems, and how the two are very much alike. We talked about her roots in Modern Monetary Theory (and what that means), and the seemingly out-of-left-field rise in popularity of the Labour Party’s Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, and the parallels to Bernie Sanders’ rock star status over here… and lots more!
The fact that Sanders is surrounding himself with people of the calibre of Stephanie Kelton is just one more reason to support Sanders for president!
Tomorrow is the day… yeah, the clown car will debate, but it’s the night we bid farewell to Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show. We can drown our sorrows together here, radio or not.