Coincidence ... or Is It? Planned Parenthood ‘Sting’ Video Isn’t First to Derail Legislation

Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy
·Contributing Writer

A video released on Tuesday by an organization calling itself the Center for Medical Progress says it details a lunch meeting wherein Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s senior director of medical services, discusses how the tissue and organs from aborted fetuses can be best harvested to then be utilized for medical research.

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.

Watch the video released by CMP that purports to show Planned Parenthood senior director Dr. Deborah Nucatola discussing the sale of fetal organs. (Video: YouTube)

There are several very unusual circumstances surrounding the video, perhaps most notably the timing of its release, which corresponded with action in the House around a bipartisan-authored bill that would support the manufacture and sale of a commemorative coin, the sale of which would fund various breast cancer research and support services initiatives. The bill denoted that half of the funds raised from the coin would go to Susan G. Komen, the breast cancer education, research, advocacy, and health and support services organization. Komen, however, gives grants to Planned Parenthood for the conducting of breast cancer screenings for women who oftentimes would be unable to otherwise afford or access these kinds of screenings.

On Tuesday morning, the bill had 307 co-sponsors in Congress, including 142 Republicans. By Tuesday afternoon, following the release of the video, enough congressional Republicans had rescinded their support for the bill to effectively end it before it could even begin — purportedly because of their desire to not show support for an organization that funds Planned Parenthood (and, per the video’s unfounded allegations, the illegal sale of fetal organs).

Related: Do Women ‘Regret’ Abortions? New Study Helps End Debate

Last night a revised version of the bill passed the House, with Komen specifically excluded from it. The original bill including Komen was estimated to raise up to $4.75 million for Komen and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

(The Komen grants, incidentally, are explicitly written so that the funding allocated from the organization to Planned Parenthood may only be used for breast cancer screenings.)

Is it a coincidence that the Center for Medical Progress video came out at the same time as anticipated House action on the breast cancer coin bill?

It seems unlikely. Roll Call reports that two of the leading pro-life voices in the GOP say they saw the CMP video before it was publicly released this week. Rep. Tim Murphy,  R-Pa., a member of the House Pro-Life Caucus, said in a press conference on Wednesday that he had seen the video weeks ago. When pushed by reporters from Congressional Quarterly as to why he and other congressional leaders waited to take action in response to it, he quickly stated that he should not be quoted before saying, “This interview didn’t happen.”

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., likewise said on Wednesday that he had seen the video about a month ago and that “the hope was to have as much information as possible so that the authorities could be notified effectively before the media.”

House Republicans have since announced the launch of a congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood

This isn’t the first time this has happened.

A nearly identical pattern played out back in 2011, where another “undercover” video series was timed around the release of a critical vote in Congress on services that would directly impact Planned Parenthood.

The 2011 videos, produced by the pro-life group Live Action, showed actors posing as a pimp with underage prostitutes visiting various Planned Parenthood health centers asking for advice on how to get birth control for girls under the age of consent. The video showed one Planned Parenthood center employee telling the man posing as the pimp that he might have more success at a center with less stringent protocols. That employee was later fired. Planned Parenthood made clear that it was aware of the “pimp” visits long before the release of the video and had already contacted the FBI to investigate.

In an earlier undercover operation in 2008, Live Action founder Lila Rose (pictured, left, now 24), then a month shy of her 19th birthday, posed as a 13-year-old girl impregnated by a 31-year-old man seeking counsel from Planned Parenthood on how to obtain an abortion without parental notification. (Photo: Getty Images)

Related: What One Woman Wants Lawmakers to Know About Her Late-Term Abortion

The Live Action video involving the alleged pimp and underage sex workers was released on Feb. 1, 2011, the same week that the House was debating two antiabortion bills headed by Reps. Mike Pence and Chris Smith, one of which, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, would have prevented any federal funding from going to Planned Parenthood for any kind of health services. 

The controversial bill gained great notoriety for its use of the phrase “forcible rape” to stipulate the necessary conditions for an exemption from the proposed law. Through the Hyde Amendment, there already is no federal funding for abortions. Any federal funding that Planned Parenthood receives, through Title X and any other legislative-backed grants, supports other women’s health services, and never abortion services. But the shock factor of the videos worked, and the bill passed through the House in May 2011 before failing to come up for a vote in the Senate.

Related: Women Face Harder Path to Abortion as States Extend Waiting Period

Live Action is purportedly not involved with this week’s video released by the Center for Medical Progress — but the CMP’s origins seem dubious at best. Though the footage from the video the CMP released on Tuesday was dated back from over a year ago, the organization has no online footprint prior to a few weeks ago. The group’s Facebook page shows no posts before May 24 of this year, and the organization didn’t join Twitter until May 30. “No videos other than the deceptively edited Planned Parenthood clips appear on the group’s YouTube site,” the website Media Matters points out. Additionally, it was Live Action that distributed and promoted the release of the video online on Tuesday.

Furthermore, calls by Yahoo Health to the CMP are met with a recording of a male voice stating the organization’s name and the organization’s address, which seems to be a P.O. box at PostalAnnex+ — a shipping, printing, and mail service center in Irvine, Calif. — and not a physical headquarters of any kind.

Another potential noncoincidence is that CMP founder David Daleiden was formerly the director of research at Live Action, a position he assumed there in 2009. It is unclear what Daleiden has been doing in the interim between his time at Live Action and the alleged founding of the Center for Medical Progress.

CMP founder David Daleiden. (Photo: Center for Medical Progress)

The situation becomes all the more blurry given that noted conservative activist James O’Keefe referred to the CMP video on his Twitter account as a “Lila vid,” a reference to Live Action founder Lila Rose, who has been mentored by O’Keefe in the past. 

O’Keefe is best known for his 2009 video that has been credited with taking down the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, the now defunct advocacy organization for low-income workers. In the video, O’Keefe posed as the pimp of an associate posing as a sex worker to elicit responses from low-level workers there on how to avoid detection by authorities on counts of tax evasion, human trafficking, and child prostitution. 

After the video’s release, ACORN immediately lost funding from the government and private donors, and the House and Senate adjusted spending bills to prohibit government funding to the group.

James O’Keefe (Photo: Getty Images)

So it remains unclear whether the Center for Medical Progress is truly its own entity or perhaps just a new face for Live Action, and, if so, what Live Action’s motivations would be for establishing a front organization to release this most recent string of anti-Planned Parenthood videos.

In a statement on the LiveAction.org site, Rose commends the CMP video, saying:

“This investigation by the Center for Medical Progress reveals the unimaginable horror that is Planned Parenthood. The exploitation of human life, the cover-up, and the black market profiteering by America’s largest abortion chain is not only egregious and heartbreaking, but exposes how the abortion giant is corrupt to the core — from the CEO, Cecile Richards, down to the local clinic. As Live Action has investigated through the years, Planned Parenthood’s barbaric practices reveal their contempt for rule of law and human life. This latest expose of Planned Parenthood’s trafficking of baby parts for profit should be the final nail in the coffin for the abortion giant. Congress must take immediate action to stop all taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood and end the bankrolling of this horrific human rights abuser.”

Calls for comment to David Daleiden have gone unanswered, and Yahoo Health is currently awaiting further comment from Lila Rose.

Read this next: Medical Abortion Can Be Safer and Easier for Women — So Why Follow Old Protocols?

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