Yesterday, I wrote about the shocking video released by a group called the Center For Medical Progress. It picked up coverage from Breitbart and the Federalist immediately, and today it's all over right-wing media, which is full of accusations that Planned Parenthood is involved in illegally selling the parts of aborted fetuses. Planned Parenthood claims it's donating the parts of fetuses for medical research, a practice that's legal.
Conservatives are hoping you will pay attention to the 8-minute Youtube clip and ignore the two and a half hour feed they originally shot.
Media Matters waded through it and compiled what it's calling "deceptive edits" that ignore or downplay the voluntary and nonprofit nature of what's happening. I wanted to go through the transcript of the video myself. Here is a link from the Center For Medical Progress's own site.
First a fact: The people in the video use the word "donate," "donates," "donated," or "donation" to refer to what they do with the tissue 20 times in the transcript.
Media Matters points out that just when they begin discussing the money involved - and this is the central matter of whether this is legal or not - the Center's 8-minute clip edits out much of what they're saying. And in this statement, the Planned Parenthood official makes it clear that she's talking about reimbursing someone for costs, not making profit:
PP: You know, I would throw a number out, I would say it’s probably anywhere from $30 to $100 [per specimen], depending on the facility and what’s involved. It just has to do with space issues, are you sending someone there who’s going to be doing everything, is there shipping involved, is somebody gonna have to take it out. You know, I think everybody just wants, it’s really just about if anyone were ever to ask them,“What do you do for this $60? How can you justify that? Or are you
basically just doing something completely egregious, that you should be doing for free.” So it just needs to be justifiable. And, look, we have 67 affiliates. They all have different practice environments, different staff, and so that number—
Elsewhere, she repeatedly says that no one should look, act, or actually be, making money off the transaction.
PP: Yeah, you know, I don’t think it’s a reservations issue so much as a perception issue, because I think every provider has had patients who want to donate their tissue, and they absolutely want to accommodate them. They just want to do it in a way that is not perceived as, ‘This clinic is selling tissue, this clinic is making money off of this.’ I know in the Planned Parenthood world they’re very very sensitive to that. And before an affiliate is gonna do that, they need to, obviously, they’re not—some might do it for free—but they want to come to a number that doesn’t look like they’re making money. They want to come to a number that looks like it is a reasonable number for the effort that is allotted on their part. I think with private providers, private clinics, they’ll have much less of a problem with that.
And the right-wing undercover actor (the "Buyer") clearly understands that they're not making money!
PP: To them, this is not a service they should be making money from, it’s something they should be able to offer this to their patients, in a way that doesn’t impact them.
Buyer: Offsetting their costs.
PP: Right. No one’s going to see this as a money making thing.
There's no evidence Planned Parenthood is doing anything illegal. But if you can flood the internet with baseless accusations, and if an army of internet right-wingers turn those accusations into wilder and wilder stories, impossible to dismiss or disprove, you can effectively harass a target of conservative ire.
Slate has an article about how Live Action, the outlet that promoted this video, has done this before:
This is Live Action's typical method: being as lurid and grotesque as possible to titillate its largely conservative audience. As William Saletan laid out in painstaking detail for Slate in 2013, Live Action really knows how to zero in on those gross medical details for maximum impact.
You'll be getting seeing more chain emails and Facebook posts soon.
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