Planned Parenthood to House, Senate leaders: Videos manipulated

Planned Parenthood to House, Senate leaders: Videos manipulated

Planned Parenthood has sent two-dozen pages of information to congressional leaders on its fetal tissue donation program and the series of sting videos that it says have unfairly characterized its work.

The documents offer the closest look so far at how Planned Parenthood has fared since it came under attack from the makers of the videos.

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It also offers new details about the tissue program’s history, such as the “modest reimbursement” of $60 per tissue specimen that Planned Parenthood’s California provider receives from a tissue procurement company.  It also says that Planned Parenthood has launched an internal review of its "policies and practices" surrounding the program.

The measures are  part of an effort to pressure supporters on Capitol Hill to “intervene in what is clearly an unnecessary and distracting process,” Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens told reporters Thursday.

“We are certainly hopeful that leadership of the House and Senate will take action to correct the path that this is headed on,” Laguens said.

The public relations push could also provide cover for allies of Planned Parenthood, whose attempts to help the organization have been hurt by the controversy surrounding the fetal tissue program.

Republicans in Congress have used the videos to call for the defunding of Planned Parenthood. While GOP support for blocking the funds has not been unanimous, the pro-abortion rights group has also seen some of its Democratic supporters sway. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDavis: The shocking fact that Mueller never would have accused Trump of a crime Trump says he would challenge impeachment in Supreme Court The Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? MORE, the Democratic presidential frontrunner, described the videos as disturbing.

Along with the information about its program, Planned Parenthood sent a report it commissioned that it says proves the anti-abortion campaign distorted footage of its officials to falsely accuse them of illegal activity.

The report, which was completed by research firm Fusion GPS, analyzed 12 hours of video and found dozens of splices that were intended to manipulate conversations.

“The short tapes are severely edited in ways that are definitely misleading and intended for the purpose of advocacy,” said Glenn Simpson, a partner at Fusion GPS who analyzed the tapes.

The firm evaluated lighting and audio to find where the video had been pieced together.

It also found that the transcript of those conversations was altered in some places as well. “In places, it seems that they commit what I would call ‘wishful thinking’ about what is being said,” Simpson said.

For example, in one instance, dialogue from a Planned Parenthood staff member describing lab protocols was “cut and strung together” to make it sound like she was talking about changing the abortion methods, Laguens said.

Planned Parenthood had come under intense criticism for footage in which clinicians appeared to be interested in profiting from fetal tissue. But the report indicates there was no evidence those conversations happened.

“The tapes are not an accurate record of what happen. They are made to sound that they are talking about things they are not even talking about and to be put in the worst light,” Laguens said.

While the dialogue was taken out of context, there is no evidence that it was manufactured by those who created the footage.

The organization’s members also came under fire for their casual, and at times callous, language used to talk about aborted fetal tissue.

Simpson said the videos come across particularly unflattering to the Planned Parenthood officials because they are missing key context, adding that the videos captured dialogue that was intended for a professional setting.

“What is a matter-of-fact discussion is conveyed as callous or uncaring,” he said. “I think overall it’s just people talking matter of factly about things they do in their daily lives professionally, just like if you’re working in a medical context.”

Four congressional committees, as well as a half-dozen states, have launched investigations into Planned Parenthood in the wake of the videos. Five states have already ended their investigations after finding no evidence of illegal activity.

Laguens said it was too early to say if there would be congressional hearings but said the organization is fully cooperating with members and their staffs.

“Planned Parenthood welcomes the opportunity because the facts are our friends,” she said. 

This story was updated at 1:12 p.m.

 

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