Planned Parenthood Says Experts Found Misleading Edits In Videos

Aug 27, 2015
Originally published on August 27, 2015 10:17 pm
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Planned Parenthood says a forensic analysis finds the sting videos targeting the group are deceptively edited. The group commissioned this report and sent it today to Congress. Lawmakers are investigating the videos' allegations that Planned Parenthood is unlawfully profiting from donations of fetal tissue for research. The group hopes today's report bolsters its repeated denials of that. NPR's Jennifer Ludden has more.

JENNIFER LUDDEN, BYLINE: Planned Parenthood hired Fusion GPS to analyze the tapes. It's headed by Glenn Simpson, a former investigative reporter with The Wall Street Journal. He says he also brought in a forensic expert who teaches at the FBI Academy at Quantico and an independent transcription service.

GLENN SIMPSON: So what we found was, I think importantly, perhaps most importantly, that the full footage CMP tapes were, in fact, missing large sections.

LUDDEN: That is, what anti-abortion activist with the Center for Medical Progress portrayed as the untouched versions of their undercover encounters were also edited. Simpson says it's clear some edits were misleading. In this video, it seems like Planned Parenthood staffer Melissa Farrell in Texas is talking about changing an abortion procedure to obtain fetal tissue, something that would be illegal.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MELISSA FARRELL: So we deviate from our standard in order to do that- telling you this, so then...

LUDDEN: In fact, the analysis says she was talking about lab protocols. In many other cases, the report finds footage was cut out when Planned Parenthood officials said they do not profit from tissue donation. Simpson says the questions the anti-abortion activist asked were often leading, trying to bait staffers. And finally, he says the written transcript that is on the videos is often wrong.

SIMPSON: Sloppy at best - frequently inaccurate or erroneous. And in places, it appears as if they commit what I would call wishful thinking about what was being said.

LUDDEN: In one video that got a lot of attention, the transcript shows a Planned Parenthood staffer looking at fetal tissue and saying, it's a baby. But the forensic experts all agreed that part of the video is unintelligible.

DAVID DALEIDEN: The only pieces that are missing from the longer, full footage of the conversation are actually the bathroom breaks.

LUDDEN: David Daleiden heads the Center for Medical Progress and produced the undercover videos. He says the bottom line is that Planned Parenthood is obtaining fetal tissue from abortions and being compensated for providing it to researchers.

DALEIDEN: That's something that the vast majority of Americans find outrageous and offensive, and that's not something that we want to be funding half-a-billion taxpayer dollars a year.

LUDDEN: Planned Parenthood vice president Dawn Laguens says only two affiliates provide fetal tissue, and the videos show no evidence they or any others are breaking the law. But she doesn't think that's what's driving anti-abortion activists.

DAWN LAGUENS: It is completely about their agenda to take away safe, legal abortion in this country, to destroy reproductive health care for women in this country and to destroy Planned Parenthood, that stands up and fights for those things.

LUDDEN: In a letter to Congress today, Planned Parenthood says it's asked for a national commission on fetal tissue research since so many people seem confused about why it's done and the laws that govern the process. Jennifer Ludden, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.