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Anti-Choice Group’s Latest Video Misleads on ‘Intact’ Fetuses

Teddy Wilson

The Center for Medical Progress, the anti-choice front group behind a series of videos spreading misinformation about Planned Parenthood, published an eighth video on Tuesday, which included extensive misuse of a common medical term.

See more of our coverage on the effects of the misleading Center for Medical Progress videos here.

The Center for Medical Progress, the anti-choice front group behind a series of videos spreading misinformation about Planned Parenthood, published an eighth video on Tuesday, which included extensive misuse of a common medical term.

The latest video is packaged in CMP’s now-familiar style of heavily edited sound bites during meetings between CMP operatives and employees of the biomedical company StemExpress: CEO Cate Dyer, Vice President of Corporate Development and Legal Affairs Kevin Cooksy, and Procurement Manager Megan Barr.

CMP operatives initiate conversations about “intact specimens,” to which Dyer says that “intact cases” are sometimes shipped to research labs in their entirety. CMP has charged that “case” is the clinical term for an abortion procedure, and that “intact case” refers to an intact abortion with a whole fetus.

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Dyer said in a statement in response to the video that StemExpress has never requested, received or provided to a researcher an intact fetus. “CMP’s and Daleiden’s continued lies reflect a sad attempt to malign StemExpress and me personally,” Dyer said.

“As anyone can see and read, the entire discussion was, in fact, about ‘intact livers,’ which are used by StemExpress to develop and purify isolated cells used by our customers to support their critical scientific research,” Dyer said. “My use of the term ‘intact cases’ is a medical term of art that refers solely to ‘intact livers,’ as there was absolutely no mention of ‘intact fetuses’ at any point in over two hours of illegally recorded video.”

At no point during the meeting is the phrased “intact fetus” used. The phrase “intact liver” is used twice. In each of the 11 utterances of the word “intact,” it is not apparently being used in reference to an “intact fetus,” according to the transcript provided by CMP.

The videos published by CMP are part of a three-year undercover smear campaign against Planned Parenthood. CMP’s tactics have led to investigations into allegations that the group violated state laws.

David Daleiden, CMP’s leader and public face, and founding member Troy Newman, president of the radical anti-choice organization Operation Rescue, have both been named in multiple lawsuits claiming the undercover footage was obtained illegally.

Newman previously told Rewire that it was not CMP that was breaking the law. “We always abide by all local and federal laws, it’s Planned Parenthood that is flagrantly breaking the law,” Newman said.

CMP operatives in Tuesday’s attack video posed as representatives from a biologics company, and stated that they were “interested in partnering” with StemExpress and create an arrangement “that would be financially profitable for the both of us.” The conversation then revolves around the procurement process of fetal tissue, and how StemExpress interacts with abortion clinics and research facilities.

CMP operatives repeatedly ask leading questions. They suggest that there are problems with fetal tissue procurement that need to be solved to ensure that all parties are “profiting financially.” 

“I haven’t seen that … Some of them, I think it’s just a headache they don’t want to deal with,” Dyer said.

The videos focus a portion of the discussion about researchers who use fetal tissue, and Dyer suggests that the researchers “don’t want to know where it comes from.” However, Dyer also speaks to the controversial nature of fetal tissue research, and says that researchers “want to avoid publishing a paper that says it was derived from fetal tissue.”

It was recently revealed that Dr. Ben Carson, a Republican candidate for president who has taken staunchly anti-choice positions, once conducted research on tissue collected from fetuses that had been aborted, which was later published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. Carson has claimed that his research was legitimate.

“StemExpress is the ‘weakest link’ that unravels Planned Parenthood’s baby parts chain—they readily admit the profit-motive that Planned Parenthood and their proxies have in supplying aborted baby parts,” Daleiden said in a statement.

At no point in the footage do StemExpress employees state that clinics make money from fetal tissue donations.

CMP has repeatedly charged that Planned Parenthood has engaged in illegally selling fetal tissue of aborted fetuses. The unedited video footage, which CMP does not release until hours or days after the video “highlights” are published, has consistently shown Planned Parenthood officials saying that they do not sell or make a profit from fetal tissue.

CMP has not yet released the full unedited footage of the meetings with StemExpress.

The videos, which have been released in coordination with anti-choice Republican lawmakers, have sparked outrage directed at Planned Parenthood from Republican legislators and anti-choice activists. Anti-choicers across the country have compared Planned Parenthood to everything from drug dealers to Nazis.

Legislators have used the videos to justify a failed attempt by congressional Republicans to ban Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds for services unrelated to abortion.

Republican lawmakers in states around the country have called for investigations into the organization and hearings, but to date none have uncovered any evidence that Planned Parenthood affiliates have broken any laws with regard to fetal tissue.

A host of lawsuits have been filed against CMP since the release of the front group’s first video.

Planned Parenthood is also considering legal action against CMP. Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, told the Hill that she thinks the videos are illegal and that the organization is considering several legal options against CMP.

“I absolutely do believe that they have violated laws in terms of how they secured these videos,” Laguens said. “But the fraud is also in how they have presented them and in the editing.”

A Los Angeles court issued a temporary restraining order last month blocking CMP from publishing videos of the StemExpress employees. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joanne O’Donnell issued another ruling denying StemExpress’ motion to conduct pretrial discovery and said she was unlikely to grant the company request for a preliminary injunction preventing more videos’ release, reported the Courthouse News Service.

StemExpress released a statement that stated the company “disagrees with the court’s conclusion” that a preliminary injunction was not an appropriate remedy in this case and the company is “considering options, including an appeal.”

Judge William Orrick of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted a temporary restraining order against the release of video materials obtained at meetings held by the National Abortion Federation.

At a discovery hearing Friday, lawyers for CMP notified the court that all defendants, including CMP and Biomax, plan to plead the Fifth Amendment in response to the pending discovery requests in order to refrain from self-incrimination.

CMP’s legal representation includes lawyers from the Life Legal Defense Foundation and the American Center for Law and Justice, organizations that focus exclusively on conservative causes.

Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, said in a statement that the temporary restraining order is “incredibly important” to ensuring the safety and security of NAF members.

“Since Daleiden, CMP, and Newman initiated this latest smear campaign against abortion providers, we have seen an alarming increase in anti-abortion hate speech, threats, and criminal activity, including death threats made against providers,” Saporta said. “We take these threats very seriously and have been working with law enforcement to help ensure that this escalation does not lead to violence.”

Another hearing is scheduled to take place on October 9.

The lawsuits filed by NAF and StemExpress give credence to the questions that have been raised about CMP’s deceptive tactics, ideological agenda, and connections to radical and violent anti-choice activists.

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