UPDATE, September 29, 10:07 a.m.: This article has been updated with comments from Planned Parenthood in response to specific allegations made by the Center for Medical Progress.
David Daleiden, the 26-year-old CEO of the Center for Medical Progress, doubled down on allegations that Planned Parenthood has broken federal laws at this year’s Values Voter Summit, an annual gathering of social conservative politicians and leaders.
Repeating allegations that Planned Parenthood illegally “harvests” and “sells” fetal tissue and murders fetuses that are “born alive,” Daleiden offered a new unfounded charge: He said Planned Parenthood is committing these acts in Washington, D.C., the summit’s host.
Become a subscriber
Press freedoms are under attack now, more than ever.
“Planned Parenthood’s flagship location in the capital of our free country is one of the locations recently partnered with the biotech company StemExpress to harvest and sell baby body parts,” Daleiden said Friday evening, on stage at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in D.C.
“In the same city where the Declaration of Independence safeguards the inalienable rights of all human beings created equal, in the same city where Abraham Lincoln governed a free country to bring liberty to human beings who were treated like property—in this same city, little human beings are still being bought and sold,” he said.
Daleiden certainly tried to create a poetic image with this claim, but officials from Planned Parenthood’s D.C. affiliate say it is categorically false.
“Let us be clear, we do not and have not been offering patients the option of fetal tissue donation,” Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. spokeswoman Mara Braunger said in an email. “And while we applaud the women who choose to contribute to lifesaving medical research through donation in other states, this program simply does not exist at Planned Parenthood in the Washington DC area.”
Laura Meyers, CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Metropolitan Washington, said Daleiden’s claims are untrue, and part of an ongoing campaign to smear the health care organization. Meyers said that because some patients had expressed interest in fetal tissue donation, Planned Parenthood Metropolitan Washington looked into creating such a program with StemExpress. The partnership never came to fruition and the fetal tissue program was never established, Meyers said.
“This is a lie, through and through,” she said. “More than 99 percent of Planned Parenthood’s health centers have no involvement in fetal tissue research, and that includes Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington’s health centers. We do not, and have not, facilitated tissue donation for our patients.”
Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, D.C., in July closed its downtown flagship location. The D.C. affiliate is constructing a new center in a different part of the District, which is scheduled to open early next year. National groups have protested the construction site, and some have repeated the claims Daleiden’s group has made to drum up local opposition to the new clinic.
Since mid-July, the Center for Medical Progress has released ten videos of secretly recorded conversations with Planned Parenthood and fetal-tissue procurement executives that have been edited to suggest that Planned Parenthood illegally sells fetal organs and performs illegal abortion procedures. Even the edited videos do not show proof or definitive admissions of these allegations; the Center for Medical Progress has implied them based on statements officials made in the videos.
The 20 hours of raw footage the group has released similarly do not show what Daleiden asserted as he stood at a podium before hundreds of supporters.
“Many of you have now seen the videos of top-level Planned Parenthood executives and abortion doctors callously discussing how to use illegal partial-birth abortion procedures to harvest the hearts, lungs, livers, and brains of live babies for profit,” Daleiden said, before playing a montage of highlights from the videos that concluded with the now-infamous quote from Planned Parenthood of Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley’s medical director, Mary Gatter, joking that she wants a Lamborghini.
Planned Parenthood has denied all allegations regarding its fetal tissue donation program. And so far, multiple, ongoing state and congressional investigations have not been able to corroborate any of Daleiden’s claims.
That hasn’t stopped governors, congressional lawmakers, and presidential candidates from repeating Daleiden’s claims. Daleiden received a hero’s welcome at this year’s Values Voter Summit. His introducer, Katie Yoder of the Media Research Center—whose stated mission is to “expose and neutralize the propaganda arm of the Left: the national news media”—called Daleiden the “game-changer of the pro-life movement.”
Speakers throughout the afternoon called to defund Planned Parenthood, many of them directly citing the videos as reason to strip the health-care organization of the funding it receives to provide low-cost, non-abortion-related reproductive-health services.
Though congressional Republicans have threatened to shut down the government over funding for Planned Parenthood, it seems increasingly unlikely, now that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has resigned his speakership and House seat and is expected to pass a spending bill that funds the nonprofit.