Anti-Choice Front Group Now Recycling Footage in Planned Parenthood Smear Videos

The anti-choice Center for Medical Progress used a photo of a premature baby to depict what the group called an aborted fetus.

The anti-choice Center for Medical Progress used a photo of a premature baby to depict what the group called an aborted fetus. Shutterstock

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 organization behind a series of videos spreading misinformation about Planned Parenthood, published a sixth video on Wednesday, which includes interviews with a former research clinic worker and previously released undercover footage.

The video features an interview with Holly O’Donnell, a former employee of the biomedical company StemExpress, and several heavily edited and out-of-context clips that focus on Planned Parenthood officials speaking about fetal cadavers.

O’Donnell says that while she was working at StemExpress, she saw another technician induce the heart of an aborted fetus to begin beating. “I knew why it was happening, because the electrical current—the nodes were still firing,” O’Donnell said. “I don’t know if that constitutes if it’s technically dead or if it’s alive.”

O’Donnell described the procedure that she performed, with the guidance of another technician, of procuring the brain tissue of an aborted fetus of an unknown gestation. “Even if it’s going to be good—if that could have been the cure for some kind of disease—then I wish I still wouldn’t have done it,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell described holding the fetus, and at the nine-minute mark of the video, a photograph of a fetus is shown. While viewers may be led to believe the photograph depicts an aborted fetus, the photograph is actually of a fetus that was delivered prematurely at 19 weeks of gestation.

Alexis Fretz, a Pennsylvania-based photographer, published the photo as part of a series on her professional website and described the experience of her premature delivery of her son, Walter Joshua, in a blog post. It is unknown if the Fretz family granted CMP permission to use the photograph.

Credit for another image that appears at the six-minute mark—again implying that the subject is the fetus O’Donnell describes in a voice-over—is given to the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, a California-based anti-choice organization that often displays large graphic images at protest installations on college campuses and other public places.

A Los Angeles court recently issued a temporary restraining order blocking CMP from publishing videos of three 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 issued a statement this week that it found it “prudent to terminate activities with Planned Parenthood,” and that the company’s work with Planned Parenthood only represented a “small percentage” of their business.

“Today’s video contains heartrending admissions about the absolute barbarism of Planned Parenthood’s abortion practice and baby parts sales in which fetuses are sometimes delivered intact and alive,” David Daleiden, the project leader for CMP, said in a statement about the most recent footage. “Planned Parenthood is a criminal organization from the top down and should be immediately stripped of taxpayer funding and prosecuted for their atrocities against humanity.”

CMP has repeatedly charged that Planned Parenthood has engaged in illegally selling fetal tissue of aborted fetuses.

However, 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.

Federal law explicitly allows for the donation of fetal tissue for research or transplant. The law also allows entities involved to make and receive “reasonable payments associated with the transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control, or storage of human fetal tissue.”

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 of the investigations 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. 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. A hearing is scheduled to take place on August 27.

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.