Yet another deceptive attack on women’s rights

Posted on August 3, 2015

Originally published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Written by Sari Stevens

Over the last two weeks, an organization calling itself the “Center for Medical Progress” has released heavily and deceptively edited videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing prices for the illegal sale of fetal tissue from abortion.

These accusations are false and outrageous.

The full, unedited videos make clear that Planned Parenthood actually facilitates tissue donation with full patient consent, at no financial benefit to the organization and in full compliance with the law.

Those are the facts, all of which conveniently were edited out of the video in order to mislead the public, which is part of a long-running and disturbing pattern by the group behind these attacks.

The video also conveyed the impression that all Planned Parenthood affiliates have tissue-donation programs. None of Planned Parenthood’s Pennsylvania health centers provide this service.

Only a very small number of affiliates have programs to help women and families donate tissue to leading research institutions — research that has been done legally and ethically in the United States for decades.

For example, if not for fetal-tissue research, there would be no polio vaccine, which was developed from human fetal kidney cells in the 1950s.

Fetal-tissue and stem-cell research continues to contribute to groundbreaking research on treatments for a wide variety of diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and better understanding and prevention of maternal and fetal health conditions.

But claims that Planned Parenthood profits in any way from tissue donation are simply not true.

In Pennsylvania, the state’s Abortion Control Act prohibits fetal tissue sale and grants authority to the Department of Health to enforce that law.

Planned Parenthood’s Pennsylvania affiliates follow all laws and have the highest medical and ethical standards, which is why we remain a trusted, high-quality, compassionate health care provider to the 100,000 people who visit our health centers every year.

It’s true that in the videos that were released, national Planned Parenthood staff members speak in ways that do not reflect that compassion, which Planned Parenthood’s national president has said is unacceptable.

But that doesn’t excuse the “Center for Medical Progress,” a dummy nonprofit that may have deceived the Internal Revenue Service about its mission, for its cynical attempt to restrict access to safe, legal abortion in Pennsylvania and across the country.

The “Center for Medical Progress” is affiliated with Live Action, whose past sting efforts against Planned Parenthood have been widely discredited.

David Daleiden, the founder and “project lead” at the Center for Medical Progress, is the former “director of research” for Live Action. For this video, he created a fake company called Bio-Max in order to secretly videotape abortion providers and make outrageous claims about programs that help women donate fetal tissue for medical research.

Mr. Daleiden has participated in at least 10 separate fraud campaigns over the last eight years involving gaining access to Planned Parenthood health centers or offices under false pretenses, recording staff (and sometimes patients) without their knowledge on at least 65 occasions and misleading the public with heavily edited tapes and false charges.

Another man involved in the deception, Troy Newman, is the leader of Operation Rescue, whose members have bombed abortion clinics and murdered Dr. George Tiller in his church.

Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our patients. Planned Parenthood is the most trusted women’s health-care provider in this country, and we have provided excellent care for nearly 100 years.

Unfortunately, what we are experiencing today is part of a long-running pattern of making false charges, deceiving the public and terrorizing women and their doctors, all in order to cut off women from care at Planned Parenthood.

Sari Stevens is executive director of Planned Parenthood PA Advocates & PAC, which is based in Harrisburg (www.plannedparenthoodpa.org).

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