When I was little, in our house, lying was basically the worst offense you could commit. Honesty was a huge thing then, and it remains a huge thing for me now. That’s one reason all of these attacks on Planned Parenthood have been especially heinous to me — the lying to get undercover footage, the misleading editing to create violations that were never committed, the video Carly Fiorina lied about seeing. And now there’s more footage, more Carly Fiorina was right! footage, showing an abortion, unless it doesn’t, but no it totally does, or at least it looks like an abortion, but okay that’s not important because Planned Parenthood is evil.
The part of the “Human Capital” video — the one that Fiorina claims shows the thing that it doesn’t show — that’s closest to what she described during the debate comes about six minutes in. While no part of the video shows “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain,'” we do get the following:
1. Footage of a fetus moving slightly on a metal background
2. Interview footage with Holly O’Donnell, a former procurement tech for StemExpress (a third-party contractor working with Planned Parenthood), describing in detail a traumatic experience in which she had to procure a brain from a fetus after an abortion*
3. A still photo of a fetus in someone’s cupped hands
Of course, the video was edited in the signature misleading style of the Center for Medical Progress, cobbled together from various unrelated sources — the interview footage was filmed by the Center, the fetus footage was credited to the Grantham Collection and the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, and the photo at the end was not, in fact, from an abortion but was a photo of a previable premature delivery used without permission of its parents.
On Tuesday, Gregg Cunningham, founder of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, released the fetus footage in its soundless, 13-minute entirety. He was unwilling to reveal the date, location, circumstances, or source of the video, and is “neither confirming nor denying” that it had anything to do with Planned Parenthood. But he does insist that the video depicts an abortion, performed at an abortion clinic to remain nameless.
Dr. Jen Gunter, an actual OB/GYN, disagrees. As someone with actual training and experience in the field, (and backed up by the nine colleagues she consulted on the matter), she says that everything — from the patient prep, to the delivery, to the clamping of the umbilical cord, to the non-delivery of the placenta at the end, to the type and width of the bed, to the presence of a support person in the room — points to, in fact, an 17- to 18-week pre-viability premature delivery. This is coming from someone who has actually seen those in person.
Until Cunningham reveals the actual source of the video — right now, he’s standing behind we can’t tell you, but it’s totally an abortion, cross my heart — we have no way of knowing for sure. But we already know that the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform isn’t afraid to co-opt someone else’s tragedy (and, in this case, compound that by posting close-up video of an unwitting woman’s genitals on the Internet) to make a point. It’s striking evidence that they seriously do only care about “life” when it’s still in the uterus — at the very moment it leaves the vaginal canal, it becomes nothing more than a prop.
The anti-choice lobby wants so desperately for Planned Parenthood to be actually cutting up live babies for sale on the black market that that’s what they allow themselves to see. It doesn’t matter if they have to fabricate. It doesn’t matter if they have to blatantly lie. It doesn’t matter if they have to twist some family’s tragedy to suit their purpose. Their cause is righteous, and we’re the monsters. And that’s why Cecile Richards was dragged in front of Congress, defending Planned Parenthood against accusations that they’re selling baby parts on the black market, and it’s why Planned Parenthood’s federal funding is perpetually on the chopping block — because standing between millions of women and the crucial healthcare they can’t get anywhere else is definitely pro-life and not monstrous at all.
*Several bloggers have said that the fetus O’Donnell references here is the same one that she described earlier in the video, tapping on the chest to make the heart beat; her descriptions of the fetuses in question, and the cut in the middle of the interview footage, make it more likely that she’s talking about two different events that have been edited together for dramatic effect.