Almost three years ago, the Center for Medical Progress released videos of its undercover investigation revealing the abortion industry’s practice of criminal fetal tissue trafficking. Multiple abortionists were caught on camera describing how they could be paid for body parts and how to change the abortion procedure to obtain more intact body parts that could be sold for premium prices.
The videos caused such public outrage that the U.S. House of Representatives created a special investigative panel to dig into the facts of how abortion providers were violating or evading federal and state laws. After holding multiple hearings, interviewing dozens of witnesses, and subpoenaing tens of thousands of pages of documents, the House Select Panel on Infant Lives issued a final report concluding that universities, for-profit tissue procurement companies, and abortion clinics had all played a part in illegal fetal tissue trafficking.
Some of these entities were more forthcoming to the Panel’s subpoenas than others. Planned Parenthood and its affiliates played cat-and-mouse with the committee until the clock ran out. Rather than providing contemporaneous accounting documents showing its costs and revenues related to fetal tissue, it relied on summaries and “back-of-the-envelope” calculations in responding to subpoenas, all the while complaining to obliging media outlets that the Panel was engaged in a witch hunt.
Two days after CMP released its first undercover video, Planned Parenthood’s then-president, Cecile Richards, released a video statement in which she said, in part, “I want to be really clear: the allegation that Planned Parenthood profits in any way from tissue donation is not true. Our donation programs – like any other high-quality health-care provider’s – follows all laws and ethical guidelines.”
The Panel’s Final Report, however, found otherwise:
“We didn’t profit because we say we didn’t profit’ is not compliance with congressional requests for documents.”
Because Planned Parenthood refused to provide actual documents supporting their claim, the Panel resorted to analyzing accounting documents from middlemen companies who contracted with Planned Parenthood affiliates.
In those documents, the Panel traced the path of money flowing into Planned Parenthood affiliates as baby parts flowed out.
Life Legal attorneys have been building on the Panel’s findings. In two days—on July 19—Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu will decide whether Planned Parenthood must respond to Life Legal’s specific questions about their compliance with federal laws prohibiting profiting from fetal tissue.
“The Select Panel’s findings provided a road map for the discovery we needed to demonstrate that Planned Parenthood was violating federal law and making money from the sale of aborted fetal tissue,” said Life Legal Vice President of Legal Affairs Katie Short. “I followed that roadmap, and soon Planned Parenthood was trying to take off cross-country.”
When Planned Parenthood sued The Center for Medical Progress in January 2016, its initial press release stated, “The claims made by the people behind the videos are fiction. . . . They are purposely deceptive . . . They are maliciously edited . . . Just so we’re clear: Planned Parenthood doesn’t sell fetal tissue.”
Planned Parenthood has touted this mantra for almost three years, but now that Life Legal is forcing them to prove that they didn’t profit from baby body parts, Planned Parenthood is desperately trying to change the subject. Suddenly, Planned Parenthood is complaining that the federal tissue trafficking statute is just a “technical law” and that Planned Parenthood’s compliance with the law is irrelevant and “not what the CMP’s videos were about.” That would come as a surprise to the tens of thousands of citizens who demanded investigation and action from Congress. And it flies in the face of the Select Panel’s findings, which have led to numerous referrals for criminal prosecution for the sale of body parts.
The question is no longer whether Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue: it did. The only question is whether, in the face of the evidence, the abortion giant will be allowed to continue proclaiming that it never violated federal law.