Planned Parenthood has enlisted high-profile Washington public relations firm SKDKnickerbocker as it scrambles to deal with the ongoing scandal and release of a third undercover video Tuesday showing a clinic’s staff handling fetal tissue after an abortion.
The additional PR firepower reflects the growing pressure on the women’s health organization amid building GOP calls to cut its $540 million in government funding. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) earlier this week called to halt Planned Parenthood’s federal funding while Congress investigates whether the organization broke a federal ban on profiting from fetal tissue donation. The Senate plans to hold a vote on a defunding amendment from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and others that is likely to fail.
SKDKnickerbocker is no newbie to working on Planned Parenthood issues. The Democratically aligned firm is run by well-connected operatives, including Anita Dunn and Hilary Rosen. It also worked with the group during the 2012 election cycle, according to SKDKnickerbocker’s website.
“Planned Parenthood is a longtime client, and we are proud to help them push back against these extremist attacks from people who want to end reproductive health care for women in this country,” a SKDKnickerbocker spokesman said in a statement.
After two shocking videos caught Planned Parenthood doctors discussing and arranging the sale of body parts of aborted babies, a third video has been released today catching a Planned Parenthood vice president negotiating the sale of aborted babies and attempting to get as much money as possible from the deal.
As LifeNews reported, the first video of undercover footage shows Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, describing how Planned Parenthood sells the body parts of aborted unborn children and admitting she uses partial-birth abortions to supply intact body parts.
In the second video, Planned Parenthood doctor Maru Gatter discusses the pricing of aborted baby body parts — telling the biotech company officials that the prices for such things as a baby’s liver, head or heart are negotiable. She also tells the officials that she could talk with the Planned Parenthood abortion practitioners to potentially alter the abortion procedure to kill the baby in a way that would best preserve those body parts after the unborn child is killed in the abortion.
A total of 9 states have already launched an investigation including Massachusetts, Kansas, Missouri, Arizona, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia, Texas and Louisiana and members of Congress have launched an investigation as well.
The latest battle in the war against Planned Parenthood continues. On Tuesday, the anti-choice group with the Orwellian moniker “Center for Medical Progress” released a third video purporting to reveal bad things about its target. As with the previous two videos, it doesn’t. But while the videos themselves are of little interest, the way opponents of reproductive freedom have used them as propaganda is.
The latest video shows a lab technician sorting through fetal tissue that was collected after an abortion. As with the two previous videos, what this shows us is that… abortions produce fetal tissue. The videos do not show Planned Parenthood doing anything illegal or unethical. They do not show Planned Parenthood engaging in illegal practices. Nonetheless, the enthusiastic promotion of the videos by opponents of reproductive freedom suggests they believe that they have a smoking gun. Abortion is a medical procedure. The reality of those often isn’t pleasant
They’re almost certainly wrong about this. Anti-choicers have used graphic imagery from abortions as a tool for decades, but it hasn’t worked: Roe v Wade remains stubbornly popular. Still, it’s worth examining some of the different ways opponents of legal abortion have attempted to use these not-actually-damning videos.
Part of Planned Parenthood’s newest public relations push against a series of embarrassing undercover videos is writing to media outlets warning them not to share the videos at all.
Monday, a South Dakota television station revealed that Planned Parenthood’s Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota branch was contacting local stations, telling them in a memo not to air the video, warning that it could violate “patient privacy”:
The footage the press release refers would appear to be the third undercover video released Tuesday, which claims to show a Planned Parenthood leader discussing prices for fetal organs while a technician picks at fetal organs in a pie dish.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning to hold a vote on legislation in coming days on a Republican bill halting federal funding of Planned Parenthood, following the release of videos involving use of aborted fetal tissue for medical research.
“The leader is working with his members to address this horrific issue and intends to have a vote before we leave” for a five-week summer recess, said McConnell spokesman Michael Brumas.
O’Donnell said she worked for six months identifying pregnant women at Planned Parenthood who met the standards for fetal tissue orders and then helped to harvest fetal body parts after abortions at Planned Parenthood facilities.
StemExpress “supplies human blood, tissue products, primary cells and other clinical specimens to biomedical researchers around the world,” according to its website.
O’Donnell describes the company a different way.
“StemExpress is a company that hires procurement techs to draw blood and dissect dead fetuses and sell the parts to researchers,” she said. “They’ve partnered with Planned Parenthood and they get part of the money because we pay them to use their facilities. And they get paid from it. They do get some kind of benefit.”
Planned Parenthood has denied selling fetal tissue for a profit, which is against federal law.
At the rally Tuesday, state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, compared the procurement and research of fetal tissue to Nazi experiments.
“This is no different than what happened in Nazi Germany,” Laubenberg said. “No different than doing experiments on the old men and old women, and now doing them on the babies.”
She called Planned Parenthood “liars” and “destroyers of human life.”
In recent years, Laubenberg has been a leader in the fight against abortion and Planned Parenthood in Texas. She authored the 2013 anti-abortion bill that banned the procedure after 20 weeks of pregnancy, regulated the use of abortion-inducing pills and upped restrictions for doctors and abortion facilities. A challenge to that law could be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court as early as this fall.
Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell focused her comments on how the federal funding for Planned Parenthood provides mammograms and other services for women.
“What I think is important is that our HHS funding is focused on issues of preventative care for women, things like mammograms and cancer prevention screenings,” Burwell told the House Education and the Workforce Committee.
“We do not fund abortion,” she added, though Burwell noted there are some exceptions to the Hyde Amendment, a law that prohibits federal funding of abortion.
“This has been a three-year, well funded effort by the most militant wing of the anti-abortion movement in this country to try and entrap doctors with highly doctored videos. Doctors repeatedly said, which was edited out, Planned Parenthood does not at all profit from fetal tissue donation, which is an important element of healthcare research in this country,” Richards said, failing to acknowledge that the organization behind the undercover video, The Center for Medical Progress, has released the “edited” footage Richards is referring to in full. “What is not told is that these [undercover videos] are highly selectively edited.”
To his credit, Stephanopoulos followed up on that point, asking if Planned Parenthood doesn’t profit from the sale of parts, then why do doctors participate in a negotiation process about price for baby parts?
“Planned Parenthood has broken no laws, we have the highest standards. The care and healthcare of our patients is the most important priority,” Richards said. “This is actually laudable that women choose to make fetal tissue donations.”
EDIT NOTE: There is a video but it’s simply too awful to put in here. It is available at some of the links above. You have been warned.