Can the undercover videos from the Center for Medical Progress with Planned Parenthood executives be trusted? Planned Parenthood and the New York Times certainly don’t think so. But the Alliance Defending Freedom set out to answer that question when they commissioned a forensic analysis of the videos. Now, with a congressional committee established to investigate Planned Parenthood, ADF’s senior counsel Casey Mattox answers some questions about the report.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: Did you learn anything about Planned Parenthood during Cecile Richards’s recent testimony and its relationship to taxpayer funding today during the House Oversight hearing?
Casey Mattox: The big takeaway is probably how little we do know about Planned Parenthood’s use of our taxpayer dollars. We learned that 86 percent of Planned Parenthood’s non-government revenue comes from abortion and we know Planned Parenthood has had $765 million in “excess revenue” over the last decade. But there is no evidence to support the claim that Planned Parenthood is somehow segregating those federal taxpayer dollars so we aren’t paying to keep the lights on and the water running in the abortion room. Ms. Richards’s five hours of testimony boiled down to “Trust us.”
Lopez: What is Coalfire Systems, Inc.? Why should we believe its forensic report?
Mattox: Coalfire is a respected and internationally recognized digital and forensic firm that does work for Fortune 500 companies and analyzes evidence in civil and criminal investigations. It also supports its conclusions with detailed findings and even screenshots of the videos. This is in contrast to the report Planned Parenthood paid for from a Democratic opposition research firm.
Lopez: Why is a forensic analysis important? How can we ever trust one to be authentic and non-ideological?
Coalfire looked at the full raw footage and confirmed David Daleiden’s explanation that the ‘edits’ to the full videos that CMP has posted on YouTube are ‘non-pertinent.’
Mattox: You have to look at who is doing the analysis. On that score, there should be no doubt that Coalfire is far more credible than a report by a Democratic opposition research firm. But the reports also speak for themselves. Coalfire’s report details and provides the evidence for its findings.
Lopez: “Coalfire’s analysis of the recorded media files contained on the flash drive indicates that the video recordings are authentic and show no evidence of manipulation or editing.” But that is in absolute contrast with what Planned Parenthood argues. Who is to be believed?
Mattox: It’s in contrast to what Planned Parenthood and its allies argue, but it’s actually consistent with Planned Parenthood’s own report. The Fusion GPS report commissioned by Planned Parenthood confirms that the audio is not tampered with and that its “analysis did not reveal widespread evidence of substantive video manipulation.” Coalfire confirms that finding, looking even at the raw source footage. But where the Fusion GPS report only had access to the full videos on YouTube and raised suspicion about the “edits” in those videos, Coalfire looked at the full raw footage and confirmed David Daleiden’s explanation that the “edits” to the full videos that CMP has posted on YouTube are “non-pertinent.”
CMP only cut from its raw footage “commuting, waiting, adjusting recording equipment, meals, and restroom breaks.” And it provided screenshots to prove this is what is “missing.” CMP also confirmed that one section of video that GPS claimed was missing and that included exculpatory statements was uploaded to YouTube over a month ago even though Planned Parenthood and media sources continue to suggest otherwise.
Lopez: What would you have done with the report if it found an opposite conclusions?
Mattox: We knew it wouldn’t. I’ve watched the full videos myself so I was confident of the conclusion from a third-party, independent, respected source such as Coalfire.
Lopez: Why are these videos so important?
Mattox: For too long Planned Parenthood has hidden behind a wall of abortion euphemisms, managing to persuade the public that it is a full-service women’s-healthcare provider focused on what is best for women and not its own bottom line. The words of Planned Parenthood’s own senior level officials in these videos, like the Kermit Gosnell indictment, are revealing the truth about the abortion industry. And Americans are rightly repulsed.
Lopez: Do you have moral qualms about how we got access to these videos?
Mattox: No. American taxpayers have a substantial ownership interest in Planned Parenthood since close to 40 percent of its revenue comes from us. So I have no qualms about this kind of investigation and neither does the Left, if they’re being honest. This is not the first secret investigation in American history. In fact, it is common for abortion activists to pose as women in a crisis pregnancy and contact pregnancy centers. Rather than rejecting those tactics they have been touted by abortion supporters and even resulted in a minority report from Congressman Henry Waxman several years ago. In recent years more left-wing activists have launched similar investigations against SeaWorld, the meat processing industry, and others. Their objection to the CMP investigation is quite selective.
Lopez: Shouldn’t the Center for Medical Progress have to testify, since Planned Parenthood did?
Mattox: I understand CMP has provided information in response to the committee’s request. Planned Parenthood’s allies are obviously litigating against CMP to prevent the release of other videos, so that complicates matters. I anticipate that once some of those legal questions standing in the way are resolved that we will have other opportunities to hear from CMP.
Lopez: How did Richards do?
Mattox: I think she communicated her message well. She is obviously skilled at selling Planned Parenthood. But I think any exposure like this is only letting Americans in on secrets Planned Parenthood and its allies would prefer not to be made known, from its abortion-centric business model and substantial excess income streams, to its recent reduction in other health services and tens of millions spent to influence elections. She did an able job of trying to paint Planned Parenthood in a good light, but any light shined on Planned Parenthood is ultimately not helpful to her.
Lopez: What should happen to Planned Parenthood?
Planned Parenthood is not dependent on taxpayers, it uses them. Maintaining its government funding ties makes it more effective as a political engine.
Mattox: It can and should rely on private sources for its funding. It is a highly profitable organization that proudly touts its wealthy donors from Hollywood and corporate America. It is evident that Planned Parenthood doesn’t need us, and we don’t need Planned Parenthood. American taxpayers should not have to fund its business.
Lopez: Doesn’t this have very little to do with the videos? Don’t you have it out for Planned Parenthood, as anti-abortion activists?
Mattox: Alliance Defending Freedom is pro-life and is working to ensure that every child is welcomed in life and protected by law. We don’t hide that fact. But the videos speak for themselves, and, in light of the Coalfire report, Americans should feel empowered to watch them, evaluate the evidence about Planned Parenthood, and decide for themselves whether their taxpayer dollars should be going to such an organization.
Lopez: If Planned Parenthood shuts it door, what would happen? Where would women go?
Mattox: First, there is no reason that losing taxpayer funding would cause Planned Parenthood to shut its doors. It has substantial “excess revenues” annually, willing private donors, and a large endowment. Planned Parenthood is not dependent on taxpayers, it uses them. Maintaining its government funding ties makes it more effective as a political engine, but a cursory glance at its annual reports proves that it is not dependent on taxpayers.
Moreover, Planned Parenthood’s 665 facilities provide only a limited range of services for a small percentage of the population despite massive advertising and brand recognition and the support of friends in politics and culture that other providers don’t have. If Planned Parenthood lost its taxpayer subsidies that money would be redirected to over 1300 other health centers that can provide primary healthcare and far more comprehensive services than Planned Parenthood. This is in addition to the hundreds of thousands of other Medicaid providers. If a woman visits Planned Parenthood’s website to find a healthcare provider near her she’ll find that it informs her only about Planned Parenthood locations — much like McDonalds’ website will not let you know that Five Guys may be closer to you (and provide a better burger). The pro-life community has responded to this need for information with www.getyourcare.org. This website geo-locates every federally qualified health center location and rural health center to give women real information about their options for medical care.
Lopez: What’s your hope for the new select committee?
Mattox: Taxpayers have very serious concerns about what our half billion in taxpayer dollars are funding at Planned Parenthood and whether Planned Parenthood is violating federal laws as it appears from the videos. My hope is simply that the select committee will devote itself to finding the truth about Planned Parenthood and its use of our money.
Lopez: What would be your key question for Cecile Richards if you were in Congress?
Mattox: Planned Parenthood clinics received payments for baby body parts from Stem Express, a for-profit company that obtained the parts on-site and left with them, eliminating the need for any reimbursements for shipping, packaging, transportation, or related costs. How do you justify the payments received by Planned Parenthood for baby body parts under that arrangement with Stem Express and how do you respond to Stem Express’s promise in its marketing materials — bearing the endorsement of a Planned Parenthood official that it would “fiscally reward” and provide a “financial benefit” to abortion clinics for their baby body parts?