Politics & Policy

No, the DOJ Investigation of Planned Parenthood Is Not a Witch Hunt

(Reuters photo: Lucas Jackson)
There exists more than enough evidence to merit this continued investigation.

The Department of Justice has launched a formal investigation into evidence that Planned Parenthood illegally profited from the sale of fetal tissue from aborted babies. And already it is being dismissed as a witch hunt.

The DOJ is merely the latest organization to take part in a two-year investigation of the U.S. fetal-tissue-trafficking industry — an investigation prompted by a series of undercover videos released in July 2015 by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP). In part, the videos showed meetings between CMP members — posing as buyers from biotech firms — and high-level Planned Parenthood employees discussing the illegal purchase of fetal organs of aborted babies.

After the videos landed, the Left and its allies in the news media immediately began damage control, obfuscating and downplaying the story, often through the use of outright falsehoods. The DOJ investigation has been given much the same treatment, and most outlets have attempted to portray it as a purely political effort by the Trump administration to undermine Planned Parenthood.

HuffPost labeled the CMP videos “debunked,” Newsweek called them “a debunked anti-choice propaganda campaign,” and ThinkProgress went with “discredited sting videos.” Meanwhile, The Hill and U.S. News & World Report cited Planned Parenthood’s false claim that the videos were “heavily edited and misleading.”

In reality, though, there exists more than enough evidence to merit this continued investigation. Indeed, anyone willfully ignoring that evidence for the sake of defending Planned Parenthood is engaging in outright deception. Most important, there’s the fact that the videos that prompted this investigation — first by a Select House Panel, then by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and now by DOJ — were never actually “discredited,” “debunked,” or anything close to it.

To Planned Parenthood’s claim that the videos were heavily and deceptively edited, there is a very simple reply. When the CMP first released its undercover videos, it simultaneously released all of its unedited undercover footage as well. Anyone who distrusts the “heavily edited” videos is free to visit the group’s site, watch the full footage, and point out what exactly is so deceptive about the shortened versions.

More than two years later, not a single Planned Parenthood supporter has done so. What’s more, nonpartisan examination, as well as the research of a firm employed by the abortion provider itself, revealed that this footage was not altered in any meaningful way.

Even aside from that glaringly obvious flaw in the left-wing narrative, the substance of the videos is impossible to write off as somehow manufactured. The CMP captured on film biotech-firm workers saying things such as, “She gave me the scissors and told me that I had to cut down the middle of the face. I can’t even describe what that feels like.”

One Planned Parenthood medical director described altering an abortion procedure to preserve more-valuable organs: “So then you’re just kind of cognizant of where you put your graspers, you try to intentionally go above and below the thorax, so that, you know, we’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part. I’m going to basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”

Another Planned Parenthood administrator openly admitted that fetal-tissue exchange is a profit-driven enterprise for the abortion group. “The money is not important,” she said. “But it has to be big enough that it makes it worthwhile for me. . . . It’s been years since I’ve talked about compensation, so let me just figure out what others are getting and if this is in the ballpark, that’s fine. If it’s still low, we can bump it up. I want a Lamborghini.”

All of the videos contain abundant examples of quotes like these ones. They aren’t “taken out of context.” They aren’t “deceptively edited.” These are truthful statements, spoken not by pro-life propagandists, but present in the full footage, spoken by Planned Parenthood’s own employees.

The subsequent House investigation of the entire industry confirmed much of what was revealed in these videos. The panel found that biotech firms such as StemExpress — which has itself been referred to federal agencies for further investigation — explicitly market their tissue-transfer partnerships with abortion groups as a means of driving up clinics’ profit margins.

Biotech firms employ their own technicians to work within Planned Parenthood clinics to do all the work of harvesting, packaging, and shipping the tissue and organs. This means that the money Planned Parenthood regularly received — and attempted to pass off as “reimbursement” — was in fact pure profit, which is illegal under federal law. (The law allows clinics to be reimbursed for costs associated with the transfer of fetal tissue and body parts, but prohibits the sale of fetal material.)

When the national Planned Parenthood organization discovered that several of its affiliates had failed to follow the group’s policy requiring compliance with federal law on transfer of fetal tissue, its leadership turned a blind eye. In fact, Planned Parenthood canceled the policy entirely rather than forcing compliance and altered its oversight procedures in order to enable those violations to continue.

This information, along with evidence of other violations of federal law, is detailed in two lengthy reports from the House Select Panel. The Senate Judiciary Committee also issued an extensive report, and both groups referred Planned Parenthood to the DOJ for further investigation as a result of the incriminating evidence uncovered.

This is not a hyper-partisan inquisition manufactured by anti-abortion extremists. It is a completely justified investigation of a group that portrays itself as a trustworthy women’s health organization and accepts half a billion dollars in government money each year — all while accepting illegal payment for the organs of unborn children.

It is high time Planned Parenthood faced Justice — and then, with any luck, justice.

READ MORE:

Planned Parenthood’s Century of Brutality

Planned Parenthood’s Annual Report: Abortions Up, Prenatal Care Down

Casey at 25: Pro-Life Progress Despite a Judicial Setback

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