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Politics & Policy

Fifth Circuit Ruling Dismantles Planned Parenthood Talking Points

(File photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

A ruling issued tonight by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has torpedoed several of the abortion-rights movement’s key talking points in defense of Planned Parenthood.

The case dealt with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s decision to terminate the state’s Medicaid provider agreements with Planned Parenthood affiliates across the state. The state based its decision to remove Planned Parenthood from the list of eligible Medicaid providers in large part on a series of undercover videos released in the summer of 2015 showing footage of Planned Parenthood executives and doctors admitting to illegally profiting from the sale of the fetal tissue of aborted babies.

At the time the videos were released, Planned Parenthood and its many defenders in the pro-choice movement repeated ad nauseam that the videos had been “heavily [and] deceptively edited.” This same line was often parroted uncritically by media outlets in their coverage of the videos.

In its ruling tonight, the Fifth Circuit not only affirmed the state’s right to terminate its agreement with Planned Parenthood affiliates, but also confirmed that the videos were undoctored. The court noted that an independent forensic firm’s review of the undercover footage found “that the video was authentic and not deceptively edited.” This directly refutes Planned Parenthood’s own false claim.

The ruling also mentioned parts of the video footage in which Planned Parenthood executives had admitted to illegally altering abortion procedures to obtain intact fetuses whose organs could then be sold to medical research firms for greater profit. This included finding ways to circumvent the federal ban on partial-birth abortion, whether by changing the way they performed late-term procedures or by signing a form saying they had not “intended” to retrieve an intact fetus.

Tonight’s decision is a win for the pro-life effort to remove Planned Parenthood’s Medicaid funding at the state level, but it also affirms evidence showing that Planned Parenthood doctors and affiliates did indeed break federal law.

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