Caught on Tape

Caught on Tape
Photo credit: Center for Medical Process

Fifteen years ago, long before a series of undercover videos appearing to show Planned Parenthood executives haggling over the price of aborted babies’  body parts was released this summer, Mark Crutcher introduced the world to Kelly.

In 1997, Crutcher—president of Life Dynamics, a pro-life organization based in Texas—found evidence that Planned Parenthood might be involved in the illegal sale of fetal tissue.  That evidence consisted primarily of eyewitness accounts from “Kelly” (not his real name), a former employee of the Anatomic Gift Foundation (AGF), a biomedical procurement company based in Maryland.

According to Kelly, who eventually came forward as Lawrence Dean Alberty, Jr., AGF collected fetal organs from a Planned Parenthood facility, then distributed them for research purposes. He claimed to have harvested organs from 30 to 40 aborted babies per week, including some that were seven months along. Kelly told stories of partial-birth abortions and the murder of some infants born alive.

Kelly’s stories, along with a decade of purchase orders he turned over to Life Dynamics, drew the attention of Congress in 2000.

“We set out to prove that the abortion industry was making additional profit by chopping up the babies they kill and selling them for parts,” Crutcher tells Citizen. “We proved that very thing beyond a shadow of a doubt.”

Although Life Dynamics provided independent evidence to support its claims, Kelly’s reliability was attacked by various members of Congress and the media; a federal investigation grew political and soon fell apart. For the next 15 years, the public didn’t discuss the trafficking of body parts from aborted babies.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood grew. In 1999, according to its annual report, the organization received $187 million from taxpayers and performed 183,000 abortions. Today, it receives more than $528 million annually from taxpayers while aborting, according to its latest report, more than 327,000 babies in 2013.

That same year, 24-year-old David Daleiden founded the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), a medical-ethics watchdog group based in California, and set out to expose the root of the very hush-hush fetal-tissue trafficking industry—namely, Planned Parenthood itself.

“I wanted to do something that would go beyond the work (Crutcher) had done,” Daleiden told Christianity Today in July.  “In Mark’s report, there was not a lot of focus on the supplier—on the people who were actually terminating the fetuses and using the abortions to get high quality body parts. … I wanted to explore and focus in on that.”

So Daleiden and other undercover CMP investigators infiltrated Planned Parenthood, equipped with hidden cameras. When they began releasing their shocking videos in mid-July, they ignited both federal and state investigations into Planned Parenthood’s practices, as well as debates among lawmakers about defunding the nation’s largest abortion provider.

Breaking Silence

“We spent three years with our actors and investigators undercover and deeply embedded with Planned Parenthood and their affiliates and top-level executives,” Daleiden told Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly after CMP released the first of a dozen videos on July 14. “We’ve heard from their own mouths many times over that they sell the body parts, they make money in doing so, and they have a profit motive in doing so.”

News of the first video, according to the analytics site Topsy.com, was one of the top three trending items on social media the day of its release. It captured Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, describing abortionists’ efforts to preserve fetal organs.

“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lungs, liver,” she says, “so … I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”

Three more undercover videos followed over the next three weeks. One, featuring three top executives from StemExpress, a five-year-old biomedical research procurement company based in California, was temporarily blocked by a Los Angeles judge when StemExpress complained that CMP didn’t ask permission to record them for the undercover investigation. Executives asked for access to CMP’s recordings, which a state superior court denied on Aug. 13.

A second video featuring a former StemExpress employee was released Aug. 12; in it, she goes on the record, telling investigators the company has information on women who visit Planned Parenthood for pregnancy tests as well as abortions—and that, contrary to Planned Parenthood’s claims, they don’t all consent to having the fetal remains used for research.  In a third, released Aug. 19, she describes using scissors to remove an intact baby’s brain while its heart was still beating.  On Aug. 14, StemExpress—which is now being investigated by Congress—cut its ties with Planned Parenthood.

Horrific as that is, the videos didn’t just capture admissions from Planned Parenthood officials discussing possible illegal activity; they showed lab technicians sifting through the recognizable organs and limbs of aborted babies.

“The main issue here isn’t legality,” says Americans United for Life General Counsel Ovide LaMontagne. “It’s the callous attitude you see about dismembering children for body parts and moving them through the cycle and selling them.”

Breaking the Law

Yet the videos uncovered not only Planned Parenthood’s inhumane treatment of preborn children, but also the possibility that the organization and its affiliates are breaking federal law—several of them, as a matter of fact.

“The law is imperfect, for sure,” LaMontagne says. “It’s written in a way that enables some amount of harvesting and the transfer of fetal tissue. The federal law addresses possession of it, but it is allowed. There is a section in which one can donate fetal tissue for therapeutic transplantation—areas of the law that allow this industry to flourish.”

So the donation and transfer of fetal tissue is legal—as is research using it, which the federal government funds with taxpayer dollars. The National Institutes of Health provided $76 million in grants for research on human fetal tissue in 2014.

What isn’t legal is selling it for a profit. Federal law also prohibits abortionists from changing their procedures for the purpose of harvesting fetal organs—and those are two things the CMP videos appear to show.

In the second release, Dr. Mary Gatter, the medical director of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles and a member of the national federation’s executive team, apparently haggles over the price of fetal organs.

After settling on a $100 price tag for one, she says, “You know, the money is not the important thing for me. But it has to be big enough that it makes it worthwhile for me. … I want a Lamborghini.”

Likewise, in the sixth video, Melissa Farrell, the director of research for Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast in Houston, Texas, suggests that the group changes its abortion procedures for the purpose of harvesting preborn infants’ organs.

“If we alter our process, and we are able to obtain intact fetal cadavers,” she says, “we can make it part of the budget that any dissections are this (dollar amount), and splitting the specimens into different shipments is this (dollar amount). It’s all just a matter of line items.”

In another video, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Vice President and Medical Director Dr. Savita Ginde seems to be discussing the trafficking of organs from infants born alive.

“If someone delivers before we get to see them for a procedure, then we are intact,” she said.

Such comments suggest “that there have been multiple areas of the law that have at least been touched on—if not violated and crimes committed,” LaMontagne says.

“For example, the suggestion that you could deliver to a research facility an ‘intact cadaver’ suggests that a child may have been born alive or may have been the subject of partial-birth abortion, where the child was actually killed as it was exiting the vaginal cavity. And that would be in violation of either the Born Alive Infant Protection Act or the Partial Birth Abortion Act—or both.”

Defunding Planned Parenthood

In response to these serious allegations, federal and state officials quickly launched investigations and initiated discussions of defunding Planned Parenthood. Just 24 hours after the first video was released, the U.S. House of Representatives promised to “get to the bottom of this appalling situation.”

Three weeks later, a bill calling for the complete defunding of Planned Parenthood stalled in the Senate. But Arina Grossu, director of the Family Research Council’s Center for Human Dignity, sees it as an improvement from previous attempts.

“What is encouraging is that we were really only eight votes away,” she explains.

This time, 53 senators supported the bill; in 2011, only 42 senators voted to defund the abortion giant. And though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell voted against the most recent version, he did so as a matter of procedure so he can bring it back up in the future.

“This is indeed a huge improvement,” Grossu says. “So we’re going to keep putting on the pressure and keeping up the fight, educating people.”

Though defenders point out that abortion only makes up 3 percent of the services Planned Parenthood offers, Grossu notes that it provides 40 percent of the group’s profit. And though adoption referrals, cancer screenings exams and other women’s health services have been declining over the last five years, abortions have steadily increased. In fact, 94 percent of pregnant women who entered a Planned Parenthood facility in 2013 left with an abortion rather than an adoption referral or prenatal care.

“This organization is mired in so many awful dealings,” Grossu says, “that there is absolutely no reason why any money from taxpayers should go to fund it.”

Fighting for Life in the States

Life advocates have found more success at the state level. At press time, five states—Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Hampshire and Utah—had defunded Planned Parenthood. Twelve others—Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas,  Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas—had launched investigations as a result of the videos.

Moreover, on Aug. 10, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law The Aborted Fetal Remains Bill, which allows mothers to bury or cremate the babies’ remains at their own expense if they choose, and adopts rules for their proper disposal. That last part is necessary: When the bill was being debated earlier this year, former employees of a Planned Parenthood facility in Indianapolis testified that they had seen remains being flushed, untreated, directly into the sewer system.

Wisconsin lawmakers proposed a similar bill on July 24 prohibiting the sale of fetal tissue and requiring that aborted babies be either buried or cremated. It remained in play, though no vote had been scheduled, as this issue of Citizen went to press.

On Aug. 5, Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration reported that three of the state’s 16 Planned Parenthood facilities had performed second-trimester abortions without a proper license, and one of them failed to properly report the disposal of fetal remains. The state ordered the facilities to stop performing second-trimester abortions, and was considering further action at press time.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) continues to fight the misspending of state tax dollars for abortion. In 2013, former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, who served from 2003 to 2007, sued state officials for allegedly paying more than $14 million in tax dollars to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains despite a 1984 state constitutional amendment that prohibits public funds from paying for abortions. A district court dismissed the case on a technicality last fall, and an appeal was pending at press time. Senior Counsel Michael Norton added that he is preparing a supplemental brief citing “some of these barbaric videos,” as evidence.

Fifteen years after exposing Planned Parenthood, Crutcher is pleased to see CMP taking it even further. But the trafficking of fetal tissue, he says, is only one offshoot of the main problem.

“You are never going to stop the atrocities that the abortion industry routinely commits until you stop abortion itself,” he says. “Ultimately the only way that you’re ever going to keep these things from happening is to return legal protection to the unborn child.”

For More Information

To watch the videos or read transcripts, visit centerformedicalresearchprogress.org. To access reports from Life Dynamics’ previous investigation, visit prolifeamerica.com/marketing-aborted-baby-parts-2/. For documentation of the federal funding of research on human fetal tissue, visit http://1.usa.gov/JQdATa. For more facts about Planned Parenthood and abortion, read the Family Research Council’s latest annual report, “The Real Planned Parenthood: Leading the Culture of Death 2015 Edition” at frc.org/plannedparenthoodfacts.

© 2015 Focus on the Family.