Hidden-camera videos depicting abortion doctors discussing the use of fetal organs for research were deceptively edited to mislead viewers, a Planned Parenthood–sponsored analysis revealed on Thursday. The reproductive health organization called the tapes a "fraud."
In a letter sent to Congress and in a report by the investigative research firm Fusion GPS, Planned Parenthood found at least 42 deceptive cuts of dialogue in five videotapes released by the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress (CMP) based in Irvine, California.
The cuts at times made abortion clinic doctors appear to be replying to questions they weren't asked. What's more, transcripts of the dialogue include 1,400 words that weren't in the discussion, the report found.
"Any time anyone makes changes to videotapes, that makes them unreliable. That's the bottom line," said Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS in a news briefing organized by Planned Parenthood, which paid for the report. Transcripts of the videos provided by CMP are unreliable, Simpson said. "In places there is wishful thinking about what is being said."
"It is increasingly clear this attack on Planned Parenthood is based on a web of deception," Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said at the briefing.
The veracity of the tapes will likely be a hot topic when Congress returns from recess next week, with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas calling for holding up federal spending bills unless Planned Parenthood loses federal funding. At least four congressional committees have expressed interest in investigating and holding hearings on the tapes, with eight released so far, and another four promised by the group before the end of September.
David Daleiden, the founder of the CMP who acted in the videos as the buyer for a fake firm called BioMax Procurement Services, called the new report a "desperate, 11th-hour attempt" to change the political conversation around the videos.
CMP released the "full footage of the conversations" with Planned Parenthood executives, he added, but did not include bathroom breaks or waiting room periods. The raw video files, including the breaks, were provided to law enforcement, he said.
"The absence of bathroom breaks and waiting periods between meetings does not change the hours of dialogue with top-level Planned Parenthood executives eager to manipulate abortion procedures to get high-quality baby parts for financially profitable sale," Daleiden told BuzzFeed News by email.
When previously asked why the public should believe an organization that lied to get its videos, Daleiden told BuzzFeed News that "anyone who is skeptical can let the footage speak for itself."
Some of the most inflammatory segments shown on videotapes — such as a clinic technician seeming to say "another boy" about an aborted fetus — were deceptively spliced from unrelated discussions in the tapes, Simpson said at the briefing. A voice saying "it's a baby" from footage at a Colorado clinic appears "unintelligible and appears to have been added to the transcript either by transcription error or intentional fabrication," the report said.
Overall, the deleted portions of the tape appear to be from sections of conversations where clinic officials stated that they wouldn't profit from donated tissues or change procedures to facilitate collection of fetal organs, according to the report.
"When you see video that is incomplete, and they won't release the full video, then you start to move into cover-up territory," forensic video analyst Ed Primeau of Primeau Forensics in Rochester Hills, Michigan, who is not connected to Planned Parenthood, told BuzzFeed News.
Primeau called the Fusion RPG report's forensic examiner, Grant Fredrickson of the Spokane-based Forensic Video Solutions, "the best in the business," at detecting video manipulation.
On Friday morning, Planned Parenthood called for the CMP to release its complete videotapes.
"I'll provide the raw files off the recorder if Planned Parenthood will provide their original contracts with StemExpress," Daleiden told BuzzFeed News.
StemExpress is a Placerville, California biomedical firm that sells fetal tissues to researchers, had contracts with two Planned Parenthood clinics in California, and was the subject of several CMP videos, including the most recent one released after a judge dropped an injunction against the group.
In its letter to Congress, Planned Parenthood said those two clinics received "$45 to $55 per tissue specimen" provided to StemExpress. BuzzFeed News has requested the contracts for these specimen reimbursements to representatives of both Planned Parenthood and StemExpress, as well as asking Daleiden which law enforcement officials had received complete tapes. All of those requests are pending.
Ema O'Connor contributed reporting to this story.
This story has been updated to include comments from Ed Primeau.
This story has been updated to include Planned Parenthood's Friday request for CMP to release the full tapes.
Dan Vergano is a science reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Dan Vergano at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.