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Planned Parenthood Sues Over Controversial ‘Fetal Tissue’ Videos

by Aarian Marshall

January 15, 2016
Via Flickr user PROThe All-Nite Images

On Thursday, Planned Parenthood launched its legal response to the conservative groups that secretly taped and released videos accusing the organization of selling aborted baby parts. Planned Parenthood’s federal lawsuit against the Center for Medical Progress and other groups alleges the “anti-abortion extremists” engaged in a scheme “to defraud” the reproductive health services group, which involved a three-year “complex criminal enterprise.”

The videotapes have transformed the national dialogue on Planned Parenthood and abortion. Released last summer, the nine-part series purports to show Planned Parenthood staffers discussing the illegal sale of fetal tissue in offices and over lunch—an allegation that initiated state investigations and a number of GOP attempts to completely defund the reproductive health organization.

In November, a gunman who attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs explained his actions to investigators using the phrase “no more baby parts”—an apparent reference to the videos.

Though Planned Parenthood did apologize for the “tone” of one doctor’s comments caught on tape, the group maintains that conservative activists used fraud to gain entry to abortion provider conferences and then edited the videos to distort the truth. A few clinics did engage in the legal donation of fetal tissue, the organization says—and only with the consent of the women involved.

“The people behind this fraud lied and broke the law in order to spread malicious lies about Planned Parenthood,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement Thursday. “This lawsuit exposes the elaborate, illegal conspiracy designed to block women’s access to safe and legal abortion, and we filed the case to hold them accountable.”

In its own statement, the Center for Medical Progress called the lawsuit “frivolous” and a “retaliation for CMP’s First Amendment investigative journalism that has done nothing more than tell the truth about Planned Parenthood’s lawless operations.”

A reminder: Abortions account for just 3 percent of the services that Planned Parenthood provides. An estimated 7 to 14 percent of Planned Parenthood patients get abortions, The Washington Post reports. Federal Medicaid funds go toward abortions only in cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother. Currently, 17 states use state Medicaid money to cover the cost of  “medically necessary” abortions. 

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Planned Parenthood Sues Over Controversial ‘Fetal Tissue’ Videos