Fiorina's Planned Parenthood Comment Was Graphic, Upsetting — And Totally Made-Up

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.
Carly Fiorina described a gruesome image when she talked about defunding Planned Parenthood during Wednesday's Republican debate. A fetus, heart beating, on a table, about to be dismembered, "its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain." A scene awful enough to send anyone caught on tape as a part of it straight to jail for life.

Fiorina said the recently released sting videos filmed by anti-abortion activists showed Planned Parenthood staffers ready to pounce. Fiorina is not telling the truth.

Vox journalist Sarah Kliff has watched all 12 hours of unedited footage shot by activists for the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group that tried to buy fetal tissue from different Planned Parenthood affiliates. Kliff wrote, "Either Fiorina hasn't watched the Planned Parenthood videos or she is knowingly misrepresenting the footage. Because what Fiorina says happens in the Planned Parenthood videos simply does not exist."

The videos were heavily edited to appear more shocking, but investigations by multiple states have found zero evidence of any wrongdoing. This has not stopped Republican members of Congress from trying to destroy Planned Parenthood and federally funded women's health care. Legislators are so serious about it that the government may shut down over it.

How could Fiorina get something so easily disproved so wrong? At this point, it's not important. We've all heard her horrifying description, and opponents of reproductive rights will seize on it and repeat it, and it will become another talking point for people who want to take essential health care — everything from birth control to access to the earliest abortions — away from women.

Update: There have been competing claims about whether the videos in question do exist. In just one example, in a post on The Federalist, Mollie Hemingway writes that Refinery29, among other sites, got it wrong.

As far as we can tell, there are a number of different videos from the Center for Medical Progress, the group behind the Planned Parenthood takedown videos, one that includes a woman describing something similar to what Fiorina described and others showing fetuses and stillborn babies. But, a video in which Carly Fiorina watched what she said she watched still hasn't come to light.

As the Washington Post put it in their fact-check of the debate: "Fiorina might have trouble finding this video to show to Clinton. No video has surfaced showing the scene Fiorina describes taking place inside a Planned Parenthood facility."
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