It's Time For Carly Fiorina To Stop Lying About Planned Parenthood

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images.
It's pretty well-established now that the video Carly Fiorina described during a Republican presidential debate earlier this month doesn't exist. It was a horrible scene: "a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain." But the people behind this summer's Planned Parenthood sting videos still claim it does — and it looks like they're using evidence of a woman's miscarriage to do it.

Chris Cuomo of CNN spoke to Daniel Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress on Wednesday. Daleiden heads an anti-abortion group that released hours of video footage to try and discredit Planned Parenthood earlier this year. On Monday, another anti-abortion activist posted a gruesome 13-minute video to YouTube, showing the delivery of a fetus that appears to be at around 18 weeks gestation. During the interview, Cuomo confronted Daleiden about why a video of a stillborn baby is being passed off as an abortion. The clip wasn’t used in Daleiden’s sting videos, but it appears in part of a different series posted on the CMD’s website.

"It's used to illustrate exactly the kind of late trimester baby we’re talking about in these cases of abortion, in terms of organ harvesting," Daleiden said. The video has no sound, there is no information about where it was taken, or that anything happened to the fetus. While the footage is disturbing, it is still no more than evidence of a lost pregnancy — an event that many women say can be a deep personal tragedy.

Cuomo pushed, “But if you’re talking about organ harvesting and abortions and how terrible they are, why would you use a stillborn fetus, which is not a function of an abortion?”

Daleiden's resonse is an epic dodge, and one that should give anyone pause: "Do you think that fetuses are different somehow? It’s the same baby, whether it’s born dead or alive." While it's true that they might look the same in still photos, you can’t point to a video of one procedure and just assume an abortion looks the same. Using upsetting footage to force a visceral reaction in people who have mixed feelings about abortion is underhanded and unethical.

What's more, this is exactly the sort of slippery logic that anti-abortion activists use to support arguments against a medical procedure that is safer than childbirth, and legal in the U.S. First, Fiorina says the video existed, but the video that activists pointed to the day after the debate did not show the scene she described. Then, this new video was released. Now it is merely supposed to represent what these activists claim — but have zero evidence of — happens.

Multiple experienced doctors told Time that the video almost certainly shows a miscarriage, and one said that it would be "preposterous" to give medical care to a fetus at that stage of development. It's also worth noting that the mother of the fetus in the video has said publicly that she was not asked for permission to use the footage, which is clearly illegal. She has also said she will not pursue legal action against anyone for it.

The misrepresentations of the Center for Medical Progress and Fiorina haven't diminished public support for Planned Parenthood, but that hasn't stopped Congress from trying to destroy the health care organization. At a hearing on Tuesday, congressman after congressman badgered Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards over everything from the group's fundraising, to tax returns, to basic elements of women's medical care in the U.S.

Fiorina's attacks on Planned Parenthood have helped her popularity — she's now tied for second place with Ben Carson — but she should admit she wasn't telling the truth about this video, and stop associating with activists who appear willing to resort to criminal behavior to make their points.

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