Accuracy in Media

A story that aimed to clear up misconceptions about the Supreme Court’s decision to reject cases about defunding Planned Parenthood ended up adding some misconceptions about Planned Parenthood and the videos that exposed its sale of baby parts.

The story, “The Supreme Court’s abortion ruling isn’t a real victory. It sets up a bigger fight for liberals to lose.” – subhead: “This tells us almost nothing about the likely actions of the court once a real abortion case comes down the line,” – by Robin Marty, set about to explain why liberals should not get too excited about an “abortion case” not being taken by the Court.

The Court had declined to take two cases – from Louisiana and Kansas – in which the states sought to eliminate Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid-approved provider of women’s health services, which would have left the organization unable to collect Medicaid payments for services performed in those states.

The states argued that money is fungible – funds given to Planned Parenthood to support its women’s health services mission could be comingled with funds that pay for abortions, which is illegal under the Hyde Act. Planned Parenthood contended it had a right to challenge its removal from the program, and the courts now essentially have agreed, although, because of the way this unfolded, the matter could be brought up again.

Marty described how Kansas and Louisiana came to enact these policies.

“Both Kansas and Louisiana used the discredited 2015 ‘Planned Parenthood sells baby parts’ videos (edited and produced by the anti-abortion action group called Center for Medical Progress and its leader, David Daleiden, who still faces two lawsuits and several criminal charges in California) as justification for removing Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid-approved vendor for reproductive health services.”

Later in the story, it says, “Lower courts agreed with Planned Parenthood, enjoining Kansas and Louisiana’s attempt to bar them from their state’s Medicaid programs for reasons other than competence or quality – neither of which the discredited videos proved – and the states appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, which now has announced, without comment, that it will not hear the states’ cases.”

But the videos have not been discredited or found to be altered. Two organizations looked into them – Coalfire, a digital security and forensics firm, for the Alliance Defending Freedom, and Fusion GPS, the firm known for assembling the Trump-Russia dossier, on behalf of Planned Parenthood.

The Fusion report says its analysts found the videos were not tampered with and that “analysis did not reveal widespread evidence of substantive video manipulation.”

The Coalfire report says the videos are “authentic and show no evidence of manipulating or editing” and that the only edits were for “non-pertinent” aspects, such as “commuting, waiting, adjusting recording equipment, meals, and restroom breaks.”

Daleiden and citizen journalist Sandra Merritt are facing 15 charges in California, all filed by aggressively pro-abortion Attorney General Xavier Becerra and all concerning a California law against recording “confidential” conversations. The tapes were made in restaurants and offices, and members of the public did see and overhear, in some cases, the discussions, according to the Center for Medical Progress.

But the Center for Medical Progress has won a number of legal victories – StemExpress, which sued to try to block release of undercover footage that showed its leadership admitting it sometimes uses fully intact fetuses, seeking “another 50 livers a week” from a “volume institution” such as Planned Parenthood and admitting the sale of baby parts is “profitable for abortion clinics” – dropped its suit after the FBI and Department of Justice began to investigate the Center’s allegations.

In Houston, Daleiden was charged with using a false ID and trying to buy and sell human body parts, but the charges were thrown out by two different judges, and both the district attorney and deputy district attorney who brought them were forced from their jobs.

As for the final claim in the NBC story – that the videos did not prove Planned Parenthood lacked the competence or quality to receive Medicaid funds – the Center for Medical Progress never questioned these matters and investigated only the sale of baby body parts.  

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