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Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is a $1 billion behemoth that receives more than $300 million a year from the U.S. government. That’s made it a target of pro-life organizations for decades—though mostly to no avail. Planned Parenthood remains the largest abortion provider in the country.
But that could be about to change, thanks in large part to a 26-year-old activist with a video camera.
David Daleiden and his group Center for Medical Progress are in the process of releasing a series of videos he says show Planned Parenthood senior executives involved in selling baby body parts. The first video showed PPFA Senior Director of Medical Services Dr. Deborah Nucatola admitting to using partial-birth abortions to get intact body parts to sell. The sale or purchase of human fetal tissue is a felony.
The video created an instant uproar. Presidential candidates including Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee called for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, and House Speaker John Boehner called for an investigation. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley wrote a July 15 letter to Planned Parenthood demanding records and information, including “the total amount of revenue generated by Planned Parenthood’s provision of fetal tissue.”
PPFA President Cecile Richards had to react: She released a video saying the money PPFA took for the baby parts was for transportation and administrative costs, and the organization did not make money on the transactions.
That motivated Daleiden to release a second video on July 21 showing another PPFA senior executive—Dr. Mary Gatter, the president of PPFA’s Medical Directors’ Council—haggling over the price of body parts and offering to use abortion methods that will not destroy the parts—what she calls “less crunchy techniques.” Federal law says abortion providers cannot alter the timing and method of abortions for the purpose of fetal tissue collection.
At one point in the video, after pushing the undercover actors to pay a higher price, Gatter jokes, “I want a Lamborghini.”
How did Daleiden get these videos? “We conducted a 30-month-long investigative journalism project,” he said. He said he spent months networking and building relationships. “You can’t just walk in off the street and get meetings and lunch dates with these people.” Daleiden, who is the only full-time employee of the Center for Medical Progress, said he attended six different abortion industry trade shows, including a March 2015 event hosted by the National Abortion Federation, an association of abortion providers.
Daleiden also printed business cards and letterhead, and created a fictitious business designed to convince PPFA officials that he was in the business of fetal tissue procurement. “We established a front company, including a website,” he said. “We modeled ourselves after existing companies in the industry that were already harvesting fetal body parts.” One of those companies, California-based StemExpress issued a statement “regarding recent media reports,” saying in part, “StemExpress prides itself on complying with all laws.”
According to Daleiden, the 30-month undercover effort cost about $125,000. Troy Newman is the president of Operation Rescue and one of three members of the board of the Center for Medical Progress. (The other two are Daleiden and pro-life activist Albin Rhomberg. Rhomberg is no stranger to undercover photo projects. In 1982, Rhomberg gained entry to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office and took photos of aborted babies seized in a raid on an abortion facility. Rhomberg’s photos were some of the first to expose the practice of late-term abortions.) Newman said the money came from Operation Rescue and a small number of “pro-life benefactors.”
If the two videos already released don’t do the job, said Daleiden: “We have thousands of hours of video and audio. This is not all we have. This is just the beginning.”