The anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress, whose founder is under indictment, released a new undercover video Monday of conversations with people who work for the National Abortion Federation. The CMP claims the video shows a NAF employee agreeing to a “kickback arrangement to split the money from fetal parts,” which is not what their video actually shows.
On Friday, San Francisco federal judge William Orrick ordered the CMP not to release footage they shot undercover at an NAF annual meeting, pointing in part to the “documented, dramatic increase” in harassment and threats against abortion providers after the CMP started releasing its videos. The judge also said the tapes had “limited public interest” and showed “no evidence of criminal activity” by NAF members. The injunction ordered by the judge will stand until a lawsuit brought by the NAF against the Center for Medical Progress is decided.
Apparently upset, Daleiden and the CMP released a new video today. It accuses the NAF and Planned Parenthood of orchestrating “an attack on the First Amendment” and purports to show a very damning conversation that isn’t at all. More than anything, it seems to show how the CMP is spinning their wheels as the shaky case they’ve tried to build against Planned Parenthood and its affiliates begins to fall apart.
The new video wasn’t taken at the NAF’s annual meeting, but at a conference held by the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals. (That means the CMP isn’t violating the injunction).
The video was shot by the “actor” working for the CMP, wearing a hidden camera (it is likely Sandra Merritt, the other CMP person who has been criminally indicted). In it, she says that her fake fetal tissue company, BioMax Procurement Services, donates money back to the abortion clinics they work with:
Actor: We do donate the fees that we get from our researchers, we give a portion back to the clinics as just a thank you for letting us come in.
NAF employee: Oh wow, yeah, it definitely sounds like something some of our members would be interested in.
A donation from a private company to an abortion clinic would be perfectly legal, actually. Reimbursement for expenses would also legal. A direct “kickback” scheme—BioMax paying clinics for fetal tissue beyond reimbursement costs—would be illegal. But again, the only person suggesting anything that would even come close to that is the person working undercover for the CMP.
The NAF employee she’s talking to responds noncommittally that some members might be interested, and then invites BioMax to set up a table at the NAF Conference:
“We have an exhibit hall and then we also have the general conference. But I mean, this is a very great way to talk to our members. We have a group purchasing program through our membership. So it seems like this would be a really great option to be able to offer our members as well.”
The CMP is desperately trying to spin this as evidence of criminal wrongdoing— the abortionists have conferences!— but it looks a little silly.
National Abortion Federation President Vicki Saporta tells Jezebel she’s kind of baffled; the beginning of the same video also shows her accepting an award from the ACLU in July. In that speech, which is also on the NAF’s website, Saporta talks about working with the ACLU to fight a federal abortion ban. The CMP video is edited in such a way to suggest that she’s talking about Daleiden and the CMP.
“The fact that he cut it in such a way to make it sound like I’m talking about him instead of a court case in the early 2000s is another example of how misleading of what he does is,” Saporta says.
“There’s no criminal activity to uncover,” she adds, pointing out that not a single state that’s investigated the CMP’s claims of baby part sales has been able to come up with anything. “The sooner politicians realize they’ve been misled by these people, and perhaps they don’t want to stay in bed with them, the better it will be for everybody.”
Beyond that, Saporta adds, “I don’t know what the point of this tape was.”
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Merritt leaving the courthouse in Houston after posting her bond, February 3, 2016. Photo via AP.