10 Quick, Important Developments On The Planned Parenthood Scandal

10 Quick, Important Developments On The Planned Parenthood Scandal

The abortion provider says its web site was attacked. But was it really?
Mollie Hemingway
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Whether or not the story generates major media attention, the Center for Medical Progress’ expose of Planned Parenthood’s participation in the harvesting and sale of fetal organs continues to feature major updates. Here are 10 of them.

1) Injunction On Release Of Potential Upcoming Video

Late Wednesday, the Los Angeles Superior Court issued a temporary restraining order against the Center for Medical Progress, the pro-life group whose undercover journalism has produced three videos showing Planned Parenthood officials engaged in the practice of harvesting of organs from unborn children killed by abortions. Under the terms of the order, the non-profit organization is banned from releasing video of a May lunch attended by three StemExpress officials. The complaint alleges multiple infractions by the Center for Medical Progress, including invasion of privacy, breach of contract, and unfair competition.

The New York Times Supreme Court reporter suggested the injunction was not constitutional.

2) Crisis Communications Firm Helping Planned Parenthood

Politico reported that high-powered firm SKDKnickerbocker is helping Planned Parenthood manage its public relations crisis. It sent out a memo to journalists trying to keep them from reporting on the undercover videos, on the grounds they were obtained under false identification and violated patient privacy.

SKDKnickerbocker also ran Planned Parenthood’s campaign against the Komen Foundation when Komen tried to cut ties with the abortion provider. The firm also managed birth control activist Sandra Fluke’s media operation.

3) Planned Parenthood Claims Web Site Attacked, But Was It?

A few days ago, the Daily Dot reported a hack of Planned Parenthood data, and the news was carried far and wide. It appears to just be a listing of 333 email addresses of Planned Parenthood employees as well as their usernames. Yesterday, Planned Parenthood and SKDKnickerbocker managing director Hilary Rosen began tweeting about an alleged attack on Planned Parenthood’s web site. Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards released an op-ed in the Washington Post about Planned Parenthood generally being under attack a few hours later.

The only problem was that the “attack” wasn’t observed by anyone other than Planned Parenthood officials and their public relations/crisis communications firm SKDKnickerbocker. Further, they were unable to provide any substantiation to their claim that the “attack” came from “anti-abortion extremists,” if it even existed. And then they claimed that the website was restored to working order quickly but that they were taking the website down for the day for extra precaution. And then they replaced their normal splash page with a public relations message about how mean pro-lifers are, including a button to donate.

Who knows what happened, but it looked less like an actual hack or attack of a website and far more like an attempt to orchestrate a public relations campaign to help Planned Parenthood look less like monsters who harvest fetal organs and more like victims.

To be sure, Reuters bought it. Here’s Steve Gorman’s piece “Planned Parenthood reports second website hack in a week.” But even the Associated Press, which has historically had tremendous trouble covering Planned Parenthood non-obseqiously, had a report that took pains to note the lack of evidence for Planned Parenthood’s claims:

The group also took its websites down after a hacker attack it blamed on “anti-abortion extremists” blocked access by what Planned Parenthood said are the sites’ 200,000 daily visitors. The organization declined to say publicly how it knew the attackers were abortion foes, and said it fixed the problem but took its sites down for the day to “ensure that we are fully protected.”

This tweet, which shows the image Planned Parenthood put up, shows how Planned Parenthood’s messaging came off:

A later update to the site kept the message that the site was “not available due to an attack by extremists” but had a link to donate, a link to book an appointment, a link to find an abortion clinic, and multiple links to help Planned Parenthood with public relations. There were other fishy things people picked up in the source code of the supposedly attacked site.

4) Media Very Interested In Cecil The Lion, But Not Cecile The President Of Planned Parenthood

According to the Media Research Center, ABC, CBS, and NBC’s news broadcasts dedicated 11 minutes and 13 seconds since July 14 to stories relating to the Planned Parenthood videos and 14 minutes and 1 second since July 28 to the killing of Cecil, a lion in Zimbabwe. While media coverage of the killing of Cecil was uniformly outraged, coverage of the videos showing Planned Parenthood’s fetal organ harvesting programs ranged from non-existent to muted. There was no outrage.

Andrew Kaczynski, a political reporter at BuzzFeed, responded to criticism of the lack of coverage of Planned Parenthood:

BuzzFeed has covered the Planned Parenthood story a bit, including two pieces by Kaczynski (who has shown significant journalistic interest in the story on his Twitter account), “Tim Kaine: Undercover Planned Parenthood Video ‘Very Troubling,’ ‘Extremely Troubling,'” and “Scott Walker: Undercover Planned Parenthood Video ‘Absolutely Horrifying And Disgusting.'”

So six stories on the three shocking videos about Planned Parenthood. Three on July 14, one on July 16, one on July 22 and one on July 26. As for Cecil the Lion:

So six stories on reports of the killing of Cecil the Lion. One on July 27, one on July 28 and four on July 29. In addition to the differing levels of enthusiasm for covering the story, you probably also detect a wildly different tone.

5) Hillary Clinton Says Videos Are ‘Disturbing’

Planned Parenthood had told journalists and other organization supporters to ignore the videos. But during a sit-down interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton said of the undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the harvesting and sale of aborted fetal organs, “I have seen pictures from them and obviously find them disturbing.”

6) Planned Parenthood Poll Mocked

Planned Parenthood attempted to push poll results from a poll they commissioned that showed high support considering their fetal organ trade scandal. The only problem was the questions were laughably bad.

Even if the question made grammatical sense (“vote immediately vote”?), the question couldn’t be more biased. Among many other problems, it doesn’t even mention what the undercover videos have revealed, says not one word about trafficking in fetal organs, or even that Planned Parenthood performs abortions.

One Twitter user joked:

That Hillary Clinton said the video images were disturbing was probably a more reliable indicator of how horribly this scandal is hurting Planned Parenthood. That wouldn’t be surprising. A report this week looked at how pro-life messaging actually influences voter behavior. The results, which looked at political messaging in the Texas gubernatorial race between late-term abortion proponent Wendy Davis and Gov. Greg Abbott, showed:

The best targets for pro-life messaging were Democratic-leaning women, young voters and Hispanic voters. Exposure to just one pro-life video ad shifted Democratic-leaning women by 10 points away from Davis and toward Abbott.

7) Planned Parenthood Fails To Show Up To Texas Hearing

The Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee held a hearing to look into how Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas engage in the fetal organ trade. However, Planned Parenthood officials didn’t show up. Texas is one of several states where investigations into Planned Parenthood have begun. The more than $500 million that Planned Parenthood receives from taxpayers each year is divided between federal and state funds, so these investigations pose a threat to some of Planned Parenthood’s budget.

The hearing did feature testimony from Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director, who discussed how her clinic harvested organs from the children aborted at her clinic. She said her clinic received $200 per specimen. She claimed that costs for such harvesting were minimal (only $5-$10 per specimen, by her telling) and that the Houston Planned Parenthood clinic, if it charged only $100 per specimen and if only half of the women seeking abortions each day consented to donations, would generate $120,000/month selling baby parts. This claim somehow didn’t make it into mainstream news accounts of the hearing here, here, here or any where else. You can listen to it here at two hours and thirty minutes into the hearing.

8) Trouble for Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood

Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood was featured in Tuesday’s video release showing the dissection of a recently killed baby boy. In the video, Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood Vice President and Medical Director Savita Ginde appeared to negotiate the sale of baby parts.

On Wednesday, Alliance Defending Freedom filed a complaint with Colorado against a Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood abortionist and another employee. The two employees, according to ADF, failed to comply with Colorado law when they failed to report the sexual abuse of a 13-year-old girl, performing an abortion on her without telling her parents, and returning her to the custody of the sexual predator who brought her for an abortion. He continued to sexually abuse her.

9) #UnplannedParenthood

On Twitter, people who had unplanned pregnancies or were the result of same posted their stories. A sample:



10) Planned Parenthood Mammogram Falsehood Resurrected

In an interesting Washington Post article about the problems this Planned Parenthood story poses for Democrat, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said:

‘I haven’t seen the videos. And I don’t generally make a habit of responding to right-wing videos,’ O’Malley told reporters in New Hampshire this week. ‘I do know that 97 percent of the work that Planned Parenthood does is about mammograms and preventative health. So that’s what I know but I’ll defer to others for commenting on that video and whatever videos they’re pumping out there.’

No, O’Malley, 97 percent of Planned Parenthood’s work is not mammograms. In fact, zero percent of Planned Parenthood’s work is mammograms because Planned Parenthood doesn’t do a single mammogram. Planned Parenthood falsely made the claim that they did during their campaign to shame the Komen Foundation into continuing to fund them, and some media asserted it as well. President Obama has regularly made the claim during his War on Women messaging.

The only problem is that it’s just not true. From a Washington Post fact check a few years ago:

The problem here is that Planned Parenthood does not perform mammograms or even possess the necessary equipment to do so.

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway is a senior editor at The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter at @mzhemingway

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