I noted in an earlier column that Planned Parenthood has adopted an “attack-the-messenger” strategy to defend itself against videos showing its attitudes and actions regarding its use of aborted babies.

According to thehill.com, a political news site, “Planned Parenthood is considering legal action against the pro-life organization that has released a series of secretly recorded videos scrutinizing the health provider’s fetal tissue donation program.”

Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens told the site she believes the videos “are illegal and that her organization is ‘considering everything’ in going after the Center for Medical Progress, the group behind the videos.”

You can’t blame Planned Parenthood for diverting people’s attention with spurious verbiage (Edited videos! Deceptive tactics!) and contemplating a suit. But there are some things it might want to consider.

First, the activists say that under California law, people don’t have to consent to recording if they’re in a public place where others might see and hear them. The recordings were made in crowded restaurants and thus may be exempt.

They also say it’s not illegal to record people who are committing a crime. If those recorded were doing something illegal (like selling baby parts for profit, which is a federal offense), the law may not apply.


It is also true that major news organizations (including CBS’ “60 Minutes”) have often used surreptitious recordings to get stories – and edited them for broadcast.

But even if a court rules these videos were illegally made, that doesn’t change a word on them. It remains to be seen if Planned Parenthood or allied groups broke any laws about selling baby parts, but their callousness and inhumanity remain on display for all to see (all who are willing to look, anyway).

The violations by the Center for Medical Progress, if any, are like throwing a rock through a stranger’s window – when his house is on fire and someone’s trapped inside.

And a lawsuit would keep the controversy in the news for months, even years. Who knows what new information might come out of the discovery process, where each side has to reveal what it will use in court?

Planned Parenthood is a billion-dollar corporation (with 40 percent of its money coming from state and federal tax revenues) and may figure a small group of activists wouldn’t have the resources to defend itself.

However, there are conservative legal aid groups willing to help out. Recall, too, that ordinary Americans gave an Indiana pizza parlor over $800,000 when it was dragged into the same-sex marriage debate, and an Oregon bakery fined $135,000 over a wedding cake refusal was given over $200,000 by thousands of donors.


Goliath’s minions might find David isn’t as defenseless as they think.

Still, by starting with the least controversial videos (though they were bad enough) and then showing escalating activities over time, the Center for Medical Progress probably thought it was preparing the ground for people to see the full scope of the sickening scenes they depicted.

But as time passed, mainstream media coverage turned away from the more recent videos, focusing on new events (Cecil the lion! Donald Trump!) and treating even the latest disclosures as “old news.”

For example, did you know that last Saturday, there were over 350 pro-life protests in front of Planned Parenthood clinics around the nation, with crowds ranging from a few hundred to several thousand? Many of them attracted more people than the left-wing Occupy protests did, and yet they went largely unmentioned in the major media.

So, considering the scarcity of recent coverage, let me digest a couple of the newest Center for Medical Progress releases for you:

In one, Cate Dyer, CEO of StemExpress LLC, a middleman firm that recently disassociated itself from Planned Parenthood, says her company prefers to ship intact cadavers to better preserve their organs, but can’t always do that.


If some customers were to receive a box containing a baby’s head, she said, “They’ll open the box, go, ‘Oh God!’ So yeah, so many of the academic labs cannot fly like that. They are not capable.”

Dyer said she had a “nearly triple-digit” number of clients, and she liked Planned Parenthood, which performed 327,000 abortions last year, because it is “a volume institution.” But she said she could still use “another 50 livers a week.”

And Holly O’Donnell, a former StemExpress employee, said in another video that she was told by a supervisor to remove a brain from a fully intact baby whose heart was still beating.

“So she gave me the scissors,” O’Donnell said, “and told me that I have to cut down the middle of the face. And I can’t even like describe like what that feels like.”

O’Donnell, a phlebotomist, applied for a position to draw blood. But it ended up being more than that.

And the videos that depict it will not go away.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at:


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