An antiabortion group on Tuesday released a second video apparently showing a Planned Parenthood official discussing the method and price of providing fetal tissue left over from abortions for medical research.
The edited video from the Center for Medical Progress shows excerpts of a conversation with Mary Gatter, Medical Director for Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley, in what appears to be a booth at a restaurant. The woman is shown talking with unseen activists, posing as medical company representatives, about the price of the tissue while also stating that “we’re not in this for the money.”
At one point, Gatter jokes: “I want a Lamborghini.”
The Center for Medical Progress also posted a longer video described as the full footage of the hour-long conversation.
“What the video released today shows is a Planned Parenthood medical provider, who has dedicated her career to ensuring that women have access to the best health care, stating over and over again that she follows all laws and medical standards,” Eric Ferrero, vice president of communications for Planned Parenthood of America, said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.
The videos were “heavily edited in attempt to support false and outrageous claims,” Ferrero said. He continued: “These videos are part of a decade-long campaign of deceiving the public, making false charges, and terrorizing women and their doctors, all in order to ban abortion and cut women off from care at Planned Parenthood.”
The video is the latest attempt by antiabortion activists to try to show that Planned Parenthood sells fetal tissue. While recouping the costs of preserving and delivering fetal tissue samples to companies for research is permitted, selling the tissue for a profit violates state and federal laws.
The efforts have prompted Congress and some states to open investigations into the women’s health organization, which also serves as the nation’s largest abortion provider. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who announced an investigation into Planned Parenthood last week, said Tuesday that the state would “expand its investigation” in light of the second video.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster (D) announced Tuesday that his office would investigate Planned Parenthood for any potential wrongdoing at its clinics in the state.
Planned Parenthood and its supporters say the videos are misleading and part of a decades-long campaign to smear the organization. On Monday, Planned Parenthood released a lengthy letter to Congress warning that more videos were coming and that they would likely be misleading.
Last week, the Center for Medical Progress — a little-known group with ties to larger, established antiabortion organizations — released a video showing Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical research, discussing in graphic detail procedures that are used to abort fetuses in a way that preserves organs such as the liver, heart, lungs and head.
A portion of the new video shows Gatter discussing the ethics of altering an abortion procedure for the purpose of preserving fetal tissues.
“If our usual technique is suction, at 10 to 12 weeks, and we switch to using an IPAS or something with less suction, and increase the odds that it will come out as an intact specimen, then we’re kind of violating the protocol that says to the patient, ‘We’re not doing anything different in our care of you,'” she says.
“Now to me, that’s kind of a specious little argument, and I wouldn’t object to asking Ian, who’s our surgeon who does the cases, to use an IPAS at that gestational age in order to increase the odds that he’s going to get an intact specimen,” Gatter says.
She adds that she believes both discussed procedures are “totally appropriate techniques” and says: “I don’t think the patients would care one iota.”
In the unedited video, the woman is asked by the individuals posing as buyers whether “we could compensate more” for making a switch in procedure.
“Well, now you’re shading into the area of you’re paying me to do something that’s not right. So that’s not what I want to talk about!” she replies.
A clinic that did choose to perform one procedure over another with the express purpose of increasing the likelihood of preserving an intact specimen would be committing a “classic violation” of a long-held, industry-wide standard for abortion providers in the United States, Arthur Caplan, director of New York University’s Division of Medical Ethics, said after reviewing the video.
“They have a standard informed consent form that says, ‘We’re going to do this procedure, and we’re not going to change anything about it,'” Caplan explained in a telephone interview. He added that “it’s ethically very dangerous” to change a procedure for the purpose of fetal tissue collection. “You’re starting to put the mom’s health secondary,” he said.
Caplan said that some of the video’s other claims fall into “a big gray zone,” including the Center for Medical Progress’s assertion that Planned Parenthood has broken the law by “selling” fetal tissues and organs for profit.
“They would like the charge to be ‘Planned Parenthood sells baby parts,'” Caplan said. “I’m not sure you get this from this tape.”
Despite those questions, Caplan said the videos still raise questions about Planned Parenthood’s overall approach to providing fetal tissue donations to research. “I think Planned Parenthood is bumping up against the boundary on these tapes,” he said. “I know [the tapes] are edited, but I think they have to rethink what they’re doing if they’re going to stay in this area.”
Another segment shows Gatter alternately discussing the price of fetal tissue while emphasizing that profit is not the motive. The woman describes the discussion as “negotiations” and expresses hesitation about offering a “lowball.” After an activist prods her to name a price per specimen, she throws out a figure: $75.
“That’s way too low,” the activist counters before offering $100. “Okay,” Gatter says. Later in the conversation, she suggests the price may go higher depending on what other affiliates may charge.
Gatter also suggests she is inexperienced in discussing “compensation.” And she repeatedly says profit is not the motive. “The money is not important,” she says at one point.
Also, she says: “We don’t want to be accused of selling tissue and stuff like that. On the other hand, there are costs associated with the use of our space and all that kind of stuff.”
As the meeting breaks up, the woman breaks the mood with a joke. “I want a Lamborghini,” she laughs.
“Don’t we all?” one of the activists responds.
Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that Mary Gatter is the Medical Director for Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles. She is the Medical Director for Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley.
This post, originally published at 10:13 a.m., has been updated.