In the second GOP debate the subject of Planned Parenthood and its baby harvesting operation came up. Carly Fiorina had this to say:
As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, it’s heart beating, it’s legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.
This is about the character of our nation, and if we will not stand up in and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us.
Then the left does what it does best: obfuscate and defend the indefensible.This is the clip from the video that set off the controversy.
The emotionally stunted Amanda Marcotte (who once was fired from the John Edwards campaign for anti-Catholic bigotry and threatened to not sleep with men who weren’t actively pro-abort) fired:
It was quite a performance, and it opens the question of what Fiorina was inhaling before she watched those videos. There is nothing in the videos made by CMP, either in the edited or full-length versions, that has anything approaching images of legs kicking or hearts beating.
Sarah Kliff (who refused to cover Kermit Gosnell’s trial because it was a local crime story) posted:
But the things Fiorina describes — the legs kicking, the intact “fully formed fetus,” the heart beating, the remarks about having to “harvest its brain” — are pure fiction.
Perhaps the classic comment came from MSNBC’s Irin Carmon
@MZHemingway we actually don’t know what it depicts. Fiorina’s statement is clearly inaccurate.
— Irin Carmon (@irin) September 18, 2015
The anti-abortion-rights group targeting Planned Parenthood is acknowledging that its most recent video used an image of a stillborn baby that was made to look like an aborted fetus. The Center for Medical Progress posted a new link on its video late Thursday, adding that one of the images was actually a baby named Walter Fretz, born prematurely at 19 weeks.
Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist has done a commendable job of pulling the various threads together.
In the video in question, a technician is talking about harvesting the brain of an alive, fully formed fetus. While she tells her story, there is footage of another baby of roughly the same gestational age as the one whose brain she harvested. This baby is seen still kicking and its heart still beating.
While it is obviously not the same baby as the one she harvested the brain of, the footage helps viewers to understand what a 19-week old baby looks like when hearing the testimony of an ex-employee who harvested brains from babies of the same age. Illustrating stories with appropriate images is a common journalistic technique, one used by all media outlets.
“The video clip we provided to CMP depicted an intact delivery abortion. It was filmed at an abortion clinic. It was not a miscarriage. Mothers don’t go to abortion clinics to miscarry. Had this case been a miscarriage, the mother would have presented at a hospital and her baby would have been rushed to an Isolette for appropriate neonatal care — not abandoned to writhe and eventually expire in a cold, stainless steel specimen vessel. As regards the organizational affiliation of the abortion facility in which this termination was performed, our access agreements forbid the disclosure of any information which might tend to identify the relevant clinics or personnel with whom we work. Preserving confidentiality is vital to future clinic access. I can, however, assure you that the footage in question is not anomalous. It is representative of the frequent outcomes of many late term intact delivery terminations performed at clinics of all organizational affiliations.”
Thursday on Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos pressed Fiorina on the discrepancy, asking if she misspoke. “I didn’t misspeak and I don’t know who you’re speaking about in terms of watching the tapes, but I have seen those images,” she said. “I don’t know whether you’ve watched the tapes, George. Most people haven’t.” He again asked her to specify, and she deflected with an answer to a question he didn’t ask, about whether the tapes were doctored: “Well, you know, there’s a lot of commentary about these tapes being doctored. In fact, that’s what the mainstream media keeps talking about is the tapes and their origins. Rest assured, I have seen the images that I talked about last night.”
On Friday, Mrs. Fiorina expressed astonishment that anyone had questioned her comments.
“Honestly, I went on national television the morning after the debate and George Stephanopoulos of ABC News told me that I was mistaken, that the tapes don’t exist, that the images aren’t real,” she said. “Well, yes, ladies and gentlemen, they are real and I will issue my charge again.”
Mrs. Fiorina has sided with hard-liners in her party who would promote a budget showdown with Mr. Obama over Planned Parenthood’s funding.
On Friday, she suggested that any discussion of a government shutdown should be reframed, with Mr. Obama as the prospective culprit.
“President Obama, if you’re prepared to shut down the government to defend this kind of barbarity,” she said, “have at it, and explain it to the American people.”
Moreover, what Fiorina has done is force the CMP videos back into the news:
Fiorina’s Planned Parenthood statement at the debate is a huge coup. She has forced the mainstream media to cover videos that they have tried desperately to ignore for months, and made them look like fools in the process. Carly, rightly, is not backing down. Republicans should not, either.
Beyond that, Fiorina has signaled that she isn’t playing by the old rule book.
In the past, Republicans ran from abortion like scalded dogs. Even though the pro-life position (if you toss in the rape and incest exceptions) polls very strong, much stronger than the abortion-on-demand regime advocated by virtually every Democrat, Republicans have been reluctant to use it and one thing they will never do is use video like CMP’s video.
Periodically, the GOP would declare a “truce” on abortion because they can’t really afford to run on any issue that definitively separates them from the Democrats. (Two years ago I posted on The Abortion Truce and why it is a self-defeating trap for the GOP, it remains just as accurate today as it was then.) John Kasich, who was forced into attacking Planned Parenthood during the debate, has clearly signaled that abortion is not his priority:
“I think (abortion) is an important issue, but I think there’s many other issues that are really critical. Early childhood. Infant mortality. The environment. Education,” he said. “I think we focus too much on just one issue, and now that the issue of gay marriage is kind of off the table, we’re kind of down to one social issue.”
Fiorina’s statements will more likely than not still be thrown at other candidates but based on her not backing down we may have moved abortion to center stage in this campaign.