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Anti-Abortion Group Releases Planned Parenthood Sting Video Shot in Houston [UPDATED]

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The Center for Medical Progress just released its fifth undercover Planned Parenthood video — this time shot at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in Houston — which seeks to prove that PP is illegally selling fetal tissue. 

The video was shot by CMP actors, who introduced themselves to Planned Parenthood as tissue "buyers" from the fake company Biomax. Their four previous videos had rattled up Texas conservatives to the point that the state Senate Committee on Health State Services held a hearing to investigate whether the video's allegations were true.

This one has already elicited a similar response: Attorney General Ken Paxton, who testified at that hearing last week (and whose own felony charges were unsealed this week), said of the video in a statement:

“The shameful disregard for human life and the callous nature of the individuals in this recording, as in the others that have been released, is simply appalling. Human life is not a commodity. These videos shine a spotlight on the true nature of the abortion industry, the extinguishment of life and the business decisions driving the treatment of their ‘patients.’” 

The original footage totals more than eight hours between two visits with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Medical Director Melissa Farrell. (One visit appears to have occurred with the same representative at a restaurant in 2009, according to the video time stamp.) Here, it's all whittled down to 15 minutes. The video begins with Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards live on the news explaining that Planned Parenthood does not profit from fetal tissue donation, but only recoups costs associated with processing and shipping the tissue. 

That's what CMP believes is a lie.

Seeking to prove this, it titled the video "'Intact Fetal Cadavers' At 20 Weeks 'Just a Matter of Line Items,'" quoting Farrell. But that's a slightly misleading edit taken from a longer quote, which even in full is difficult to understand since there's so little context. After the buyer apparently explains that she would like to compensate Planned Parenthood for "each specimen," Farrell responds: 

"Yeah, and so if we alter our process, and we are able to obtain intact fetal cadavers, then we can make it part of the budget, that any dissections are this, and splitting the specimens into different shipments is this. I mean that's— It's all just a matter of line items."

But recouping costs associated with processing and shipping tissue is not illegal; only profiting from sale is.

At various other points, CMP appears to play gotcha as the Planned Parenthood rep explains the large size of the organization's research department (and still, the rep does not specify "fetal tissue research"). Only once does the word "revenue" come up in conversation, but because of the lack of context, it's unclear if this is directly related to fetal tissue. CMP, of course, implies that it is. 

Update 4:20 p.m.: Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson has announced an investigation into the local Planned Parenthood affiliate following the release of an undercover video shot by an anti-abortion group in Houston. In a statement, Anderson, a Republican, says her office is seeking a full unedited version of the video. 

“It is not clear at this time what, if any, crimes have been committed at the Gulf Coast facility. That is why I am initiating this investigation,” Anderson said in a statement. “I want to assure everyone in Houston that I will use every resource allocated to this office to conduct a thorough investigation and should we find that laws were broken, we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.”

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