Court Ruling: Planned Parenthood Sting Videos Were 'Not Deceptively Edited'
In 2015, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a list of sting videos showing staffers at Planned Parenthood affiliates negotiating prices for aborted baby body parts. Planned Parenthood hired Fusion GPS — the firm notorious for compiling the Trump-Russia dossier — to blast the sting videos as "deceptively edited." That narrative received a powerful legal defeat earlier this month.
The footage implicating Planned Parenthood in the sale of aborted baby body parts for profit was not just embarrassing — it also revealed illegal behavior. The state of Texas decided to strip $3.1 million in Medicaid funding from the abortion giant due to this law-breaking, and Planned Parenthood sued to retain it. A district court issued an injunction preventing Texas from taking the money, but the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the injunction.
Writing for a three-judge panel, Judge Edith H. Jones issued a rebuke to the district court.
"The district court stated, inaccurately, that the CMP video had not been authenticated and suggested that it may have been edited," Jones wrote in the ruling. The district court had ruled against the Texas Health and Human Services Commission's Office of Inspector General (OIG), but it did not give OIG a fair hearing, Jones argued.
The district court "felt free to credit all of the trial testimony from [Planned Parenthood]—none of which had been offered during the state administrative procedures— [but] the court bound the IG solely to the administrative record and expressly refused to consider any support for termination 'not included in the Final Notice and not part of the Inspector General’s termination decision.'"
"Having thus narrowed the evidence, the court concluded that OIG 'did not have prima facie . . . evidence, or even a scintilla of evidence, to conclude the bases of termination set forth in the Final Notice merited finding the Plaintiff Providers were not qualified,'" Jones wrote.
Yet there was clear evidence in Texas's favor. Jones cited a study from a forensic firm finding that the CMP videos were not deceptively edited.
"In fact, the record reflects that OIG had submitted a report from a forensic firm concluding that the video was authentic and not deceptively edited," Jones wrote in a footnote. "And the plaintiffs did not identify any particular omission or addition in the video footage."
The reliability of the CMP sting videos has now been upheld by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, undermining Planned Parenthood's attempts to discredit them.
The state of California has prosecuted David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress over the videos, attempting to silence their free speech on the grounds that the sting videos were false and that Daleiden falsely accused Planned Parenthood of breaking the law.
Yet if the videos were not deceptively edited, as the 5th Circuit found, the prosecution against Daleiden falls apart — and cases against Planned Parenthood due to the sale of aborted baby body parts may proceed. Under federal law, profiting from the sale of fetal tissue is a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison.
"The Fifth Circuit’s ruling shows that the district court applied the wrong legal standard," Attorney General Ken Paxton (R-Texas) said in a statement on the ruling issued earlier this month, LifeSiteNews reported. "Planned Parenthood’s reprehensible conduct, captured in undercover videos, proves that it is not a 'qualified' provider under the Medicaid Act, so we are confident we will ultimately prevail."
According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released last March, Planned Parenthood affiliates under criminal investigation for selling aborted baby body parts received $544 million in taxes between 2013 and 2015.
In August 2018, Daleiden told reporters that if a federal judge's gag order is lifted, "a solid dozen" of "the most damning" sting videos will be released. With the 5th Circuit ruling, the case against this gag order is even stronger. Perhaps Americans will finally be able to see all of the video Daleiden and the CMP have captured.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.