Seven candidates on the Republican debate stage mentioned Planned Parenthood. But only one of them managed to turn it into national headlines. That was Carly Fiorina, who’s being widely heralded as the debate’s winner.
“As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes,” Fiorina said. “Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”
There has been a series of videos released recently by the Center for Medical Progress, a conservative anti-abortion group. As I wrote when the first video was published, they are potent tools for the anti-abortion movement, because they show Planned Parenthood officials speaking in graphic detail about aborted fetuses and how tissue from them can be used. Opinions on abortion have barely moved since Roe v. Wade, and anyone not convinced by a morality argument is unlikely to suddenly be persuaded. The idea here is that the “ick” factor might be a more powerful means of changing minds.
Still, the image Fiorina described stuck out as something that I didn’t recall from the videos. Nor did anyone else, it turns out—it doesn’t seem to exist. There is, however, a description similar to this in one video. A former technician from an abortion lab, Holly O’Donnell describes a scene (these quotes are taken starting around 3:30 in the video, with some breaks in between sections):
The moment I see it I’m just flabbergasted. This is the most gestated fetus and closest thing to a baby I’ve seen ... She has one of her instruments and she just taps the heart and it start beating. I’m sitting here and I’m looking at this fetus and its heart is beating. I don’t know what to think …. I don’t know if it’s technically dead or its alive. It had a face …. Since the fetus was so intact, she said, OK, well, this is a really good fetus. It looks like we can procure a lot from it. We’re going to procure a brain.
O’Donnell then describes being shaken as she removed the brain from the fetus. At one point in the video, there’s an image of a fetus on the screen, but that is a stillborn baby and not an aborted one.