The Center for Medical Progress is back in the news

Dr. Deborah Nucatola was the senior director of medical services for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) when she had a business lunch with David Daleiden. It was July 25, 2014. Daleiden was an investigative journalist posing as a businessman interested in buying human organs for research. Over salad and wine, Nucatola explained how PPFA medical directors used ultrasound guidance to alter the abortion procedure for organ harvesting.

“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part,” she said. “I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.” Nucatola went on to explain how it is most difficult to extract the baby’s brain intact. “Some people,” she said, “will actually try to change the presentation so that it’s not vertex… So if you do it starting from the breech presentation, there’s dilation that happens as the case goes on, and often, the last step, you can evacuate an intact calvarium [head] at the end.”

On the morning of July 14, 2015, America woke up to this video, released from the Center for Medical Progress (CMP). The video went viral and was followed by 18 more, documenting both that laws were being intentionally skirted and that the practice was known throughout PPFA from the Executive Director, Cecile Richards, on down to the medical directors of its clinics.

In the last video released, Dr. Susie Prabhakaran, vice president of medical affairs, Planned Parenthood in southwest and central Florida, explained how Planned Parenthood’s National Medical Standards & Guidelines manual includes a loophole for abortion doctors to fake compliance with the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban. 

The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban (18 U.S.C. § 1531) was signed into federal law on November 5, 2003. It prohibits the killing of a baby after it has been partially delivered. The standard operating procedure to prevent this from happening in a later-term abortion is for the abortionist to inject digoxin into the unborn’s heart so that the baby dies before delivery. 

But, when Daleiden hinted that digoxin would make the organs less desirable, Prabhakaren explained that she and many of her PPFA colleagues do not use it at all — even for abortions as late as 22.6 weeks. This practice leads inevitably to a high percentage of live births where the organs are harvested from a living baby. To skirt the law, she explained that PPFA trains clinic medical directors to check a box on the pre-operation form that states, “I intend to utilize dismemberment techniques for this procedure.” 

Checking this box, they are taught, exempts them from prosecution even if they later kill a baby delivered live. Previously released videos had already shown clinic workers talking about how they had harvested organs from still-living babies. All this news set off a firestorm.

PPFA attempted damage control by claiming that the videos were “highly edited.” Of course they were! How else are you going to allow viewers to see the most important statements buried in hours of footage with distracting background noise? But, “highly edited” does not mean that the videos were doctored or altered in any way. It only means that irrelevant clutter was cut out of the final product. 

Two things were done in order to demonstrate the bona fides of the videos. First, alongside the short versions of the footage, the CMP released the full video footage. This allowed anyone to scrutinize the editing for bias or deception. To date, no one has found any. Second, the videos were submitted to an independent digital lab for testing. This lab verified that they had not been doctored or fabricated in any way.

Despite these facts, many Americans have only heard that these videos are “highly edited” and have moved on to other things. But, in recent weeks, two events have brought these videos back into the news. 

First, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that after a nine-month audit of contracts and federal law, it is cancelling a contract with the University of California San Francisco, involving the use of human fetal tissue, and is halting its in-house programs that experiment on fetal tissue.

“Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration. The audit and review helped inform the policy process that led to the administration’s decision to let the contract with UCSF expire and to discontinue intramural research — research conducted within the National Institutes of Health (NIH),” said the HHS statement released on June 5, 2019.

Nearly four years after David Daleiden released the results of his investigation, American taxpayers are being relieved of the burden of funding experimentation on human tissue that was procured unethically and that helped to enrich the world’s number one abortion provider. 

Rather than receiving accolades for his painstaking investigation, Daleiden has been prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Then Attorney General for the state of California, Kamala Harris, filed charges against Daleiden and raided his home — along with that of fellow-journalist Sandra Merritt. Harris’ successor, Xavier Becerra, filed 15 felony charges in the state of California. 

In a coordinated action, the National Abortion Federation went to District Judge William Orrick, a long-time abortion activist, to impose a federal gag order preventing Daleiden from using any of his videos. Then, when defense lawyers used the videos to defend him against the charges filed by the state of California, Orrick found him in contempt of court and slapped him with a $195,000 fine. 

Can a federal judge suppress exculpatory evidence in a state case? Apparently so.

Last week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to hear Daleiden’s latest appeal. The ironic result is that, on the very week that HHS responded to Planned Parenthood’s unethical trafficking in fetal organs, the man most responsible for exposing the evil practice is now forced to pay $195,000 to the abortion machine.

Someday, perhaps, justice will be done. Today is not that day. If you appreciate Daleiden’s dogged determination to expose and stop an evil practice, now would be a good time to send a donation to

Jonathan Lange is an LCMS pastor in Evanston and Kemmerer and serves the Wyoming Pastors Network. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow his blog at


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