Shock: ABC, CBS Cover Planned Parenthood Baby Parts Scandal; Video by ‘Anti-Abortion Activists’

Following a censorship on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning of video showing Planned Parenthood senior director of medical services Dr. Deborah Nucatola discussing the selling of body parts from aborted babies, ABC and CBS ended their blackouts on Wednesday night with coverage on their evening newscasts, but made sure to hype the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) as “anti-abortion activists.”

On the Spanish-language networks, however, the story remained much the same on Wednesday night as MundoFox, Telemundo, and Univision all continued their refusal to even acknowledge the video.

Even though ABC’s World News Tonight anchor David Muir reserved a scant 27 seconds for this horrific scandal, he promised viewers that “[w]e’ll stay on it” as more develops. 

In the brief, Muir explained that Planned Parenthood is “under fire” following the release of the video “by an anti-abortion rights group, which seems to show one of their executives discussing a controversial policy over fetal tissue.”

Continuing the media’s long-standing refusal to use the “pro-life” label for conservatives, Muir reported that “[a]nti-abortion rights groups [are] accusing Planned Parenthood of selling that tissue for a profit.”

Noting the response from Planned Parenthood, Muir added they emphasize that “it is donated for scientific research, saying they are only reimbursed for expenses.” Wrapping up the brief, he properly mentioned that “two House committees and at least two states opening investigations.”

While ABC offered a brief on the scandal, the CBS Evening News ran a full story on it with a focus on how members of Congress have quickly taken notice of the video. 

Anchor Scott Pelley detailed how “House Speaker John Boehner called for an investigation into Planned Parenthood and its handling of organs from aborted fetuses” and then went to congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes on this scandal that he said began when “an anti-abortion group released an undercover video.”

Following an opening soundbite from the video, Cordes summarized the video’s contents (as part of CMP’s multi-year investigation):

The conversation was recorded at a restaurant by two activists posing at biotech employees interested in obtaining fetal organs for research, which is legal. Unaware she was being taped, Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical services, Dr. Deobrah Nucatola, described how she performs abortions to preserve key body parts for that research.

Also failing to apply the label “pro-life” to CMP (or something to that effect), Cordes outlined to viewers how “[a]nti-abortion activists say the tape suggests that Planned Parenthood is harvesting that fetal tissue for profit, which is illegal.”

Cordes then mixed in the response from Planned Parenthood with soundbites from House Republicans (whom she made sure to label “conservative lawmakers”), including a statement from the organization that ruled “[t]hese outrageous claims are flat-out untrue” and that “Dr. Nucatola repeatedly said the group is only reimbursed for the cost of handling and transporting fetal tissue to research facilities.”

Cordes closed with more points from Planned Parenthood about how they are “only trying to help women who want to donate fetal tissue after abortions, and just last year, Scott, NIH funded 160 different projects that used fetal tissue to research treatments for everything from HIV to glaucoma.”

With coverage on the Wednesday edition of NBC’s Today, ABC’s World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News, that leaves morning newscasts Good Morning America on ABC and CBS This Morning along with NBC Nightly News as the three networks newscasts that have yet to utter a word on this scandal that won’t be going away anytime soon.

Prior to Wednesday night's coverage, Media Research Center Vice President for Culture Dan Gainor slammed the media's lack of coverage "of a grisly practice the Nazis might support, but virtually all Americans consider worse than barbaric."

The relevant portions of the segment from the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley on July 15 can be found below.

CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley
July 15, 2015
6:42 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Investigation; Planned Parenthood]

SCOTT PELLEY: Today, House Speaker John Boehner called for an investigation into Planned Parenthood and its handling of organs from aborted fetuses. Nancy Cordes reports this comes after an anti-abortion group released an undercover video. 

(....)

NANCY CORDES: The conversation was recorded at a restaurant by two activists posing at biotech employees interested in obtaining fetal organs for research, which is legal. Unaware she was being taped, Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical services, Dr. Deobrah Nucatola, described how she performs abortions to preserve key body parts for that research.

NUCATOLA: We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not crush that part –

CORDES: Anti-abortion activists say the tape suggests that Planned Parenthood is harvesting that fetal tissue for profit, which is illegal. 

(.....)

CORDES: Conservative lawmakers today were outraged. Alabama's Martha Robey.

REPUBLICAN CONGRESSWOMAN MARTHA ROBY (Ala.): Are we going to look the other way while babies are being brutally killed and organs harvested? 

CORDES: In a statement, Planned Parenthood said “[t]hese outrageous claims are flat-out untrue” and on the tape, Dr. Nucatola repeatedly said the group is only reimbursed for the cost of handling and transporting fetal tissue to research facilities. 

NUCATOLA: We're not looking to take money from you. Our goal is to keep access available. 

CORDES: But Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy argued it's a gray area worthy of investigation. 

REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN SEAN DUFFY (Wisc.): Does it cost $70 more to ship a little baby liver versus a little baby lung, or is the market driving the cost of these organs? 

CORDES: Planned Parenthood says it is only trying to help women who want to donate fetal tissue after abortions, and just last year, Scott, NIH funded 160 different projects that used fetal tissue to research treatments for everything from HIV to glaucoma.

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is the Managing Editor of NewsBusters for the Media Research Center