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Cal Court Halts Release of Planned Parenthood Fetal Tissue Videos

The Los Angeles Superior Court issued a temporary restraining order to prevent an anti-abortion group from releasing more videos of employees in a California company which provides fetal tissue to researchers. Those videos, made of hidden camera footage, purport to show Planned Parenthood and StemExpress employees discussing the sale of aborted fetal tissue for research, or, as the videos' creators term it, an "illegal baby parts trade."

The videos, released by the Center for Medical Progress, have been widely condemned as deceptive and misleading. Following the California court's order, no more videos of StemExpress employees will be released, though the Center for Medical Progress says it will continue to release other videos not affected by the order.

Not the Best Video Quality

The Center for Medical Progress's videos created a firestorm when they were released online several weeks ago. The videos purport to show undercover footage of Planned Parent executives candidly discussing the sale of fetal tissue. Outside journalists, including the editorial board of The New York Times, have condemned the videos as being highly edited so as to purposefully misrepresent the work of Planned Parenthood and StemExpress.

Fallout from the videos, deceptive as they may be, led many conservative leaders to call for an end to federal funding for Planned Parenthood, one of the nation's largest healthcare providers. An effort to do so failed in the Senate yesterday.

Fetal Donations and Medical Research

Federal law allows women to donate their fetal tissue for medical research companies such as StemExpress. Medical providers, such as Planned Parenthood, are prohibited from profiting off those donations. They may receive reimbursements for costs associated with the storage and shipment. Two state investigations have found that Planned Parenthood does not profit from the donations -- though, describing their actions as "supplying organs from aborted babies to corporations in the organ harvesting trade" makes a much better tabloid headline.

The California court's restraining order will probably not put an end to the controversy. Abortion politics are particularly effective at energizing political support, both conservative and liberal -- and we're already well in to a long, long election cycle. The Center for Medical Progress promises that it will be releasing another video soon. "Perhaps it's going to be even more shocking," David Daleiden, the organization's founder, says. Perhaps.

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