It's been more than a week since Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina made the claim during the latest GOP debate that an investigative, pro-life video shows a “fully formed fetus” alive on a table as “someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”
Fiorina's comments have sparked no shortage of debate, with critics accusing her of blatantly lying about her characterization of a video released by the Center for Medical Progress, a pro-life group that alleges that Planned Parenthood is selling fetal body tissue.
But Fiorina's super PAC has done anything but back down, releasing a graphic ad this week in her defense. It includes images of real-life fetuses that were originally used as "stock footage" in one of the Center for Medical Progress' mini-documentaries.
Watch the ad (caution: graphic):
That documentary featured Holly O’Donnell, a former blood and tissue procurement technician, describing how she once saw the heart of a baby still beating after an abortion; it is a story that formed the basis for the claims that Fiorina made at the debate.
“Since the fetus was so intact [my coworker] said, ‘This is a really good fetus, and it looks like we can procure a lot from it. We’re going to procure brain,’” O’Donnell says in the Center for Medical Progress video. “She takes the scissors and she makes a small incision … and goes, I would say to maybe a little bit through the mouth, and she was like, ‘OK, can you go the rest of the way?’”
Again, no images from the actual incident O’Donnell described there were shown, though the aforementioned photo and video of real-life fetuses unrelated to her story were included for effectual purposes. It is the inclusion of these so-called "stock" images in the super PAC ad that has been riling Fiorina's opponents.
As TheBlaze previously reported, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund sent a letter on Wednesday demanding the removal of the super PAC's ad, claiming that it deceptive and that it actually shows "a Pennsylvania woman’s stillborn son" and not a live, kicking fetus, as Fiorina said during the debate.
Watch O'Donnell's story below (caution: graphic):
"This fake video doesn’t show what you have claimed," Dawn Laguens, executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said on Wednesday, according to The Washington Post. "Simply put, the video you described at the debate does not exist, and the video you’re now asking people to watch is not what you claim it is. This fraudulent video is beneath a serious candidate for the presidency, and you should take it down immediately."
But are these claims from Planned Parenthood accurate?
Let's start by exploring the contents of Fiorina's super PAC video, which includes imagery of what appears to be an aborted fetus outside of the womb at the 22-second, 36-second and 38-second marks; this is footage that also appeared in the Center for Medical Progress video, with the Fiorina super PAC using it to defend her remarks.
While Planned Parenthood is seemingly claiming that the video footage included in the ad shows a stillborn baby and nothing more, the footage that is presented at the 22-second and 36-second marks does, indeed, show an aborted fetus, according to the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, which maintains a pro-life video library.
The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform told TheBlaze in a statement last week that this footage came from its own archive and that it "depicts an intact delivery abortion" and not a miscarriage. Additional details about the video were not immediately available.
"Had this case been a miscarriage, the mother would have presented at a hospital and her baby would have been rushed to an Isolette for appropriate neonatal care – not abandoned to writhe and eventually expire in a cold, stainless steel specimen vessel," the statement read.
The Center for Medical Progress originally borrowed the footage from the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform in an effort to help illustrate the mini-documentary that Fiorina invoked during the debate.
David Daleiden, the project lead for the Center for Medical Progress, confirmed in a statement to TheBlaze last week that “the footage in question was from Grantham Collection & Center for Bio-Ethical Reform [and was] used to illustrate the first person eye witness testimony of Holly O’Donnell of the barbaric acts committed inside Planned Parenthood abortion facilities.”
“Planned Parenthood and their supporters are afraid to watch and talk about this footage because it shows their illicit baby parts trade for what it really is: the industrial-scale commodification and exploitation of tiny human beings,” Daleiden said.
While that sheds light on the images shown in the super PAC video at the 22 and 36-second marks, what about the photo shown at the 38-second mark? Planned Parenthood might be correct about this portion of the image, as it does appear to depict a stillborn child.
See Fiorina's comments at the debate below:
In fact, as TheBlaze previously reported, this very photo caused some critics to object last month that the Center for Medical Progress was misleading viewers when it included the image in its mini-documentary.
The image of the stillborn baby, Walter Fretz, who was born at 19 weeks, was originally included without any notation about where the photo came from; his mother has since said that she did not agree with the use of her son’s image by the Center for Medical Progress, according to the Christian Post.
Fiorina's campaign continues to double down on the overarching issue, with a spokeswoman telling TheBlaze on Thursday: "Planned Parenthood continues to lie because they need to distract from what these videos expose — that they are in the business of butchering babies and selling their organs."
Requests for additional comment from Planned Parenthood and the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform have not yet been returned to TheBlaze.