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NRL News
Page 18
January 2010
Volume 37
Issue 1

Undercover Video Exposes Abortion “Counseling”

By Randall K. O'Bannon, Ph.D.

Planned Parenthood bills itself as the name women trust, but a new video appears to show its representatives giving false information to a woman who comes in and asks about an abortion. In those conversations, they try to tell the woman that a two-month-old unborn child does not have a heartbeat and is “not a baby.”

In the latest footage shot by Live Action Films, a young woman calling herself “Sara” and her friend visit a Planned Parenthood clinic in Appleton, Wisconsin, in September 2009. (The video and information about the production can be found at The quotes that follow come from the video.)

In the video Sara tells the counselor that it has been 10 weeks since her last period and her friend asks, “How big is that?” The counselor asks, “The pregnancy?” and then tells her, “About as wide as my fingernail.”

Unless the counselor has extremely large fingers, she seriously underestimates the size of the child. At eight weeks (the age of the child if a woman is 10 weeks from her last period), the child is about 27–31 mm—more than an inch—tall (Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human, 1988, p. 73); has arms and legs; and moves around the amniotic sac. That child also has brain waves and a heartbeat.

Asked about the heartbeat, the counselor offers a bizarre distinction unheard of in standard medical literature.

Sara: Does it have a heartbeat?

PP Counselor: Heart tones are at 7 weeks. Heart beat is when the fetus is active in the uterus—can survive—which is about 17 or 18 weeks.

PP Counselor [continuing]: Heart tones is a cardiac activity, but it is not a beat on your own—that you would survive outside the uterus. Obviously, if a fetus at 10 weeks could survive outside the uterus, you wouldn’t be pregnant for 40 weeks.

The counselor never tells the woman the truth, that the child has a beating heart from about the third week of his or her life. She tries to shift the conversation to viability, which is not a measure of cardiac activity, but when the child can survive outside the womb (generally currently thought to be around 23 weeks, though some babies have survived at earlier than 23 weeks).

As the video progresses, it becomes obvious that the counselor does not want to talk about the baby. When the counselor employs the terms “fetal” and “fetus” in reference to the child, “Sara” asks for more clarification.

Sara: What’s “fetus”?

PP Counselor: A fetus is what’s in your uterus right now. That is not a baby. A baby is what’s born at 40 weeks. A fetus is what’s in your uterus right now.

Sara: Ok ... So when does it become a baby?

PP Counselor: At birth.

Sara” gets a similar story when she asks to speak to the abortionist.

Sara: What comes out? Is it ...

Dr. P (the abortionist): The pregnancy is going to be aborted. The placenta and the fetus.

Sara: What’s a fetus?

Dr. P: The fetus is the develop—is the embryo that developing inside.

Sara: Ok. What’s an embryo?

Dr. P. Well, that’s the pregnancy. That’s—you know there’s something growing inside your uterus and it’s called a fetus.

Sara: Ok.

Dr. P: It’s not a baby at this stage or anything like that.

Sara: When does it become a baby?

Dr. P: When you’re seven months pregnant or so. Six, seven months pregnant. Right now, you’re just a little more than two months.

In an interview included in the video, Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood clinic director from Bryan, Texas, who had a change of heart after witnessing the ultrasound of an abortion at her clinic, indicated such language reflected company policy. “Planned Parenthood really tries to instill in their employees and the women coming in for abortions that this is not a baby, that this is just a mass of cells,” she said. “Don’t say ‘baby’ in the clinic. Don’t say ‘baby’ to the woman coming in for an abortion.”

Johnson says that Planned Parenthood does not want to share information on fetal development, on the baby’s heartbeat, organ development, any information that might give the woman a connection with her baby.

They are really trying to increase their abortion numbers because that is the most lucrative part of their business,” said Johnson.

In 2007, Planned Parenthood clinics performed some 305,310 abortions. At the going rate of $413 for a standard first-trimester suction curettage abortion, Planned Parenthood’s abortion profits would have been more than $126 million that year, more than a third of its entire clinic income.

The video piqued the curiosity of Milwaukee’s TMJ4 TV. Under the headline, “Planned Parenthood Breaking State Law?” Courtny Gerrish wrote that Planned Parenthood “refused our request for an on camera interview and would only release” a statement. Gerrish quoted from the organization’s statement, which said, “... Planned Parenthood’s standard is to provide honest, medically accurate information. That is what the physician in this case did” (, December 12, 2009).

It might be laughable if it weren’t so tragic.