A Planned Parenthood doctor describes how she uses what may be a partial-birth abortion technique to deliver fetal trunks intact, then laughs as she says she will “strive” for an intact fetal skull in an undercover video released Tuesday.
The latest footage, the eleventh in a series of graphic videos by the pro-life Center for Medical Progress targeting the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, raises more questions as to whether the abortion provider is in violation of federal law.
“My aim is usually to get the specimens out pretty intact,” says Dr. Amna Dermish of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, speaking to center investigators posing as representatives of a fetal-tissue procurement company.
In the footage from Oct. 21, 2014, Dr. Dermish said she performs abortions up to 22 weeks’ gestation, and that she does not use the chemical digoxin on fetuses before 20 weeks.
Instead, she said she will sometimes use ultrasound guidance to flip a second-trimester fetus to a breech presentation, meaning that the feet exit the womb first, and described how she recently performed the procedure an abortion on a 20-week-old fetus.
“It was a trunk intact, so usually what I do, if it’s a breech presentation, I’ll remove the extremities first, the lower extremities, and then go for the spine and sort of bring it down that way,” said Dr. Dermish.
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She added that, “Especially the 20-weekers are a lot harder versus the 18-weekers, so at that point I’ll switch to breech,” she says in the video.
In a statement, the center accused her of performing the procedure on “living fetuses” and described her technique as a “hallmark” of a partial-birth abortion, which is illegal.
“Dermish does not use the chemical digoxin to kill the fetus before 20 weeks, so her feet-first, intact extraction abortions are done on living fetuses,” said the CMP statement. “Using ultrasound guidance to manipulate the fetus from vertex to breech orientation before extracting the yet-living fetus is a hallmark of the illegal partial-birth abortion procedure (18 U.S.C. 1531).”
Planned Parenthood did not respond immediately to a request for comment on the latest video, but officials have repeatedly denied violating federal law while accusing the center of waging a politically motivated battle with “deceptively edited” footage.
Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, said in a statement that the abortion process described by Dr. Dermish “confirms the need to investigate whether Planned Parenthood performs illegal partial-birth abortions in order to obtain intact organs from aborted infants.”
In the video, Dr. Dermish said she had not been able to deliver an intact calvarium, or skull, during an abortion procedure, but added with a laugh that, “Well, this will give me something to strive for.”
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At the same time, Dr. Dermish also said that she had not provided fetal specimens for research during her year at the Austin clinic.
Partial-birth abortion is prohibited under federal law, as is altering abortion procedures in order to keep fetal specimens intact for medical research. A previous video showed Planned Parenthood Dr. Deborah Nucatola saying that she uses certain procedures to avoid crushing fetal tissue so that it can be used for medical research.
Planned Parenthood has come under attack since the first video was released in July for selling fetal tissue, including livers, hearts and kidneys, for medical research, while PPFA officials countered that their affiliates were only reimbursed for expenses, which is allowed by law.
Last week, Texas officials moved to end state funding of Planned Parenthood, while state health investigators served subpoenas on Planned Parenthood clinics as part of an investigation into Medicaid fraud.
“Texas does have hard evidence showing Medicaid fraud as well as violations of federal and state law concerning abortion procedures,” said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, in a Fox News interview.
Ken Lambrecht, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, called the document search “unprecedented and unnecessary” and “another political attack targeted at Planned Parenthood.”
“We believe this is a fishing expedition,” Mr. Lambrecht told the Associated Press.