New Pro-Life Sting Videos of Abortion Clinics

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 29 2013 2:20 PM

New Pro-Life Sting Videos of Abortion Clinics

Live Action and Lila Rose pioneered the modern conservative sting video. Like Ryan Grim reported in 2011, the emotional punch of Live Action stings, in which women appeared to be advised on how to terminate pregnancies on the grounds of race or gender, helped motivate Republicans to pass Planned Parenthood defunding bills. And like Grim reported, a key video didn't hold up to scrutiny when you reviewed the full tape.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

Live Action has upped its game, releasing a new series of videos—filmed last year—that attempt to prove that callous abortionists are willing to kill born-alive fetuses. This time they've immediately released the raw video from the sting (if you click through, there's plenty of dull footage of a woman waiting to fill out forms while MSNBC rolls "fiscal cliff" news), and put out a transcript.

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What was the goal here? Well, the tapes are being released as the Kermit Gosnell trial ends. The goal is proving that other abortion clinics, ones that haven't come under legal scrutiny, harbor the same disregard for life. Judge for yourself, but I don't know if that's proved here. The stinger repeatedly asks Dr. Cesare Santangelo if there's any risk that her late-term abortion could fail, and she'd be stuck with a baby.

"Not here," he says. "No. It could—some people will go into labor before we do the procedure. I mean, technically, you know, legally, we would be obligated to help it, you know, to survive. But, you know, it probably wouldn't."

The stinger keeps pushing; Santangelo comes up with a hypothetical. "You delivered before we got to the termination part of the procedure here. Then we would do things—we would not help it. It would be a person, a person that would be a terminal person in the hospital, let's say, that had cancer. You know? You wouldn't do any extra procedures to help that person survive."

Live Action's argument is the Gosnell activists' argument: The doctor is saying a baby that could live wouldn't be kept alive. The cancer patient analogy is exactly wrong; that, I guess, is why Santangelo now says he was "tripped up," and that he was trying to reassure a scared patient. Has Live Action proved anything about Santangelo's actual practice? No. Have they given a boost to the legislators who want to require doctors to give more and more details about the possible viability of their patients' unborn children? Oh, yes.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.