Media Matters misrepresents Live Action video

Yesterday, April 28, the blog Media Matters published an article entitled “Live Action’s Latest Abortion Clinic Undercover Video A Bust”

The article attempts to disparage the footage that Live Action released which showed a 23 week pregnant woman posing as a patient going in for an abortion at Dr. Emily’s Woman’s Clinic The footage, which can be seen here in it’s edited form and here  in it’s unedited form, addresses the clinic’s policy of what happens if a baby is born alive.

The pregnant woman asks about what would happen if the baby were to come out intact and alive. I will quote the transcript of the complete footage with no editing so that the reader can see the context.

WOMAN: And then like, you know, if, if it didn’t work, you know, what would they do? Like, do you know what I’m saying? Like if it was there in one piece, if you’re this far along?

CLINIC-3: No, we never had that for ages, of being it would survive this, no.

WOMAN: You never have that? Really? Ok.


WOMAN: So what would they do if that did happen, like?

CLINIC-3: They, well, it’s, if it did come out in one piece, it’s very small. So they would still have to put it in like a jar, a container, with solution, and send it to the lab.

WOMAN: Oh, oh okay so they would just be able to just pretty much–

CLINIC: Yeah all our specimen have to go out to the lab.

WOMAN: Okay.

CLINIC-3: Yeah. No matter what.

WOMAN: To just, that’s just–

CLINIC-3: They–

WOMAN: That’s just how you get rid, like, that’s just how you get rid of it?

CLINIC-3: Yeah they just, we don’t just throw it out in the garbage.

WOMAN: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, no.

CLINIC-3: The lab disposes it.

WOMAN: Oh okay.

CLINIC-3: So wherever they dispose it to.

WOMAN: Like a waste or medical thing or whatever.

CLINIC-3: Yes.

WOMAN: Okay. So I mean like, if it did, if you had to put it in that jar or whatever–

CLINIC-3: Mhm.

WOMAN: Like, what if it was like, like what if it was like twitching or like something like that? Like?

CLINIC-3: The solution will make it stop.

WOMAN: Okay. Okay.

CLINIC-3: [Laughter] It’s not gonna be moving around in the jar.

WOMAN: Oh okay, the solution would make it like—

CLINIC-3: Yeah. That’s the whole purpose of the solution.

WOMAN: Okay. So like if it looked like it was breathing or something like that–

CLINIC-3: It will automatically stop. It won’t be able to breathe anymore. Not in the, not with the solution.

WOMAN: Ok. So I’m not even gonna see it.


WOMAN: Okay, so like if that happens–

CLINIC-3: You’re asleep, they take it out and it goes into our lab where they do the stuff with the jar and cleaning and all of that.

WOMAN: Ok. So what is the solution, it’s just like–something like toxic or something?

CLINIC-3: Yeah

The Media Matters article starts off:

“The anti-abortion rights group Live Action released today an undercover video claiming to reveal “illegal and inhuman practices” at an abortion clinic in New York City, and accused a doctor at the clinic of committing murder. The video reveals nothing of the sort, and actually undermines Live Action’s baseless allegations that the clinic is performing illegal procedures and endangering the lives of patients.”

In this short opening paragraph, Media Matters blogger Simon Maloy commits a logical fallacy called “The Straw Man Fallacy.” The Straw Man Fallacy is committed when a person distorts the position of their opponent, and then attacks the distorted position as if it were the person’s actual position. The technique of committing a Straw Man fallacy can be shown in an equation (taken from The Nizkor Project” website )

1. Person A has position X

2. Person B presents position Y (which is a distortion of X)

3. Person B attacks position Y

4. Therefore, X is false/incorrect/flawed.

Media Matters wants to attack the credibility of Live Action. They say “Live Action….accused a doctor at the clinic of committing murder.” They then link to Live Action’s press release. Perhaps the editors at Media Matters do not expect their readers to check original sources and think critically, because nowhere in the press release does Live Action directly accuse the doctor of murder. Rather, Live Action calls for an investigation.

“A clinician’s discussion of the murder of born-alive infants at Dr. Emily’s Women’s Center necessitates immediate investigation. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman should launch a criminal investigation into Dr. Emily’s Women’s Center and Brian Park. New York State Department of Health should launch a license investigation into Brian Park.”

No direct accusation of murder was made against the doctor. Live Action is merely saying that in light of the evidence, and in light of the many stories and testimonies of infanticide that have been publicized recently, of which the Gosnell incident is only one, the clinic should be investigated. This may seem like it’s splitting hairs, but the distinction is an important one. Live Action is not jumping the gun and making a murder accusation. Proof of guilt is not required to launch an investigation- only suspicion of guilt. There is enough evidence to warrant an investigation.

Media Matters does more than just misrepresent Live Action’s position. They also say the following:

“….Live Action edited out from the video the portion in which the clinician makes clear that the situation they’re talking about has never happened in her experience and the discussion is hypothetical, and the video shows the counselor explaining to the woman that the doctor would have to resuscitate the baby if that situation did occur.”

The problem here is that the clinic worker never said that such an event never happened. Her words, as stated above, were the following:

“No, we never had that for ages, of being it would survive this, no.”

The exact meaning of this statement is unclear. It sounds quite a bit like “no, we haven’t had that in ages.” Is this what the clinic worker meant? That would imply that it has happened before. The truth is, only one person knows exactly what the statement means- the clinic worker. An implication by a clinic worker that a baby may have been born alive in the past warrants an investigation.

If a police officer asked a suspect “have you ever killed anyone?” and he said “never, not for ages” should the officer shrug his shoulders and say, “Oh, I guess he’s innocent” and let him walk out the door? Or should he question the subject further? Very few officers would simply let the suspect walk- nor should they. Incidentally, the clinic worker also said that “that’s the purpose of the solution” while explaining it would kill the living baby. Another possible admission.

It is true that a second clinic worker said to the pregnant woman that a baby born alive would have to be treated, and she is on tape saying this. But the first clinic worker seemed pretty adamant that a baby born alive in the clinic would NOT be treated. What do you do if you’re conducting an investigation and two witnesses contradict eachother? Do you drop the investigation? Imagine that two individuals believed to be part of a drug dealing ring and are taken into custody and questioned separately. One says, “Why yes, we deal drugs” and the other says, “No, we don’t deal drugs” what should the police do? Should they let both suspects go, on the word of the one, or should they question them further? What would we think of police who let the suspects go because of their conflicting stories? The logical thing to do would be clear- investigate further. And this is what Live Action is calling for.

One wonders that if the unedited tape was so damaging and Live Action so deceitful, why the unedited footage is made so easily available on Live Action’s youtube channel for anyone to see, and why the full transcript, not the edited one, appears on Live Action’s website. If Live Action was going to deceive people, why post the unedited material at all, much less in multiple, easy to find places.

No. Media Matters’ accusations are off base. The video footage Live Action shot, though not proof beyond a shadow of a doubt that infanticide is occurring, is very troubling. And an investigation into the possible practice of infanticide at Dr. Emily’s Woman’s Clinic is justified- in fact, it’s common sense.

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