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Anti-abortion video claims wrongdoing at Fresno, Stockton clinics

An image from a video released by Center for Medical Progress shows a woman identified as Holly O’Donnell, who said she was a former blood and tissue technician Planned Parenthood clinics in Fresno and Stockton, and that she took organs from fetuses without always asking the mothers’ consent.
An image from a video released by Center for Medical Progress shows a woman identified as Holly O’Donnell, who said she was a former blood and tissue technician Planned Parenthood clinics in Fresno and Stockton, and that she took organs from fetuses without always asking the mothers’ consent. Center for Medical Progress

The Center for Medical Progress has released a new video of a former blood and tissue technician claiming that Planned Parenthood clinics in Fresno and Stockton took organs from fetuses without always asking the mothers’ consent for the donation.

In the video, a woman identified as Holly O’Donnell alleges that “we basically walk around the clinic, and if we have time, we consent them.”

O’Donnell, a former blood and tissue procurement technician, said she worked for StemExpress, a Placerville-based company that provides blood and tissue for biomedical research.

O’Donnell said she worked at the Planned Parenthood clinics in Fresno and Stockton. Fresno’s clinic was the busiest, she said, describing it as “actually in an alley.” Planned Parenthood Mar Monte has two Fresno locations, one on North Fulton Street in central Fresno and the other on North First Street in northeast Fresno.

She also said employees at the clinics were cold and uncaring. She said she was “very pro-life” and would tell women who came to the clinics “to run – go.”

Planned Parenthood and StemExpress denied O’Donnell’s allegations Wednesday.

A person with knowledge of O’Donnell’s employment said she worked as an independent contractor for StemExpress for five months, from December 2012 to April 2013.

O’Donnell could not be reached for comment.

The video is one of six attacking Planned Parenthood that has been released since July by the Center for Medical Progress, an Irvine-based anti-abortion organization. The videos have led to a political debate over federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

According to the Associated Press, the nonprofit organization is being sued by The National Abortion Federation, a major abortion rights group, and the California attorney general’s office has accused it of falling behind on its fees and paperwork and has opened an investigation into its activities.

Telephone calls to the Center for Medical Progress were not returned by deadline Wednesday.

Kathy Kneer, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, responded in an email statement: “An anti-abortion group released a video today that is part of a smear campaign intended to deceive the public and advance a political agenda that would ban all abortion and limit women’s access to reproductive health care at Planned Parenthood. The claims made in this video are false and outrageous.

“Planned Parenthood follows all laws – period. This group is engaged in a fraud, and other allegations they’ve made against Planned Parenthood have been discredited,” Kneer said.

StemExpress said in an email: “StemExpress unequivocally denies the allegations made by Holly O’Donnell and The Center for Medical Progress (CMP), reaffirming that it has never obtained blood or tissue samples from a patient without first obtaining consent. Ensuring that patients have provided consent for blood or tissue donation to support medical research, education, or treatments is a threshold issue that is non-negotiable for StemExpress.

“Like all of their previous material, today’s video by CMP is deceptively edited and falsely worded to suggest impropriety or illegality where none exists. CMP’s continued efforts to malign StemExpress – a life sciences company that predominantly supplies adult cells, blood and tissue to the nation’s leading researchers – will only serve to slow the pace of life-saving medical research aimed at curing disease and extending quality of life for millions of Americans.”

Barbara Anderson: 559-441-6310, @beehealthwriter

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