WASHINGTON – A trade group for abortion providers is asking a top House Republican to investigate after secretly recorded videos were posted online by a conservative blogger who wrote that he got the footage from a congressional source.
The National Abortion Federation said Friday that the videos were recorded at recent meetings by the Center for Medical Progress, a small group of anti-abortion activists. The center's furtive recordings of Planned Parenthood officials discussing their retrieval of fetal tissue have sparked an uproar by conservatives and unsuccessful efforts by congressional Republicans to cut Planned Parenthood's federal funds.
The federation obtained a court order in San Francisco against public release of the footage. But in recent days, videos have been posted online at GotNews.com, a conservative website.
That website's founder, Charles C. Johnson, wrote on his site that he has obtained "all of the Planned Parenthood tapes" and got the recordings "from a source on Capitol Hill."
David Daleiden, the abortion foe who leads the center, recently gave his footage to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee after it was subpoenaed by that panel's chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.
Vicki Saporta, National Abortion Federation president, said in a written statement that her organization did not know if Johnson got the footage from Congress. She said she wants Chaffetz to investigate if it did and to take steps to make sure the videos are secure, citing increased danger to abortion clinic workers.
"The release of more videos will likely lead to more threats, intimidation and possibly violence against abortion providers," Saporta said.
MJ Henshaw, a Chaffetz spokeswoman, declined to comment when asked about the abortion federation's request.
In a statement Friday, Planned Parenthood spokesman Eric Ferrero said that with anti-abortion Republicans investigating them, the group was not surprised by a "politically motivated leak." Planned Parenthood has said the tapes released so far have been deceptively edited and says it has broken no laws.
Johnson wrote on his website that he did not obtain the footage from Daleiden, who he wrote has been a friend.
Attorneys for the abortion federation sent Johnson a copy of the court restraining order, which they say applies to him. Johnson wrote that he believes the order does not apply to him.
"We are moving from the Planned Parenthood tapes being about the sale of organs to the unconstitutional restrictions on First Amendment," Johnson wrote.
Johnson did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.