New video: Phlebotomist claims Planned Parenthood took fetal tissue without consent

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A controversial video released Wednesday morning details what a phlebotomist says she witnessed while working at the Planned Parenthood office in Fresno. (KFSN)

A controversial video released Wednesday morning details what a phlebotomist says she witnessed while working at the Planned Parenthood office in Fresno. The video is one in a series put out by a company called the Center for Medical Progress.

Holly O'Donnell worked for a lab contracted by Planned Parenthood. She was hired to collect blood and fetal tissue, but she claims sometimes the desire for certain organs at specific gestational periods had her coworkers taking specimens some women never authorized.

O'Donnell says she is a former employee of a company called StemExpress and often worked out of the Fresno Planned Parenthood. She says it was her job to collect fetal tissue and organs after abortions were performed on some of the dozens of patients that pass through the doors each day.

"So it's just taking advantage of the opportunities," O'Donnell said in the video.

In the lengthy video, provided by the Center for Medical Progress, O'Donnell describes collecting and sending samples daily to researchers across the country. She even shows the paperwork women must sign to consent before O'Donnell alleges the proper procedure wasn't always followed.

"If there was a higher gestation and the technicians needed it, there are times where they would just take what they wanted," O'Donnell said.

It's unclear what motivated O'Donnell to share her experience, but she does admit she is pro-life.

Planned Parenthood issued a statement saying, "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."

ABC30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi says if the statements O'Donnell made are true, there should be some cause for concern.

"The other question is, or issue, is whether or not these items are being sold for money, for profit. That's against the federal law. This videotape should be sent to the FBI," Capozzi said.

StemExpress issued a statement to Action News saying, "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."

Right to Life of Central California Executive Director Michael Salinas described the video as the most credible to be released so far, and he hopes the claims are investigated.

"She also speaks about a young lady who did not give her consent, another individual obtained that blood tissue and fetal tissue anyway, so that's illegal practices there, and they need to be held accountable for that," Salinas said.

Calls to the Center for Medical Progress were not returned on Wednesday. It's unclear if O'Donnell was compensated for her statement or coached in any way.
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