Science Site Rationalizes Sales of Baby Body Parts
The video that shocked the nation—Planned Parenthood selling fetal organs—is whitewashed by a science website.
This is a story about how evil can be spun to be not quite so evil. On Live Science, Rachael Rattner asks of Planned Parenthood, “How ethical is fetal tissue donation?” Several spin techniques jump out of the headline itself. She doesn’t ask “is it ethical,” but “how ethical is it,” giving the impression it’s just a matter of degree. She calls it “donation,” not a black market. And throughout her article, it’s not a baby, but a fetus.
A few days ago, the Center for Medical Progress, a pro-life group, released an investigative video that even many pro-abortion advocates found repulsive. In the video, Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s top director for medical services, was shown cavalierly discussing the sale of baby body parts while she dined on salad and sipped wine. She told how the orientation of the fetus is sometimes altered prior to abortion to preserve organs while other parts are “crushed” (like the head or feet). She told how the central office of Planned Parenthood shifts the paperwork to local offices to avoid appearance of top-down administration of the grisly practice. This is not only deeply disturbing to most viewers; it’s also clearly against the law. The 3.5-hour video has prompted Congressional investigations. Can anyone rationalize a video like this?
Apparently Live Science thinks so. Here’s some points Rattner makes in Planned Parenthood’s defense:
- The prices of $30 to $100 for baby organs is just “enough to cover related expenses, such as the cost of transporting the tissue.” Rattner takes Nucatola and an associate’s word for it that this does not produce any revenue stream for Planned Parenthood.
- Fetal tissue research had noble ideals: curing diseases, developing vaccines, etc.
- “Today, most researchers who use fetal tissue are interested in studying fetal development, fetal abnormalities and diseases of the fetus, or how toxins may affect the fetus, Caplan said.”
- The market for fetal tissue has gone down, so there’s likely not as much demand for it now.
Rattner quotes Arthur Caplan, a medical ethicist, to displace the rationalization to someone else. “Some people object to donations of fetal tissue, which typically come from aborted fetuses, because they believe abortion is wrong, and don’t think anything ‘good,’ should come out of the practice, Caplan said.” The use of quotes around ‘good’ raises some doubt whether the views of ‘some people’ are valid. They only “believe” abortion is wrong. And once again, they are “aborted fetuses,” not babies. In the video, however, the “fetuses” were advanced enough to have hearts, livers, muscles, and other organs Planned Parenthood attempted to preserve for sale.
The only aspect Rattner considered ethically questionable was whether the abortion procedure was altered for the purpose of preserving the organs, without telling the mother. “Caplan said that, in order for fetal tissue donation to be ethical, the procedure should not be changed, and there shouldn’t be any compensation for the tissue other than to cover handling costs like storing and transporting the tissue.”
But that just requires a procedural change, not a ban. Nowhere does Rattner or Caplan point out that Planned Parenthood broke several federal laws about trafficking in body parts. In the end, she thinks a few procedural changes may be all that are required. “It may be better to have a few places that specialize in this type of tissue donation, he said.” Tissue donation. Let’s just limit the illegal trafficking to a few places instead of all over the country. By implication, the practice is fine if only on a more limited scale. Planned Parenthood deserves to be paid for its “handling costs” at least.
Update 7/23/15: After a second video was released showing another top Planned Parenthood official negotiating the price of baby parts, Medical Xpress posted a story rationalizing the practice and attacking the motives of the Center for Medical Progress that exposed the illegal activity. In the video, Dr. Mary Gatter agrees it’s necessary to use a less “crunchy” method of abortion to preserve the valuable organs. She haggles over the price in order to make it worth her while; “I want a Lamborghini,” she jokes.
Rather than repudiating these ghastly statements the official makes on camera, Medical Xpress quotes a Planned Parenthood defender who goes after CMP with ad hominems and scare tactics, calling the source “a group of extremists who have intimidated women and doctors for years in their agenda to ban abortion completely.” The article quotes Democrat Senator Harry Reid stating, “I see no indication that Planned Parenthood has violated federal law.” Many others, though, are decrying how low Planned Parenthood has sunk this time; the callous disregard for human life shown by Nucatola and Gatter are shocking even pro-abortion advocates. Twenty-three congresspersons denounced the country’s leading abortion provider in Special Orders speeches on the 22nd. Bipartisan groups are calling for defunding Planned Parenthood, which receives more than half a billion dollars in taxpayer subsidies each year. The Family Research Council is calling on citizens to stop patronizing major corporations who give money to Planned Parenthood, including Ford, AT&T, Johnson & Johnson (which specializes in baby products), and The March of Dimes (which funds research for childhood diseases). “Send them a note,” FRC president Tony Perkins urges, “and ask them to discontinue their donations to an organization under criminal investigation for violating — not just the law, but basic decency.” Brit Hume on Fox News spoke for many outraged at the gruesome revelations.
You have just watched some really ugly spin doctoring at work. The disgusting practice of selling baby body parts, revealed to the nation on unedited video, is producing outrage across the nation. Congress is investigating Planned Parenthood, calling for an end to federal subsidies to the nation’s leading abortion provider. Several have pointed out this is the latest in a long string of abuses by the organization. Some have pointed out that Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, was a racist and eugenist (see John West’s book Darwin Day in America for documentation and quotes from Sanger). The very idea! Killing potential humans in the womb for selling their hearts, livers, kidneys and other organs… how can anyone justify that? It’s barbarity, most have responded. Nucatola’s casual manner, sipping wine while talking about crushing baby heads, is particularly disgusting.
Not Live “Science.” Not “Medical” Xpress. To them, it’s not so bad. They weren’t really making a lot of money. There isn’t really that big a market for it. The researchers who paid for the organs had noble intentions. The babies were going to die anyway. It’s those mean anti-science bigots who to stop scientific progress.
Try those arguments on the Nazi medical experiments of the 1930s.