A video of major importance to the pro-life movement hit the internet on Tuesday, July 14. This video, which was captured about a year ago by investigators from the Center for Medical Progress, shows Dr. Deborah Nucatola, the senior director of medical services at Planned Parenthood sitting down to lunch with “potential buyers” to discuss the sale of fetal remains.
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(A full transcript of the exchange can be found here.) This sent shivers down my spine, as I’m sure it did to many of you. But this isn’t something that should shock us either.
While abortion may not be a new concept, the idea of using particular body parts for research and development is relatively new to this era of science. Over the last few decades, bio-ethicists have been debating the morality of using aborted fetuses for scientific research. A major reason for this is that the majority of the fetuses come from elective, rather than medically necessary, abortions. (The fact that we’ve been debating the moral rightness of using the tissue seems to bring into question the moral rightness of abortion altogether, but delving into that question would be far too logical and take away abortion’s convenient nature.)
Planned Parenthood builds its business model on convenient abortions. In 2011, they made $150,000,000 on abortions alone, as this constitutes over 90% of their pregnancy services. Now, it’s clear that abortion’s profit doesn’t stop there. The bodies of these innocent children are up for sale. According to Paul Bois at Truth Revolt, “Planned Parenthood sells various baby parts, from liver to hearts to muscle tissue, for a multitude of purposes. The going price? Between $30 to $100 ‘per specimen.'” Apparently you can put a price on your kids, or rather, Planned Parenthood can.
It is not only the morality of this story that is appalling, but the legal questions that have conservatives raising their eyebrows. Ovide Lamontagne at National Review cites several legal statutes that indicate Planned Parenthood’s actions are, indeed, illegal. He writes:
The harvesting, sale, and ultimate use of the tissue and body parts of aborted fetuses is governed by a 1993 federal law passed when the United States Congress enacted 42 U.S.C. 289g, regulating fetal research in general. In particular, 42 U.S.C. 289g-2(a) makes it unlawful for any person “to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any fetal tissue for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce” (emphasis added).
This “valuable consideration” language essentially means that compensation for the procedure cannot exceed the costs of production (which includes any and all stages from the fetus’s removal from the womb to the hands of the buyer). However, in the transcript of the video, Dr. Nucatola responded to questions regarding the monetary nature of the exchange: “They want to come to a number that doesn’t look like they’re making money. They want to come to a number that looks like it is a reasonable number for the effort that is allotted on their part. I think with private providers, private clinics, they’ll have much less of a problem with that.”
Given the language that she uses, it sounds like these deals are made on a case by case basis, with private clinics charging more because they can stay under the radar.
The legality issue also concerns the methods used to obtain these “specimens” as Dr. Nucatola calls them. The method she describes in the exchange is almost identical to a partial birth abortion, which was banned by a federal law that President George W. Bush signed in 2003. It is punishable by up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine. But it’s for science, right?
The shadiness of Planned Parenthood’s operation cannot be overstated enough, and this is why multiple GOP presidential candidates, including Senator Ted Cruz, Governor Bobby Jindal, and Carly Fiorina have made public statements regarding this new development. Sen. Cruz has called for a congressional investigation into the organization and its finances, and Gov. Jindal has ordered the Louisiana Department of Health to do the same. On the federal level, this is especially important: the Planned Parenthood organization rakes in over half a billion dollars from American taxpayers each year, so the people have a right to know how its being used. In this case, it seems to be used for a grotesque form of human trafficking.
So what are we to do? If you’re religious, the first thing to do is pray. Second, appeal to your elected representatives to vote for pro-life legislation. This is not an abstract problem that has no solution. Many thought we couldn’t rid this country of slavery, and while we had to go to war over it, we still got rid of it. We can push to abolish abortion, maybe within this generation, but we’re going to have to fight our own war with one of the darkest evils the world has seen.
This video, if anything, reminds us of just how important the fight to end abortion truly is.