Commentary

It's More Than the Reported Selling of Baby Parts That Has Us Worried

By Sarah Torre | July 16, 2015 | 5:14pm EDT
Unborn Baby (AP Photo)

On Wednesday, two House committees announced they will begin an investigation into Planned Parenthood’s alleged harvesting and sale of body parts from unborn babies.

In an undercover video released this week, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services at Planned Parenthood, detailed with startling calmness how she chooses to perform abortion procedures in order to harvest particular organs from unborn children.

“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part,” she relays over a lunch meeting. “I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”

Being able to obtain a child’s head, she admits, is a slightly more difficult task—often requiring a baby to be in breech position and a skilled technician to retrieve the desired body part. Each “specimen,” she notes, can go from around $30 to $100.

These alleged practices Planned Parenthood’s PR firm explains away as “humanitarian undertakings that hold the potential to cure disease, save lives, and ameliorate suffering.”

That such blatant brutality could be nonchalantly discussed over wine and salad has many on both sides of the abortion debate wondering how the slogan of “safe, legal and rare” can encompass the reported mutilation of unborn children with the intent to preserve their organs for sale.

It also has policymakers across the country asking whether these alleged practices are within the bounds of law.

Federal policy makes it unlawful for a person to “knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce.”  The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, prohibiting one of the more gruesome abortion procedures, limits abortions (similar to what Nucatola describes in the video) where the doctor begins delivery of the child before killing him or her.

Whether Planned Parenthood has violated those federal or similar state laws is unclear from the undercover video alone. In a statement responding to the video, Planned Parenthood states:

“At several of our health centers, we help patients who want to donate tissue for scientific research, and we do this just like every other high-quality health care provider does—with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards. There is no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or for Planned Parenthood.”

That’s why investigations like those begun in the House today are a good and necessary response. Govs. Bobby Jindal, R-La., and Greg Abbott, R-Texas, have already called for state-level investigations of the Planned Parenthood affiliates working in their states.

More governors should do the same. Americans United for Life has identified a list of specific legal questions the billion-dollar giant of the abortion industry should be forced to answer about their alleged selling of baby body parts.

National leaders owe it to all American taxpayers who help bankroll Planned Parenthood’s bottom line to find out whether the organization is flouting common sense law and regulations.

Regardless of the outcome of those necessary investigations, this week’s glimpse into what could be one of the darkest corners of the abortion industry should also renew efforts to end taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood. There is no reason to continue entangling federal money with an organization whose near single-minded focus is performing one out of every three abortions in the United States, even as it has decreased other preventative services like cancers screenings. In the last reporting year alone, Planned Parenthood performed over 327,000 abortions, while continuing to receive over half a billion dollars in taxpayer funding.

Allegations of callous disregard for the lives and dignity of women, and certainly the unborn children, who enter the organization’s clinics are hardly new. Planned Parenthood has also purportedly turned a blind eye to the unsafe and unsanitary conditions of some of its affiliates and has been repeatedly accused of fraud. Along with its many lawsuits challenging common sense regulations of abortion clinics and doctors, Planned Parenthood opposes legislation that would protect infants born alive after failed abortions.

This is hardly an organization that deserves or needs the hard-earned dollars of American taxpayers.

After watching this week’s explosive video, we have to ask some honest questions: Is it just the reported selling of tiny human organs and heads that makes us uneasy? Or is it that the intentional dismemberment of a baby old enough to have a heart and a lung and a liver capable of studying for research is legal at all?

Abortion is a ruthless business that has harmed countless women and taken the lives of more than 56 million unborn children. For more than 40 years, we’ve excluded the youngest and most vulnerable children in our society from the right to life—simply because they’re small, dependent, disabled or just plain inconvenient.

Having continually denied the inherent worth and dignity of the smallest among us, should we now be surprised that the alleged selling of an unborn child’s body parts is brushed away as a “humanitarian undertaking?”

Beyond investigating this week’s claims and ending funding to the abortion industry, Congress also has the opportunity to limit gruesome and dangerous late-term abortions, including some that allow for the procurement of tiny organs. That’s a policy the American people overwhelmingly support and one our commitment to protecting basic rights increasingly demands.

Sarah Torre focuses on policy issues related to religious liberty, marriage and family as policy analyst in the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation.

Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by The Heritage Foundation.

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