Planned Parenthood Video: 'Its Heart is Beating...It Had a Face...We're Going to Procure a Brain'

By Lauretta Brown and Michael W. Chapman | August 20, 2015 | 4:47 PM EDT


WARNING: Some of the images and descriptions in this story are graphic. 

( – In the latest investigative video of Planned Parenthood’s harvesting of aborted baby parts for medical research, Holly O’Donnell -- a former “procurement technician” who worked in Planned Parenthood clinics for the biotech company StemExpress -- describes being told to cut through the face of an aborted, late-term baby whose heart was still beating, to obtain the brain.

“The moment I see it, I’m just flabbergasted,” said Holly O’Donnell, describing when she saw the aborted baby. O’Donnell is a licensed phlebotomist who worked as a “procurement technician” in various Planned Parenthood clinics procuring aborted baby parts.

“This is the most gestated fetus and closest thing to a baby I’ve seen,” said O’Donnell. “And she’s [Jessica, another technician] like, okay, I want to show you something and she has one of her instruments and she just taps the heart and it starts beating.”

“I’m sitting here looking at this fetus and its heart is beating, and I don’t know what to think,” said O’Donnell.  “It had a face. It wasn't completely torn up. Its nose was very pronounced. It had eyelids.”

“Since the fetus was so intact, she [Jessica] said, okay, well, this is a really good fetus and it looks like we can procure a lot from it. We’re going to procure a brain,” recalled O’Donnell.

O’Donnell then explained that she then realized they would have to cut open the baby’s face in order to extract the brain.

“She [Jessica] takes the scissors and she makes a small incision right here [pointing to her chin], and goes to, I would say, maybe a little bit through the mouth,” said O’Donnell. “She’s like, okay, you go the rest of the way.”

“I didn’t want to do this,” says O’Donnell. “She gave me the scissors and told me that I had to cut down the middle of the face. And I can’t describe what that feels like. I remember picking it up and finishing and going through the rest of the face, and Jessica picking up the brain and putting it in the container.”

“That was the moment I knew I couldn’t work for the company [StemExpress] anymore,” said O’Donnell.


The video is the seventh in a series released by the Center for Medical Progress.  O’Donnell worked for StemExpress in Planned Parenthood abortion clinics on a daily basis through late 2012.

StemExpress, in Placerville, Calif., acted as a middleman between Planned Parenthood abortion clinics and research institutions looking for aborted baby parts. The company cut ties with Planned Parenthood on Aug. 14, following the outcry over the investigative videos.

StemExpress was founded and is run by Cate Dyer.  Her older sister, Charlotte Ivancic, is the health policy adviser to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and legal counsel at the House Budget Committee.

In the video, O’Donnell further explains, “I remember picking – it was a male [baby]. I’m picking him up with the gloves. It was too heavy. The pie dish was – and he was big – the pie dish, and I couldn’t like take it and put it in the strainer and out it in. I couldn’t. It was just too big.”

“I opened the biohazard container and it’s almost full,” said O’Donnell. “It’s almost blocked. I’m holding in my hands and it’s almost like, oh my God, what am I doing? And I take him, I put him in, and I remember he got stuck on the lid.  And it got turned around and its buttocks was in the air and its two feet were like dangling out.”

“I remember having to pick each of his two feet up and putting them in the container and closing the lid,” she said. “I think that was the hardest experience I had there.”

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards.  (AP)


“I remember holding that fetus in my hands when everybody else was busy and, started crying and opened the lid and put it back,” said O’Donnell. “It’s just really hard knowing that you’re the only person who’s ever going to hold that baby.”

The video also features apparent telephone recordings of Dr. Ben Van Handel, the executive director of Novogenix Laboratories, LLC,  and also apparently of Perrin Larton, procurement manager of Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc. (ABR).

The Novogenix website states it is “your source for human primary tissue-specific stem cells for medical and life science research. We can provide the research community with a diverse array of human tissue-specific stem and niche cells …. At Novogenix, we collaborate closely with scientists to customize our services to meet their specific needs. We recognize that scientific accomplishments can only be achieved through coordinated teamwork.”

According to the Center for Medical Progress, “Novogenix is the company that has harvested fetal organs from abortions done by Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s senior director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, in Los Angeles, while ABR is the oldest fetal tissue procurement company and works with Planned Parenthood in San Diego and other clinics around the country.”

In its 990 IRS tax form, Advanced Bioscience Resources states that it “obtains and delivers fetal tissue to medical researchers who study the tissue for its application to the treatment of various illnesses and injuries. Research papers which make known the usage of tissue provided by Advanced Bioscience Resources See Scientific Papers Attached.”

Dr. Van Handel says in the recording: “There are times when after the procedure is done that the heart actually is still beating.” Larton describes abortions she has seen where “the fetus was already in the vaginal canal whenever we put her in the stirrups, it just fell out.” contacted Planned Parenthood and StemExpress for comment on the claims made in the video but did not receive any response by the time this story was posted. 

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