July 15, 2015 | Posted in Abortion | By

Yesterday we shared an undercover video of two actors meeting with a top Planned Parenthood official to discuss the sale of fetal organs. The video is nearly 9 minutes long, and includes dialogue about the procurement of lung, heart, and muscle tissue from aborted babies.

We also posted the unedited video footage; it is over two and a half hours long, and it shows the meeting in its entirety. You can watch both videos here.

Planned Parenthood has since issued a statement that is largely dismissive of the video. Here it is:

“In health care, patients sometimes want to donate tissue to scientific research that can help lead to medical breakthroughs, such as treatments and cures for serious diseases. Women at Planned Parenthood who have abortions are no different. 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.  In some instances, actual costs, such as the cost to transport tissue to leading research centers, are reimbursed, which is standard across the medical field.

“A well funded group established for the purpose of damaging Planned Parenthood’s mission and services has promoted a heavily edited, secretly recorded videotape that falsely portrays Planned Parenthood’s participation in tissue donation programs that support lifesaving scientific research.  Similar false accusations have been put forth by opponents of abortion services for decades. These groups have been widely discredited and their claims fall apart on closer examination, just as they do in this case.”

Planned Parenthood’s statement dismissing the video boils down to three arguments:

  1. Aborted fetal remains are donated to science, and any money Planned Parenthood receives simply covers the cost of that donation;
  2. This is a standard practice in all fields of medicine;
  3. The video is highly edited in order to falsely misrepresent Planned Parenthood’s “donation programs.”

Here are a few of questions Planned Parenthood’s statement fails to address:

  1. How is being reimbursed for the cost of donating the aborted fetal remains different from selling aborted fetal remains?

    When a person purchases something from a store, he or she primarily is reimbursing the store for the cost of the item. Even if the store sells an item “at cost,” in which case it does not make a profit, it is still selling the item. Planned Parenthood’s statement does not clearly demonstrate the difference between “reimbursement for actual costs” and “selling.”

  2. Do Planned Parenthood affiliates “break even” on fetal tissue, or do they do “a little better than break even”?

    At one point during the video (roughly eight  minutes into the unedited copy posted yesterday), Dr. Nucatola says, concerning the cost of aborted fetal tissue, “At the end of the day, [Planned Parenthood’s affiliates] are nonprofit, and they just don’t want to–they want to break even. And–and if they can do a little better than break even and they can do so in a way that, you know, seems reasonable, they’re happy to do that.”Doing “a little better than break even” does not sound the same as being “reimbursed” for “actual costs.” It sounds more like making a profit from a sale. Planned Parenthood’s statement does not address this point at all.

  3. How are the procedures described in the video different from partial-birth abortion?

    In the video, the Planned Parenthood official describes how a doctor performing an abortion may turn an unborn baby in the womb so that the baby is “extracted” and aborted feet-first instead of head first. In so doing, she says, the doctor is able to preserve more fetal organs and tissue. Many have pointed out that the procedure she describes sounds very much like partial-birth abortion procedures in which the baby is partially delivered feet-first before being killed. Partial-birth abortion is illegal under federal law. Planned Parenthood’s statement does not even attempt to distinguish the procedures described in the video from partial-birth abortion.

These are valid questions that need to be answered. Unfortunately, Planned Parenthood’s statement practically ignores them. I expect we will hear much more on this in the coming days.

Jerry is the founder and president of Family Council. He began Family Council in 1989 after a successful effort to amend the Arkansas Constitution to prevent the use of public funds for abortions. He and his wife reside in Little Rock. They have four sons.