Planned Parenthood Video Is About Donating Fetal Organs, Not Selling Them

An undercover video, shot, edited, and released by an anti-abortion organization called The Center for Medical Progress (funny how they use these benign organizational names, isn’t it?) is making the rounds this morning. The video shows Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical research, Deborah Nucatola, explaining the process by which fetal organs are kept intact during abortion procedures, how they are donated to researchers, and what legal issues Planned Parenthood has to work around in order to do this.

The Center for Medical Progress is saying that the video shows Nucatola discussing the sale of fetal organs. The only time Nucatola discusses monetary compensation, she says that research centers pay about $30 to $100 for each specimen, which, frankly, should strike anyone as a pretty low price for the sale of fetal organs, which are not particularly abundant. That’s because Planned Parenthood isn’t selling the organs for that price. They’re donating the organs, with their patients’ consent, and the research centers are reimbursing Planned Parenthood for the cost of preserving and transporting the samples, per a statement Planned Parenthood spokesman Eric Ferraro:

“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. 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.”

And while the video is edited to look really damning in terms of Nucatola’s not-particularly-sensitive-sounding discussion of how abortions are performed, remember that Nucatola’s whole job is to oversee abortions, and that she’s under the assumption that she’s talking to people who are also in her field, who are used to talking about abortion procedures all the time, and who don’t object to abortion. This is only a “Gotcha!” so much as the Center for Medical Progress’s undercover interviewers caught Nucatola being less than, I don’t know, flowery in the way that she talked about performing abortions.

As far as the legal component of the conversation, the Center for Medical Progress wants viewers to be shocked about the fact that Planned Parenthood has a legal department that requires Planned Parenthood to have regional affiliates who handle these tissue donations so that Planned Parenthood itself isn’t publicly perceived as having sold fetal organs. The thing is, Planned Parenthood hasn’t sold fetal organs, and yet this video itself proves that anti-abortion organizations are out to do exactly what Planned Parenthood’s legal department is worried about: The Center for Medical Progress is distorting the conversation to make it sound as if Planned Parenthood is profiting off of fetal organ sales without their patients’ knowledge, when, instead, Planned Parenthood is donating organs with their patients’ consent. This video and its misrepresentations are precisely the reason Planned Parenthood uses affiliates, and yet the CMP wants viewers to be outraged about what they want to dishonestly portray as a shady business practice.

It’s a bullshit ouroboros that’s made worse by headlines about Planned Parenthood allegedly committing a crime or, worse, headlines about Planned Parenthood actually “selling” organs. It’s a misrepresentation of the truth. Everyone can calm down: This is just a woman doing her job. The only shadiness involved came straight from the Center for Medical Progress.


[Washington Post]
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