Yet another undercover video has emerged showing a higher-up at Planned Parenthood making controversial remarks, this time haggling over the price of fetal tissue and joking that she wanted to buy a Lamborghini with the profits. In its rebuttal, Planned Parenthood angrily denounced the “very heavily-edited video,” calling it part of a smear campaign. But one line of their press release jumped out at me: “Nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our patients.”
If only the undercover video didn’t directly contradict that sentiment.
In the video, Medical Directors’ Council President Mary Gatter admits that Planned Parenthood’s protocols preclude changing their abortion techniques just to obtain fetal tissue. Those guidelines about what kinds of abortions their doctors should perform are presumably based on selecting the least intrusive, uncomfortable and dangerous procedure necessary. But what the hell, Gatter says, let’s go ahead and ignore them (emphasis added):
If our usual technique is suction at 10 to 12 weeks, and we switch to using an IPAS [a brand of manual vacuum aspirator] or something with less suction to increase the odds that it will come out as an intact specimen, then we’re kind of violating that protocol that says to the patient, ‘We’re not doing anything different in our care of you.’ Now to me, that’s kind of a specious little argument. And I wouldn’t object to asking Ian, who’s our surgeon who does the cases, to use an IPAS at that gestational age in order to increase the odds that he’s going to get an intact specimen.
It’s worth noting that Gatter’s comments closely match up with that of Planned Parenthood executive Deborah Nucatola’s, who told the actors that Planned Parenthood abortionists regularly perform the procedure in a way designed to preserve fetal organs. “I’d say a lot of people want liver. And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they’ll know where they’re putting their forceps… we’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, ‘So I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m going to basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.’”
Assuming the women were telling the truth, Planned Parenthood appears to be in clear contravention of federal law, which requires that “no alteration of the timing, method, or procedures used to terminate the pregnancy was made solely for the purposes of obtaining the tissue.” That, in and of itself, is damning.
But legality aside, Planned Parenthood is committing a huge ethical no-no. Congress didn’t pass that regulation as a lark. They wanted to avoid situations where doctors’ concern for their patients’ health, comfort, and well-being are secondary to other concerns (especially an arrangement with a third party). Every day Planned Parenthood doctors face a choice between procedures that were determined to be the most effective for their patient, and procedures that were determined to be the best for their business partners. If we take Planned Parenthood’s own executives at their word, every day they pick their partners.
To see the principles at stake here, imagine that while in the hospital for a serious injury, the doctors and nurses were open about the fact that the treatment they were giving you would be the best possible… so long as it preserved your organs. What’s more, a businessman was next door, impatiently waiting to compensate the hospital for any organs they brought him. Would you consent to a procedure from a health care provider that so openly put someone else’s best interests above yours? How would you feel if the hospital didn’t even tell you about the arrangement?
Oh, and while we’re on consent, how about this exchange caught by Live Action News, where Nucatola goes on about how annoying it is that they have to get a woman’s consent to harvest her unborn child’s organs?
Buyer: “Right, because I was imagining would be doing consent as well.”
Nucatola: “That’s probably the biggest inconvenience, ugh, that’s one more thing my staff has to talk about. They only have so many minutes to talk to the patient.”
Rather flippant take on consent from an organization that fiercely attacked Republicans for supporting mandatory ultrasounds (or “raping women,” as some pro-choice activists put it). Even though, as the first Nucatola quote shows, Planned Parenthood regularly subjects women to unnecessary ultrasounds if it means getting more baby livers.
Pro-life activists are, of course, furious about the Planned Parenthood videos. But so should the pro-choice women who for years have taken the organization at their word that they are only concerned about “women’s health.” But the reality is that the health, comfort, and dignity of women take the backseat when there’s money to be gained.
[Image via screengrab]
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