Planned Parenthood and Planned Organ Harvesting
Sandhya Somashekhar and Danielle Paquette report that an "Undercover video shows Planned Parenthood official discussing fetal organs used for research" (Washington Post, July 14, 2015). The official, Deborah Nucatola, Senior Director of Medical Research for Planned Parenthood, was recorded on camera explaining Planned Parenthood's work in 'donating' fetal tissue to researchers, according to the Center for Medical Progress, which recorded the discussion and which claims Nucatola's words prove that Planned Parenthood is breaking the law by selling fetal organs. Here are some of Nucatola's words:
I'd say a lot of people want liver, . . . [a]nd 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 gonna basically crush below, I'm gonna crush above, and I'm gonna see if I can get it all intact . . . . Every provider has patients who want to donate their tissue, and they want to accommodate them . . . . They just want to do it in a way that is not perceived as: This clinic is selling tissue. This clinic is making money off this. In the Planned Parenthood world, they're very, very sensitive to that. Some affiliates might do it for free. [But if they charge, t]hey want to come to a number that looks like a reasonable number for the effort . . . allotted on their part . . . . [I]t's probably anywhere from $30 to $100, depending on the facility and what's involved . . . . It just has to do with space issues, are you sending someone there that's going to be doing everything . . . is there shipping involved? Is someone going to be there to pick it up?Nucatola seems to be very careful in avoiding language that suggests Planned Parenthood to be involved in selling fetal organs, but money is definitely described as changing hands, and that itself offers the temptation to charge more if more trouble is taken, especially if Planned Parenthood is taking orders for specific organs, a problematic issue in its own right:
Arthur Caplan, director of New York University's Division of Medical Ethics[, says,] "I think the only relevant goal of an abortion clinic is to provide a safe and least risky abortion to a woman . . . . If you're starting to play with how it's done, and when it's done, other things than women's health are coming into play. You're making a huge mountain of conflict of interest."Even if an abortion clinic is not getting money, the harvesting of organs from fetuses is highly problematic, for the reason Caplan gives. And note that Nucatola's matter-of-fact wording presupposes fetal body parts as commodities, even in her remark - or perhaps especially in her remark - that "Some affiliates might do it for free." Because some, perhaps most, do not do it for free . . . but for a price.