It is the video that shocked the Internet. An organization called the Center for Medical Progress secretly recorded a conversation last year with Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Senior Director of Medical Services for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. I watched the video when it was released last Tuesday. It clearly records Dr. Nucatola's statement that her organization charges for fetal tissue it obtains via abortion, typically $30 to $100 "per specimen."
Since buying or selling human body parts is a federal offense, House Republicans have announced a congressional investigation into these allegations. Critics of Planned Parenthood have reviled the organization for "tissue trafficking." However, Planned Parenthood claims that it receives parental consent before obtaining any fetal tissue, and that it charges only the actual costs of transporting such tissue to medical research centers. Its defenders have also been busy trying to discredit the Center for Medical Progress and its leaders.
While the debate over abortion economics rages, two issues deserve far more attention than they're receiving.
One: the ethics of procuring fetal tissue, regardless of the finances involved.
In the video, Dr. Nucatola callously and casually describes techniques abortionists such as herself use to preserve hearts, lungs, livers, and other in-demand fetal body parts. To harvest these parts, she says, "I'm going to basically crush below, I'm gonna crush above, and I'm gonna see if I can get it all intact."
And she describes techniques by which abortionists reposition the fetus before extracting it, so as to harvest specimens more easily. Dr. Nucatola encourages abortionists to make "changes they can make in their technique to increase your success" in procuring fetal tissue.
According to a medical ethicist quoted by The New York Times, such procedures are patently unethical: "You cannot, must not, alter how or when you do an abortion simply to obtain tissues you want. Basically, the only concern is the health and safety of the mother." Another ethicist states that fetal tissue procurement and research must be conducted under strict standards with institutional review board oversight, guidelines that appear to be lacking here. And others claim that one technique described by Dr. Nucatola is a form of partial-birth abortion, which is a felony. I have seen no response to these concerns by Planned Parenthood or its defenders.
Two: the unconditional defense of Planned Parenthood by abortion advocates.
Those who call themselves "pro-choice" usually claim that they do not support abortion itself, but only a woman's right to "reproductive choice," maintaining that they want what is best for the mother. If that were true, such advocates would be as concerned about unethical abortion practices as I am. They would be alarmed about the possibility of injury to the mother, coercion for financial compensation, and legal violations. The fact that there has been no such outcry beyond "pro-life" organizations says something significant, and grievous, about our society.
I urge you to watch the conversation with Dr. Nucatola, even though it is very disturbing. Then ask yourself how God feels about the practices she describes. And ask your Lord what he wants you to do in response.
"On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent" (Isaiah 62:6).
Publication date: July 17, 2015
For more from the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others?
Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.