by Emily Jiang on Friday, October 16th, 2015
Since July of this year, The Center for Medical Process (CMP) has publically released nearly a dozen misleading under-cover videos that implied Planned Parenthood profiting from aborted fetal tissue, a practice illegal by federal law. As such the two organizations, CMP, an anti-abortionist organization, and Planned Parenthood, an organization that focuses on child-health, reproductive, and maternal services, such as abortion, have since taken the media by storm.
In its videos, many of which can be found on CNN’s website, CMP hired actors disguised as researchers to record interviews with Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services at Planned Parenthood. These videos have been heavily edited by CMP to favor its agenda. In one selectively cut video, Nucatola is portrayed as monetizing aborted fetuses. When asked about the price range per fetal specimen, she says, “it’s probably anywhere from $30 to $100 [per specimen], depending on the facility and what’s involved.”
However, another video later released by CMP reveals the rest of Nucatola’s explanation. Nucatola defends her designation of price tags on fetal specimens as the cost to transport, process, and store the donated tissues, a perfectly sanitary and legal practice to which patients have consented. “There’s not any revenue stream that the affiliates are looking at,” Nucatola says. “This is a way to offer patients the service that they want, [and] do good for the medical community” by donating the tissue which could prove very useful in investigating human disease. Marshall Sloane (II) agrees, stating “Every medical facility receives a fee for tissue used in research and it is in no way profit.”
While this point may clear up the suspicion of illegal sales, Nucatola’s description in the video of aborting the fetus concerns many anti-abortionists. In an interview with CNN, New York University bioethicist Art Caplan explains, “In abortion the primary goal is to give the safest abortion possible. Your sole concern has to be the mother and her health.” However, Nucatola has indicated that Planned Parenthood’s approach to abortion might be dictated by what organs different healthcare providers want. According to CNN’s Senior Medical Correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, if Planned Parenthood is changing their procedure to shift focus on preserving the best-quality tissue, then its practice is unethical.
The word “abortion” alone in today’s world sparks a rush of emotion and opinion in the minds of many. The topic of abortion has always been contentious—some conservatives argue that aborting a fetus is taking a life, while others that each woman has the right to do as she pleases with her body. This whole scandal in particular has caused a massive conservative uproar. Republican House Speaker John Boehner commented: “When anyone diminishes an unborn child, we are all hurt, irreversibly so. When an organization monetizes an unborn child…we must all act.” According to an article in USA Today from September 29th, Conservatives are mounting an effort to defund Planned Parenthood, which would halt not only abortions, but also cancer screenings, birth control, and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. In an article for Huffington Post from September 9th of this year, Democrat John Conyers states that “Planned Parenthood serves 2.7 million Americans a year…If successful, [conservatives’] effort [to defund Planned Parenthood] would hurt those who rely on Planned Parenthood’s services, and doing so would not prevent abortions.”
The controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood is far from over. CMP claims it has many more videos to release. Congress has deployed a coalition of Republicans and Democrats—the Energy and Commerce Committee—to further investigate the dynamics of the polemic. What the team finds could greatly impact the ultimate fate of Planned Parenthood.
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