PP, CMP, Videos, Oh my!

Over the last couple of weeks, an organization called the Center for Medical Progress has released a series of undercover videos alleging that Planned Parenthood has been selling parts of aborted fetuses for medical research. Posing as representatives of a medical research company, they have made inquiries about acquiring fetal tissue for research. On the videos, Planned Parenthood representatives discuss how to provide the tissue. They also joke about the procedure and talk about how abortion providers can carry out abortions to spare organs that medical researchers want.

Selling parts of aborted fetuses for profit is illegal. However, asking for compensation for the costs of harvesting those organs is legal. Right now, it appears that Planned Parenthood is in compliance with the law.

Planned Parenthood and the medical companies are countering with allegations that the videos are deceptively edited and several companies have sought a court order to prevent further releases of the videos. Ken White breaks that down here. The short version is that the Center for Medical Progress can not be forced to not show the videos unless they have already waived their first amendment rights by signing non-disclosure agreements. There also appear to be issues with the Center for Medical Progress sting videos taken in California, which is a two-party state. The Center, however, has indicated that they intend to release more videos.

In general, I tend to shy away from the abortion issue. People are too entrenched on the issue. If the Center for Medical Progress has broken the law — either by violating a non-disclosure agreement or taping someone in California without their consent — they should be punished accordingly. And if Planned Parenthood or other organizations have broken the law by selling fetal tissue for profit, they should be punished accordingly. The courts seem well on their way to sorting this out.

The Republicans, however, are using this in yet another effort to defund Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood doesn’t get money for abortions. They do, however, get money from grants and from Medicaid for providing birth control and disease screenings to poor women and the Republicans now want to shut that off. I have to say that I’m against this. Planned Parenthood provides abortions. This has never been a secret. Abortion is a nasty business. That has never been a secret either. But their abortion business and their birth control operations are separate and trying to defund the latter because of the behavior of the former is, effectively, trying to ban abortion through the back door.

No, it’s worse. Cutting off Planned Parenthood from federal funds will have no effect on their abortion business. It will simply mean fewer women getting contraception and more women having babies (and having more abortions). It will mean fewer women getting condoms and more women catching diseases. And while you might say “Hey, let them pay for their own birth control!” guess who’s going to have to pick up the bill for those babies and diseases? Unless the Republicans are also willing to shut off Medicaid, WIC, food stamps and everything else … including for children … this is not a move to save the government money. And it is doubly not a move to save money because the Republicans want to divert that money to ineffective faith-based programs that will result in more poor women having babies and getting diseases.

There’s one other aspect of this, though. One I’m hesitant to get into, but one I think is important. The thing is … while I disagree with the Republicans, I understand where they’re coming from.

The pro-choice side has a very long history of trying to run away from the gruesomeness of abortion. They’ve tried to keep protesters from showing signs of aborted fetuses; they’ve tried to block informed consent laws that tell patients how abortion works; they try to pretend that the procedure is no more significant than having a boil lanced.

But this is nonsense. Abortion is a gruesome business. Most medicine is. I had my gallbladder out a few years ago and that was still nasty despite being done through a laparoscope. If you work in medicine for any period of time, you will see things that make your stomach turn. And then you will get inured to it.

If there have been laws broken, that needs to be punished. But there is nothing illegal about providing fetal tissue — at cost — to medical research companies. The alternative is to incinerate the tissue. But there’s also nothing wrong with abortion opponents pointing out that harvesting of fetal cells exists and that abortion providers try to accommodate that demand. This is part of the debate. It is perfectly acceptable to say to pro-choicers, “If you think abortion, should be legal, this is what you think should be legal.” And honest pro-choicers, like Elizabeth Nolan Brown, have accepted that. I accept that (although I oppose most late-term abortion).

The outraged response to this from the Left; the reflexive defensiveness; the attempt to impugn the Center for Medical Progress as “extremists” (which they are) instead of addressing their claims represent a real problem for the pro-choice movement. They don’t like to talk about what abortion entails.

This is not unique to the pro-choice movement. Pro-death-penalty people don’t like to talk about botched executions and the likelihood that the lethal injection combo we use causes excruciating pain. War advocates don’t like to see pictures of dead children. But that doesn’t change the reality of these policies (or their necessity, if you think them necessary).

The pro-choice movement, which I reluctantly agree with, is trying to run away from the reality of what they support. I don’t think they can.

Comments are closed.

  1. Seattle Outcast

    I’ve seen enough accidents and blood to know I’d make a horrible doctor.  I’m amazed that we can just sew people back together (yeah, that’s basically what it is), hook them up to life support and pump them full of antibiotics and few other chemicals, and a few weeks later they are home.  Seriously, it’s essentially what they would have called magic just a couple centuries ago.

    I don’t know how people that work in emergency rooms deal with all the “nasty business” of people showing up looking like roadkill.

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  2. CM

    It’s also important to mention what the material is actually used for (to study and possibly develop cures for a number of diseases and medical ailments) and that abortions account for 3% of PP’s work.
    So much for that whole ‘growing the tent’ thing the GOP said it needed to do. Trump is sending them backwards fast enough on his own (I reckon he’s there just to have fun and to ensure his Clinton friends win).

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  3. AlexInCT

    Why are you bothering me with this non story? Who cares what they do with baby corpses? Heck, these socialists figured a way to turna  profit for a good cause! And don’t you know some evil rich person paid money to go kill some animal in a poor country where desperation has driven them to set up an industry to kill animals for cash? The horror!

    /sarc

    I am now convinced humanity should self destruct or be wiped out by nature. We got a ton of outrage because someone shot some stupid animal while real horror stories like this one and many other tragedies that impact people get covered up because the assholes that tell us about the evils of capitalism are profiting from the murder and meyhem of their politics.

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  4. AlexInCT

    It’s also important to mention what the material is actually used for (to study and possibly develop cures for a number of diseases and medical ailments) and that abortions account for 3% of PP’s work.

    I think mengele made the same argment at his trial at Neurenberg. It was all for a good cause. Yeah, sure. Whatever. Please don’t subsidze this shit with my money. If some private entity wants to do it, then go for broke.

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  5. Technomad

    If people are so very against abortion, I’d think they’d be all for birth control.  I’d happily subsidize Norplant for all women on public assistance and/or under 18.

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  6. CM

    I think mengele made the same argment at his trial at Neurenberg. It was all for a good cause. Yeah, sure. Whatever. 

    There’s a rather significant disconnect between what I wrote and your response. How does this compare to Mengele – can you please walk us through that?

    Also, how exactly is this a horror story? How is this a ‘tragedy’ that impacts people but gets ‘covered up’. The people must give permission for the material to be provided for research, so who are the people subjected to the ‘tragedy’ here? Obviously it won’t be the people who benefit from the results of the research. Quite the opposite, surely. And who exactly is “profiting” from “murder” here?

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  7. InsipiD

    Also, how exactly is this a horror story? How is this a ‘tragedy’ that impacts people but gets ‘covered up’. The people must give permission for the material to be provided for research, so who are the people subjected to the ‘tragedy’ here? Obviously it won’t be the people who benefit from the results of the research. Quite the opposite, surely. And who exactly is “profiting” from “murder” here?
    0

    Seriously, you come here and ask that?  If your head is so empty on this subject, go out and educate yourself before taking up the other side.  Tell me why “thumbs down” isn’t an option anymore?

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  8. Technomad

    What the anti-abortion people cannot seem to grok is that “murder” is a term of art used in the law.  It means the unlawful and deliberate killing of a human being.  A fetus does not qualify.

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  9. Nobody

    What the anti-abortion people cannot seem to grok is that “murder” is a term of art used in the law.  It means the unlawful and deliberate killing of a human being.

    Which is a circular definition:  Murder is illegal because it’s defined as doing something unlawful.

    A fetus does not qualify.

    In certain societies both past and present, homosexuals and Jews also do not qualify.  Explain how limiting our butchery to unborn children for the sake of convenience makes us any better.

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  10. Nobody

    But there is nothing illegal about providing fetal tissue — at cost — to medical research companies.

    Didn’t one of the videos show two people haggling over pricing?  What need would there be for haggling if the items were being sold “at cost”?

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  11. Xetrov

    Right now, it appears that Planned Parenthood is in compliance with the law.

    Not if what is said in the first video is found to be true.

    And if they can do a little better than break even, and do so in a way that seems reasonable, they’re happy to do that.

    That’s black and white illegal.  The law is crystal clear that they cannot profit from selling aborted babies.  It certainly warrants investigation…and yet nothing from the DoJ or FBI on opening an investigation into Planned Parenthood.

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  12. InsipiD

    InsipiD which specific question of mine are you referring to?

    The one where you think that by asking questions like that and putting every word that you don’t like in quotes will let you redefine the debate by dragging it down to semantics and arguing over the language involved rather than what happened.

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