Planned Parenthood facing investigations over ‘abhorrent’ video on selling aborted baby body parts
A shocking video showing a top Planned Parenthood official casually discussing the shipment of aborted fetus body parts to research labs is fueling calls in Washington and state capitals for investigations and hearings.
The video, shot last July, was released by the Center for Medical Progress on Tuesday. It shows two undercover CMP activists posing as employees from a biotech company having lunch with Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical research, and chatting about which body parts are in demand.
Calls on Capitol Hill for hearings were swift.
“Nothing is more precious than life, especially an unborn child,” House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. “When anyone diminishes an unborn child, we are all hurt, irreversibly so. When an organization monetizes an unborn child — and with the cavalier attitude portrayed in this horrific video — we must all act. As a start, I have asked our relevant committees to look into this matter.”
Boehner also urged President Obama to “denounce, and stop, these gruesome practices.”
Pro-life members of the House held a press conference Wednesday afternoon and likewise backed congressional hearings on the matter. Already, the House Energy and Commerce and Judiciary committees have announced an investigation.
Energy Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., called the video “abhorrent” and said it “rips at the heart.”
Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., said the matter would be investigated but noted “that which is legal is not necessarily moral or ethical.”
Planned Parenthood responded to the allegations Wednesday, saying they were politically motivated, “outrageous” and “flat-out untrue.”
In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal, a presidential candidate, announced he was ordering an investigation as well as calling for a suspension of the group’s license in the near-term.
It is illegal to sell fetus body parts, but Planned Parenthood maintains the discussions shown in the undercover video only pertain to donations they make to researchers, for which they say they only recoup shipping costs.
But the video threatens to reignite a debate not only over Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, but also the use of fetal tissue harvested through abortions for research and a proposed 20-week abortion ban.
In the video, Nucatola is seen and heard discussing Planned Parenthood’s policy of donating fetal tissue to researchers. The activists ask Nucatola whether clinics charge for the organs, which she skirts around.
The language is graphic.
“Yesterday was the first time she said people wanted lungs,” she says. “Some people want lower extremities, too, which, that’s simple. That’s easy. I don’t know what they’re doing with it, I guess if they want muscle.”
She described how they are able to get other organs without “crushing” them. “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.”
The California-based citizen’s group claims the nearly nine-minute video shot on July 25, 2014, is proof Planned Parenthood is breaking the law by selling aborted baby organs for possible profit.
Jindal was among several 2016 candidates who weighed in, and among five attending the Right to Life Convention in New Orleans. “If the Republican Party can’t turn defending innocent human life into a winning issue nationally, we should fold up the Republican Party and start all over again,” he said.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, called the video “absolutely horrifying and disgusting.” As governor of Wisconsin, Walker signed off on legislation that defunded Planned Parenthood in 2011.
But the group still gets millions of dollars in federal funding, with restrictions barring the money from being used for abortions. On Capitol Hill Wednesday, protesters urged Congress to strip that money. And 2016 Republican candidate Ben Carson, in a written statement, urged the same.
But Planned Parenthood called claims they profited off abortions a “gross mischaracterization” of the organization’s work.
With a patient’s permission, Planned Parenthood said, clinics may sometimes donate fetal tissue for use in stem cell research, but the group added that their affiliates, which operate independently, do not profit from donations.
“There is no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or for Planned Parenthood,” Eric Ferrero, the organization’s vice president of communications, said in a written statement. “In some instances, actual costs, such as the cost to transport tissue to leading research centers, are reimbursed which is standard across the medical field.”
Critics say the leaked video suggests otherwise.
“It is stomach-churning to hear a top doctor for the national Planned Parenthood organization admit, on videotape, that Planned Parenthood abortionists can and will alter late abortion procedures to facilitate the harvesting of intact baby body parts – she specifically mentioned hearts, lungs, livers, even intact heads — in order to fill specific pre-orders,” National Right to Life President Carol Tobias told FoxNews.com. “Numerous statements by Dr. Nucatola cry out for probes by Congress and other investigatory agencies — and quickly.”
In a separate statement released Wednesday afternoon following calls for an investigation, Ferrero said, “These outrageous claims are flat-out untrue, but that doesn’t matter to politicians with a longstanding political agenda to ban abortion and defund Planned Parenthood.”