Sunday, August 2, 2015

Planned Parenthood Videos Threaten Truth

While we have all heard the adage, any publicity is good publicity, I don’t agree.   See if you agree that the subjects of the following hypothetical headlines would have preferred anonymity.

Local Surgeon Loses Scalpel – in Patient’s Abdomen
Teacher Pursues New Career as Porn Star
Restaurant Owner Claims Rats are Really Pets

Planned Parenthood is in the news.  Several videos, surreptitiously taken, have been released showing discussions between Planned Parenthood personnel and folks who were pretending to be interested in procuring fetal parts.  It is illegal under federal law for Planned Parenthood to make a profit selling fetal parts.  More fact gathering will be necessary to determine if a legal line has been violated.  Legalities aside, the videos have generated revulsion across the ideological spectrum by how unseemly and casual the Planned Parenthood folks discussed a subject with huge ethical and legal ramifications.  The public heard how the abortion technique could be ‘adjusted’ so that fetal organs would not be damaged so they could be harvested.  The faux venders were told by Planned Parenthood that they prefer that the surrendered organs would be considered for ‘research purposes’, rather than as a typical business transaction as this would give the organization some ethical and legal insulation. 

One’s ultimate view on the legality and propriety of Planned Parenthood’s behavior should be independent of one’s view on the abortion question.  I am always agitated when an individual or organization’s views on an issue are tainted to conform to an ideology.  For example, if you are a Democrat who believes that Hillary Clinton’s email practices are entirely proper, then you should have the same view if Dick Cheney were substituted in her place.

If Dick Cheney says the earth is round, some folks will say he's wrong.

Regrettably, this is not the standard that operates in the public square.  Pro Life believers are clamoring to defund Planned Parenthood, an organization many of them loathe.  Pro Choice adherents, sidestep the videos’ content and focus instead on the deceptive techniques used to obtain them.  Both sides are missing the point on purpose.

If Planned Parenthood broke the law, then this fact should not be mitigated or expanded depending upon one’s abortion views.

This story has various medical ethical dimensions.
  • Must an abortion provider obtain consent from the patient for giving away fetal parts?
  • Is it ethical for an abortion provider to modify the procedure in order to preserve specific organs?
  • Is informed consent necessary for an abortion provider to use a different technique for a purpose unrelated to the medical task at hand?
  • Could the patient charge the vendor for fetal parts?

 I have not given my own view on the abortion question here.  It shouldn’t matter.  This issue should be judged separately from one’s view on the abortion question.   Call it straight. Support your adversaries and rebuke your own team when the facts demand this.  Telling the truth is good publicity.  


  1. I have questions, not answers, and of course I have an opinion I won't express because it isn't important to anyone but me.

    1. Where else do ethical researchers obtain fetal or infant body parts? From spontaneously aborted fetuses (lay term being "a miscarriage")? Donated stillborns?

    2. Are fetal tissues/organs difficult to obtain legally and ethically?

    3. Are fetal/infant organs ever legally cloned for research only, as opposed to being grown for a specific individual? (There are a few I am aware of grown from autologous stem cells for an individual, such as urinary bladders, and I know they are working on hearts and other organs.)

    What I'm getting at is whether there exists the necessity for using aborted fetuses for research at all, due to shortages or expense. Or are they using the organs for transplantation? Of course that kind of sale is illegal.

    From Congress to the Supreme Court is where these issues will be argued and ultimately decided. It will be dissected in living rooms, churches, and town halls, television, and the internet, and tempers running on high-hot. Cool, calm heads must prevail in the end to provide answers instead of emotional opinion.

    I will make this statement, and I'm sure everyone knows it is true. Many women would choose to abort a fetus even if it were not legal to do so, and regardless of whether her personal safety is assured. I doubt many ask what happens to the fetal remains.

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  3. Davis, See my 6/21/15 post regarding my view on Deflategate. Did you expunge your comment? Happy to have you on the blog.

  4. Interesting piece Doc, Tom