Planned Parenthood’s Fetal Tissue and Organ Harvesting Forces a Reconsideration of Medical Ethics

Nora Sullivan, M.P.A  

Over the past few weeks you have most likely seen – unless you work at the White House – the undercover videos released by David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress, which show various Planned Parenthood employees discussing the harvesting and sale of fetal organs and body parts.  The negotiations caught on camera suggest that these transactions are not at all unusual for the organization nor are they limited to these few incidents but are, in fact, systemic throughout the organization.  This suggests that Planned Parenthood, which performs about 330,000 abortions a year in the United States, has found a way to make abortion even more profitable.

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So far five videos have been released and each one has managed to repulse the viewer as the very professional representatives of Planned Parenthood discuss aspects of the “specimen” while negotiating prices for said “specimen’s” internal organs.  When the camera does show the “specimen” Planned Parenthood is selling, it is remarkable how similar it is to images that the organization has long worked to suppress and prevent their clients from seeing – a developing human child.

 

These videos released by the Center for Medical Progress managed to wake something in the conscience of a long apathetic public.  Those who would not normally rise up for a cause considered “pro-life” were plainly disturbed at what is going on at Planned Parenthood, procedures even more unseemly than we had previously thought, if that is at all possible.

 

It might be that these videos were simply necessary in order for us to see the horrific reality that had long been staring us in the face but which many of us had simply been refusing to recognize.  Planned Parenthood has defended their actions by stating that these human body parts procured from abortions in their clinics are used for legitimate medical research.

 

In a fascinating article last week, Dr. Stacy Trasancos pointed out that the use of human fetuses (gained from elective abortion) is not unusual and has long been a part of research used in the field of science.  Dr. Trasancos points specifically to a 1972 paper published in Pediatric Research entitled “Development of Mammalian Sulfur Metabolism: Absence of Cystathionase in Human Fetal Tissues.”  The researchers were attempting to discover if cysteine is an essential amino acid in “immature human beings.”  Experiments were conducted on babies electively aborted between two to six months gestation and (even more disturbingly) on babies “in vivo” or “still living,” who were experimented on while still attached to their mothers’ wombs, and who died shortly after. Dr. Trasancos summed up this process:

 

The researchers therefore conducted the “in vivo” experiments by surgically cutting open the uterus of the mother, lifting out the living fetus with the umbilical cord still attached, and injecting the amino acids into the umbilical vein.

 

Then they waited 10 minutes with the heart still beating and the fetus still moving to allow the body to distribute and metabolize the amino acids. After 10 minutes, they cut the umbilical cord, dissected the brain and liver from the body of the fetus, and dropped the organs into liquid nitrogen to await analysis.

 

The study to which Dr. Trasancos was referring took place in 1972.  Though most of the population does not closely follow the latest medical literature, the recent undercover investigation has revealed that the demand for unborn human body parts has not diminished but is very much part of the medical marketplace.

 

Another recent commentary discussed whether the application of fetal brain cells to the brains of mice improved their neural functioning. Additionally, more resources continue to be shared rebutting the premise that there is a real medical need for fetal tissue in research, especially when more effective means exist such as adult stem cells.

 

The exposé released by the Center for Medical Progress has been extremely important for numerous reasons and not merely because it has exposed to the larger public this nefarious trafficking in human remains.  It has also forced us to take a look at what we are willing to tolerate as a civilized society.  For a long time, a great deal of energy has been devoted to diverting our attention away from what is so unpleasant that it is barely mentionable — the profiteering off of the deaths of the innocent and the disposal of their bodies. We must now ask if we are willing to sacrifice ethics for the sake of any so-called scientific advancement.

 

These videos are so effective because they call out viscerally to one’s conscience. Now that we are aware, we are obliged to hold ourselves, our scientific community, and our government body accountable.  Before we were confronted with the truth, it was perhaps possible to ignore something we knew was going on somewhere else – in a clinic on the other side of town, in a medical journal we didn’t read, or to a baby with no name.  However, we don’t have that excuse any longer.

 

These videos make it clear that an ethical standard must be held in place and those responsible must be held to account. The truth can no longer be ignored.

 

Nora Sullivan is an Associate Scholar with the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

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