Follow the Forceps, Not the Money

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 18.19.09The charge of “selling baby parts” in the wake of the Center for Medical Progress abortion doctor video sting, while macabre, is not, in a legal sense, the real crime confessed on camera by abortionist and Planned Parenthood (PPFA) Senior Director of Medical Services Dr. Deborah Nucatola.


But she does admit, in detail, to other acts that seem to violate Public Law 103-43.

Under the law, PPFA may recoup the costs of harvesting and transporting fetal tissue obtained, with consent of the mother, from an aborted fetus. They just can’t profit from its sale. Whether $30-$100 per specimen comprises ordinary shipping and handling expenses or profit is debatable. But the other violation seems irrefutable. 

Cecile Richards, the CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a response video proudly declared that PPFA facilitates tissue donations but not for profit. She does apologize for Dr. Nucatola’s “tone and statements.” The money that changes hands is completely legal, Richards says, and even virtuous, thanks to advances in medical research made possible by the fetal specimens.

She also suggests that the viral video from the Center for Medical Progress has been “heavily edited” to alter the truth. (Here’s a link to the unedited video.)

But the sale of fetal tissue for profit is not the only subject of Public Law 103-43.

The law also states that the recipients of “donated” fetal tissue [the buyers] may have “no part in any decisions as to the timing, method, or procedures used to terminate the pregnancy made solely for the purposes of the research.” [Public Law 103-43, Title I, Part G, Sec. 498A: c-4]


And yet, Dr. Nucatola makes clear in the video that she, and other abortionists, have changed their methods and procedures to accommodate their fetal tissue customers. Here are some excerpts from the video of the conversation between actors posing as fetal tissue buyers, and Dr. Nucatola.

BUYER: How much of a difference can that actually make, if you know kind of what’s expected or what we need, versus…

NUCATOLA: It makes a huge difference. I’d say a lot of people want liver. And for that reason, most providers [abortionists] will do this case [the abortion] under ultrasound guidance, so they’ll know where they’re putting their forceps…so then you’re just kind of cognizant of where you put your graspers, you try to intentionally go above and below the thorax, so that, you know — we’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part. I’m going to basically crush below. I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.

NUCATOLA: And with the calvarium [head], in general, some people [abortionists] will actually try to change the presentation [of the fetus] so that it’s not vertex [head-first], because when it’s vertex presentation, you never have enough dilation at the beginning of the case…So, if you do it starting from the breech [feet-first] presentation, there’s dilatation that happens as the case goes on.


NUCATOLA: If you [the fetal tissue buyer] maintain enough of a dialogue with the person who’s actually doing the procedure, so they understand what the end-game is, there are little things, changes they can make in their technique to increase your success.

Notice that Dr. Nucatola specifically discusses the use of ultrasound to let the abortionist see where she’s placing the forceps. To avoid crushing internal organs, the abortionist positions the forceps above and below the body cavity, necessarily crushing those areas of contact, but preserving viable organs in between.

She says that she and others sometimes maneuver fetuses out of the head-down position, to deliver them breech, because that way the birth canal has more time to stretch, and thus preserve the body cavity intact.

By her own words you can judge whether the organ recipients [buyers] had, as the law says, “no part” in “decisions…made solely for the purposes of research” as to “method, or procedures use to terminate the pregnancy.”

If Planned Parenthood were not “donating” the fetal organs, they would not use ultrasound to position forceps, nor take care to preserve the body cavity intact. And they’d pull the fetus out by whichever part was closest to the vagina, rather than devoting the extra time to alter the presentation.


In other words, the fetal-tissue buyers’ needs determine the abortionists methods and procedures. What’s more, Nucatola says there’s direct communication between the fetal tissue buyer and the abortionist to adapt methods in order to provide maximum value.

These decisions about methods and procedures are not made out of compassion for the fetus, nor for the comfort of the mother, but precisely for the reasons forbidden in Public Law 103-43.


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