Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Planned Butcherhood: The Reveal(s)

As you probably know (but might not know if you get your news only from the pre-Fox networks), Planned Parenthood has been placed in a, shall we say, uncomfortable position by a series of secretly recorded videos released over the past month.

I started writing a post not long after the video releases began but have continued finding it a challenge to finish -- partly because new videos keep coming out and I am short on time, but mostly because there is just so much to say.

I have finally concluded that the topic is too big to address in a single post, and therefore I have decided to address it in a series. And I promise that this series, unlike a couple others I have started, will actually get completed before too much time goes by.

Obviously, today's post is the first installment. It consists of a large chunk of what I wrote when I still intended to publish a single post... The purpose of this installment is to address the various videos and Planned Parenthood's responses to them. The next will address the various defenses of Planned Parenthood that have been served up by its apologists in the wake of the videos... Then, the third installment will deal with American society's actual thoughts on abortion; the American political parties' actual positions on abortion; and how I think we (those of us who disagree with abortion on demand) should respond to the videos.

Finally, here goes...

Although I often agree with Michelle Malkin, I have never been a fan of the nicknames she deploys. It's not as if she had no basis for referring to Elizabeth Warren and Ward Churchill as "pretendians," nor is it like she had no basis for calling reporters "teeth-gnashing Nellies" or Ariana Grande a "tartlet" -- but let's face it, when you keep engaging in name-calling you start to sound like a middle-schooler.

Nonetheless, I am giving Malkin a pass on her latest one because it's entirely appropriate to refer to Planned Parenthood as "Planned Butcherhood."

On July 14th a video was released that showed Planned Parenthood's Senior Director for Medical Services, Deborah Nucatola, M.D., casually discussing how the organization sells the body parts of babies fetuses it has killed aborted. She did this over a nice lunch while imbibing on red wine that probably wasn't the cheapest on the menu.

In the video she talks about charging different prices for different body parts. She talks about her organization's doctors performing abortions by taking care to manipulate the babies they are about to kill into specific positions -- not to reduce the baby's pain or increase the procedure's efficiency, but to keep from damaging the organs Planned Parenthood wants to sell. (She did not know she was being filmed, as the people she was with had a hidden camera and were posing as potential clients.)

Specifically, Dr. Nucatola says: "I'd say a lot of people want liver, and for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they'll know where they're putting their forceps... 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."

Ah, good old ultrasound! Planned Parenthood opposes giving women the option to see ultrasound images of their babies when they are deciding whether to abort, yet is all in favor of ultrasound images being used to preserve the for-sale parts of the same babies once women have been persuaded decided to abort (which is to say, once the babies are in the process of being killed). The choices Planned Parenthood champions for others vis-a-vis the ones it denies to others, vis-a-vis the ones it makes for itself, are an interesting tangle indeed.

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The aforementioned video was filmed and released by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP). An abridged version started making the rounds on the Internet and causing a stir, and can be seen here.

As you might expect, Planned Parenthood initially responded by having its lawyers release a statement attacking the video for being abridged. The response called it "heavily edited." Also, by saying the following, the response portrayed the body part sales as not being done for profit: "In some instances, actual costs, such as the cost to transport tissue to leading research centers, are reimbursed, which is standard in the medical field."

That focus on reimbursement is due to the inconvenient truth that trafficking in fetal body parts for profit is a federal crime. However, focusing its response on reimbursement does not resolve Planned Parenthood's problems; and if anything, that focus is causing even more headaches for the organization. 

One problem is that CMP did not release only the abridged version of the video. It also released the full footage, and as Kevin Williamson cheekily put it, "the full footage is not exculpatory."

Another problem for Planned Parenthood is that despite the lawyerly blather about reimbursement, Dr. Nucatola's comments make no mention of costs but do contain hard-to-miss suggestions that the amounts Planned Parenthood charge are to be based on supply and demand. Although she mentions that the organization wants to operate "in a way that is not perceived as 'this clinic is selling tissue,'" she does not say anything like "we don't sell tissue" or "we donate tissue and get reimbursed for the costs we incur." Obviously the key word is perceived, and apparently it's okay to sell baby parts as long as the public does not perceive that you are selling baby parts.

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Yet another problem for Planned Parenthood is that the video of Dr. Nucatola proved to be just the beginning. One week after it came out, CMP released another one, this time of Mary Gatter, M.D., who was President of the organization's Medical Directors' Council when the video was filmed and now works in what is described as a "leadership and advisory capacity." In this video, when asked what she would "expect for intact tissue," Dr. Gatter's immediate reply was "why don't you start by telling me what you're used to paying?"

She went on to say this about pricing: "...let me just figure out what others are getting. If it's in the ballpark then that's fine, if it's low we can bump it up." After saying the price could be "bumped up," she laughingly added: "I want a Lamborghini." When asked what she had just said, she replied: "I said I want a Lamborghini."

In fairness to Dr. Gatter, her laughter indicates (to me) that she was jesting about the Lamborghini rather than being completely serious. But this is yet another example of something that does not make matters better, for it takes a significant amount of moral emptiness to make light of your role in the deliberate killing of the most vulnerable humans on Earth, and to make light of your role in slicing out their organs and selling them like so many ears of corn.

I remember being undisturbed when I popped an eye out of a perch while dissecting it in my ninth grade science class. And I remember then being disturbed that I had been undisturbed. However, one gets the distinct impression that the grown-ups who kill babies and then slice them apart for Planned Parenthood are no more disturbed by their actions than I was by what I did to that fish that was already dead. Therein lies a major problem, and its name is Desensitization.

Only by desensitizing people to the horror of abortion are its advocates able to keep it entirely legal, at every moment, under any circumstance. Only by desensitizing people to the humanity of the unborn are its advocates able to create a climate in which so many females, be they frightened teens or desperate adults, are comfortable enough to choose abortion.

Once a society's people become desensitized to the killing of babies -- desensitized to the point that they themselves choose abortion or desensitized to the point that they feel they shouldn't voice opposition to others choosing it -- the road to that society's perdition becomes very short and very slick.

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Although it feels like it's time to keep talking about desensitization, I have to bring up yet more problems surrounding Planned Parenthood's response to CMP, because CMP released a third video on July 28th and a fourth on July 30th (which can be viewed here under the headline that starts "Planned Parenthood VP Says Fetuses May Come Out Intact..."). Both of them show Savita Ginde, M.D., Vice President and Medical Director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, and by now it should surprise nobody that they make matters worse.

In the third video she says "I think the per-item works a little better, just because we can see how much we can get out of it." The "how much" seems to refer to body parts, not dollars, but the topic she was discussing was how to be compensated and there was no talk of cold storage, shipping and handling, etc.

The third video also includes an interview with Holly O'Donnell, a former procurement specialist for StemExpress, a California company that purchased (and I assume still purchases) fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood. Describing the purchasing arrangement, she says Planned Parenthood has "incentive to try and get the hard stuff 'cause you're going to get more money."

O'Donnell adds this: "For whatever we could procure, they would get a certain percentage." This reeks of commission, not reimbursement.

O'Donnell also says: "The main nurse was always trying to make sure we got our specimens. No one else really cared, but the main nurse did because she knew that Planned Parenthood was getting compensated." Again, "compensated" is different that "reimbursed." Plus, "make sure we got our specimens" suggests an entered-into arrangement to obtain certain parts, not a coincidental "well we wound up with these so here you go" -- especially in the context of Ms. O'Donnell saying Planned Parenthood would "get more money" for "the hard stuff," and Dr. Nucatola previously talking about Planned Parenthood's doctors making sure to "crush" certain parts of baby's bodies in order to spare the parts that are in higher demand.

Meanwhile, in the fourth video Dr. Ginte says: "I feel like if you're talking to other Planned Parenthoods, we sort of all have to be on the same page. Almost to the point that we all have to disclose to each other that we're all doing this... I think we have to be coordinated with each other... to make sure that we're all saying the same thing, and to make sure that the CEOs are all saying the same thing."

Starting at the 5:19 point, the person posing as a buyer says: "I want to come in and pay you top dollar because I know what you're going to be facing... so compensation, okay, your cost is negligent, so it could look like we're paying you for specimens," at which point Dr. Ginte interjects with a simple "right." The person posing as a buyer then continues by saying: "So let's talk about it correctly. We all know that yes, that's what we're doing. So yes, I am paying you, but how we're talking about it out there in the public square." (emphasis hers)

Dr. Ginte nods throughout their exchange. At one point she interjects the phrase "so processing and time," using a tone which, to me, clearly means that "processing and time" is not a real explanation of any payments received, but rather a canned explanation to be given to anyone who asks.

At no point does she say "processing and time" is all her organization can accept, nor does she say "processing and time" is all it will accept. (Nor, to be fair, does she ever agree to a price, as this conversation seems to be the first in what she believes to be a multi-step negotiation; but again, if reimbursement is all that is on the table, if recouping expenses is all that is being sought, what's the point of discussing pricing in the first place? And what's the point of discussing it in such an open-ended "how do we explain it" fashion?)

The more we hear, the more -- not less -- this reeks of cold profiteering imposed on the lives of babies and souls of women.

*     *     *     *     *

And then came August 4th, when CMP released a fifth video, featuring Melissa Farrell, Director of Research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, saying things that seem to confirm the organization is willing and able to perform abortions in such a way as to guarantee that the baby is brought out of the mother intact. In fact, her comments suggest that the organization has already done that on multiple occasions.

Although that is troubling on several levels, it is legally troubling because this federal code declares an abortion unlawfull if "alteration of the timing, method, or procedures used to terminate the pregnancy was made solely for the purposes of obtaining the tissue."

When asked directly if her organization can change an abortion procedure so as to deliver a baby intact, Ms. Farrell (I don't know if she is a doctor) states: "Some of our doctors in the past have pet projects and they're collecting the specimens, so they do it in a way that they get the best specimens, so I know it can happen." (emphasis mine)

When asked about obtaining specific body parts, she states: "We bake that into our contract, and our protocol, that we follow this, so we deviate from our standard in order to do that." (emphasis mine)

Ms. Farrell also alludes to the use of accounting gimmickry to conceal the nature of payments it receives for body parts. At least that's how I interpret some of the comments she made when asked how they account for money they get -- comments that are summed up nicely by her closing statement that "it's all just a matter of line items."

*     *     *     *     *

And now comes today, with CMP releasing a sixth video. This one features an encore from Holly O'Donnell, the former procurement specialist for StemExpress who previously appeared in video #3.

This time around, O'Donnell testifies about how her superiors at StemExpress instructed her (and presumably others) to go about obtaining specific parts from Planned Parenthood.

She claims that she was instructed to directly approach pregnant women at Planned Parenthood clinics and encourage them to earmark their baby's body parts for delivery to StemExpress. According to her, the instruction was given like this: "It's not an option, it's a demand."

She goes on to claim that even women who were simply there for a pregnancy test were considered prospective sources of supply: "Pregnancy tests are potential pregnancies, therefore potential specimens, so it's just taking advantage of the opportunities."

She also claims that Planned Parenthood gave StemExpress employees access to their clinics, and on some occasions Planned Parenthood staff and StemExpress employees worked in cahoots to harvest a baby's body parts without the mother's consent. She says "there were times when they would just take what they wanted, and these mothers don't know, and there's no way they would know."

O'Donnell also claims that Planned Parenthood gave StemExpress employees access to patients' medical records and appointment schedules, which, to me, sounds like an avalanche of possible HIPAA violations.

*     *     *     *     *

The more we hear directly from the mouths of Planned Parenthood's high-ranking personnel (and in O'Donnell's case, from employees of other businesses who partnered with them) the more glaring is the contrast between Planned Parenthood's candid words and the strategic ones used by its lawyers and president.

Speaking of that president (Cecile Richards), her July 26th interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos made things worse because she dug in her heels about one claim that is provably false and a second that is apparently false.

Provably false is the claim that CMP is being deceptive by releasing edited videos. I already mentioned that it released the full video of Dr. Nucatola, not just the edited one, but it's also worth noting that CMP released them at the same time. Further, it's worth noting that it has released both the full and edited versions of every video.

Apparently false is the claim that Planned Parenthood is merely being reimbursed for costs. I've already dealt with that claim and maybe don't need to return to it, but I feel compelled to mention that Stephanopoulos challenged it by broaching this flyer which advertises StemExpress to clinics for the purpose of procuring "human cells, fluids, blood and tissue products" from them (emphasis mine -- and by the way, "tissue" strikes me as an ideal abortion-centric euphemism because of how handy it is for rescuing you from having to say "organ").

Anyway, the flyer says StemExpress will "fiscally reward" such clinics; refers to unspecified "financial profits" and a "financial benefit" that will accrue to such clinics; and includes an official endorsement by Planned Parenthood's own Dorothy Furgerson, M.D. A Google search led me to this Planned Parenthood page identifying Dr. Furgerson as the Chief Medical Officer of one of its California affiliates, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte.

Planned Parenthood does not store fluids or cells, and although one would hope that it stores blood in case transfusions are needed when it inevitably botches an abortion, I could find no online claim (much less confirmation) that it actually does store blood... so what would be the purpose of having a Planned Parenthood official endorse the procurement of those things?

The endorsement only makes sense when you acknowledge that: 1) "tissue" usually equals "organs, body parts," and 2) Planned Parenthood is, by far, the nation's leading performer of abortions.

When Stephanopoulos brought the flyer up, Richards had no explanation.

*     *     *     *     *

It does not matter if you look at CMP's undercover videos closely or superficially. Either way, it is impossible not to conclude that they are rife with prima facie evidence that Planned Parenthood engages in criminal activity with regard to its abortion practices.

Even if you believe that a woman's so-called "right to choose" is absolute, there is no way you can, with a clear and open mind, view these videos and not come away believing that Planned Parenthood should be investigated -- even if only to ensure that it's not guilty of what the evidence strongly suggests it is guilty of.

But isn't there something wrong with looking at the videos only from a legal perspective? That is pretty much what this post has done, and it has done so primarily because the pro-choice crowd always falls back on legality, rather than morality, to defend itself.

At the end of the day, it is inescapable that abortion is a matter not of legality but of morality. And it is equally inescapable that when abortion finds safe haven in legality, it does so only because abortion law has abandoned ethics. It was staunch pro-choicer Camille Paglia, not staunch pro-lifer Rick Santorum, who publicly admitted that in her own words, "abortion is murder, the extermination of the powerless by the powerful" -- and proceeded to nonetheless refuse to oppose it.

I am reminded of the observation of pro-freedom, pro-human Soviet defector Alexander Solzhenitsyn: "I have spent all my life under a Communist regime, and I can tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale but the legal one is not quite worthy of man either."

And with that thought in mind, I bid adieu until my next post.

Addendum #1, 9/1/15:  Since this post was published, three other videos have been released. Respectively, they can be viewed here, here, and here. One repeating theme is that of babies being born alive and then killed. It comes up by inference, by implication, and even as a specific accusation. 

Addendeum #2, 9/1/15:  Seeking to discredit the CMP videos, Planned Parenthood hired the research/intelligence firm Fusion GPS to forensically analyze them... The report issued by Fusion GPS said that it identified time gaps in the full versions of the videos, but also stated: This analysis did not reveal widespread evidence of substantive video operation." In other words, the context and meaning of what was said by Planned Parenthood reps was not altered by any time gaps... In my opinion, CMP should still fill in any time gaps that do exist. However, Fusion GPS's concession that the videos are substantively accurate is made even more significant by the facts that it was hired by Planned Parenthood and has a history of acting at the behest of left wing activists (thanks to Ian Tuttle for furnishing the link).

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