A secretly videotaped business lunch released Tuesday shows a top Planned Parenthood official discussing the buying and selling of body parts of aborted fetuses, prompting national outrage among conservatives and pro-life activists.
Two adults, posing as buyers of fetal tissue, met with Dr. Deborah Nucatola, a senior official with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 2014.
Over wine and salads, they discussed Dr. Nucatola’s expertise in abortions, which included performing them in such a way as to obtain “intact” organs, such as livers, hearts, lungs and muscles, for research, according to the Center for Medical Progress, which released the video and a 60-page transcript Tuesday.
One topic — the in-utero turning of fetuses to deliver them feet first so the heads and brains can be delivered without excessive damage — strongly implied the use of the outlawed partial-birth abortion procedure.
The buying or selling of human tissue also is a federal offense, and members of Congress who learned of the video promised to act quickly. A Capitol Hill press conference could be held as early as Wednesday.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called the video “shocking and gruesome” for its discussions about “the systemic harvesting and trafficking of human body parts.”
Mr. Jindal, who is also a Republican presidential candidate, said he was directing the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to immediately investigate Planned Parenthood — which is seeking to open a clinic in New Orleans — in this “alleged evil and illegal activity.” He added that he also was seeking FBI assistance because of the broad nature of the potentially criminal activity.
“This latest news is tragic and outrageous,” Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina said on her Facebook page. “This isn’t about ‘choice.’ It’s about profiting on the death of the unborn while telling women it’s about empowerment.”
“This video is beyond disturbing,” Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican and a former prisoner of war, said on his Twitter feed.
According to the Center for Medical Progress, the two adults on the video were “actors posing as buyers from a human biologics company.”
They met with Dr. Nucatola because she trains their doctors, performs abortions up to 24 weeks, and is knowledgeable about biomedical research and its use of human tissues.
When the “buyers” asked Dr. Nucatola about obtaining specific organs, she replied, “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver. Because we know that, so I’m not going to crush that part, I’m going to crush below, I’m going to crush above, and I’m going to see if I can get it all intact.”
Costs to the buyers could be $30 to $100 per specimen, Dr. Nucatola said.
She said women are typically asked for their consent to have the aborted child used for research, and some agree because they think it will do “this extra bit of good,” Dr. Nucatola said.
‘No financial benefit’
The video also implies that Planned Parenthood’s national office wants to keep its distance from the trade in fetal parts — “it’s too touchy an issue for us to be the official middleman” — but affiliated groups are willing.
“At the national office, we have a Litigation and Law Department which just really doesn’t want us to be the middle people for this issue right now,” she said. “But I will tell you that behind closed doors these conversations are happening with the affiliates.”
A Planned Parenthood official responded to the “heavily edited” video, saying it helps its patients who want to donate tissue to scientific research, but with “no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or for Planned Parenthood.”
The Center for Medical Progress posted the entire two-hour, 40-minute video Tuesday afternoon.
Actual costs, such as to transport tissue to leading research centers, are reimbursed, as is standard in the medical field, said Eric Ferrero, vice president of communications for Planned Parenthood.
Moreover, he said, tissue donations are performed like “every other high-quality health care provider does — with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards.”
“Similar false accusations” about abortion services have been made for decades, Mr. Ferrero said.
The groups making the claims “have been widely discredited, and their claims fall apart on closer examination, just as they do in this case,” he said.
Dr. Nucatola, whose office is in Los Angeles, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. She reportedly had a Twitter account earlier in the day, but it was taken down, said LifeNews, citing pro-life activist Jill Stanek.
Pro-life activists galvanized
“There has long been suspicion that Planned Parenthood is involved in the selling of body parts after an abortion. Now the proof has been caught on video in Planned Parenthood’s own words,” said Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life.
Mr. Clapper applauded Mr. Jindal, saying, “If this is what Planned Parenthood intends to do at their abortion facility in New Orleans, Louisiana does not want any part of it.”
Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life, said it was “stomach-churning” to hear that “intact heads” of aborted fetuses could be put on order with Planned Parenthood facilities.
“Today is like the day we learned about Gosnell,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, referring to Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who now is serving time in prison for murder.
Planned Parenthood not only receives $528 million in government funds each year, but it also “takes the lives” of over 320,000 unborn children, Ms. Mancini said. Now comes the news that Planned Parenthood also “exploits them even further,” by potentially harvesting their organs and putting a price tag on livers and hearts, she said.
“Congress must take immediate action to stop all taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood and end the bankrolling of this horrific human rights abuser,” said Lila Rose, leader of Live Action, which is known for its many undercover investigations of abortion clinics.
The video “demands a response from Congress, and we will provide one,” said Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican and co-chairman of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.
“Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion provider, wounding women and profiting off of the death of children, first by dismembering unborn children and then by selling their organs piece by piece. This horrific abuse must stop,” Mr. Smith said.
Rep. Joseph R. Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican and chairman of the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, and Rep. Tim Murphy, Pennsylvania Republican and chairman of the House Energy and Commerce oversight and investigations subcommittee, said Congress should act to protect women and unborn children.
David Daleiden, project leader of the Center for Medical Progress’ three-year investigation of Planned Parenthood and aborted fetal parts, welcomed the public outcry over the video.
“Planned Parenthood’s criminal conspiracy to make money off of aborted baby parts reaches to the very highest levels of their organization,” he said.
The abortion giant should “be held accountable to the law,” and its taxpayer funded should be stopped, he said.
Several pro-life groups said the video reopens an issue that they have long fought to have investigated.
Mark Crutcher of Life Dynamics exposed the sale of baby body parts 15 years ago, said Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.
“We have on our website, BabyBodyParts.com, the images of some of the order forms that were discovered back then — forms that ask that eyes, livers, brains, legs and other body parts be shipped on wet ice to the researchers who want them,” Father Pavone said.
“This activity violates state and federal laws that prohibit the sale of human body parts,” he said. In addition to investigating and defunding Planned Parenthood, he said, Congress should pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would “protect many of the babies whose bodies are being cut up and sold in this manner.”