- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Planned Parenthood consent forms used to obtain fetal tissue from abortions are coming under fire for promising cures for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and AIDS in what may violate federal guidelines on organ donations.

In a video released Tuesday, the pro-life Center for Medical Progress accused Planned Parenthood of using “fraudulent” forms aimed at coaxing pregnant women into donating fetal tissue despite a Department of Health and Human Services policy against “undue influence.”

A consent form produced at last month’s hearing of the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives says, “Research using the blood from pregnant women and tissue that has been aborted has been used to treat and find a cure for diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and AIDS.”

At the March 2 hearing, the name of the clinic on the form was blocked out, but the newly posted center video shows the same form with the Planned Parenthood name and logo on top.

Rep. Vicki Hartzler, Missouri Republican, called the form “clearly unethical” and added that her mother died last year from Alzheimer’s.

“I am not aware that there is a cure out there. This was news to me,” Ms. Hartzler said dryly.

Two Republicans who are also doctors — Reps. Larry Bucshon of Indiana and Andy Harris of Maryland — raised doubts about whether the consent forms would pass muster with a hospital or university Institutional Review Board (IRB).

“We really have found a cure using fetal tissue for diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and AIDS? Because that is exactly what this form says,” said Mr. Harris, an anesthesiologist.

Even Lawrence Goldsmith, a professor at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and a Planned Parenthood supporter, described the form as “inappropriate.”

“If it’s the form that says therapies for diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and all the rest have already been found, I agree, that’s an inappropriate statement and should not have been made on that form. I don’t know who wrote it,” Mr. Goldsmith said in response to a question. “That would not have made it past my IRB either.”

David Daleiden, the California-based center’s lead investigator, said Tuesday that the testimony of Mr. Goldsmith, who said he has used fetal tissue in research, “discredits all of Planned Parenthood’s assurances that their baby parts scheme has operated legally and aboveboard.”

Mr. Daleiden and another CMP investigator, Sandra Merritt, were indicted in February by a Harris County grand jury in connection with using fake driver’s licenses as part of their Planned Parenthood investigation.

The center has released a dozen undercover videos since July alleging wrongdoing stemming from Planned Parenthood’s procurement of fetal tissue from abortions for medical research.

Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards announced last year that the organization will no longer accept reimbursement for the costs associated with obtaining fetal tissue, which is legal under federal law. The center has accused the organization of illegally profiting from sales of aborted tissue, which she denies.

“Law enforcement in Planned Parenthood-friendly jurisdictions should stop wasting taxpayer resources to assist Planned Parenthood in harassing citizen journalists, and should stop ignoring the evidence of real fraud, baby body parts trafficking, and criminal abortion practices right in their own backyard,” said Mr. Daleiden in a Tuesday statement.

Planned Parenthood did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday, but Democrats at the hearing defended Planned Parenthood and accused Republicans of convening the panel for political purposes.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, called the Republicans’ concern over consent forms a “red herring” intended to mask their opposition to “the underlying abortion decision, not the separate donation decision.”

“I know that at Planned Parenthood, only after providing consent for abortion is the patient given the option for tissue donation,” Mr. Nadler said. “Tissue procurement personnel are trained to obtain informed consent for tissue donation only after the patient has consented to the abortion procedure. There is no evidence whatsoever — is anybody aware of any evidence that any donors of fetal tissue have ever felt coerced?”

Ms. Hartzler said the form is “clearly unethical because it makes promises to the woman saying that this is going to result in cures and has resulted in cures for AIDS, cancer, Alzheimer’s, etc., which is totally false.”

“So women are already being told inaccurate information in order to induce them,” Ms. Hartzler said.

She cited the HHS Belmont Report, which established “ethical principles and guidelines” for research on human subjects. The section on “voluntariness” warns against using “undue influence” through “an offer of excessive, unwarranted, inappropriate or improper reward or other overture in order to obtain compliance.”

“Also, inducements that would ordinarily be acceptable may become undue influence if the subject is especially vulnerable,” says the report.

Mr. Harris also pointed out that the form gives no information or input to the donor — in this case, the pregnant woman — on which body parts will be used for research, which is not the case with adult organ donors.

“When I had to get consent from patients because we obtained human tissue at a Caesarean section, human uterine tissue, we normally exactly described the tissue and then really kind of exactly described what it was going for,” said Mr. Harris, an anesthesiologist.

When his wife died in 2014, “I got a call from the medical examiner’s office requesting donation of her brain,” Mr. Harris said. “It was a tough call, but they specified one tissue and they specified what was going to be done with it.”

The consent form is “authored by Planned Parenthood Federation of America and provided to affiliates in its Manual of Medical Standards and Guidelines,” according to the CMP.

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