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Planned Parenthood’s Organ Harvesting Should Be Outlawed, Says Bioethics Lawyer

John Burger - published on 07/22/15

Dorinda Bordlee on second video and the latest revelations

The pro-life group Center for Medical Progress released a second stealth video Tuesday in which a Planned Parenthood official discussed the sale of fetal organs and tissues. Dorinda Bordlee, vice president and senior counsel of the Bioethics Defense Fund, a bioethics law and policy organization that advocates for human rights from beginning to end, said Planned Parenthood is "commodifying" unborn human life and that trafficking in fetal organs and tissues should be outlawed.

Bordlee spoke with Aleteia Tuesday.

What do you find especially troubling about the secretly-filmed videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue and organs?

In addition to laying bare the horror of abortion in general, the videos raise serious questions about how Planned Parenthood is commodifying human babies and using the process of research to incentivize women to have abortions.

But they say the women who sign the consent forms have already made the decision to have an abortion.

With elective abortion, until the woman is actually in the room and the abortion has been completed, she can always change her mind. Many women go into Planned Parenthood clinics wanting information, and they have not made that final abortion decision.  So it seems to be highly unethical for a Planned Parenthood employee to say, “Well, you could do good for science by donating your baby’s body,” because that would induce them to do something they might not otherwise have chosen to do.  There’s just an inherent coercion by presenting a pregnant woman with the option of fetal organ harvesting at all, and that’s why Bioethics Defense Fund president Nikolas Nikas and I believe that the practice of organ harvesting from elective abortion is completely unethical and it should be completely illegal. We’re working on model legislation for the federal government and the states to prohibit this practice completely. 

What’s the history? How long has it been legal?

In the early nineties, people who support legalized abortion pushed through a federal law that permitted research using “human fetal tissue" regardless of whether it was obtained from a miscarriage or an induced elective abortion.  However, there is a companion law that makes it unlawful for any person to “knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration.”  The term “valuable consideration” could be manipulated to hide profits because it is defined as not including “reasonable payments associated with the transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control or storage of human fetal tissue.”  

These items are all fungible.  Because the law says it is unlawful to profit from the sale of organs, Planned Parenthood’s response was, “Look, we’re not selling the babies’ organs, we’re just setting the price for the use of our facilities, storage time, the time it took us to farm through the parts and decide which ones are usable and which ones are unusable.” It’s really just a shell game and a fiction and it’s not ethical at all. That’s why it needs to be made totally illegal to trade in fetal body parts for any reason, especially when those body parts are coming from an elective abortion.

Regardless of whether Planned Parenthood is found to have received valuable consideration or not, investigators will likely pay close attention to other provisions of those federal laws including the provisions about obtaining informed consent, and the alleged practice of using an alternate procedure of abortion that is more dangerous to the mother in order to keep the fetal organs intact.

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AbortionPlanned Parenthood
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