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

John Burger - published on 07/22/15

Yes, the increased medical risks are always there. The later the gestational period is, and the bigger the baby is, the riskier it is. A lot of this evidence came out during the partial-birth abortion litigation. My law partner, Nicholas Nikas, and I were directly involved in defending state partial-birth abortion bans. There was medical evidence that explains many of the reasons why partial-birth abortion is so dangerous. Partial birth abortion, also known as “intact D&E," involves flipping the baby from a head first into a feet first position, then pulling the baby out feet first, leaving only the head in. At that point they pith a hole in the spine and suction the brain out of the baby’s skull. Investigators will have to look into the details, but it sounded like Dr. [Deborah] Nucatola [senior director of medical services for Planned Parenthood Federation of America] was describing a procedure that seemed very similar to partial birth abortion. So that’s something else that investigators would have to verify, because it would be a separate federal law that is in question.

What happens to these body parts? Who purchases them, and for what reason?

There are apparently brokers, there are middlemen, who actually go in and sometimes send representatives to induce the women to sign the consent form, inducing them into killing their children with the prospect of helping science. Once they get these consent forms and the woman has the abortion procedure, the clinic workers try to ascertain the organs that are usable, or the broker sends someone to find the organs that are usable, and they fill orders from researchers, whether they are at universities or institutions. I have reviewed requisition forms for fetal eyes, fetal hearts, fetal livers, all kinds of organs and tissues.

So that’s one of the biggest questions on whether the law is being broken or not, namely, as to whether there is financial profit. In America, brokers don’t set up shop unless there is a profit to be made, and these videos raise the question of whether brokers are promoting that same profit incentive to Planned Parenthood clinics. The victims are the women who are being manipulated, and the children whose bodies are used for parts. 

What are your thoughts about some of Planned Parenthood’s defense in response to the Center for Medical Progress?

I think that it was remarkable that the only problem that Cecile Richards had was the tone of Dr. Nucatola. In a world where we’re killing millions of unborn children and incentivizing women who will then pay with their own psychological troubles for the rest of their lives, it’s remarkable that she is so insensitive that they admit, “Yeah, we engaged in this process, and we’re just sorry for her tone.” She should be sorry for the women and children whose lives she has destroyed.

Are there important revelations from the second video?

The second video seems to shed more light on the alleged profit incentives of both Planned Parenthood and the fetal organ broker. It’s very helpful to show that that was a negotiation, just like any other contract negotiation. It’s interesting how at the end of the video, the representative of Planned Parenthood agreed on $100 per specimen, unless she found out that other clinics are getting more, in which case she would want more “compensation.”  And of course she ended with the flippant statement that she wants a Lamborghini. That statement is strong evidence that it is about making a profit, and that it’s not about reimbursing expenses. If this were only about reimbursing actual expenses, then why is the Planned Parenthood doctor negotiating a price? If this is about negotiating expenses, she would simply need to say “Look, this is the cost of our expenses, and you will need to reimburse that.”  This seemed to be a negotiation for profit, and that’s why I think the state and federal investigations have strong reasons for going forward.  In the meantime, Bioethics Defense Fund is available to consult with state or federal policy makers who agree that this evil practice should be completely prohibited.

John Burger is Aleteia’s news editor.


Bioethics Defense Fund,, is a public interest legal and educational organization whose mission is to put law in the service of life.  BDF attorney Dorinda Bordlee can be contacted at or 504-231-7234.

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AbortionPlanned Parenthood
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