Wednesday, July 15, 2015


I'm sure every conservative you know is ranting and raving today about a newly released hidden-camera video that reportedly exposes a Planned Parenthood practice of "selling baby body parts." That's a mischaracterization, of course:
Abortion opponents on Tuesday renewed their campaign against Planned Parenthood, with immediate impact among Republicans in Congress and the presidential race, after the release of a video that surreptitiously captured an official from the group explaining how it provides fetal parts to medical researchers.

The video, from a little-known activist group called the Center for Medical Progress, appeared to have been shot in a California restaurant in July 2014. It shows a doctor from Planned Parenthood, over a lunch with red wine, answering questions from two people off-camera posing as potential purchasers of tissue from aborted fetuses. The doctor discusses with them, sometimes flippantly, the body parts most in demand.

While the video, which was circulated on the Internet, alleges that Planned Parenthood is guilty of the crime of selling fetal remains, the official tells her questioners more than once that the cost, $30 to $100, is reimbursement for clinics’ expenses.

“This is not something with any revenue stream that affiliates are looking at,” the official, Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, says in the video. “This is a way to offer patients the services they want and do good for the medical community and still maintain access.”
As a Planned Parenthood statement explained:
There is no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or for Planned Parenthood. In some instances, actual costs, such as the cost to transport tissue to leading research centers, are reimbursed, which is standard across the medical field.
The right is gunning for Planned Parenthood -- but if the right can't destroy Planned Parenthood, the right's going to destroy something. It may be a California biomedical firm that works with Planned Parenthood. This is from a Weekly Standard blog post:
... the Center for Medical Progress ...also released a copy of a flyer from StemExpress, a major purchaser of Planned Parenthood’s aborted fetal tissue. As the Center for Medical Progress notes, "This flyer advertises 4 different times the financial benefit that Planned Parenthood clinics can receive from supplying fetal tissue, with the words: 'Financially Profitable,' 'Financial Profits,' 'financial benefit to your clinic,' 'fiscal growth of your own clinic.' The advertisement carries an endorsement from Planned Parenthood Medical Director Dr. Dorothy Furgerson."
Breitbart readers are "informed" that this is blatantly illegal, but no one will enforce the law because of the mighty power of the abortion thugs:
Some will wonder how something that is apparently illegal goes on so openly. David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress told Breitbart News, “It is the Kermit Gosnell effect. There is simply a lack of interest in enforcing this kind of law because of abortion.”

... Daleiden said that while the practice goes on around the country, it is especially hard to prosecute in California because of the political power of the abortion industry.

The buying and selling of human body parts is illegal under the U.S. Criminal Code though companies can charge for expenses. The question becomes how a “multi-million dollar” for-profit company buys fetal body parts and sells them but makes no profit.

Repeated calls to StemExpress for a comment have gone unreturned. The company website crashed sometime today.
Yes, and the StemExpress site is still down, though you can read a very positive story about the company here, at the site of an organization that promotes Sacramento-area businesses ("Fast-Growing StemExpress Provides Clinical Specimens to Advance Research"). I'm sure right-wingers are hard at work even now trying to determine whether the company's executives donate to Democrats or have granite countertops.

In fact, commerce in human tissue and body parts is legal.
Federal law prohibits the sale of human organs and tissue for transplantation. The law is widely considered a total ban on the sale of all body parts, although it does not specifically address the conveyance of parts for medical education and research.
Even the right-wing Federalist site acknowledges this:
Despite CMP’s findings, if organs are not harvested “for the purpose of transplantation,” then what Planned Parenthood has done is legal. As reported by Joe Carter for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission:
... 42 U.S. Code 274e prohibits the purchase of human organs, including any organs derived from a fetus, for the purposes of human transplantation. Because the fetal tissue is likely to be used for research purposes rather than be transplanted into a living human, this law most likely does not apply.

42 U.S. Code 289g covers the prohibitions regarding human fetal tissue and states that, ‘It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce.’

In each of these laws, the term ‘valuable consideration’ does not include ‘reasonable payments associated with the transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control, or storage of human fetal tissue.’

... This law (42 U.S. Code 289g) prevents the solicitation of fetal tissue for transplantation and the ‘solicitation or acceptance of tissue from fetuses gestated for research purposes.’ What this means is that a buyer cannot solicit fetal tissue for transplantation or use tissue from a fetus that is known to have been created solely for the purpose of aborting the baby and extracting its tissue and/or organs.

But this seems to cover only human tissue that was acquired when the pregnancy was ‘deliberately initiated to provide such tissue.’ Tissue donated after an abortion for research purposes appears to be completely legal under federal law.
It probably doesn't matter. That flyer will probably lead to a right-wing fatwa against StemExpress that will bring the company down.

But here's the thing: Right-wingers want medicine to be fully capitalist. They hate "socialized medicine." Well, medical research requires human tissue, including fetal tissue from abortions that are, let's not forget, still legal -- but if a company wants to collect "reasonable payments" for introducing efficiencies into the process of getting such tissue from the people who have it to the people who need it, suddenly right-wingers are upset. (Federal law doesn't even prohibit exchanging this tissue for "valuable consideration" if the commerce doesn't cross state lines.)

You can't have it both ways, guys. Either you believe medicine should be steeped in capitalism or you don't. If this is legal and medically necessary, you should be standing up and cheering at the fact that StemExpress is receiving "reasonable payments" for facilitating the tissue transfers. Instead, you're going to make it part of your mission to see that the company is destroyed.


Professor Chaos said...

Of course the actual facts don't matter a bit, just ask ACORN.

Victor said...

Prof Chaos beat me to it.

Never let facts get in the way of a good '2-minut... 2-hou... 2-da... 2-wee... 2 mont...'
Ah hell, let's call it what it is:
"A perpetual hate!"