If you’ve ever had dinner with surgeons, you know that ‘shop talk’ among doctors and nurses can be quite gross for outsiders. People who work with the human body often find themselves falling into restaurant discussions which can disturb or revolt non-medical civilians with the graphic details of procedures and illnesses. I will never forget the experience of listening to a pair of Army doctors eat MREs and chat matter-of-factly about the diarrhea and incontinence some soldiers were suffering due to a virus that was burning through the brigade during a field exercise. In fact, I was lying on a table receiving intravenous hydration at the time, because I was one of those soldiers — yet I was still disgusted by their conversation.

Which brings me to the big fake news item of the day. In another example of the forced-birth lobby’s total dependence on lies, squeamishness, and emotionalism to overcome the inertia of scientific and medical fact, forced-birth activists have produced a James O’Keefe-style video purporting to show a Planned Parenthood abortion provider discussing an illegal trade in fetal tissues. The problem with that narrative? It’s just not true. As Planned Parenthood explained in a press release today, Senior Director of Medical Services Deborah Nucatola was discussing the collection of fetal tissues for scientific and medical uses — an activity that’s 100% legal and has been going on for decades.

In health care, patients sometimes want to donate tissue to scientific research that can help lead to medical breakthroughs, such as treatments and cures for serious diseases. Women at Planned Parenthood who have abortions are no different. At several of our health centers, we help patients who want to donate tissue for scientific research, and we do this just like every other high-quality health care provider does — with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards. 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.

In social media, blogs, and right wing news outlets, the fact that Nucatola ate lunch while discussing this practice is seen as the height of immorality and proof of some sort of character flaw. One wonders what they might think if she had been discussing hysterectomies, bladder cancer, or any number of medical topics that outsiders might find off-putting. They should definitely never, ever try eating in a hospital cafeteria. Perversely, her apparent skill at conducting procedures so that useful tissues are not destroyed has also been re-framed as evidence of monstrous behavior, but most of us would hope to have someone so talented in the operating room when it’s us on the table.

Of course, it’s illegal to actually sell aborted fetus tissues in the United States — but that’s not what Planned Parenthood does, and the prohibition is just further proof of the outsize political power of the forced-birth lobby. In the United States, it’s completely legal to sell the products of other surgical procedures and cadaver parts:

There are several groups in this business, including Science CareAnatomy Gifts Registry and BioGift Anatomical.

Generally speaking, here’s the upside of these groups: They pay to have your body transported to their facility, and with the parts that are not used in research, they pay for cremation and to have the ashes returned to your family (some will, if you prefer, distribute them at sea). This can save your family a lot of money.

The downside: You don’t know where your parts will go. “We don’t guarantee that we can use the body in any specific research program, and that’s because our research is always changing,” said Kristin Dorn, community relations manager at Science Care. “Your intent is to donate to science, not a specific research project.”

While it’s illegal to steal pieces of a corpse, and there are ethical requirements to obtain consent, the sale and re-use of human tissues for research and surgery is actually quite common in the United States. Dentists use powdered human bone to treat patients, for example, and plastic surgeons use human cadaver skin to enhance lips.

Grisly stuff? Bad mealtime conversation material? Maybe, but it’s also scientifically and medically sound — and it’s not against the law. Just like abortion.

An abortion procedure is only as gross and disgusting to watch or describe as, say, an appendectomy, or a gall bladder removal, or hip replacement surgery, another procedure which often results in donated bone tissues. These tissue donations also involve reimbursement, but carry nowhere near the same kind of stigma. Forced-birth activists play on this revulsion for our interior biology with those big, fake pictures of aborted fetuses at their protests and bleating slogans such as “abortion stops a beating heart.” It’s all about distracting you from their control-freak agenda of denying every woman’s right to self-determination.

  • Creamsicle

    You are ignoring half of the accusation. Nucatola describes how she uses a partial birth abortion technique to preserve the organs that researchers are interested in. Partial-birth abortion is illegal and changing your abortion procedure in order to harvest organs is illegal even if you do not make a profit.

    • Just because you CALL it “partial birth abortion” does not make it so. In fact, it just highlights how unscientific and ridiculous that whole meme really is. I can’t think of another medical procedure where “small government conservatives” want to intervene so badly in the private decisions of patients and doctors.

      • Creamsicle

        “Partial birth abortion” has a legal defintion (18 USC 1531). Her actions either meet that definition or they do not regardless of what I call it. Explain why they do not meet that definition.

        I am no hard-core pro-lifer but the small government position is very consistent here. The philosophy of small government conservatives is that the purpose of government is to protect the rights of the individual. This is especially important the more powerless the individual is to protect themselves. So yes, from the small government perspective, the government should be getting involved in the decisions of patients and doctors when the patients and doctors are conspiring to end the life of this powerless individual.

        • “the more powerless the individual is to protect themselves”

          Gobbledygook. This is not an individual, it is a clump of tissue.

          • Creamsicle

            Anyone can say that about any law they don’t like.

            I don’t agree with pro-lifers that fetus is a person, but there is no objective definition of personhood. In addition that picture is not a 20-24 week fetus like those discussed in the video:

            http://assets.babycenter.com/ims/2014/11/fetal-development-week-21.jpg

            http://assets.babycenter.com/ims/2014/11/fetal-development-week-24.jpg

          • So it has fingers and eyes. I still say that until the woman with that inside her calls it an individual or person, it’s not.

            This has eyes and digits. I say it is still not a person. What do you think?

          • Creamsicle

            You misunderstand. I don’t personally believe that a fetus is a person. I think personhood comes with birth. But I am self-aware enough to know that my position is subjective and reasonable minds can view any human organism as a “person.” Your position is no more obvious or right than theirs.

            Oh and that picture is a dog embryo. Come on.

          • I’m so glad that you recognize the dog fetus and that you’re smarter than to believe partial-birth abortion is a genuine issue. It’s crap.

            The accusation is also crap. The doctor is using her best tools and skill to leave key organs undamaged. She is to be praised for her ability IMO.

          • Dug Inn

            Thanks for defending everyone’s reproductive freedom, Matt!
            “Keep on keeping on!!!”

          • PlumDumpling

            There is an objective definition of personhood. A legal person is born or a corporation.

          • Creamsicle

            I know you are joking but it is true that some statutes have a definition of “person.” The Constitution, of course, does not.

            As it happens, freedom of speech and freedom of press are not limited to persons in the Constitution.

          • PlumDumpling

            All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

          • Creamsicle

            I am not sure what you are replying to. Are you saying that the above is a definition of “person” or are you trying to imply that the above limits freedom of speech to persons. Both are incorrect.

            That is a quote of the 14th Amendment, granting citizenship to anyone born in the United States and subject to the US jurisdiction. It doesn’t limit personhood to those who are born. If it limits anything, it limits citizenship to those who are born.

            The First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

            The only mention of persons or people is in the right of assembly, not in the freedom of speech, press or religion.

          • PlumDumpling

            A legal person is born. Or a corporation. Let me put it another way:
            http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/26/us/colorado-fetus-lawsuit/index.html

          • Creamsicle

            Maybe if you actually explained your point in your own words instead of relying on others things would be more clear. The legal status of a fetus for various laws, including wrongful death, varies by state. Most states allow a wrongful death suit for the killing of a fetus.

          • PlumDumpling

            A legal person is born.

          • Creamsicle

            Are you familiar with the concept of a “conclusory statement”? Merely saying something again and again doesn’t make it so.

          • hicusdicus

            If you are a liberal it does.

          • hicusdicus

            It usually involves killing the mother also.

    • Cait McKnelly

      What she described in the video is not a “partial birth abortion”. In fact, PBA doesn’t exist and never has and is a “made up” procedure. What she is describing is a dilation and evacualtion where the fetus is already dead. And no, changing the procedure itself to enhance procurement of organs or tissue for transplant or research purposes is NOT illegal in any way. Surgeons who harvest organs for those purposes do it all of the time whether it’s a fetus or a child or an adult.
      The video disgusts me in the way it’s edited to present something in the very worst possible light and twist it into something that it isn’t. They start out with 15 year old video and go from there like it’s some “dramatic” presentation. It’s a deliberate hatchet job that is presented in an almost gleeful “gotcha” way done by some VERY slick propagandists using techniques developed by Joseph Goebbels. I remember taking a class in college back in the 80s where one of his anti Semitic propaganda movies was screened and analyzed. This video hits every mark.

      • Creamsicle

        “Partial Birth Abortion” is the legal term for the medical procedure known as intact dilation and evactuation or dilation and extraction. Because of partial birth abortion is now prohibited in the US, the doctors kill the fetus first before performing the dilation and extraction based on their understanding of the statute. Reading the statute, it appears to me that they are correct but they would have to be sure that the fetus was actually dead.

        42 USC 289g-1 requires the attending physician to sign a statement declaring (among other things) that “no alteration of the timing, method, or procedures used to terminate the pregnancy was made solely for the purposes of obtaining the tissue.”

        • Nice attention to detail.

        • Cait McKnelly

          Every attorney I know (some of whom are actually specialists in reproductive rights law) has stated that the definition of “Partial Birth Abortion” as definied in the law does not exist and has NEVER existed or been legally done by any duly licensed practioner in the entire history of this country.
          PBA is NOT the “legal term for IDE” and IDE is NOT illegal. In fact, IDE is done in many cases of in utero death at the request of the woman so the family has an intact body over which to mourn.
          You have repeatedly displayed your complete ignorance of two things; the law and how abortions, especially late second and third trimester abortions, are done. Either that ignorance is real or it’s false disingenuousness to propagandize. If it’s real, I suggest you do some REAL research that isn’t connected to “LifeNews”. If it’s false, understand that I, for one, will NOT be gaslighted.
          *mic drop*

          • Creamsicle

            I’m sorry but you have been either misinformed or have misunderstood those attorneys. Partial Birth Abortion was made illegal in the state of Nebraska in the 1990s. The statute was challenged as unconstitutional by a Nebraska physician, Dr. Leroy Carhart who performed the procedure on patients when he felt is was safer for the mother. Dr. Carhart won that battle, and the Supreme Court struck down the law as unconstitutional in the case of Stenberg v. Carhart https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/530/914/case.html. I suggest reading this case and the briefs filed by the American Medical Associationand other physicians groups in the case.

            The federal ban which was past shortly after, was modeled after the Nebraska ban but with key exceptions designed to pass constitutional muster and it was upheld by the Supreme Court in another case also brought by Dr. Carhart (Gonzalez v. Carhart).

            Dr. Carhart said that he performed 10 to 20 PBA/IDEs a year and as of 1999 the lowest estimates had 600+ PBA/IDEs being performed in the US annually. If PBA’s never existed (and Nebraska and the Feds were banning something that didn’t exist) no one told Dr. Carhart, the AMA, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, or the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, among other groups that filed briefs on either side in those cases.

            Obviously since PBA was banned by the federal government it no longer occurs (at least openly). IDEs where the fetus is not already dead prior to passing through the cervix are not illegal. Therefore, doctors today try to kill the fetus chemically before doing the IDE (if the fetus isn’t already dead).

            *picks up mic and hands back*

          • smh

            Nope you are misinformed, creamsicle.

            ” H-5.982 Late-Term Pregnancy Termination Techniques

            (1) The term ‘partial birth abortion’ is not a medical term. The AMA will use the term “intact dilatation and extraction”(or intact

            D&X) to refer to a specific procedure comprised of the following elements: deliberate dilatation of the cervix, usually over a

            sequence of days; instrumental or manual conversion of the fetus to a footling breech; breech extraction of the body excepting the

            head; and partial evacuation of the intracranial contents of the fetus to effect vaginal delivery of a dead but otherwise intact fetus. This

            procedure is distinct from dilatation and evacuation (D&E) procedures more commonly used to induce abortion after the first

            trimester. Because ‘partial birth abortion’ is not a medical term it will not be used by the AMA.

            (2) According to the scientific literature, there does not appear to be any identified situation in which intact D&X is the only

            appropriate procedure to induce abortion, and ethical concerns have been raised about intact D&X. The AMA recommends that the

            procedure not be used unless alternative procedures pose materially greater risk to the woman. The physician must, however, retain

            the discretion to make that judgment, acting within standards of good medical practice and in the best interest of the patient.

            (3) The viability of the fetus and the time when viability is achieved may vary with each pregnancy. In the second-trimester when

            viability may be in question, it is the physician who should determine the viability of a specific fetus, using the latest available

            diagnostic technology.

            (4) In recognition of the constitutional principles regarding the right to an abortion articulated by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade,

            and in keeping with the science and values of medicine, the AMA recommends that abortions not be performed in the third trimester

            except in cases of serious fetal anomalies incompatible with life. Although third-trimester abortions can be performed to preserve the

            life or health of the mother, they are, in fact, generally not necessary for those purposes. Except in extraordinary circumstances,

            maternal health factors which demand termination of the pregnancy can be accommodated without sacrifice of the fetus, and the near

            certainty of the independent viability of the fetus argues for ending the pregnancy by appropriate delivery. (BOT Rep. 26, A-97;

            Modified and Reaffirmed: CSAPH Rep. 3, A-07)

            AMA, “HEALTH AND ETHICS POLICIES OF THE AMA HOUSE OF DELEGATES”

          • Creamsicle

            No, you are just misunderstanding what I wrote (or what the AMA wrote). I didn’t say that PBA was a medical term. It is not. It is a legal term used in various statutes to refer to a medical procedure that was being done. The AMA is insisting on using the medical equivalent to PBA which is intact dilation and extraction or “D&X.” The above statement you quoted from the AMA was the AMA’s opinion, in disagreement with Dr. Carhart and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, that D&X/PBA is rarely, if ever, necessary (not that it was never performed, it was performed by Carhart!),

  • karl dubhe

    A century and a half ago they really did steal corpses from the cemeteries, and paid people to do that. The doctors today aren’t nearly as ghoulish as they used to be.

    Abortion is messy, if you don’t want one then take precautions to make sure you don’t get pregnant. If you don’t like the pill, go on an implant of some sort. If you really hate condoms, don’t have sex with anyone.

  • PlumDumpling

    These are the rules about abortion Jesus followed.

    Jewish law not only permits, but in some circumstances requires abortion. Where the mother’s life is in jeopardy because of the unborn child, abortion is mandatory.

    An unborn child has the status of “potential human life” until its head has emerged from the mother. Potential human life is valuable, and is not to be terminated casually, but it does not have as much value as a life in existence. The Talmud makes no bones about this: it says quite bluntly that if the fetus threatens the life of the mother, you cut it up within her body and remove it limb by limb if necessary, because its life is not as valuable as hers. But once the head has emerged, you cannot take its life to save the mother’s, because you cannot choose between one human life and another. – Jewish Virtual Library

    • hicusdicus

      What if it comes out feet first?

      • smh

        At that time – any time prior to the last 100 years really – a breech birth would be a death sentence for both the woman and baby.

        • hicusdicus

          Okay, knew that. Was just making a humorous comment to my plumb dumpling. I like to poke at her cause she is fun.