Law & the Courts

Video: Planned Parenthood Top Doctor Caught Discussing Sale of Aborted Baby Parts

Hidden-camera footage released today shows Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, appearing to describe how the abortion provider sells human body parts obtained from abortions.

In the video, actors with the Center for Medical Progress, which describes itself as a “group of citizen journalists monitoring and reporting on medical ethics,” pose as buyers for a human-biologics company at a business lunch. During the meal, Nucatola describes the way she and other doctors at Planned Parenthood affiliates modify abortion techniques to harvest organs from aborted babies:

“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact,” Nucatola says in the video.

She further explains:

I’d say a lot of people want liver. And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they’ll know where they’re putting their forceps. The kind of rate-limiting step of the procedure is the calvarium, the head is basically the biggest part. Most of the other stuff can come out intact. It’s very rare to have a patient that doesn’t have enough dilation to evacuate all the other parts intact.

Federal law prohibits the sale or purchase of human fetal tissue “for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce.”

Nucatola says that while Planned Parenthood’s national organization has considered directly partnering with companies supplying human tissue to researchers, its legal department believes “it’s too touchy an issue for us to be an official middleman.” But, she says, that hasn’t stopped individual affiliates from entering the market or discussion about “finding all the people that are doing this and present everybody with a menu.”

“I will tell you that behind closed doors these conversations are happening with the [Planned Parenthood] affiliates,” Nucatola says.

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Nucatola tells the prospective “buyers” in the video that the price range for human tissue harvested from abortions is “anywhere from $30 to $100 [per specimen].” She adds that Planned Parenthood abortion clinics need to be careful about charging too much: “They just want to do it in a way that is not perceived as, ‘This clinic is selling tissue, this clinic is making money off of this.’”

Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, a national pro-life group, called for an “immediate congressional investigation into the alleged atrocities.”

“This video provides a shocking reality check about the grisly, inhumane business model of Planned Parenthood,” Yoest said in a press release.

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Planned Parenthood’s federal funding has been a contentious issue for years, with pro-life groups accusing the abortion provider of illegally using funds allocated for “reproductive health care” for abortions. A Government Accountability Office report released earlier this year confirmed that hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funds were being funneled to Planned Parenthood and other groups who perform abortions, which they say they use for advocacy and other health services..

The release of the video comes amidst an ongoing effort from Republicans in Congress to pass a national 20-week abortion ban, which Planned Parenthood, of course, opposes. The video is the first of a series the Center for Medical Progress plans to release on what David Daleiden, the project’s head, describes as Planned Parenthood’s “criminal conspiracy to make money off of aborted baby parts.”  

Planned Parenthood did not immediately return National Review’s request for comment.

UPDATEPlanned Parenthood’s vice president of communications Eric Ferraro released the following statement in response to the video:

In health care, patients sometimes want to donate tissue to scientific research that can help lead to medical breakthroughs, 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 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.

A well-funded group established for the purpose of damaging Planned Parenthood’s mission and services has promoted a heavily edited, secretly recorded videotape that falsely portrays Planned Parenthood’s participation in tissue donation programs that support lifesaving scientific research. Similar false accusations have been put forth by opponents of abortion services for decades. These groups have been widely discredited and their claims fall apart on closer examination, just as they do in this case.


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