Politics & Policy

Defunding Planned Parenthood Isn’t Enough

Planned Parenthood’s “National Pink Out Day” on the steps of City Hall in Los Angeles (Reuters: Mario Anzuoni/File Photo)
Criminal prosecutions may be warranted as well.

Both Congress and our country are mired in an inexhaustible debate over whether to remove Planned Parenthood’s federal funding as a result of its provision of abortion. The question we ought to debate is whether the group’s executives deserve to be prosecuted as criminals.

There is no shortage of evidence that Planned Parenthood clinics have repeatedly and systematically broken the law. The details of their wrongdoing began to emerge exactly two years ago, when the Center for Medical Progress released its grisly undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood directors haggling with prospective buyers over line-item prices for the fetal tissue of aborted babies.

Dozens of abortionists and technicians admitted on camera to altering abortion procedures to obtain more-profitable organs. Such alteration, along with accepting payments for fetal organs that are greater than reimbursement for their expenses, is strictly illegal under federal law.

Abortion defenders argue that the videos were deceptively edited to reflect Planned Parenthood in an unfavorable light. However, CMP released the full footage of its work in addition to the shorter highlight reels. Nonpartisan examination, as well as the research of a firm employed by the abortion group itself, revealed that this footage was not doctored in any meaningful way.

But the evidence doesn’t end with the videos. In January, a House Select Panel concluded a 16-month investigation into the fetal-tissue-trafficking industry, including Planned Parenthood. Despite the obstruction and noncompliance of abortion-industry leaders, the committee documented plenteous evidence corroborating the CMP footage.

The panel’s two reports determined that biotech firms such as StemExpress frequently partner with Planned Parenthood affiliates and place employees within their clinics to perform all fetal-tissue-related work: organ harvesting, packaging, and shipping. In these cases, any money Planned Parenthood accepted from the firms must have been profit, not reimbursement for expenses, because the firm was incurring all the related costs itself. Firms explicitly advertise such partnerships as a way for clinics to boost profits.

Planned Parenthood clinics have also infringed upon the privacy of vulnerable women, violating the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which guarantees the right to privacy and informed consent. Clinic leaders disclosed details about specific patients and their pregnancies to biotech employees so they could persuade certain women to donate their fetuses if those fetuses could be sold for a higher profit.

Directors at Planned Parenthood clinics modified abortion procedures to procure intact fetuses and obtain more money for their organs. Such altered procedures greatly increase the chance of an infant’s being born alive and perhaps being killed after birth. Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards testified before Congress that she had never heard of this occurring. But Planned Parenthood clinic workers disagreed; such procedures do take place.

These abuses were not limited to a few rogue clinics. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) had a national policy requiring affiliates to comply with all relevant federal law on the transfer of fetal tissue. Several affiliates failed to follow this policy, but when PPFA learned of these violations, the group canceled the policy instead of forcing compliance. It went on to alter its oversight procedures to allow those violations to continue. The national organization has also instituted abortion quotas, offering rewards to clinics that meet or exceed their abortion targets.

Because of these and other appalling findings, Congress referred several Planned Parenthood affiliates to the Justice Department, the FBI, and state-level law enforcement for further criminal investigation of its fetal-tissue practices. As we await further action, the truth about Planned Parenthood’s criminal activity continues to trickle out in drips and drabs.

Congress has yet to even remove this diabolical group’s federal funding.

A new CMP video this spring depicted Planned Parenthood employees describing having performed illegal intact partial-birth abortions and reporting their profitable partnerships to sell fetal organs. And this week, an undercover video showed a Planned Parenthood executive in Florida describing the protocol the group uses to cover up late-term dismemberment and partial-birth abortions, allowing for more-effective fetal-tissue harvesting.

It has been two years since the CMP first broke this story, causing an initial uproar as the public was disgusted by what it saw. But that outrage was swiftly swept under the rug by a combination of efficient Planned Parenthood PR and the complicit mainstream media. The news cycle moved right along to the next controversy, and the scandal was largely forgotten.

Today, Congress has yet to even remove this diabolical group’s federal funding. It is somehow a matter of serious controversy whether taxpayer money should cushion Planned Parenthood’s substantial bottom line.

The public disagreement is due in large part to the group’s insistence that it provides essential health care and almost never performs abortions. This is a blatant lie. Not only does Planned Parenthood perform over 328,000 abortions annually — nearly one-third of U.S. abortions, making it our country’s largest abortion provider — but it has conducted a multi-level operation to profit from the organs of the children its employees so casually slaughter.

Defunding this group can no longer be our endgame. As if its decades of annihilating children weren’t ghastly enough, Planned Parenthood has graduated to a new level of horror. And now we have evidence enough to ensure that its executives are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

— Alexandra DeSanctis is a William F. Buckley Jr. Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute.

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