Politics, News

Is Planned Parenthood actually doing the unthinkable?

"Conservatives expected this to catch on like it’s 2010." But there's a little something called nuance.

An anti-abortion group released an undercover video showing an official at Planned Parenthood explaining in disturbing detail how to abort a fetus in a way that preserves its organs for medical and scientific research.

The big catch is that they’re charging money.

In both the edited and unedited versions of the video released by the Center for Medical Progress, two activists from the anti-abortion citizen journalist group posed as employees at a biotech company and spoke with Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical research. The Center for Medical Progress claims Planned Parenthood’s procedures violate the law since you can’t sell fetal organs.

Early reporting on this issue was limited exclusively to Republican websites, and fueled conservative outrage on social media. (“This is a shocking and horrific reminder that we must do so much more to foster a culture of life in America,” said Jeb Bush.) But what’s confusing is that Nucatola, as well as Snopes and Planned Parenthood’s subsequent press release, make it very clear that they’re not actually talking about selling organs. Instead, the $30 to $100 costs mentioned are explained as transportation fees.

“It just has to do with space issues,” Nucatola says in the full version of the video. “Are you sending someone there that’s going to be doing everything…is there shipping involved? Is someone going to be there to pick it up?”

It may be very well be as innocent as that: a donation to researchers with a reasonable fee for transportation. On the other hand, we have people like Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz calling for an investigation. Which might just be the first thing Cruz and I agree with.

Listen, I don’t support Planned Parenthood, if they really are breaking a law, but they’ve made it very clear that they ask for consent and operate ethically as well as legally. If an investigation is to be done, and their claims are legitimate, then all it does is clear up the confusion. If the accusations are accurate, then case closed.

What is definitely not OK is pro-lifers using gossip and media frenzy to press their beliefs.

As Politics USA has said, “Conservatives expected this to catch on like it’s 2010.” Well, it’s not. I think a lot of us are a little more critical than that, especially when the video originates from a group of citizen journalists that’s so strongly against Planned Parenthood in both founding and continued practice. (Curiously, the citizen journalist group’s web presence is just months old, and the video was apparently held for over a year before its release.)

A lot of media coverage is diving headfirst into reporting it as the truth for a shocking story, and I can only hope that it doesn’t destroy Planned Parenthood. The centers do far more than abortion (testing for STDs, breast cancer, etc…) and certainly have made a name for themselves, a very useful fact for women who are seeking for an abortion or any of the other medical services they provide. Furthermore, a lot of Planned Parenthood centers are literally shut down because of funding–if selling baby parts was as lucrative a business as everyone wants us to think, this likely wouldn’t be the case.

So stop freaking out. I’m just like you in that I have some reservations on calling bullshit. I’m down for an investigation, but I just don’t buy the hype. It seems more like conservatives calling wolf than anything, but we might just have to wait and see. For now, with the evidence presented to us, it just doesn’t look likely. Even if shipping costs were a gray area in the definition of “selling fetal organs”, the official statement says this:

“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.”

Of course, I know not everything can be believed. I’m not fully bought on Planned Parenthood’s business model either, and it definitely racist eugenics-supporting founder, but for the topic at hand we need keep a hold of our wits, and wait for the investigation. This is a little more complicated than what seems to be trending, and it makes me awfully angry to see pro-choicers be swayed without doing a little more research.