Last week, an anti-abortion organization, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a heavily edited nine minute video of a three hour lunchtime meeting with Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Senior Director of Medical Services Dr. Deborah Nucatola claiming to have “proof” that the organization was harvesting fetal organs and selling them for profit. However, the entire premise for the video is false: Planned Parenthood did nothing illegal. Journalists and news outlets have said the video is deceptive and lacks integrity and that everything said in the video stands up to the law.
The voluntary donation of fetal tissue is a standard practice in medicine, both for women giving birth and those who choose. Researchers rely on stem cell tissue from fetuses, umbilical cords, and placentas for research of cancer and genetic disorders. Prior to a medical procedure, patients give consent to donate their tissue and medical centers participating in donation programs are reimbursed for the cost of transporting the tissue, not the tissue itself.
Yes, the casual way in which Dr. Nucatola speaks about making minor changes to an abortion procedure to preserve fetal hearts and livers over lunch and a glass of red wine is a jarring image for some to watch. But that doesn’t make it “proof” that Planned Parenthood was guilty of anything other than falling for a highly organized smear campaign by an organization seeking to put them out of business. On Thursday, Planned Parenthood’s President Cecile Richards released a video apologizing for Dr. Nucoatola’s tone, and maintained that Planned Parenthood’s practice is within the strict guidelines of state and federal laws and all high quality healthcare guidelines for tissue donation.