Texas officials have announced no less than three separate investigations into Planned Parenthood's operations in the state on the heels of an undercover video shot by an anti-abortion group that claims the abortion provider sells fetal organs for profit.
An anti-abortion group called the Center for Medical Progress released an eight-minute sting video on Tuesday showing a top Planned Parenthood executive discussing how the organization provides fetal organs and tissue to medical researchers:
To be sure, what's discussed in the video is unpleasant and off-putting, but your stance on abortion will likely determine exactly how you view what's discussed here. Either it simply shows Planned Parenthood Federation of America Senior Director of Medical Services Deborah Nucatola bluntly talking about the legal process for donating tissue to facilitate research that can save lives, or it's proof abortion providers harvest organs from aborted fetuses for profit.
Clearly, officials in Texas see the latter. On Wednesday, state Attorney General Ken Patxon announced his office has launched an investigation into Planned Parenthood in Texas, accusing the organization of the “calculated slaughter of human babies to maximize the available body parts they plan to sell.” The video by the anti-abortion group, he says, “offers a glimpse into an organization that knowingly and deliberately destroys human life to further its bottom line.”
The state Health and Human Services Commission announced Wednesday that it's also investigating the allegations against Planned Parenthood, as is the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Two U.S. House committees have also announced their own investigations into the claims against the abortion provider.
Planned Parenthood, meanwhile, has dismissed the allegations, saying Nucatola was simply discussing the legal process of tissue donation. While federal laws exist to prohibit the sale of organs or fetal human tissue, they don't ban reimbursing medical practitioners for costs associated with, say, quickly transporting tissue or organs for medical research.
“In health care, patients sometimes want to donate tissue to scientific research that cn help lead to medical breakthroughs, such as treatments and cures for serious diseases,” said Eric Ferrero, vice president of communications for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a written statement. “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.”
To be clear, the primary sources so far posted to the Center for Medical Progress' “document vault” don't exactly prove that any PP clinics profited from fetal tissue donation. The anti-abortion group claims PP affiliates in California made $86,400 from tissue donation in just one year; they arrived at this number by citing one document showing one clinic in San Jose was reimbursed $450 for donation costs on one day, then multiplied it across four clinics and 48 weeks.
A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast said Wednesday that local affiliates don't even participate in the kind of tissue research described in the video that's spared a nation-wide controversy this week. “While Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast doesn't currently provide this service, it is a standard practice in the medical community," Rochelle Tafolla, said in a statement. "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 who have abortions are no different."
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