'Sting operation' reveals an ugly truth about the abortion business
The Planned Parenthood scandal in the US isn't about whether or not abortion should be legal. It's about medical ethics, big money politics and public morality. You can be pro-choice and still feel sick to your stomach about it.
A group called the Centre for Medical Progress (CMP) accuses the American abortion provider of selling terminated foetuses for money. Its case is based upon a series of undercover videos in which CMP activists, disguised as tissue brokers, discuss terms of purchase for medical experimentation.
The videos are repellent. In one, Dr Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical research, casually talks about crushing an embryo while she's drinking wine. In another, Dr Mary Gatter, the president of Planned Parenthood's Medical Directors' Council, says: "I want a Lamborghini!" There are shots of Planned Parenthood workers laughing over baby parts "mixed up in a bag". You can make out tiny arms and legs.
The organisation insists that it has done nothing illegal; patients are asked if they want to donate foetal material and any cash changing hands is to cover costs. They also say that the videos are selective and that the whole thing amounts to a conservative sting.
Yet the latest video lends strong support to two of the CMP's biggest claims. First, Melissa Farrell, director of research at Planned Parenthood's Gulf Coast branch clearly states on camera that the abortion procedure is adapted in order to extract foetal material. Quote: "If we alter our process and we are able to obtain intact foetal cadavers, then we can make it part of the budget." Alteration is accomplished by aborting the foetus in such a way that it is either removed from the mother intact or with one particular part left whole. This is illegal. Under federal law, medical operations must be conducted exclusively in the interests of the patient.
Second, Farrell not only discusses the alteration of the abortion but also how it can be costed: "We can make it part of the budget that any dissections are this, and splitting the specimens in to different shipments is this... it's all just a matter of line items." Some have inferred that Farrell is not only discussing how much is paid for body parts but how Planned Parenthood can maximise income by splitting the body parts up. If that is true then it is also illegal. Either way, while Planned Parenthood publicly states that the money is just a "donation", the language used in these videos ("line items") is far colder and acquisitive.
Remarkably, Planned Parenthood receives federal money to do what it does. A lot of money. Last year it got $528m (€482m) from the government, more than 40pc of its revenue.
Conservatives have launched an effort to defund it, but they have already suffered a setback in the Senate. Why? Well, partly because at the same time as the government gives a lot of money to Planned Parenthood, Planned Parenthood gives a lot of money to politicians.
Let's follow the money. The White House has indicated that Barack Obama will veto any bill to defund Planned Parenthood. In 2012, Planned Parenthood endorsed Obama and spent millions slamming his opponent. Obama once addressed the group and concluded by saying: "God bless you."
Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi says the Planned Parenthood scandal was manufactured by the Republican Party. She received $1,000 from the organisation during her recent re-election campaign. And Hillary Clinton has received 20 times as much in political donations from its employees than any other Democratic presidential candidate. If she wins in 2016, they'll have a gal pal in the White House. Ain't that grand? (© Daily Telegraph, London)