In the past few days, a media firestorm has erupted over a heavily edited secret film that shows a Planned Parenthood doctor discussing the use of aborted fetuses for medical research and the reimbursement for transportation costs that accompany it. The right-wing has seized on it as proof of their atrocious smear campaign to paint the organization as “baby-killers” and diabolical flesh-peddlers rather than an agency that champions a woman’s agency over her own body and a critical source of gynecological healthcare for America’s women. Allow us to thoroughly debunk these ridiculous accusations:
The group that released the video, the grossly misnamed Center for Medical Progress, did not exist before May 2015. It was solely created to give some kind of legitimacy to this false propaganda. The three hour video was edited and cut to eight minutes in order to mislead viewers; Snopes.com analyzed the whole three hours and was unable to determine whether or not the claims against Planned Parenthood are true. The video was held for a year before it was released. The opening montage of former Planned Parenthood president Gloria Feldt condemning the apparent misconduct was from an entirely unrelated incident from ten years ago- and the issue at hand then was private sector companies that were attempting to purchase fetus organs from the hospitals and research labs that the tissues are sent to.
Fetus tissues and organs are commonly donated for research purposes, but only with the consent of the mother. The “gotcha” moment in the video clearly shows Dr. Nucatola discussing the “reasonable payments associated with the transportation, implantation, processing, preservation quality control, or storage of human fetal tissue.” The amounts cited are $30 to $100, which is absurdly low. A quick Google search reveals that on the black market, adult organs can fetch anywhere from $10,000 for a kidney to $312,000 for a lung. For being such purported lovers of the free-market, the extremist right-wing clearly has a very poor understanding of how it works.
While the graphic discussion of the procedures used to ensure the fetal organs are still in usable conditions are disturbing for us, they are commonplace for doctors and surgeons who are de-sensitized to such things, since they work with them every single day. It’s just part of the job to them, and they discuss them in a way that we would discuss any of our jobs. The CMP’s disgusting attempt to paint the doctors who work to save the lives of adults and let women exercise their constitutional rights do not deserve to be demonized by petty radicals who have never contributed anything to society themselves.
Planned Parenthood is vitally important to America and her people. In addition to providing crucial health services for women, they are a critical bastion of women’s rights and a protector of their agency to choose in a political climate that demonizes female sexuality and fights to impose a puritanical form of social control over half of our nation’s population. It is vitally important that we don’t let this pathetic smear campaign gain any more traction than the sensationalist media has already given it.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.