The president of Planned Parenthood, on defense and trying to stem the tide of investigations into her organization’s operations like that announced by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Thursday, has tossed a staffer who was caught on an undercover video under the bus.
PP President Cecile Richards released a new video Thursday boasting about Planned Parenthood’s “full range” of health care services such as cancer screening, birth control and abortion. And she said the organization offers “much more,” by supporting millions as they “build their futures.”
But she tried to distance herself, and the organization, from the recorded statements of Deborah Nucatola, the head of Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Medical Services Division.
She was caught on video describing how Planned Parenthood sells the body parts of aborted unborn children and uses partial-birth abortions to harvest intact parts, statements that have even those who traditionally support the abortion business recoiling.
The scandal was revealed in the following video:
It was released by the Center for Medical Progress, and reveals Nucatola of Planned Parenthood at a business lunch with a man and a woman posing as buyers from a human biologics company.
The full, unedited video, from which the shorter version was taken, is here:
Richards noted that Nucatola, without mentioning her by name, didn’t have the proper “compassion” when she was speaking about dismembering unborn babies and crushing certain parts of their bodies to leaves others uncrushed, and therefore usable.
“This is unacceptable and I personally apologize for the staff member’s tone and statements,” Richards said.
She explained, “In the video, one of our staff members speaks in a way that does not reflect that compassion. … As always, if there’s ever any aspect of our work that can be strengthened, we want to know about it, and take swift action to address it.”
The original video has been on fire on the web, with millions of people viewing it. Most GOP presidential candidates were harshly critical of Planned Parenthood and several governors as well as members of Congress immediately called for investigations of the abortion industry giant.
That wave continue to gain strength on Thursday, with a announcement from Indiana Gov. Mike Pence about an investigation in his state.
Indiana Right to Life spokeswoman Cathie Humbarger said, “The pro-life community is outraged by the video that shows a Planned Parenthood executive casually discussing the harvesting and trafficking of aborted baby body parts.
“We are grateful for Gov. Pence’s leadership. No Hoosier wants aborted baby body parts illegally obtained and sold. We believe this investigation requested by Gov. Pence into Planned Parenthood’s practices is important for the dignity of aborted babies and their mothers.”
The governor’s own statement said he was directing the state Department of Health and the state attorney general to investigate.
He’s also copied federal prosecutors in the state on his request.
“Every Hoosier should be deeply troubled by allegations that Planned Parenthood affiliates are engaged in the trafficking of human remains. If true, this is not only illegal, it is morally reprehensible,” he said. “Under federal and state law, the buying or selling of human body parts is a felony and, as governor, I have an obligation to make sure this is not happening in Indiana.”
He continued, “Whatever one’s view on the issue of abortion, Hoosiers can be assured that we will make certain that this appalling practice is not taking place in Indiana.”
See Richards’ statements:
WND reported only a day earlier that the video’s statements were so egregious that even Planned Parenthood backers were recoiling.
Arit John, writing in Bloomberg, noted that there have been many criticisms of the production of the video itself.
“But even if the legal accusations don’t hold up, Nucatola discusses how she and other providers potentially change the way they perform abortions when they have the needs of the research community in mind,” John wrote. “‘We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact,’ she says in the video.”
“That has caused some doubts, even among people who support abortion rights,” John wrote.
At the New York Times, Northwestern University professor Laurie Zoloth described it as “terribly disturbing because the physician seems to be engaged in a transaction in which the goal is to extract tissue to meet the needs of a company, rather than being focused on the core purpose of her clinic, which is to provide a safe medical procedure.”
Zoloth continued, “The doctor seems extraordinarily cavalier … Having this discussion over a meal, while drinking what appears to be wine, takes this further from the realm of professional clinical medicine and into the realm of business.”
She said, “The specter of cutting up and using hearts and lungs and legs from aborted fetuses disturbs even supporters who are pro-choice. The physician seems in the video to be unaware of this basic moral problem.”
John wrote that the release raises a lot of questions.
“Is Planned Parenthood illegally profiting off the sale of fetal body parts? According to the full video, probably not. Are Planned Parenthood officials violating medical ethics rules by changing the way they perform abortions to preserve body parts for research? Unclear. And, is this enough to launch a concerted effort on the right to defund Planned Parenthood and hurt its efforts across the country? Possibly. After all, it was a series of similar undercover videos that prompted Congress’ most recent failed attempt to block taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood.”
Planned Parenthood has released several statements saying that the “claims are flat-out untrue.”
At the Chicago Tribune, Red Huppke, who admits supporting Planned Parenthood and abortion, said the organization needs to speak up.
He cited the statements by Nucatola, who said, “I’d say a lot of people want liver. And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they’ll know where they’re putting their forceps.
“So then you’re just kind of cognizant of where you put your graspers, you try to intentionally go above and below the thorax, so that, you know, we’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m going to basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”
Wrote Huppke, “To the average person, it’s horrifying to watch someone discuss the procedure in such a cavalier manner. In parts, Nucatola comes off as a monster. In a world where controversial videos spread like a contagion on social media, embedding images in people’s minds, perception can render facts irrelevant. Regardless of the source or the manner in which the recording was obtained, this video will affirm many of the worst fears of Planned Parenthood’s critics and sway others who weren’t sure quite where they stand.”
Huppke continued, “I fully support women’s reproductive rights and believe Planned Parenthood – which provides far more than just abortion services – is a good organization that helps women across the country. I also understand the passionate opposition to abortion and respect the fact that, for many, abortion is inherently immoral and the use of tissue from an aborted fetus, regardless of what good might come of it, is the continuation of an immoral act.
“The Center for Medical Progress and other anti-abortion activists are, of course, doing all they can to make this video seem as macabre and damning as possible. They’re making allegations that don’t stand up to scrutiny, but the truth is that the video shows a pragmatism that many, even those who support a woman’s right to choose, will find discomforting.”
And Kyle Wingfield at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said, “The video casts doubt on that part about the ‘highest ethical and legal standards’ being in place. In the video, Nucatola is heard talking about avoiding the ‘perception’ Planned Parenthood clinics were making money.”
He quoted, “Some might do it for free. (Others) want to come to a number that it doesn’t look like they’re making money. They want to come to a number that looks like it is a reasonable number for the effort that is allotted on their part.”
He then cited Nucatola’s comments about dollars and cents.
“That’s not exactly calculating or reimbursing actual costs, or ensuring any charge for the organs is strictly a break-even amount. One would think that an organization as large and scrutinized as Planned Parenthood would have protocols for its clinics to use in setting these kinds of prices, to ensure there’s no room for confusion. But the concern, as relayed by Nucatola, seems to be only making the price ‘reasonable’ so no one asks questions. The federal law banning fetal-tissue sales refers to ‘valuable consideration,’ so a legal question would be whether there’s enough margin between the (apparently un-calculated) cost the clinic incurs and the ‘reasonable’ price it charges to qualify as ‘valuable consideration.'”