“I think the American people know who Planned Parenthood is,” said one of its defenders when the videos from Center for Medical Progress began being published. Actually, it seems as though Americans are just getting their first clear look at the abortion-industry leader and the industry as a whole. Despite denials that organ harvesting provides significant income for abortion clinics, CMP’s latest video captures several people discussing the “fair amount of income” that clinics earn from tissue sales, including three from Planned Parenthood:
The video highlights conversations with Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, Senior Medical Advisor for PPFA; Dr. Vanessa Cullins, Vice President for External Medical Affairs for PPFA; and Deborah VanDerhei, National Director for the Consortium of Abortion Providers (CAPS) at PPFA.
“We’ve just been working with people who want particular tissues, like, you know, they want cardiac, or they want eyes, or they want neural,” says Dr. Westhoff to a prospective fetal organ buyer. “Certainly, everything we provide–oh, gonads! Oh my God, gonads. Everything we provide is fresh.” Westhoff continues, “Obviously, we would have the potential for a huge P.R. issue in doing this,” before offering to introduce the buyers to “national office abortion people” from Planned Parenthood.
Deborah VanDerhei is the National Director for CAPS, an influential committee within Planned Parenthood that drives abortion policy across the organization. VanDerhei refers to payments for fetal tissue as “donation for remuneration,” which carries the connotation of financial reward or benefit without regard for actual expenses. VanDerhei explains, “I have been talking to the executive director of the National Abortion Federation, we’re trying to figure this out as an industry, about how we’re going to manage remuneration, because the headlines would be a disaster.”
“Is this really worth getting–I don’t even know what in general, what a specimen generally brings in?” VanDerhei later asks a prospective buyer. When she is told $100 per specimen, she remarks, “But we have independent colleagues who generate a fair amount of income doing this.” VanDerhei suggests that Planned Parenthood goes to great lengths to avoid leaving a paper trail about their fetal tissue activity: “It’s an issue that you might imagine we’re not really that comfortable talking about on email.”
In a conversation recorded between VanDerhei and Vanessa Russo, Compliance Program Administrator for Planned Parenthood Keystone in Pennsylvania, Russo argues, “A company like this that wants to give our organization money for the tissue–I think that that’s a valid exchange, and that that’s okay.” VanDerhei nods her head up and down and affirms, “Mhm.”
It’s not as if Planned Parenthood is naive about the implications of exposure. Vanessa Cullins, their VP for external medical affairs, warns the undercover “buyers” to be careful about discussing organ sales, lest it “destroy” everyone involved:
Vanessa Cullins, the Vice President of External Medical Affairs, seems fully aware of the criminal exposure that fetal body parts sales present to Planned Parenthood: “This is important. This could destroy your organization and us, if we don’t time those conversations correctly,” she tells a prospective buyer.
If this was all above board, why would it “destroy” anyone? This sounds more like the discussions one would have in a criminal conspiracy rather than a legitimate reimbursement-for-costs relationship. It’s also worth noting that Deb VanderHei’s primary concern in her meeting with the “buyer” is “remuneration” — in other words, payment.
How does Planned Parenthood feel about laws against sales of fetal tissue? “Ridiculous,” says PPFA’s Vanessa Russo, who just happens to be a compliance officer for Planned Parenthood. “I don’t really think that we should participate in that level of discussion. … We should participate in valid ones.”
VanderHei tells Russo that the message from the symposium at which this discussion took place on fetal tissue sales was, “Go for it!” However, VanderHei also admitted that a Congressional hearing “scared the bejeezus” out of Planned Parenthood. Interestingly, she also calls allegations that clinics changed abortion procedures to harvest organs for sale a “fraud,” but Deborah Nucatola described those procedural changes in detail in CMP’s first video.
Yes, people are getting to know Planned Parenthood, and its despicable business practice in a despicable industry. And that’s what has Planned Parenthood frightened.