Cardinal O'Malley denounces Planned Parenthood for disrespecting human dignity

Credit: Vera Kratochvil (CC0 1.0).
Credit: Vera Kratochvil (CC0 1.0).

.- The Archbishop of Boston on Wednesday lamented the harvesting of fetal organs, which is at the center of a series of videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the practice, as a failure to respect human dignity.

“The recent news stories concerning Planned Parenthood direct our attention to two larger issues involving many institutions in our society,” Cardinal Sean O'Malley said July 29. “The first is abortion itself: a direct attack on human life in its most vulnerable condition. The second is the now standard practice of obtaining fetal organs and tissues through abortion.”

“Both actions fail to respect the humanity and dignity of human life. This fact should be the center of attention in the present public controversy.”

His comments come as a new undercover video shows a senior Planned Parenthood physician talking about the harvesting of organs from babies delivered before an abortion was performed at the clinic.

“Sometimes, if we get, if someone delivers before we get to see them for a procedure, then we are intact, but that’s not what we go for. We try for that to not happen,” Dr. Savita Ginde, vice president and medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said in the new video, of providing tissue procurement companies with “intact” body parts of aborted babies.

Cardinal O’Malley decried the practice described in the videos as part of the “throwaway culture” condemned by Pope Francis.

He also referred anyone who suffered “revived trauma” from previous abortions in watching the videos to the Church’s Project Rachel, a healing ministry for mothers who have had abortions.

The group releasing the videos, Center for Medical Progress, claims Planned Parenthood could be violating federal law if they performed abortions on second trimester babies born alive. They do not use drugs like dioxide to abort the child in those cases, the group maintained.

Later in the video, Ginde appears in a clinic lab poking through body parts in a petri dish. “Another boy!” a Planned Parenthood medical assistant announces as the body parts are spread around the dish.

The video is the latest in a series of reports on “Human Capital” by the citizen journalist group. It is the result of a three-year investigative study of Planned Parenthood and its transfer of body parts of aborted babies for money.

Previous videos showed top Planned Parenthood officials casually discussing the donation of body parts of aborted babies at the clinic to tissue procurement companies for “reasonable” compensation. In one instance, a doctor also floated the idea of altering the abortion procedure to have a better chance at extracting the organs intact, which could be a violation of federal law.

CMP has charged that Planned Parenthood has violated federal law banning the sale of body parts. Planned Parenthood has defended its practice, saying it is not making illegal profits and that it receives appropriate consent from mothers before offering the dead babies to procurement companies for research.

Federal law generally prohibits the selling of human tissue but allows for the donation of tissue with “reasonable payments” for the “transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control, or storage of human fetal tissue.” It explicitly prohibits the sale of tissue for “valuable consideration.”

In the first two videos Planned Parenthood officials were careful to articulate that the organization is not looking to make a significant profit from the transfer of body parts to procurement companies.

On the July 26 edition of ABC’s This Week, the organization’s president Cecile Richards insisted that Planned Parenthood has not broken the law. "We have the highest standards. The care and health care and safety of our patients is our most important priority,” she said.

In the third video, Ginde appeared saying that financial compensation “per item” rather than per baby would be better so “we can see how much we can get out of it.”

Ginde also talks at length in the latest video about ensuring the offering of body parts are offered for research and not as a business transaction.

“The only other thing that I would sort of be concerned about is are the other Planned Parenthoods doing this through research or are they just doing it as a stand alone contract,” she told the actors posing as members of a human biologics company. “Because, even though we’re doing it through research, if it comes up that someone else is doing it, just doing it as a business sort of venture, it puts a different spin on it.”

Listing the transfer for research also gives Planned Parenthood “an overhang over the whole thing,” she continued.

The organization’s lawyers have been building layers of legal protection for Planned Parenthood, she added, and she has been working to ensure the different affiliates have a unified narrative in offering the body parts to companies.

“We don’t want to get called on, you know, selling fetal parts across states,” she said. “How do we protect ourselves from that.”

The video is the fourth in an ongoing series from the Center for Medical Progress. The first video was released July 14 and showed the organization’s senior director of medical services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, describing in gruesome detail the practice of extracting the fetal organs from aborted babies.

The second video showed the president of Planned Parenthood’s medical directors council, Dr. Mary Gatter, flippantly discussing and joking about prices for body parts of aborted babies with actors posing as prospective buyers. “I want a Lamborghini,” she joked.

The third video featured testimony by a former technician for StemExpress, a fetal tissue procurement company, on her dealings with Planned Parenthood to obtain fetal tissue.

Congress has subsequently taken action against Planned Parenthood, with two House committees and a Senate panel investigating the organization for any violation of the law. The Senate has introduced a bill to prohibit any federal dollars from going to the organization and its affiliates, which will be voted on next week.

Rallies to defund Planned Parenthood, titled “#WomenBetrayed,” were held in over 60 cities on Tuesday, coordinated by the pro-life college outreach group Students for Life.

The organization’s 68 affiliates received over $500 million in federal funds in fiscal year 2013 according to its annual report, or 41 percent of the overall revenue of Planned Parenthood for America and its clinics.