Ben Boychuk

Defenders resort to excuses and euphemisms for Planned Parenthood

Hanna Keller, 19, of Rocklin, center, joins a July 28 protest at Planned Parenthood in Sacramento over recent videos showing officials negotiating to sell fetal tissue.
Hanna Keller, 19, of Rocklin, center, joins a July 28 protest at Planned Parenthood in Sacramento over recent videos showing officials negotiating to sell fetal tissue.

With every video that comes out depicting how Planned Parenthood peddles aborted human remains, the rationales become more strained and the defenses more desperate.

So far, the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress has released five videos that show the grim and callous business of “fetal tissue donation.” The two most recent document abortion clinics as abattoirs, with infant parts filling lasagna trays.

In the face of such horrors, how do our elected leaders and judges respond? Not by probing deeply into Planned Parenthood, but by investigating and restraining the people who brought the horrors to light.

Attorney General Kamala Harris last month announced she would look into the Center for Medical Progress’ sources and methods, including its donors. Then U.S. District Judge William Orrick, responding to a complaint by two of the center’s targets, issued an injunction that prevents the group from releasing videos showing officials from the National Abortion Federation and the Placerville biotech firm StemExpress.

What do you suppose they want to hide?

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood’s defenders have resorted to every euphemism imaginable to deflect attention from what the videos show.

So we’ve heard that the organization facilitates medical research through the donation of “fetal tissue.” The term, though technically correct, muddles the truth. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior abortionist seen in the first video, spoke more candidly. “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver,” she explained, thanks to deft use of ultrasound.

Worse is “products of conception” – the preferred, antiseptic term for fetal remains. Not a human being – a product to be bought and sold.

In the most recent video, we learn that pricing a baby’s organs and limbs is “just matter of line items.” As for the cost, “We bake that into our contract.” Somewhere, Jonathan Swift is weeping.

Euphemisms simply won’t suffice. We’re not talking about a woman’s “right to choose.” We’re not talking about “products of conception.” We’re talking about what the choice means. We’re talking about innocents being sliced up and sold for parts.

Planned Parenthood is a $1.2 billion-a-year operation. About 40 percent of its budget comes from government funding. The abortion lobby insists that money is sacrosanct, and that abortions account for only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services.

The figure is misleading at best. Planned Parenthood derives that percentage by unbundling all of its services. So a woman who walks into a clinic for an abortion would also get, as a matter of course, a pregnancy test, a pelvic exam, perhaps an STD test, local anesthesia for the procedure, and a packet of birth control pills on the way out the door. All of those are counted separately, even though they’re secondary to the reason the woman is there in the first place.

The more illuminating number is 33 percent. That’s the percentage of revenue Planned Parenthood’s clinics earn from abortion services.

An even more telling number is 334,000 – approximately how many abortions Planned Parenthood performs in any given year, representing about 30 percent of abortions nationwide.

The fact is Harris is a politician who has never questioned left-liberal orthodoxy on abortion or anything else. And according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Orrick and his wife were major donors and bundlers for both of President Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns. Whose interests are they serving in trying to squelch the Center for Medical Progress? Not the public’s.

But it may not matter what Harris or the courts do. The videos will keep coming. Planned Parenthood’s defenders will run out of excuses. And when people of goodwill with abortion rights sympathies examine their consciences, Planned Parenthood may find public support is thinner than the “tissue” they’re selling.

Ben Boychuk is associate editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal. Contact him at

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