Abby Johnson And Debunking The Planned Parenthood Tangled Spin Machine

abortion money screen-shot-2011-06-27-at-3-30-10-pm

Cover image from abortion.ws

Just like everyone else who leans right, this writer has some well-meaning leftist friends who are pretty dependable when it comes to posting information meant to dispell any anxiety in liberal la la land caused by the extreme right-wing (whatever that is).  In the last week, two of them have been busy posting apologetics for Planned Parenthood and “unspinning the spin” that seems to be making them dizzy.

On the same day that the second video was released from the Center for Medical Progress showing a Planned Parenthood official haggling with potential brokers for baby body parts – all for the cost of storage and transportation even if the facility doesn’t actually do that – FactCheck.org, a website run by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania,  published a piece that obviously took some time to produce, but was just a day late to actually be credible beyond wishful thinking.

…the full, unedited video they cite as evidence shows a Planned Parenthood executive repeatedly saying its clinics want to cover their costs, not make money, when donating fetal tissue from abortions for scientific research.

Four experts in the field of human tissue procurement told us the price range discussed in the video — $30 to $100 per patient — represents a reasonable fee. “There’s no way there’s a profit at that price,” said Sherilyn J. Sawyer, the director of Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s “biorepository.”

Here’s the problem with that: why haggle over price and it being mutually satisfying, as the second video demonstrates, if there’s no profit in it?  Wouldn’t the Planned Parenthood people have worked out a set price if the cash was utilitarian?

At one point in the [first] unedited video (which was also released by the group), Nucatola says: “Affiliates are not looking to make money by doing this. They’re looking to serve their patients and just make it not impact their bottom line.”

Nucatola also says, “No one’s going to see this as a money making thing.” And at another point, she says, “Our goal, like I said, is to give patients the option without impacting our bottom line. The messaging is this should not be seen as a new revenue stream, because that’s not what it is.”

By definition, money coming in is a revenue stream, and serving patients without impacting the bottom line…without this revenue, would Planned Parenthood seriously not be able to serve their patients?  The federation’s profits are over a million dollars for the entire country annually (and the $500 million in cash from the government isn’t listed on their Charity Navigator page in FY2013, because that money goes to the affiliates as health services grants and reimbursements, not the parent organization according to p. 23 of the most recent annual report for FY 2014.  Sneaky).  That is the defense that FactCheck.org grabbed…before they knew the second video was coming.

At the same time, many Americans are wondering just how brazen can people be to flaunt Federal Law that carries with it penalties of $500,000 and ten years in jail if caught.  Well, according to Planned Parenhood refugee, Abby Johnson, there’s a loophole.  She explained it to the Washington Times.

“The law currently states that there can be moneys exchanged as long as they fit under certain categories like preservation, collection, storage, transport, etc.,” Ms. Johnson said. “And the law says there is not a maximum amount that can be charged or a minimum amount but that costs cannot be prohibitive. And that’s very subjective.”

So, just like is done in the grant writing community where overhead is subjective, Planned Parenthood could set a price higher than is really necessary for “preservation, collection, storage, transport, etc.”  Except that the physicians were talking about specific organs….  At any rate, Ms. Johnson also explained that this sort of collection of tissue and transfer to research facilities is not out of the ordinary.

“At my affiliate, we did abortions at the time up until 16 weeks. You can begin harvesting fetal tissue at approximately eight weeks,” Ms. Johnson said. “Organs are present earlier, but you can’t really decipher them until about 12 weeks. That’s not all of the organs, but some of the larger ones, you can pick those out and say, ‘OK, this is a liver.’ And that’s usually around 12 weeks.”

Johnson claims that once the day was finished, the staff would pack up what was salvagible, put in some dry ice and “ship them off.”  In other words it happens all the time.  Why?  Because women sign the consent form for it to happen.  They are convinced donating the baby to research will do somebody good someday.

From an ethical standpoint, doing this with miscarried babies – as that is God’s will – is a completely different matter.  This writer knows many people whose angels were donated to science.  

However that does not change that not many companies do this sort of work.

Arthur Caplan, director of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Department of Population Health, also raised the issue of high transfer costs, telling Reuters that only a few companies collect the fetal tissue and that “they charge a lot for it.”

“I’m not sure people who donate it realize that,” Mr. Caplan added.

And that is the loophole activists like Abby Johnson say is exposed right along with Planned Parenthood with these videos.

“They [clinics] could say, ‘Well, it’s more difficult for me to harvest a brain than it is for me to harvest a kidney, so that collection fee is going to be $1,000 for a brain, whereas it’s only going to be $400 for a kidney,’” Ms. Johnson said. “And the problem is that it’s so subjective, the amount of money that can be charged. That’s really where we need reform.”

The Planned Parenthood spin machine has been working overtime to rescue the organization from the work of the Center for Medical Progress.  The problem, though, is that even the uncut videos with protestations of “we aren’t making any money” are belied by the facts.  Planned Parenthood can still charge what ever they want for the organs even if the excuse is to better serve their patients and make their financials come out even.

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About the Author

Cultural Limits
A resident of Flyover Country, Cultural Limits is a rare creature in American Conservatism - committed to not just small government, Christianity and traditional social roles, but non-profits and high arts and culture. Watching politics, observing human behavior and writing are all long-time interests. In her other life, CL writes romance novels under her nom de plume, Patricia Holden (@PatriciaHoldenAuthor on Facebook), and crochets like a mad woman (designs can be found on Facebook @BohemianFlairCrochet and on Pinterest on the Bohemian Flair Crochet board). In religion, CL is Catholic; in work, the jill of all trades when it comes to fundraising software manipulation and event planning; in play, a classically trained soprano and proud citizen of Cardinal Nation, although, during hockey season, Bleeds Blue. She lives in the Mid-Mississippi River Valley with family and two cute and charming tyrants...make that toy dogs.

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