Features Australia

It’s a liver!

A US scandal has abortion doctors offering a macabre menu of baby body parts

25 July 2015

9:00 AM

25 July 2015

9:00 AM

Yet another abortion ‘scandal’ has hit headlines in the US. Using the familiar hidden camera recording genre, pro-choice activists posed as representatives of a ‘foetal tissue’ business. Over a white tablecloth lunch they discussed with Dr Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s national medical director, how abortionists might profit from selling the organs of aborted babies, and how they might supply the apparently insatiable demand for baby body parts.

Some media outlets are pretending there’s nothing to see here. Associated Press tweeted in true Orwellian fashion: ‘Anti-abortion group release video showing Planned Parenthood official discussing disposition of fetal remains.’ Others captured more of the gravity of the situation, describing it as sickening, ghoulish, and horrifying. And so it is. Online there is a well-edited nine-minute video, as well as the full two-hour version which is not exculpatory (despite what abortion advocates suggest). To some commentators the most horrifying aspect was that the in utero tearing of the body apart with surgical instruments was being discussed so nonchalantly over red wine and a delicious-looking salad. There was also liver on the menu, although we’re not talking about pâté de foie gras. That particular abdominal organ (‘intact’, if you please) is so hot right now that neither the limb-buyer nor Dr Nucatola could stop talking about it. At one point she suggests being provided with a daily ‘menu’ of requisite organs and limbs. Then she takes another sip of the red.

And while the restaurant in which all this takes place looks rather expensive, body parts, it seems, are not. Like the a la carte menu resting on the table, prices for intact hearts, lungs, livers, ‘lower extremities’ (which, according to the doc, are ‘simple. I mean that’s easy’) and even whole ‘intact bodies’ apparently range from $15 and $100, ‘depending… on what’s involved.’ The abortion industry and its dutiful advocates in politics and the media claim that what’s involved is simply honouring the requests of women who want ‘their tissue’ donated to science. The abortion providers are merely being reimbursed for their time and expense. ‘No commercial gain here, and how dare you suggest it!’ But make no mistake: this is a business lunch. ‘They just want to do it in a way that is not perceived as, “This clinic is selling tissue”,’ says the doc. ‘In the Planned Parenthood world, they’re very, very sensitive to that.’ That much is true. But as the video makes clear, the prices being discussed have nothing to do with covering out-of-pocket expenses, and everything to do with demand of the market that vulnerable women and their helpless babies, will supply. Abortionists, we are told, will even change the way they do the abortion (ensuring, by way of an ultrasound, for example, that certain organs are not crushed) if they realize the commercial ‘end game’ and know what the buyer requires that day.

This story is fast becoming another Kermit Gosnell. He was the Philadelphia abortion doctor sentenced two years ago to life without parole for murdering with scissors three babies who were born alive in his filthy dungeon of a clinic (the Grand Jury noted the facility was contaminated with animal excrement, and body parts were stored in ‘bags, milk jugs, orange juice cartons, and even in cat-food containers’). The truth is, however, he performed thousands of illegal abortions and killed hundreds of born alive babies. The case rightly horrified America, and those same adjectives – sickening, ghoulish, horrifying – were appropriate. Then there’s the heinous procedure known as partial-birth abortion, in which babies are, as the term suggests, mostly born; they come out feet first and typically have scissors inserted into the back of the head just before the birth is complete, and before the baby takes a breath (which, in most jurisdictions is the legal definition of being born alive) so it can’t be classed as murder.

But while stories like this may rouse the media into action – or inaction, depending on whether it’s Fox or AP – they miss the most basic point. Abortion is a gruesome business. In this case the emphasis is on business, but let’s go back to gruesome. The true horror of abortion is not that abortionists make money out of it, or even that they make extra money selling the dismembered bits. It’s not even that some late-term abortions happen when viable babies are seconds and centimetres away from taking their first breath. In fact, at the risk of sounding beyond crass, partial birth abortions with a quick blade to the top of the spine seem, frankly, more humane than being progressively ripped apart by euphemistically named ‘embryotomy scissors.’

The true horror is that, whether we’re on the wrong side of the tracks in Philadelphia, or in the abortion quarter of Sydney’s Surry Hills, or in a salubrious medical suite in Macquarie Street, abortions are taking place, and taking the lives of babies, children. In 2013 a cover story in the liberal New York magazine featured more than twenty ‘My Abortion’ accounts. Almost all of the women, despite the abortion lobby’s supposedly scientific ‘clump of cells’ rhetoric, speak of ‘my baby’– even where the mother claims no regrets. The author wrote that ‘abortion is something we are more comfortable discussing as an abstraction.’ Indeed. The pro-life movement must continue to recognize the contexts from which so many women find themselves in such distress that they see abortion as the way out, even if that means the death of a baby and this should reinforce the importance of crisis pregnancy centers, and of caring for these women even if they don’t choose life for their babies.

Stories like those of Dr Nucatola and her macabre menu remove the abortion abstraction that allows us to comfortably tolerate what we all know is a gruesome business. But aborted babies don’t remain abstract. Their faceless memories haunt countless mothers, and should haunt entire nations where scientific progress values a baby’s ‘intact liver’ but not the child itself.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10

Show comments