Guest post by Elizabeth Yuko (Fordham University)
Yesterday, a group that calls itself the “Center for Medical Progress” released a video which shows a Planned Parenthood doctor discussing various aspects of the fetal tissue donation process. Filmed undercover and heavily edited, the video has been touted as proof that Planned Parenthood sells fetal body parts for a profit.
Indisputably, the for-profit sale of fetal tissue and organs is unethical and illegal. That, however, is not the situation described in the video.
Federal law, along with Planned Parenthood protocol, requires all fetal materials to be collected only with informed consent from the woman. Ultimately, fetal tissue donation is only one potential outcome for the materials resulting from the termination of a pregnancy – and one that has the potential for wide-reaching benefits resulting from research.
According to a statement released by Planned Parenthood, there is “no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or for Planned Parenthood. In some instances, actual costs, such as the cost to transport tissue to leading research centers, are reimbursed, which is standard across the medical field.”
If the fetal materials discussed in the video were, in fact, being sold for a profit, the transaction would likely involve far more than the $30-100 the doctor cited.
Moreover, much of the media coverage of this issue further stigmatizes those who have sought abortions for a wide spectrum of reasons – many of which are medical. For women who make the multi-faceted decision to end a pregnancy, the knowledge that the fetal tissue will be used for research and has the potential to help others may be comforting.
The financial transaction described in the video – which, regrettably, features the doctor speaking conspicuously casually about the process – is standard compensation for shipping and processing costs. No one is profiting financially. The women who donate fetal tissue shouldn’t be vilified for their decision.