“These grizzly practices take place behind the closed doors of the abortion and scientific communities. There are powerful forces conspiring to keep this information from the public and the media, with the supposed conviction that they are protecting a woman’s right to choose.” – Vicki Evans
When the Planned Parenthood videos were released, Vicki Evans, who did her 2009 graduate thesis on the financial ties of abortion, was not at all surprised. She wrote about things such as fetal trafficking years ago. Now she says, “One of the issues that’s emerged with the undercover Planned Parenthood videos is Planned Parenthood’s relationship with fetal procurement agencies. [also called fetal parts buyers].”
For fetal procurement agencies, it’s all business, Evans says.
When a business opportunity presents itself, a new industry will surely emerge to satisfy the need. The fetal parts industry could not have developed without a legal and protected abortion structure.
This is something Dr. Deborah Nucatola talks about in the first video when she says that Planned Parenthood has “established” relationships with fetal procurement agencies such as Stem Express and Novagenix. But Evans says the practice goes back even farther in time.
American researchers have engaged in fetal tissue research since the 1930’s. Fetal tissue transplants first became successful in 1968. Cells taken from fetuses aborted in the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s were used to develop a number of childhood viral vaccines. But the real controversy involving fetal tissue research began after Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, because the prevalent source of tissue used for research was from electively aborted fetuses.
Realizing that this area had to be regulated, the National Institute of Health Revitalization Act was signed by President Clinton in 1993. This is the legislation mandating that fetal tissue cannot be sold and that money can only change hands to cover expenses associated with the procurement of the tissue. It also sets out detailed informed consent guidelines; the guidelines adopted by Planned Parenthood in its consent forms.
And once they get consent, the abortion clinics and fetal procurement agencies are in business — a vastly unregulated business, as there is no definition of what “reasonable” expenses are. Evans writes in her thesis:
When abortion became legal in the United States, no one anticipated that it would give rise to a tremendous market in fetal parts, tissues and cells. Campaigns advocating for a woman’s right to choose never looked beyond the stated motivation—a desire for legal access to abortion—to the collective forces representing the creation of emerging markets. (10)
And there is profit in that market. In her thesis, Evans writes about an article published by the Christian Research Institute Journal in 1992, which says:
Abortion clinics stand to reap a substantial increase in revenue simply from the small amount (on average $25 per organ, multiplied by the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed annually) that the nonprofit acquisition organizations offer. The financial incentives to “recruit‟ fetal tissue donors would be significant.
Moreover, there are numerous noncash inducements that are difficult to detect and impossible to adequately police that would be especially appealing to poor and minority women. For example, the clinic could offer a “discount” on the abortion procedure itself or promise to provide future medical care for a specified time following the donation of the tissue. With the anticipated profitability of the industry once the technology can alleviate a larger number of diseases, there will be increasing pressures to “share the wealth‟ produced by these transplants.
And Nucatola describes how buyers work with the clinics that get these donations:
[T]hey want to hear you basically say, other than taking up a little bit of space, this is going to be as low impact as possible, on you and your flow. You’re going to need a room, somewhere to consent the patients, once the patient is ready to be consented. So you’re going to need space in the lab, you’re going to need a place to consent. That’s it, otherwise, as long as you don’t leave anything behind, they’re going to be happy. There are affiliates who have been doing this for so long, they have staff that are so good at it, they may just say, that it’s something that staff can do. Especially because you know, they know how to identify some stuff. They probably wouldn’t know how to identify the stuff you need. They’re looking for basically, all of the limbs a thorax, a head, to present them, “We’ve got it all.” That’s the only concern. (Video, 35:15)
The affiliate with the largest research budget, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, is one Nucatola mentions in the discussion with the buyers in the first video, and in light of Evans’ research, it becomes clearer that this nonprofit industry could certainly be turning a profit, as the Center for Medical Progress asserts. The discussion on the Gulf Coast affiliate is significant.
Buyer: I did see online that the Gulf Coast affiliate as well already does donation services-
PP: They do a ton of research, so I wouldn’t be surprised if-
Buyer: So, I don’t know if that’s in conjunction with a tissue procurement organization or if they work directly with researchers or if they’ve already got it covered and there is no need for us but-
PP: I can ask. Of all the affiliates they have the largest research program, they have a multi-million dollar budget. I think they are very well connected. I’ll ask. (Transcript, p. 16)
This is really not a secret if you look at the Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast research page, which looks more like a university research page. Nucatola then discusses similar things about other affiliates who have established relationships to fetal procurement agencies, including Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. While advising buyers where they might be able to procure fetuses, Nucatola says:
I’ve never actually asked, because that’s a decision that’s not actually made by me. But, it’s an established relationship [PPLA with Novagenix], I don’t imagine that it’s going to change in the short term. Which, is why I think Family Planning Associates is an option because they go from Bakersfield, all the way down to Orange County, so pretty broad range. They definitely go to 18 weeks, and at some sites, a little higher than 18 weeks. (Transcript, 6-7)
Nucatola and other Planned Parenthood officials talk about the fetuses as if they are just some lab sample to be acquired, which is exactly what these babies are to abortion clinics, fetal procurement wholesalers, and researchers. And yet, although we have laws on the books regulating sales and profits, none of them have been monitored closely enough. Evans says:
So the fact that these fetal tissue procurement businesses exist and are active in the abortion industry should have been no surprise to the government…. But like many pro-life laws, enforcement has just never been a priority.
Now the history which Evans wrote about in 2009, detailing the years of fetal tissue sales before that, is current controversy just six years later. Perhaps the cliché about studying history fits well here: Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.
(Editor’s Note: This is Part Three in our Fetal Parts for Sale series. In part four of our interview with Evans, we’ll she what she says about “fetal farming.”)