Much of the debate swirling around the undercover Planned Parenthood video focuses on whether Dr. Deborah Nucatola’s comments actually indicate that the organization is selling fetal parts for profit, or if she is simply discussing ordinary costs associated with a tissue donation program, as Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards asserts.
Though the video is accused of being “heavily edited,” and, therefore, deceptive, the full version, which is readily available, actually reveals a disturbing story of working the donation system in a way that benefits Planned Parenthood and doesn’t focus on the patients it serves.
Throughout the full video, Nucatola gives advice to the buyers on how to offer “business” services to abortion clinics. A main piece of advice? Give the clinics money for the fetal parts, and then, offer to dispose of their excess abortion tissue without making it look like profit is the motive.
The full-footage video reveals where much of this excess “tissue” is coming from. Nucatola admits that a vast number of second trimester abortions are occurring. While the abortion industry tries to focus on early first trimester abortions, often indicating that later abortions are much rarer, Nucatola’s comments reflect that second trimester abortions are commonplace, and that the number of third trimester abortions will likely increase at Planned Parenthood.
Repeatedly, the buyers and Nucatola discuss how late a clinic does abortions and focus their discussions on doing business with clinics that do second trimester abortions. Nucatola comments on how Dr. Matt Reeves, Medical Director of the National Abortion Federation in Washington, D.C., has “good volume” on second trimester abortions.
And that volume – which Nucatola indicates is an issue for clinics – leads to the affiliates’ need for help in disposing of the remains. This, Nucatola notes to the buyers, could be a prime business opportunity:
“Yea, there was a session on that at NAF, because it is a serious issue. That’s a service that affiliates need, so I think some affiliates are looking at it as a way – it’s not obviously going to account for everything, not everyone is eligible, not everyone is going to donate, you can’t take everything, but that has raised an issue so, I don’t know if that is ridiculously far-fetched, we’ll handle all of your tissue.”
“Even if you could find a way to do that, can I just tell you? Even if there were people who weren’t donating, you’d have huge business just for taking the tissue. People would pay you. They would just say, ‘Take my tissue!’ Then, you could only send off what you wanted to send off, but you would still have to consent the patients though. It’s just something to keep in the back of your mind.”
Did you catch that? If they buyers could take all the tissue, Nucatola says they would have “huge business” just for that service. Indeed, she says, “at the end of the day – that’s going to win you business.”
The more legally concerning way Nucatola says this can happen, is by “bartering more about services, than money.” It’s particularly concerning because she adds: “[Y]ou can make it even better to their bottom line by giving them services in kind instead of money. I think a lot of them will take you up on that. That would definitely get people. Say, ‘I’ll give it to you for the same price, and I’ll do that. … [T]hat would be a huge sell, a huge, huge sell.’” In that statement, Nucatola is advocating for the buyer to offer a flat-out profit to the abortion clinics: “the same price” and tissue disposal. A two-for-one deal, so to speak.
Nucatola explains why these in-kind service methods of payment are so important, saying that the affiliates are looking for ways to not impact their bottom line. While some may interpret this as not profiting, in the context of the conversation, it seems to actually indicate that if it doesn’t show up on the bottom line of reported cash flow, the affiliate can do the “huge business” without it looking like it’s earning a huge profit. It’s these nuances that will be the most difficult to prove in coming days, but there are certainly enough doubts to merit the pending investigations.
In fact, an attempt to barter for in-kind services so that one’s bottom line is not affected brings up the issue of potential tax fraud and/or defrauding the IRS. Perhaps the IRS is yet another government entity that should be investigating Planned Parenthood.
This part of the discussion is also where Nucatola discusses the costs of waste-removal services such as Stericycle, the main company that disposes of fetal parts. Fetal tissue disposal is subject to very strict laws, and can be expensive, Nucatola explains. Thus, if the buyers can take all of the waste for disposal and cut out Stericycle as the expensive middle man, the abortion clinics are happier. While this must also be proven, it hints at benefit and plenty of money saved – a profit – for the abortion provider.
In-kind services are a type of payment that, in this case, goes beyond a legal reimbursement, yet because no cash money would exchange hands, it could prove hard to trace. Nucatola’s suggestion here is that the buyers actually do the specialized work that a biological waste company would do — all for purposes of gaining the fetal tissue, and all for a better price for the clinics.
“[I]n the perfect world if you could find a way to help them deal with their biological waste, pathological waste, they would love that.”
Many argue the video doesn’t prove Planned Parenthood harvests and sells fetal parts for profit. Yet the evidence must be given a harder look.
While the videos and documents The Center for Medical Progress has indicated are forthcoming are likely to provide additional evidence, the federal and state investigations underway will presumably seek to get to the bottom of the questions of profit and/or altering the way an abortion is done in order to procure certain organs intact. Both are violations of federal law, and will be investigated in depth in coming days and months.
The investigations must pay special attention to Nucatola’s suggestion of additional in-kind service payment for fetal parts – on top of a monetary payment. If her advice has been followed, profits have been made, and Planned Parenthood will be implicated.