About those Planned Parenthood videos | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

About those Planned Parenthood videos

Posted By on Tue, Aug 18, 2015 at 10:44 AM

Most of us probably aren't going to watch every second of the unedited eight hours of footage of Planned Parenthood videos shot by anti-abortion activists. For those interested, however, I thought this summary and analysis by Sarah Kliff over at Vox was very helpful.  It's a thorough and balanced look at what the footage does, and does not, show. Planned Parenthood officials seem genuinely interested in the good that can come out of fetal tissue research, and they have a right to be reimbursed for the cost of providing tissues and organs to researchers. On the other hand, at least one (but not all) of the nonprofit's officials seem too cavalier about bargaining over the correct reimbursement price. And at least one (but not all) of the officials seemed open to ethically gray areas around slightly altering procedures in order to preserve tissue for research. 

There is zero evidence from these videos, however, that Planned Parenthood is selling fetal tissue or organs for profit, as many Arkansas Republicans have claimed in arguing for an illegal termination of the state's Medicaid contract with the group. That's a bit of propaganda that seems to have simmered on from the original, heavily edited releases. 

Ultimately, what you think about the videos is going to come down to what you think about fetal tissue research to begin with. From my perspective, it's obvious good, which will contribute to saving and improving lives in the future — and so it makes sense to make it affordable, via proper reimbursement, for abortion providers to provide fetal tissue for researchers (and abortion providers do need to be vigilant about operating ethically around doing so, including when it comes to gray areas around in-kind contributions). For others, the very idea of fetal tissue research is appalling. And for still others, of course, this isn't really about fetal tissue at all. It's about abortion, which some opponents consider to be the murder of innocent babies.

Diehard opponents of abortion who are arguing that now we need to defund Planned Parenthood are just using the videos to push for what they wanted all along. They consider the organization to be evil because it's an abortion provider, regardless of fetal tissue research. 

People who believe that fetal tissue research, or abortion itself, is morally evil, aren't going to change their minds about Planned Parenthood watching this footage. But there is no evidence for the claims that many of them have made — in particular that Planned Parenthood is profiting off of selling fetal tissue and organs (which would be against the law). The videos show nothing of the kind. Meanwhile, numerous states, launching their probes, have come up empty on this accusation; the federal Department of Health and Human Services also told Congress that there were no violations of the law regarding fetal tissue research. I highly recommend Kliff's piece for a cogent and detailed summary of what actually is in the footage. 

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