Over the past three months, a series of videos exposed Planned Parenthood’s ghoulish practice of harvesting and trafficking of aborted babies’ body parts.
Congressional investigations are underway and will expose the extent to which this organization may have violated federal law with regard to the sale of human body parts for profit, altering the abortion procedures used so as to enable the collection of body parts, and partial birth abortion.
The investigations into potential violations of federal law aside, the videos depict a callous disregard for the victims of abortion, which include both the mothers and their unborn children. They raise grave ethical issues involving putting additional revenue streams and profits ahead of women’s health.
The videos are not for the faint of heart, but I would argue that no one with a heart can fail to be profoundly moved by what the videos expose. The language is grotesque:
“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part.”
“A lot of people want intact hearts these days.”
“Well why don’t you start by telling me what you’re used to paying?”
“Using a ‘less crunchy’ technique to get more whole specimens.”
“I know I’ve seen livers, I’ve seen stomachs, I’ve seen plenty of neural tissue. Usually you can see the whole brain usually come out.”
“I don’t think it [the body parts] would be as war-torn.”
“And another boy.”
When shipping an intact head, “tell the lab it’s coming. You don’t want them to open the box and go “Oh God.”
“So you know there are times when after the procedure is done that the heart is still beating.”
“We’re going to procure brain … so what you do is you go through the face …”
Our Declaration of Independence acknowledges certain rights that are inalienable: the right to life is first and foremost for a reason. Indeed, President Kennedy pushed back against those who would undermine this fundamental precept of our country when he recognized that “the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe–the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”
Planned Parenthood’s acts of selling baby body parts are near the bottom of the slippery slope that began when the Supreme Court walked away from the bedrock principles of our nation. This debate is not just about an organization’s practices. More basically, it is about hearts that will never get to love, lungs that will never get to breathe, brains that will never get to solve tough problems, legs that will never get to run and play. It is about doctors changing medical procedures to provide for an additional revenue stream, with no benefit to the woman.
The Planned Parenthood videos bring a simple question into sharp focus: should an organization that performs more than 300,000 abortions a year, leading to practices such as those documented in these videos, have the privilege of receiving more than $580 million in taxpayer funds? I don’t think so.
As a prolife member of Congress, I am responding to these devastating videos. I applaud the Committees on Energy and Commerce, Judiciary, and Oversight and Government Reform for their launch of hearings into this matter. I have signed onto letters stating that Planned Parenthood should be defunded. I have called on the Department of Justice to fully investigate their alleged illegal trafficking of baby body parts, and co-sponsored legislation to defund this organization.
Further, federal funds should be reallocated to facilities that truly help women, that provide them with life-affirming alternatives, and that do not promote abortion. There are 13,540 non-abortion providing Federally Qualified Heath Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) across the country. They provide women with essential health services, like mammograms, which not one of Planned Parenthood’s 665 locations provides. There are twenty comprehensive health care clinics for every Planned Parenthood, and, other than abortion, Planned Parenthood does not offer a single health care service that is not offered by other health care centers. Planned Parenthood boasts that it served 2.7 million patients last year, but FQHCs alone served 21.1 million.
It is true that the issue of abortion is divisive and unsettled in the minds of many, but so too are many issues we face in society. That alone is not reason to shy away from the principle that every human life has immeasurable value worthy of protection under the law, regardless of the stage or state of one’s physical development. In a compassionate society, this principle is particularly important to uphold for the most vulnerable among us – for those whose voices cannot be heard.
Those of us who value life during all its stages have an obligation to work to defund Planned Parenthood as long as even one of their clinics provides even one abortion. Human beings and human body parts are not commodities. Becoming numb to what has been exposed in recent months is simply not an option. We must fight for every mother and child being harmed by these abhorrent practices, and that is what I intend to do until we have accomplished that goal.
Keith Rothfus is the U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district.