Kyle Wingfield

Political commentary and opinion from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's conservative blogger

Videos offer plenty of evidence for defunding Planned Parenthood

Georgia is among the states investigating Planned Parenthood after the release of undercover videos accusing its clinics of breaking the law. Whether the probes prove Planned Parenthood is trafficking in human body parts or not, its history of trafficking in euphemism and misdirection is catching up with it.

The five (so far) videos from the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress depict Planned Parenthood officials speaking quite frankly, with actors claiming to represent a bioscience firm, about how its doctors obtain and charge for fetal organs.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America and other critics allege the videos are heavily edited, deceptive productions. In fact, either full footage or a complete transcript is available for at least four of the videos .

Not that context makes the comments less repulsive. Dr. Deborah Nucatola, PPFA’s senior director of medical services, explains how to maximize the tissue taken : “I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m going to basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.” In another video , the head of PPFA’s Medical Directors’ Council, Dr. Mary Gatter, says “a ‘less crunchy’ technique” could yield better specimens.

When they aren’t speaking ghoulishly, they’re straddling the rhetorical line about where the specimens come from. Sometimes it’s a “fetal cadaver” or the “products of conception.” Another time, a clinician shown sorting through aborted body parts suddenly exclaims, “Another boy!”

Sounds like someone missed the “just a clump of cells” memo.

Officials also weave between lawyerly talk about not being seen as selling tissue and acknowledgments the clinics don’t really match fees to costs incurred — sometimes in the same breath. Nucatola again : “I think for (clinics), at the end of the day, they’re a non-profit, they just don’t want to — they want to break even. And if they can do a little better than break even, and do so in a way that seems reasonable, they’re happy to do that.”

A Planned Parenthood official in Houston, Melissa Farrell, is more blunt: “(M)y department contributes so much to the bottom line of our organization here.” Gatter insists the actors throw out a number for compensation so she doesn’t “low-ball” them .

Even if Parenthood isn’t breaking the law, another comment makes it clear what the policy response from lawmakers should be. “Every penny they save,” by charging labs for tissue, Nucatola notes , “is just pennies they give to another patient.”

So Planned Parenthood understands money is fungible, after all. No more need, then, to pretend Congress can give hundreds of millions of tax dollars to Planned Parenthood without funding abortion. The billions of pennies saved for Planned Parenthood on some operations are billions of pennies they can direct to others, including abortion.

Let’s also dispense for good with the misleading stat that abortions represent only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services. PPFA’s own data show 1 in 8 of its patients have an abortion — and some of those patients are men.

Plenty of health (and contraceptives) providers that don’t perform abortions could use a few billion pennies themselves.

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About the Author

Kyle Wingfield joined the AJC in 2009. He is a native of Dalton and a graduate of the University of Georgia.