“It’s been years since I’ve talked about compensation [for the sale of fetal body parts], so let me just figure out what others are getting . . . If [the price for selling the body parts is] low, we can bump it up. I want a Lamborghini.”
These and other shockingly callous statements were made by Dr. Mary Gatter, President of Planned Parenthood’s Medical Directors’ Council. In undercover footage obtained by the Center for Medical Progress, Dr. Gatter haggles over the price of fetal tissue and body parts obtained from the abortions she performs. Unbeknownst to Dr. Gatter, the fetal tissue buyers she negotiates with throughout the video are undercover investigative journalists. The footage these investigators obtained presents a chilling picture of corruption and a complete lack of medical ethics.
Elsewhere in this same video, Dr. Gatter offers to use what she describes as a “less crunchy technique” for the abortions she performs so as to obtain more “intact parts,” and therefore a higher price tag for the sale.
To date, four videos have been released by the Center for Medical Progress, which describes itself as “a group of citizen journalists dedicated to monitoring and reporting on medical ethics and advances.” These videos reveal that high-level Planned Parenthood executives and physicians regularly engage in the interstate sale of human fetal tissue and organs for profit. Such actions violate federal criminal law. It is a felony to traffic in human fetal tissue, and the punishment for such sales is up to 10 years in prison, or fines of up to $500,000.00 (42 U.S.C. § 289g-2).
My constituents and Americans across the nation are horrified by this unethical and illegal behavior. Even abortion-rights advocates like Hillary Clinton have called the footage from the videos “disturbing.”
Tragically, your tax dollars fund this despicable behavior. Planned Parenthood’s own annual report indicates that it received $528 million in taxpayer funding during fiscal year 2013-2014. As the Susan B. Anthony List reports, this translates into more than $1.4 million tax dollars per day in the form of government grants, contracts, and Medicaid reimbursements. Taxpayer funding comprises about 41% of Planned Parenthood’s total revenue. Its most recent annual report also indicates that Planned Parenthood performed almost one million abortions from 2011-2013.
In response to these appalling videos, my colleagues and I have introduced and co-sponsored legislation to sanction Planned Parenthood and stop the flow of Americans’ tax dollars to this unethical organization. For example, I recently co-sponsored Rep. Diane Black’s “Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015” (H.R. 3134), which would immediately cut off federal funds for Planned Parenthood and its affiliates for one year. I am also a co-sponsor of the "Protecting Life and Taxpayers Act of 2015” (H.R. 3197), which places a permanent ban on taxpayer funding of all abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood.
As terrible as Planned Parenthood’s recently-revealed actions are, however, it is important to remember that the callous attitude toward the sanctity and dignity of human life revealed in these videos is but a symptom. The true injustice at the heart of the matter is the universal easy access to abortion that was made possible by the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. Since that time, and despite numerous victories for the pro-life movement, abortion-on-demand remains, and there is very little that state and local governments can do to protect unborn life.
Much of the fault lies with a do-nothing Congress, which, since 1973, has repeatedly failed to stand up to the Supreme Court. For example, Congress could have long ago passed legislation that defined “personhood” as beginning at the moment of conception. This would eliminate much of the reasoning at the core of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe. This is what the “Life at Conception Act” (H.R. 816) would accomplish, and it is why I am a proud original co-sponsor.
Congress could also strip federal courts of jurisdiction over abortion. Article III of our Constitution gives Congress the power to limit federal courts’ jurisdiction, including that of the Supreme Court. The problem is that Congress rarely exercises this power. Instead, it rolls over and lets the courts do what they want.
It is my hope that the grim reality revealed by these recent videos will lead to the prosecution of any Planned Parenthood employee who committed a federal crime. It is also my hope that the shocking nature of what Americans witness in these videos will cause many hearts and minds to change in regard to the true nature of abortion. The American people should demand that their elected representatives do much more to end this injustice.
Thomas Massie is a U.S. representative from northern Kentucky.