The actress Scarlett Johansson is just one of many Hollywood stars who is “standing in support” with Planned Parenthood, despite the clandestine videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, which allegedly show Planned Parenthood representatives engaged in the unlawful sale of fetal body parts. Johansson has done public service announcements for the infamous charnel house in the past, and even designed a limited-edition T-shirt promoting its services. Others taking to Twitter to defend the nation’s leading abortion provider include the lascivious Lena Dunham and the perpetually blasphemous Sarah Silverman, who tweeted: “Abortion is still legal in the great U.S of A. It would be insane not to use fetal tissue 4 science & education in such cases.”(1)
According to the U.S. Code, it’s illegal to receive “valuable consideration” in exchange for cells, organs or any other part of a human fetus. The law further specifies that “The term ‘valuable consideration’ does not include reasonable payments associated with the transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control, or storage of human fetal tissue.”(2)
In actual practice, “reasonable payments” is not clearly defined. There is little or no oversight of the processing fees, according to Arthur Caplan, the director of the the division of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center. “It appears to be legal, no matter how much you charge,” he told The New York Times.(3)
However, the Center For Medical Progress has no such doubts regarding the definition, claiming that “Planned Parenthood’s system-wide conspiracy to evade the law and make money off of aborted fetal tissue is now undeniable.” And millions of Americans who’ve seen the videos agree — including many who consider themselves pro-choice.(4)
Planned Parenthood (led by the daugher of the late Texas governor Ann Richards) denies that it has broken any laws, arguing that organs and tissue from aborted fetuses and all the prices mentioned in the videos are connected solely to the costs of shipping and handling, despite what the videos appear to suggest.
But it’s not just Hollywood liberals who see nothing wrong with the scandalous visual evidence. A surprising portion of the American public is also apparently OK with whatever it is that Planned Parenthood is doing in the videos. As reported by the pro-life website LifeNews.com, a current Rasmussen poll reveals that 53% still hold a favorable view of Planned Parenthood. According to the same poll, when asked “Do you favor or oppose the use of fetal tissue in medical research,” 43% of Americans favored it — and 25% even favored “the sale of fetal body organs.”(5)
From the pro-life perspective, it’s of course about abortion itself — not about harvesting of fetuses for science and whether or not the transaction includes “valuable consideration.” Even if Planned Parenthood didn’t have a harvesting program, it would still perform abortions, and the aborted babies would be disposed of in some other way, as all non-harvested fetuses are. In Texas, for example, the health code allows legally aborted babies to be disposed of by various means, including incineration, “grinding and discharging in a sanitary sewer” and “deposition in a sanitary landfill.”(6)
Although the covert operation by the Center for Medical Progress has not yet turned the tide, the strategy employed is certainly rational. With abortion supported by a majority of Americans, and overturning Roe v. Wade considered too risky for most politicians, the best that pro-life movement can currently hope for is putting the organization that does half of all U.S. abortions out of operation. The strategy has been executed brilliantly, but whether or not it will have the desired effect is yet to be seen. So far, the majority of the American public doesn’t appear to have been swayed, and the U.S. Congress failed in its timid attempt to defund the abortion giant. Republicans have pledged to take it up again when the next session of Congress resumes, but given the attention span of American society, the chances seem high that it will be old news by then, and something else far less important will be “trending” in its place. Scarlett Johansson and her pro-Planned Parenthood comrades in Hollywood are counting on it.(7)
(7) In 2011, Planned Parenthood performed approximately 46% of all abortions in the United States, according to the following data, derived from the Centers for Disease Control and Planned Parenthood itself.
2011: 730,322 legal induced abortions were reported to CDC from 49 reporting areas: CDC.gov
2011: 333,964 abortions performed by Planned Parenthood: PlannedParenthood.org