A friend of mine asked me this question, in response to the third Planned Parenthood video coming out:
I’m still not sure enough that PP is selling baby parts. Would you guys be willing to write a blog post about why you think they are? I think that would be helpful to your pro-choice readers too.
The way Planned Parenthood has attempted to defend themselves is by saying they are donating, not selling the baby parts, and that they are compensated for what it costs them to donate the baby parts. That’s an adequate response if the only thing you’re trying to explain is putting numbers like $75 for a “specimen.” They can say “that’s just us recouping our costs. We do not profit.”
The problem is that there are statements in each video that contradict this attempt to explain away the damning evidence Center for Medical Progress has provided. With each video, the evidence gets worse and worse.
In the end of the fifth video, Dr. Nucatola says,
Dr. Nucatola: I think for affiliates, 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, you know, seems reasonable, they’re happy to do that.
Many pro-choice people rightfully pointed out that in the unedited version, Dr. Nucatola said many times that they weren’t trying to profit. I’m glad they pointed this out, because it’s relevant context. As Matthew Lee Anderson said, she is not a comic book villain.
The problem is that the defenders of Planned Parenthood just stop there and don’t try to explain the above statement. It’s kind of like when Christians disagree about theology and they each have a proof text, but they don’t address the arguments on the other side, they just repeat their preferred passage. We need an explanation that makes sense of all the statements in the video, not just some of them.
The explanation of the Planned Parenthood apologist doesn’t accomplish this. If they are truly just interested in breaking even, they wouldn’t be comfortable with doing better than breaking even. That’s profit. The explanation that makes sense of all of the data is that they are trying to profit, but trying to be careful to do so in a way that doesn’t get them into trouble. They need the profit margins to be small enough that they can say, “it’s just compensation” and get away with it. This explanation is further supported by Dr. Nucatola’s saying,
Dr. Nucatola: It’s really just about, if anyone were ever to ask them, “What do you do for this $60, how can you justify that? Or are you basically doing something completely egregious, that you should be doing for free?”
The problem in the second video with the “they’re only donating” defense is Dr. Gatter’s negotiation. It’s not the Lamborghini line. It’s how she treated the conversation.
It comes down to what is the most plausible explanation of the events. Obviously we want to be charitable, but there’s a danger of being too charitable if we end up with a less plausible explanation of the events.
I think if Dr. Gatter really wanted to make sure the clinics don’t profit, then she would have responded to the negotiation very differently. She would have said something like, “You’re thinking about this the wrong way. You want me to agree to a number when all we want is to be fairly reimbursed for our time/expenses and NOT A PENNY MORE. Those reimbursements will vary based on the clinic and other factors like whether your people are the ones collecting the parts in the pathology room or us, etc. Stop with the negotiation tactics. Negotiations only make sense if both parties are trying to get the best possible deal. We don’t want a good deal. We just want to be reimbursed. If you want the parts, you’ll pay us exactly as much as it costs us to give you the parts, let me figure out what that number is.”
But the most damning evidence released yet that Planned Parenthood profits is the end of this third video. If they only wanted reimbursement, they would charge a flat rate. They literally say they charge per body part to maximize the money they can charge.
Buyer: That 11.6 [week fetus] was pretty good. There was three or four samples we could have taken out of the 11.6.
Dr. Ginde (of Planned Parenthood): Excellent.
Buyer: If we were doing like $50 to $75 per specimen, that’d be like $200 to $300 [total], and we’d be comfortable with that. But like I said, stuff like this, I mean we don’t want to be like just a flat fee of like $200, and then, it’s like…[laughs]
Dr. Ginde: No, and you know the uh, I think that, I think a per item thing works a little better, just because we can see how much we can get out of it.
If they just wanted to break even, they would charge for what it costs them and no more. They wouldn’t charge based on how many useful parts they can get from the fetus.
UPDATE: We believe the Stem Express flyer, made expressly for Planned Parenthood clinics, that emphasizes over and over the financial benefits for the clinics, is also strong evidence that Planned Parenthood is selling, not donating: