Thursday, July 16, 2015

Planned Parenthood and organ harvesting

So a pro-life group Centre for Medical Progress conducted a sting of a top Planned Parenthood doctor, in order to have video evidence that Planned Parenthood were benefiting from organs harvested from aborted babies. There's some splitting of hairs about what defines 'financial profit', you can see that angle being worked over at Snopes.

It's interesting to observe the rhetorical and philosophical maneuvering of pro-choice supporters in reaction to this video. You get the hard denial of personhood from Guardian writer Jessica Valenti.
"For instance, donating fetal tissue –which is used in research to help find cures for illnesses like Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease – is legal. And the full unedited version of the video shows Nucatola explaining that costs for staff time and possible shipping costs are reimbursed so that Planned Parenthood affiliates,which are nonprofit organizations, don’t lose money."
Note the description of baby organs as tissue. Interestingly I think this approach will fade and give way to a more, utilitarian "yes they are babies, but this is best for everyone" approach. Note also the line that Snopes is running about the nature of the financial incentives that arise from harvesting baby organs. You can see that this is where things are heading from the very left wing Mother Jones reaction.
"So there's basically nothing here. Bioethicists have been debating for years whether it's a good idea to sell fetal tissue, and as you can imagine, they've been disagreeing for years and show no signs of ever coming to a consensus. Some think it's wrong and some think it's OK. That's not surprising since some people think abortion is wrong and some think it's OK. And if you think abortion is wrong, you're certainly not going to be happy about the sale of tissue from aborted fetuses."
Huffington Post is less partisan and dismissive, but really works the 'harvesting organs is OK if they're donated and not sold line.' It would be very naughty of course to profit from organ harvesting, so Huffington Post wants to make it clear that Planned Parenthood is trying to be ethical, trying to care about that.
"The sale of fetal parts is illegal. But Planned Parenthood says it is donating the fetal tissue for research at the request of some of its patients, which is legal. The family planning provider said it sometimes receives reimbursement from tissue donation entities for the additional expenses of donating, such as transportation costs, but never profits off of the donations."
However most fascinating of all, because what it revealed about the existential mindset of pro-choice supporters was this article by Amanda Marcotte at Slate. She boldly went to the heart of the issue, abortion is, in her words, "gross" and if this is how they have to harvest organs, which help other people, so be it. Philosophically, this is rhetorically incoherent because we hear lots about how "gross" executions of adults are, yet the same rhetorical arguments aren't valid for abortion.
"Abortion is gross, no doubt about it. It becomes grosser the later in a pregnancy it gets. But so is heart surgery. So is childbirth, for that matter. We don't deny people who need help in those cases because the help is gross. Nor should we deny people that help when it comes to needing abortion. We also shouldn't deny women who want to donate fetal or embryonic remains to science any more than we would deny someone who wants to be an organ donor, even though the latter is also quite gross to ponder." 
Note her use of "embryonic", this is the future of the pro-choice movement, convergence with euthanasia. 'Hey look, it's death, but it's what's best for everyone, including the deceased.' That takes a lot of the wind out of the pro-life sails. Weirdly it's about healthy white, upper-middle class privilege, survival of the fittest, hottest and wealthiest. Enough to make me believe (but not enjoy) in evolution and like socialism!

[Planned Parenthood logo: they have a number of logos and slogans, I picked this one because it's ironic.]