Every time pro-life legislators seek to reduce the number of abortions being done, abortion activists decry them as totalitarian monsters whose primary objective is to subjugate women and send them to back-alley butchers.

Every time pro-life legislators seek to reduce the number of abortions being done, abortion activists decry them as totalitarian monsters whose primary objective is to subjugate women and send them to back-alley butchers.


Abortion providers, they argue, only want to champion women’s reproductive health.


Which is why a video like the one released Monday, showing a senior official at Planned Parenthood discussing in graphic detail how a doctor strategically "crushes" unborn babies in order to preserve their organs and provide them to medical research procurement firms, are sobering but necessary reminders that abortion providers are first and foremost businesses, driven as much by the free market as by any high ideals about protecting women.


According to its director of medical services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola — whose cavalier discussion of harvesting fetal body parts over salad and wine should make even the most ardent abortion advocate’s stomach turn — Planned Parenthood has cornered 40 percent of the market, making it the largest abortion provider in the nation.


Indeed, it is responsible for conducting more than 300,000 abortions a year.


But the video’s creators say the footage proves that terminating pregnancies is not the organization’s only money-making venture.


For some two hours and 40 minutes, Nucatola meets with two actor/activists from a pro-life group called the Center for Medical Progress; although she believes they are representatives of a company that acquires fetal organs and tissue for medical research firms.


While the conversation addresses patient consent, and how clinics that help procure fetal body parts for medical study are doing what Nucatola refers to as "another good" on top of the selfless work Planned Parenthood and its affiliates already provide, it wanders into murky waters when the doctor and her lunch dates begin discussing price.


"You know, I would throw a number out, I would say it’s probably anywhere from $30 to $100 (per organ), depending on the facility and what’s involved," Nucatola said.


In the video, Nucatola acknowledges a sensitivity to how this issue is framed.


Clinics "just want to do it in a way that is not perceived as: ‘This clinic is selling tissue,’" she said.


Trafficking in fetal body parts is a federal crime, one that Planned Parenthood spokesman Eric Ferrero insists his organization is being falsely accused of committing.


"In some instances, actual costs, such as the cost to transport tissue to leading research centers, are reimbursed," he said in a statement.


The very idea that clinics are being "reimbursed" for tiny body parts should be beyond the pale.


State and Congressional leaders have called for investigations into Planned Parenthood clinics.


But even if those inquiries show Planned Parenthood is conducting its "fetal parts policy" legally, the revelation of such a practice shows a deepening sickness in our culture: our treatment of children — or in this case, parts of children — as commodities.


Adults have long attempted to control, through contraception and abortion, the if and when children come into our lives, to ensure that they arrive when most convenient.


Progressive medical technologies also allow us to determine the how children come into our lives, via sperm and egg donation, surrogacy and test-tube babies, to fulfill our desires to reproduce when our lifestyles don’t naturally allow us to do so.


Nucatola assures her lunch companions that donating, for medical purposes, the livers, hearts and lungs of discarded human life somehow multiplies the "good" of abortion.


As long as we continue to view unborn children as nothing more than property, the creation or destruction of which we control, it should not be surprising to find that such a perspective is blind to the moral perversion of deliberately killing such children to harvest their body parts.


Cynthia M. Allen is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Readers may send her email at cmallen@star-telegram.com.


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