Planned Parenthood Is Not Selling Organs


Chris lives in Austin, TX, where he once shook Willie Nelson's hand.

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39 Responses

  1. Chris says:

    Presumably the explanation is, “We tried as hard as we possibly could to get them to tell us they will sell us organs, and they still wouldn’t. So we had to lie.”Report

  2. zic says:

    Let me repeat myself: this (being the lying of activists by manipulative editing a video to make people say the opposite of what they actually said) is disgusting and immoral.

    And the ongoing assault on women’s sensibility is disgusting. The poverty that’s a direct result of these policies is disgusting and unChristian. And the political attacks on planned parenthood are a threat women’s health.

    According to Scientific American:

    Stripping Planned Parenthood of federal funding would also sacrifice the 97 percent of its public health work that has nothing to do with abortion, from which many people benefit directly. One in five American women have used the group’s services, and three out of four of its patients are considered to have low incomes. In 2011 it carried out tests and treatment for more than four million individuals with sexually transmitted diseases. It supplied 750,000 exams to prevent breast cancer, the most common cancer among U.S. women. And it performed 770,000 Pap tests to prevent cervical cancer, which was a leading cause of death among women before this screen became widely available. Planned Parenthood is one of the most important public health care institutions in the country, even aside from its work in rational family planning.


    • Kim in reply to zic says:

      Planned parenthood is one of like, two national charities that are run well.
      It runs with relatively military precision, and is more or less the functional branch of our government that helps people get abortions and other family planning issues.

      Getting rid of it would be a calamity for many.Report

  3. Burt Likko says:

    1. Can we move quickly through the obligatory BSDI? I don’t particularly care to dig around for examples but those who are motivated by such partisanship surely can, and some of their examples will be strong and on point and others will be cheap shots.

    2. Can we move equally quickly through the obligatory utilitarian-deontological ethics tension concerning deliberate untruth? The deontologists always seem to wind up winning, because the utilitarians must eventually concede that truth can be better employed to advance the good (whatever that is) and is more effective at advancing the good (whatever that is) than lies.

    3. Frankly, the whole affair is not particularly illuminating of the moral or legal issue. If you’re pro-life, whether or not this video accusing Planned Parenthood of “profiting from the sale of selling tissue” was a misrepresentation of the truth is really quite irrelevant. While there may be those who believe that abortion is a massive and profitable industry (which rather obviously is not the case), it’s rather hard to believe that anyone became pro-life because they resent the purported profitability of this purported industry. They’re pro-life because they think an abortion is the unjustified killing of a human being — whether that killing happens for profit or some other reason is quite irrelevant to their moral revulsion of the practice. Similarly; if you’re pro-choice, even if it were true that Planned Parenthood is making money hand over fist selling dead baby tissue to well-heeled, utterly amoral consumers (which rather obviously is not the case), that doesn’t change the fact that a woman’s body is her own to do with as she pleases and she should be able to abort her own pregnancy if she chooses to do so.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:


      The issue is not whether or not abortion should be legal. It is whether or not an organization that dedicates a tiny amount of it’s time, energy, and resources to abortion is comprised of evil monsters or not. Because if you can tar your opponent as an evil monster, you can turn the tide against them and (hopefully) make them go away.

      Remember ACORN?Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Kazzy says:

        The issue is whether or not abortion is morally justifiable, @kazzy . (FTR I think it is.) Because if it isn’t, then the pro-lifers are likely correct that it’s murder. If PP dedicates even a tiny amount of its time, energy, and resources to murder, then it probably is fair to say that there likely are some evil monsters at work — made all the more monstrous for dressing up their evil in the otherwise-respectable work of promoting health and safety concurrent with promoting individual autonomy.

        Of course, it wouldn’t take me more than about one second to decide to leave Omelas, for what that’s worth. It happens that I don’t think that’s what we have, in this instance. But maybe someone else does, and if so, I can’t blame them for heading out to the mountains.

        Pointing out someone who deploys a lie in the service of something that they probably sincerely believe is a moral good is saddening but the piling-on of shaming against them is a flame that gives off more heat than light. I’m reminded of people in the atheist “movement” who like to engage evangelists and apologists who make ridiculous claims they clearly ought to know are false, and accuse them of “lying for Jesus.” That such a charge sticks to certain individuals who do lie for Jesus doesn’t tell me a damn thing about whether I ought to try to foster religious faith or not, it doesn’t tell me a damn thing about whether Christians are good people or not or whether atheists are good people or not, and most importantly, it doesn’t tell me a damn thing about the veracity of other claims made by other evangelists and apologists.

        It pretty much only tells me I shouldn’t take what everyone says at face value, which I already knew. So while there is emotional outrage — heat — there is not much of substantive interest — light. The fact that I’m pre-disposed to agree with a fellow atheist opining about religion being untrue makes it take a little bit longer for me to engage my critical thinking skills and dissect the contention offered.Report

        • LWA in reply to Burt Likko says:

          If the lying liars actually WERE shamed, and suffered real consequences such as losing their job the one could plead for an end to “piling on”.

          But so far they haven’t- with each lie they get more brazen and defiant.Report

          • morat20 in reply to LWA says:

            I’m with LWA here. This isn’t the first time this has been done, or the second.

            In a society increasingly covered with cameras, I don’t think you can shame deceptive editing enough. The damage you can do — whether from individuals or groups — is immense.

            Not to mention these folks were quickly forced to cough up the real video — what if they’d stonewalled? Or deleted it?

            No, I think the piling on is deserved for the folks that did it and for the media — who should darn well KNOW better by now — for breathlessly repeating it.

            Those individuals that keep taking the bait? They should probably reflect a bit on why they fall for sketchy stuff so easily, but that’s their own personal issue.Report

          • nevermoor in reply to LWA says:

            Failing upwards is a fairly unique characteristic of conservative politics right now. Not exclusively, but the overwhelming majority.

            I suspect the people involved will use this as advertising for further donations, rather than see it as a source of shame.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:


          I should clarify. My point was that the group who made the video wasn’t trying to convince anyone of the immorality of abortion. They were trying to convince folks of the immorality of a group that sometimes helps women have abortion procedures by falsifying charges of bad behavior only tangentially related to abortion. They wanted to tar the reputation of PP the same way that jackhole tarred the reputation of ACORN so that Reasonable People would disavow it and it would go away.Report

        • Francis in reply to Burt Likko says:

          Bro. Likko: You live in Omelas. Start with a lack of universal healthcare, then wander over to cost/benefit analyses in pollution control regs, and then swing by the Federal Reserve. The leaders of this country, since forever, have implemented a deliberate policy of immiseration and death for the disfavored in order that everyone else can have a better life.

          Two reasons to stay: We can try to change the rules. And everywhere else is worse.

          Which version of America is more like Omelas: the one in which rich [largely white] women can travel to California [or Canada] for an unnamed procedure while poor women either have an illegal abortion or an unwanted child, or the one in which abortion is both safe and legal and rare only because effective birth control is widely available?Report

          • LWA in reply to Francis says:

            But if the 12 year old seamstress in Bangladesh makes a higher wage, my tee shirt will cost more!
            Why can’t you see that?Report

            • North in reply to LWA says:

              Is this a misthread or non sequitur?Report

              • LWA in reply to North says:

                No, the globalism argument always seems to be a variation on the “benefit to the many at the expense of the few”.

                Sure, children are worked to death in Bangladesh, but look how cheap our stuff is! And like in Omelas, we reassure ourselves that they probably wouldn’t benefit from the kindness our charitable selves suggest anyway.

                So you see, its really better this way.Report

              • North in reply to LWA says:

                Odd, that doesn’t strike me as the normal globalization argument. The usual one is “They’re following the same path we did. Who’re we to block them from doing so?” Or the more expanded one is “we don’t have any business imposing our norms on Bangladesh from the outside. If they wish to enforce labor standards commensurate with ours then we should support them and celebrate it if they do. But if they don’t do so imposing it from the outside would simply mean that the Bangladeshi children will drop back out of sweatshop work into rummaging for trash, prostitution and starvation while we cuddle our cheap clothes which are made in Vietnam or elsewhere and bask in our sense of having done good to someone else whether they wanted it or not.”

                I certainly don’t know of any globalization proponent who celebrates children being worked to death though I admit I’m not enormously widely read.Report

          • Burt Likko in reply to Francis says:

            I simply don’t see these things as “benefit for the many at the expense of a few,” which is the Omelas scenario.

            These things aren’t even particularly “benefit for me and people like me at the expense of others who aren’t like me.” I don’t think I personally benefit from the existing healthcare system, I don’t think I personally benefit from the existing pollution regulation regime.

            I see these things as “benefit for a few (who don’t seem to me that they’re like me in ways that are meaningful to me) at the expense of the many (who might be meaningfully like me or might not).” I could be persuaded that these things are more or less the least bad policy compromise realistically available for everyone; I could be persuaded that no, there are less bad compromises that could have been struck. The parable of Omelas is not about settling for the “least bad option,” it’s about intentionally accepting a benefit while knowing that the benefit is at the expense of harming an innocent someone else.

            I just don’t see it.Report

            • Francis in reply to Burt Likko says:

              Health care regime: A truly merciful healthcare system which treated everyone equally would be much more expensive. We dump the poor into Medicaid (or worse, before the ACA, charity), and keep your tax burden down.

              Remember the stories a few years back about the annual free health care clinics here in Los Angeles (I think they were held at the USC football field)? Thousands of people lining up for some free dentistry? How much would it actually cost to provide everyone with quality dentistry? Why won’t the American taxpayer pay that price?

              Pollution control: Using coal as a power source kills. It kills in the mines and it kills those who live near the power plants, from fugitive dust and from plant exhaust. We could have a much stricter regulatory regime, if we so chose, that kills many fewer people but at a much higher cost. Your cheap and abundant power comes directly with a blood price.

              Finance: How has the lower 40% of Americans done since the mid-70s? When was the last time that the Fed let inflation rise to 4% before clamping down on interest rates? Statutorily, the Fed has the twin goals of low inflation and full employment. It has deliberately sacrificed the second goal in service of the first for something like 35 years. Millions of Americans are un- and under-employed in the service of a policy that benefits the richest Americans.

              So, yeah, we live in Omelas. It’s just that everyplace else is worse.Report

    • aarondavid in reply to Burt Likko says:

      ETA thread fail.Report

  4. j r says:

    I don’t have anything to say about activists lying or about abortion more broadly. I am only here to say, “so what if Planned Parenthood were selling organs?”

    Selling organs may offend certain innate moral sensibilities, but when you put the matter to more thorough analysis selling organs holds the potential to drastically reducing human suffering. I am all for it.Report

    • Chris in reply to j r says:

      It is currently illegal, it raises a whole host of bioethical issues, and I think Dan’s right, creates some perverse incentives for physicians.

      That’s not to say that we couldn’t work out a way for it to work (though I’m not sure what that would look like), just that right now there are too many unresolved ethical and practical issues for it to work.Report

      • j r in reply to Chris says:

        Those issues are unresolved, because we presently maintain a moral prohibition against resolving them. I simply suggest that we revisit.

        As for the matter at hand, I get the point of completely disavowing the original claim made against Planned Parenthood. However, this is a fairly good illustration of the sorts of constraints that our current political dialogue places on us.Report

        • Chris in reply to j r says:

          I see your point, and largely agree with it. I’m not sure what I think of the idea of selling organs (though I’m inclined to be conservative about it), but I have no established opinion. And it would be nice if we could talk about it. It would be even nicer if we could talk about it in a context that didn’t involve a threat to the legitimacy of a very important institution.Report

    • Damon in reply to j r says:

      Selling organs is illegal iirc. That’s why you can’t sell a kidney. Everyone else can profit from your donation but you sure as hell can’t. God forbid!Report

    • Kazzy in reply to j r says:


      I think this actually sort of points out the tactic being employed. As I said above to @burt-likko , their goal doesn’t seem to have been, “Let’s show everyone how awful abortion is.” It seems to have been, “Let’s show everyone how awful Planned Parenthood is.” And they attempted to do this by insinuating a whole bunch of things that they knew would upset people, namely that they were harvesting fetuses (Ah!) in order to sell their organs (AH!) for profit (AH!!!).

      Of course, to point out that appealing to right-leaning folks’ moral outrage over the profit-motive was a dubious tactic would assume some sort of ideological consistency existing.Report

      • j r in reply to Kazzy says:

        This is my point. The present political dialogue is a great big color war and I do not see much effort from partisans on either side to try to change this. Trying to change it would involve looking behind whatever particular but of ground is being contested at any given moment and thinking more broadly about what the heck the whole thing is for.Report

      • morat20 in reply to Kazzy says:

        Offhand, weren’t their editing actions potential slander?

        They DID edit the tape in a way that seemed to show PP engaging in violations of the law, when in fact no such thing had occurred.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to morat20 says:

          You’d have to ask the lawyers that.Report

        • nevermoor in reply to morat20 says:

          Very tough argument.

          The video itself is all true in the sense that it accurately depicts the moments recorded, and no one is editing in false sounds and attributing them to her.

          If you were picking a statement to sue under, it’d be from the press release: “admitting she uses partial-birth abortions to supply intact body parts” but the falsity of that statement doesn’t get you where you need to go, as you’d need to navigate SLAPP statutes, public concern issues, etc. And, as she is unlikely to be fired or suffer professional consequences, you have a damages issue too.Report

  5. Planned Parenthood receives informed consent from women before donating fetal tissue, as well.

    Do they show the women video of what’s done with the tissue?Report

    • Chris in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      I certainly hope not.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Chris says:

        Then it’s not informed consent. Just like a woman who doesn’t see an ultrasound of the fetus before an abortion isn’t giving informed consent,Report

        • zic in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          Perhaps men should be required to watch a video of a birth; the whole thing, from transition to recovery, before they’re considered able to give informed consent to have sex? If you haven’t watched that video, you’re a sex offender because you aren’t fully aware of the potential results of your action.Report

          • Mike Schilling in reply to zic says:

            Don’t stop there: continue all the way through 4 years of paying for college.Report

            • Chris in reply to Mike Schilling says:

              Then the time, when they’re 26 and your child’s employer is downsizing, so he or she’s been laid off and, because at only 26 he or she has no savings, has to move home a couple months later. It then takes him or her 18 months to get a job and enough money to move out again. Watch all of that (this happened to two of my siblings during the recent banking unpleasantness).Report

    • Morat20 in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Do they if they’re asked to?

      Because by your logic, the fact that I didn’t ask what happened to me leftover tissues after, say, a knee replacement means I didn’t give informed consent to replace my knee.

      I know my dad didn’t ask what happened to his old vertebra when they replaced it a decade or so back. Does that mean he didn’t give informed consent to surgery?

      I mean, he just assumed it got disposed of. (after all, they can’t sell it or donate it for research without asking permission). That’s a weird definition of ‘informed consent’.Report