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The Jesuits continue to disappoint

While those on the left have been worrying about serious outrages such as the fact that Nathan Bedford Forrest's remains haven't yet been dug up, those of us on the right have been thinking about something a little grimmer and more urgent--that being the fact that Planned Parenthood is not only tearing unborn babies apart (which we already knew) but also trafficking in their body parts.

Into what should be a firestorm of criminal investigation by the various executive branches (state and federal) comes this odd piece by America Magazine (author, Sam Sawyer, S.J.) school-marmishly lecturing the organization that has brought out the revelations for "unfair editing."

First of all, a few links. Here is the unedited undercover video. Here is the transcript. The shorter video is in many places, here, inter alia. (In this earlier article Fr. Sawyer does call what Planned Parenthood is doing "indefensible," and he never takes that back and seems genuinely shocked and horrified, but the impact of his condemnation is to my mind muted by his lecturing pro-lifers for "sensationalism" and "unfairness" in his later piece based on the full video.)

Now, back to the America article. Fr. Sawyer says that the editing of the shorter video is "unfair" in part because it leaves out the story he calls "moving" of how Dr. Nucatola, the abortionist, decided to become an abortionist. The short version of that is that she was a medical student and saw a woman who died from a botched late-term abortion. This, I stress, was long after abortion was legal. Rather than making the rational decision to try to dissuade women from having elective, late-term abortions, which are never a simple or unequivocally safe operation, Nucatola perversely decided to become a late-term abortionist herself to facilitate their actions and, presumably, do a better job than the abortionist whose patient had died.

Pardon me, but I am not moved. For many reasons that should be obvious.

Sawyer also complains because the shorter video cut out Nucatola's jailhouse lawyering about whether or not PP is technically selling the baby body parts or merely charging a "reasonable and customary" fee for the expenses involved in collecting them.

The leftist site Media Matters has done a service, in an odd way, by collecting some of the edits from the transcript which it alleges would explain everything. Here is one:

You know, I'm -- I could throw a number out that's anywhere from $30 to $100 depending on the facility, and what's involved. It just has to do with space issues, are you sending someone there that's going to be doing everything, or is their staff going to be doing it? What exactly are they going to be doing? Is there shipping involved, is somebody coming to pick it up -- so, I think everybody just wants to -- it's really just about if anyone were ever to ask them, well what do you do for this $60, how can you justify that? Or are you basically just doing something completely egregious, that you should be doing for free. So it just needs to be justifiable.

Media Matters emphasizes the fact that Nucatola mentions possible shipping, but actually she shows an awareness that the buyers may come into the facility and do all the procurement of the organs themselves and take them away with them. Her phrasing is quite clear--the fees that PP charges to the buyer just have to be "justifiable" in case "anyone were ever to ask them."

A similar quotation, again showing the common practice by which the buyer "rents space" from PP and actually does all the work, is this one:

But yea, that’s the way- It depends, if you’re expecting somebody to process, and package, identify tissue for you, it’s going to be at the higher end of the range. In all cases, it’s really gonna be about staff time, because that’s the only cost to the affiliate. And then, if you want space. For example, it is, it’s Novogenix is at PPLA, they have a corner of the lab. And they set up, come in with their coolers and everything, and handle all the tissue, but they’re taking up space, so I’m sure the affiliate considers that when they come up with what’s reasonable. But I don’t think anybody’s gonna come up with a crazy number, because they’re all very sensitive to this too.

Even at the low end, at $30 per specimen, that could get to be a pretty good "rental" amount for the small amount of space the PP clinic "rents" to the buyers.

Rachel Alexander, quoting Insight Magazine, explains more at The Stream.

Because the sale of human tissue or body parts is prohibited by federal law, the traffickers have worked out an arrangement to expedite the process from which they all benefit and still remain within current interpretations of the law. For instance, the harvesters receive the fetal material as a “donation” from the abortion clinic. In return, the clinic is paid a “site fee” for rental of lab space where technicians, employed by the harvesters, perform as many dissections as necessary to fill researcher manifests.

So what we have here is a muddle of legal gray area (how much of a "site fee" constitutes a "profit"?), a legal loophole, and a dodge. Plus, as Rachel Alexander notes, blatant and persistent failure of any attempt at enforcement of the laws on the books. Says Alexander, discussing earlier, similar cases,

In the 20/20 expose, when asked why Planned Parenthood hasn’t been prosecuted for this, correspondent Chris Wallace responded, “We couldn’t find anyone in the federal government enforcing those laws.” This represents an intrinsic problem with today’s American legal system. A powerful organization like Planned Parenthood can find complicit prosecutors and judges willing to look the other way using technical legal jargon that the public doesn’t understand. Everyone dutifully agrees with the legal system that Planned Parenthood must not have been technically violating the law — despite all the hints, wink-winks and nods. The prosecutor in the Jones case likely decided that Jones was charging a “reasonable fee,” even though everyone knew otherwise.

Fr. Sawyer prefers to speak of Dr. Nucatola as full of humanitarian motives, when in fact even a cursory examination makes it clear that she is simply well-versed in the legal chat by which what the ordinary man would of course call trafficking and sale of human body parts is pushed to and perhaps within the line of legality.

And there's this, which Sawyer nowhere attempts to account for: Nucatola discusses StemExpress, which has worked as a buyer with at least one PP clinic. Before StemExpress tried to make the material disappear, pro-lifers downloaded and saved a flyer in which StemExpress explicitly advertises to Planned Parenthood clinics that what it offers is of “financial benefit to your clinic” and promotes the “fiscal growth of your own clinic.” The flyer also contains an endorsement from Dr. Dorothy Ferguson of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte praising StemExpress for having "a Plug-in Solution that allows us to add additional clinics quickly."

At a minimum, Dr. Ferguson and Planned Parenthood Mar Monte should be federally investigated for openly participating with an organization that expressly promises profits to clinics for the "donation" of fetal organs!

Then there is the partial-birth abortion issue, which Sawyer merely mentions as allegedly part of the sensationalism but which is nothing of the kind.

Nucatola's wording is extremely ambiguous in the video as to whether or not she is performing and other PP abortionists are performing partial-birth abortions. Ambiguous in the sense that probably they are doing so. She explicitly indicates that if one says "on Day 1" that one does not intend to perform a PBA, what "ultimately happens doesn't matter" because "laws are up to interpretation." She also contemptuously dismisses the whole notion of partial-birth abortion as an unreal category.

Providers who use digoxin use if for one of two reasons. There’s a group of people who use it so they have no risk of violating the Federal Abortion Ban. Because if you induce a demise before the procedure, nobody’s going to say you did a “live”—whatever the federal government calls it. Partial-birth abortion. It’s not a medical term, it doesn’t exist in reality. So some people use it to avoid providing a “partial-birth abortion.” Others use it because they actually think it makes the tissue softer and it makes it safer and easier to do the procedure. Is there data for either of these? No. Because number 1, the Federal Abortion Ban is a law, and laws are up to interpretation. So there are some people who interpret it as intent. So if I say on Day 1 I do not intend to do this, what ultimately happens doesn’t matter. Because I didn’t intend to do this on Day 1 so I’m complying with the law. There are other people that say well if you induce demise it doesn’t matter, you’re never gonna do it so you don’t have to worry about intent.

This sounds for all the world as though various PP doctors are indeed performing partial-birth abortions but pretending to do so "by accident" and depending on the "interpretation" of the law and the concept of "intent" to cover them. Others prefer to cover themselves legally by stopping the baby's heart ahead of time with digoxin.

As Nucatola goes on, she is emphatic that there are PP clinics that do not stop the baby's heart ahead of time using digoxin and that those who do not use digoxin are not going to change their ways:

And the affiliates who didn’t give digoxin didn’t want to do it. We couldn’t get anyone to agree to randomize, so the likelihood that you’re going to go to an affiliate who uses dig and ask them not to do it, and they say yes? Not going to happen. Not going to happen, people are not going to give up their dig. And the dig haters are not going to give in.

This makes it almost beyond question that there are PP affiliates performing partial-birth abortions in which the child is alive until the last moment.

All of these statements present a fertile field for prosecutorial investigation--both state (where state bans exist) and federal--into Planned Parenthood procedures and whether partial-birth abortion bans are being violated. So the reference to partial-birth abortion is far from being a result of misleading, sensationalist editing. If anything, the information about affiliates that refuse to use digoxin is especially damning. I haven't read all the coverage, but thus far I haven't seen any other pro-life site draw out this point explicitly about PP affiliates that, Nucatola says, definitely do not use digoxin.

Sawyer deals with none of this in his desire to appear even-handed and to lecture pro-lifers about allegedly harming their own cause by sensationalism and "deep unfairness."

There is something almost amounting to a tic in some people on, say, the pro-life side: A desire to lecture their own on being more fair and evenhanded. The same thing is seen on other issues, such as homosexuality. Everybody wants to be nuanced. Nobody wants to be seen as extreme. Many people who are deemed as "on the right" on social issues want to have it both ways: They want to be deemed solid by those in their own camp, but they want those on the outside to think of them as the better, kinder, gentler, fairer, smarter pro-lifers (pro-marriage advocates, etc.).

I have nothing against care and accuracy, and I always try to pursue them myself. Nor am I against correcting actual errors. But there is such a thing as a foolish haste to accept mainstream media "debunkings" of right-wing claims. Such a foolish haste, ironically, has its own credulity to it, so that if PP says that it isn't breaking the law, then some want to be swift to agree and say, "Oh, well, it's terrible, but I guess PP isn't really breaking the law. Let's agree with that so as to be accurate."

The law on "compensation" and "fees" for human tissue "donations" could and probably should be tightened up. In fact, we can present the defenders of Planned Parenthood with a dilemma: Since this is what all of us ordinary people do call selling, then if this isn't what the law calls "selling," the law needs to be changed. So if this is illegal, it should be stopped under existing law, and if it is legal, it should be stopped by closing the legal loophole. Either way, it must be stopped. Don't give us this, "Move along, folks, nothing to see here" garbage.

And at the lowest minimum, Congress should get its act together and defund Planned Parenthood altogether, yesterday.

I strongly suspect that Rachel Alexander of The Stream is right: This is illegal (e.g., because the "space rental site fees" will turn out to be ridiculous considered as actual expenses of the abortion clinics and because StemExpress makes it clear that it offers a profit to the abortion clinics), but nobody is enforcing the relevant laws, and nobody has been enforcing them for a long time. Also this is probably illegal because it looks like PP clinics around the country are still performing PBAs with impunity. Let's hope some enforcement takes place, at the state level at least, and that next time around we get a federal administration that will enforce existing federal law as well.

Comments (18)

"And at the lowest minimum, Congress should get its act together and defund Planned Parenthood altogether, yesterday"

Exactly. And they've had more than ample muscle to do precisely that since the mid-term elections--evidently what is sorely lacking is the desire and the stones.

(Particularly chilling was how adroitly Dr. Nucatola managed to gorge herself while peddling her babe body parts pitch.)

Thanks for this, Lydia. Just today I encountered comments suggesting that Planned Parenthood's activities were completely legal and innocent. I didn't know what to say in response because I don't have the time or know-how to investigate the matter, but with bloggers like yourself at my fingertips, it's that much more difficult for the left to simply dismiss these acts as insignificant. Good work as usual!

This is of a piece with other things. To my knowledge, the USCCB has offered no public support for embattled Archibiship Salvatore Cordileone. Is it asking to much for his colleagues to post something at the USCCB site expressing solidarity with his stand?

Likewise, dead silence from the Vatican. 3 months ago, Robby George wrote an open letter to Pope Francis. Any response? Not that I'm aware of.

Why are they hiding under the desk? Why can't they even express verbal support?

Ann Barnhardt is not optimistic about change, but rather, sees an acceleration of things.


Actually, though, I don't think the women get a dime from it. Whoever is profiting, it isn't (right now) the mothers. Cynic that I am, that much I'm sure of. I think PP is profiting and places like StemExpress and Novogenix are profiting, but the women? They're paying. Or at the most, they are getting the "procedure" on the taxpayer wallet in some states. In a sense, the woman is regarded as the client/customer. Paying women for the "products of conception" may come later, though.

While I take a dim view of the USCCB, a). The USSCB as far as I know does not historically stick their nose in affairs of individual bishops. b). Abp. Cordileone seems to be weathering the storm quite well on his own. c.) The USCCB did issue a statement after the SCOTUS decision that was actually fairly sharp and unambiguous. As far as Robby George and the Vatican, I don't know what to say other apparently they don't think the USA is the center of the universe.

i) It isn't a question of sticking their nose in the affairs of individual bishops. Do you think what happens to the SF diocese is hermeneutically sealed from the relationship between church policy and political policy nationwide? It's not just Cordileone business. The independence of the RCC is at stake.

ii) To deny that the USA is the center of the universe is cute, but diversionary. If the Vatican refuses to support bishops anywhere and everywhere who uphold traditional Vatican policy against secular opposition, then why should Cordileone be the holdout? If you put troops on the frontline, but refuse to back them up, they might as well desert.

Okay, tweet, we're getting OT. I have to admit that my sympathies lie a bit more with Steve Hays in his criticisms, which I'm pretty sure are echoed by plenty of Catholics. However, I will resist saying more on that myself as my title was not meant to encourage Catholic-Protestant infighting.

In fact, one could even regard my title as covering both literal and metaphoric Jesuits. The "Jesuits" can be taken to include all those with the tsk-tsk tick, Protestant and Catholic alike, who are rushing to criticize those who have revealed this information because of their alleged "errors." Indeed, my attention was first drawn to Sawyer's article by an approving link from a Protestant on Facebook.

The "Jesuits" can be taken to include all those with the tsk-tsk tick, Protestant and Catholic alike, who are rushing to criticize those who have revealed this information because of their alleged "errors."

The one thing you can rely on is that people with that tick will spend more time firing on their own ostensible side than firing at the ones they claim to be enemies. Moderates on the right side are almost invariably cowards who fire on their own side because they know that their allies on the right will not treat them with the abject ruthlessness that the left would under equivalent circumstances.

Fair enough as the Holy Father isn't answering my open letters either. :)

To put us back on topic, Crisis has an article by Matthew Hennessy here: http://www.crisismagazine.com/2015/planned-parenthood-and-the-jesuits that hits many of the same notes:

Father Sawyer actually called the video “deeply unfair” and seemed sympathetic to Nucatola’s “moving explanation of how she ended up focusing her practice as a physician on abortion.” I forget: Does the catechism on life require that the abortionist’s motives should be considered before condemnation of the act?

Seems Fordham University can still turn out a student with his head screwed on right in spite of itself.

Lydia, I took (the end of) Barnhardt's post as a condensed version of exactly what you said. I take it her point in saying "because now they know" is that since they now know *someone* is profiting from the sale of "harvested" baby parts, and that someone definitely isn't them, now's the time to go after and collect their due in full force; to seek compensation for the countless women PP, et al have used and abused for none other reason than pure profit. Pardon my saying so, but your comment, in a sense - the sense in which you certainly didn't intend it - reads like an indictment of PP in favor of monetary compensation for the women it has and is abusing by profiting at their expense, physically, psychologically and/or monetarily.

Even now that this is in the open, it's unlikely that any prosecutor will act on it while there are plenty of easy, highly lucrative drug cases to bust. Planned Parenthood is well-funded, well-connected and has a large base of supporters in government. There are so many federal laws to enforce thanks to years of "MOAH LAWZ NOW!" shrieks from tough-on-crime folks on both sides of the aisle, which gives them ample ass-covering material for why they let it slide.

Now what would be funny is if we got a more libertarian-leaning president who decided to unleash the full wrath of the DoJ and civil asset forfeiture laws on Planned Parenthood as a way of ensuring the left is worked up into a swirling vortex of froth when his allies submit a reform bill to Congress. I would imagine that since PP can't prove which parts of the clinics were funded with "baby harvesting money," and there's always a nurse ready to turn CI for the right fee, the right could get some awesome lulz and accomplish something great with the right president.

Oh, Terry Morris, good grief. Yeah, that's right, someone could sure read my comment as saying that the mothers of slaughtered infants should get a cut of the blood money, because otherwise it's unfair. No, I was just coolly correcting what sounded to me like Barnhardt's slightly unhinged way of talking, while (for the moment) being tactful enough not to say that she sounds somewhat unhinged. which in this case, she does. I guess I need to stop being so tactful. And that's all I want to say about when Ann Barnhardt makes sense and when she doesn't, because it pretty much defines "mixed bag."

Mike T., the civil asset forfeiture idea is tempting, but I think we should just start by slowing them to a crawl with subpoenas for forest-killing quantities of copies of records showing what compensation they are receiving and whether they are performing PBA. At a minimum, I would think that endorsement by the director of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte in that particular flyer ought to be sufficient probable cause for a whole snowdrift of subpoenas for documentation and testimony from staff at PP Mar Monte alone.

I think you bring up a good point, Mike: To one with a hardened conscience about baby-murder, all of this is just a fuss about nit-picky, burdensome, unnecessary federal and state regulation of legitimate business. Such a person can't get any more worked up about the possibility that PP violated laws here than I would about an outraged accusation that some Boeing factory didn't have its toilets far enough from the walls for OSHA regulations on the size of employee bathrooms.

Lydia, somehow I detect a little hostility in your response to me. It shouldn't be there; I'm on your side on this (and many other things), I really am!

No one familiar with Lydia McGrew could ever possibly take what you wrote the way you state it in your reply. That wasn't my point at all! All I was saying is that someone from the other side could say the exact same thing with a completely opposite meaning and intent. Really you lighten up a bit. I'm not your enemy, and I don't come here and post comments on occasion just to annoy you or undermine your points;I come here because you're interesting, highly intelligent and right most of the time. My comment was innocent enough, believe me.

Terry, to go straight to the substantive point: I don't think that someone on the other side is going to suggest that the mothers should be paid, because the pretense of "donation" is being kept up at this time. I suppose in the long run there could be a cold-blooded stripping of that pretense so that everyone is happy to say that organs are being sold, and in that case it might be suggested that the women should benefit, but I don't see that happening for a long time to come.

This would be yet another chance to go look at Mark Shea. I hadn't made the connection before, but he would have made a fine Jebbie.

Fair enough as the Holy Father isn't answering my open letters either. :)

He isn't answering mine, too. Seems like there is an AWFUL LOT of stuff he isn't doing.

Some of which, thank God, he isn't doing.

Some of which, God willing, he has done but he won't do any more.

This would be yet another chance to go look at Mark Shea. I hadn't made the connection before, but he would have made a fine Jebbie.

You mean, Jebusite? Maybe he would, but I am not seeing how that connects up. Did they traffic in body parts? No, I don't think he would do that, even on his worst day. Now, call body parts names and imply that they are heretics because they don't follow the Pope's opinion on the death penalty, THAT I could imagine. :-)

"At a minimum, Dr. Ferguson and Planned Parenthood Mar Monte should be federally investigated for openly participating with an organization that expressly promises profits to clinics for the "donation" of fetal organs!"

The very fact that this is controversial is indicative of an inherently satanic society.

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