In a second undercover video released on Tuesday by the Center for Medical Progress, a top Planned Parenthood official appears to entertain the idea of “violating the protocol” that prohibits abortion doctors from altering their methods in order to obtain fetal tissue and organs donated by patients.
In the video, which is part of a three-year investigation called “Human Capital,” undercover actors posing as officials with a biotech company are filmed negotiating payment for intact tissue and organs from aborted fetuses with Mary Gatter, the president of Planned Parenthood’s Medical Directors’ Council.
In the video, which was filmed in February, Gatter says that she is willing to talk to the surgeon who performs abortions to see if he’s willing to use different methods in order to keep tissue and organs intact.
Doing so would appear to violate both federal law and a consent form signed by patients.
The video follows one that the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress released last week. That one shows another Planned Parenthood official, Deborah Nucatola, discussing selling fetal parts for research purposes. While Planned Parenthood officials have apologized for the “tone” Nucatola used in that video, the organization has claimed that the Center for Medical Progress filmed her illegally.
In the video released Tuesday, the undercover actors ask Gatter “what sort of compensation” she would seek for intact tissue.
Gatter, previously the medical director of Planned Parenthood’s Los Angeles chapter, responds, “Well, why don’t you start by telling what you are used to paying?”
“What would make you happy? What would work for you?” the actor asks.
“Well, you know in negotiations the person who throws out a figure first is at a loss, right?” Gatter responds.
“I just don’t want to lowball, because I’m used to low things from …” Gatter begins, before the actor coaxes her to give a specific dollar amount.
“$75 a specimen,” Gatter says.
Gatter says later that “we’re not in it for the money” and that “we don’t want to be in a position of being accused of selling tissue and stuff like that.”
“On the other hand, there are costs associated with the use of our space, and all that kind of stuff,” Gatter says.
It is illegal to sell fetal tissue and organs for a profit. However, federal law does allow organizations to charge for the transportation and handling of specimens. There is no regulation on how much abortion groups can charge for those services. The government requires only that they be “reasonable.” Abortion opponents argue that the statute is vague and allows organizations to profit from the sale of body parts taken from aborted babies.
In one part of the video, Gatter seems to admit that she’s willing to break the law — and breach patient consent — by altering abortion methods in order to obtain tissue for sale.
“Let me explain to you a little bit of a problem, which may not be a big problem,” Gatter says.
“If our usual technique is suction, at 10 to 12 weeks, and we switch to using an IPAS [manual vacuum aspirator] or something with less suction, in order to increase the odds that it would come out as an intact specimen, then we’re kind of violating the protocol that says to the patient, ‘We’re not doing anything different in our care of you.'”
In 1993, Congress passed a law that prohibits abortion doctors from altering the timing and methods of an abortion when fetal tissue is to be used for research purposes. Gatter also openly admitted that altering the abortion method would violate a tissue donation consent form patients sign before their procedures.
“Now to me that’s a kind of a specious little argument,” Gatter continues.
“I wouldn’t object to asking Ian, who’s our surgeon who does the cases, to use an IPAS at that gestational age in order to increase the odds that he was going to get an intact specimen,” Gatter says. “But I do need to throw it out there as a concern because the patient is signing something and we’re signing something saying we’re not changing anything in the way we’re managing you just because you agreed to give tissue.”
A consent form published last week by the Center for Medical Progress includes a line that requires the patient to agree: “I understand there will be no changes to how or when my abortion is done in order to my blood or the tissue.”
Later during the negotiation, Gatter says she would confer with other Planned Parenthood officials “to see if we want to pursue this.”
“If we want to pursue this mutually, I’ll mention this to Ian in terms of how he feels about using a ‘less crunchy’ technique to get more whole specimens,” Gatter says.
At the end of their meeting, Gatter says that she’d like to check with other Planned Parenthood offices to “figure out what others are getting.”
“If this is in the ballpark, then it’s fine, if it’s still low, then we can bump it up,” Gatter says. “I want a Lamborghini,” she adds, seemingly in a joking manner.
Upon release of the video, the Center for Medical Progress’ project lead released a statement that reads: “Planned Parenthood’s top leadership admits they harvest aborted baby parts and receive payments for this. Planned Parenthood’s only denial is that they make money off of baby parts, but that is a desperate lie that becomes more and more untenable as CMP reveals Planned Parenthood’s business operations and statements that prove otherwise.”