Investigative

Late-term abortionist is against harvesting fetal tissue, so what does that say about Planned Parenthood?

Late-term abortionist Warren Hern

I love Warren Hern, he serves a purpose. I mean, he just lives in an alternate universe. He just lives in Warren’s universe. I love him, I use his instruments, I use a lot of his techniques, you know, but he’s Warren.

That’s Planned Parenthood’s Senior Medical Director, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, remarking on Colorado late-term abortionist Warren Hern, in the eye-opening and disturbing undercover video from The Center for Medical Progress, released last week.

In her comments about Hern, Nucatola was addressing questions regarding the likelihood of an abortionist changing his or her “set way” of performing an abortion, claiming “reasonable people” would be open to making changes – despite having earlier stated (before consuming a couple glasses of wine) that abortionists don’t usually break protocol to have a better chance of obtaining more intact fetal organs and tissues.

Hern just isn’t “reasonable” enough for Nucatola when it comes to harvesting fetal tissue (from the transcript):

Buyer: Even though they have a set way that they do it, they’re open to changing that?

PP: Reasonable, if they’re reasonable people, sure. I’m mean there’s always going to be that one person who’s like: “This is my thing I’ve been doing it for one-hundred years-“

Buyer: Warren Hern.

PP: Yea. I love Warren Hern, he serves a purpose. I mean, he just lives in an alternate universe. He just lives in Warren’s universe. I love him, I use his instruments, I use a lot of his techniques, you know, but he’s Warren.

An “alternate universe”? Perhaps she means the alternate universe where a person can munch on salad and sip wine while discussing the crushing of fetal limbs and procuring fetal livers, hearts, and heads intact – or perhaps that’s a different universe altogether.

But Nucatola is right about Hern’s ‘unreasonableness’ when it comes to altering technique to obtain fetal body parts. Blogger Saynsumthn has uncovered information about Warren Hern’s views on fetal tissue procurement:

A late term abortionist once admitted that he has ethical questions about the way fetal tissue is procured, stating that he did not want to offer women the option to donate their late term aborted babies for research because [of] pressure to change his procedures to “procure” the baby parts.

Abortionist Warren Hern, who operates the Boulder Abortion Clinic in Colorado, made the statements in a 1989 interview with the New York Times….

According to the article, “Hern said that although he favors the use of fetal tissue in research, he has lingering ethical questions about the way it is procured.

He said that a couple of years ago he was repeatedly asked to supply the tissue by a group that has since stopped procuring fetal tissue.

Hern claims to have thrown the letters away, unanswered, because “… [T]he group suggested that he vary the amount of suction he used in abortions, which bothered him,” because he didn’t want the abortions to be longer or more uncomfortable.

Hern was apparently telling the truth, as James W. Bardsley of the Institute for the Advancement of Medicine (the country’s largest supplier of fetal tissue at the time of the report in 1989) admitted to the Times that he “encourages doctors to use ultrasound to find the fetus in the woman’s uterus and then to use special suction abortion techniques, varying the amount of suction ‘to try to trap the embryo in the catheter,'” which the Times noted would take “15 to 25 minutes instead of the usual 5 to 7 minutes.”

Of course, it’s not just first trimester abortions that abortionists were requested to modify:

According to the 1989 article, Bardsley admitted that he looks for abortion clinics or doctors who use particular abortion methods in the second trimester.

They cannot inject the fetus with saline, urea or other substances to kill it before the abortion because then the fetal tissue would not be usable. Instead, the abortion must be done by dilation and evacuation, in which the doctor essentially pulls the fetus out of the anesthesized woman.

In other words, using feticides like digoxin – which is injected to stop the heart of the preborn child – would not be used, if you’re set on harvesting high quality fetal organs. This was also mentioned by Planned Parenthood’s Dr. Nucatola.

Despite the fact that these procurement agencies were asking Hern to alter his abortion techniques, Hern went on to blame pro-lifers for getting in the way of fetal tissue procurement:

In addition, Hern told the New York Times that an overriding reason why he does not want to procure fetal tissue is the ‘‘unbelievable harassment” he gets from “anti-abortion” groups.

Was the true reason for Hern’s hesitation that, if caught not only aborting perfectly viable babies but also harvesting their organs and tissues, the public would react with horror, as in the case of Planned Parenthood?

Warren Hern's Boulder Abortion Clinic website/via Saynsumthn's Blog

Warren Hern’s Boulder Abortion Clinic website/via Saynsumthn’s Blog

It’s not as if Hern really needed the money from tissue procurement, anyway. His child-killing business is one of only a handful performing  third trimester abortions with no apparent hesitation, clearly advertising them on his website (pictured above; note: “fetal anomaly” is a separate category from third trimester abortion.) He charges a hefty fee, and even “euthanized” a 36-week old preborn child during a four-day procedure for $25,000, using a feticide.

But in Hern’s “alternate universe,” harvesting organs is too risky, even if the money is good. And it is, or at least it was back in 1989, when Bardsley admitted to “pay[ing]… abortion facilities rental fees of $500 to $600 a month” and up to “$1,000 a month” if his procurement employees were at the abortion clinics every day. (Notice how clinics were paid for “rental fees” and not specifically for “fetal tissue.”) But if you’re a rogue late-term abortionist who charges $25,000 for an abortion, this probably sounds like little more than pocket change.

The procurement of fetal organs and tissues after abortion may be news to the general public, but it certainly isn’t new, as evidenced by these NYT article quotes from 26 years ago. And if procurement weren’t profitable, it wouldn’t have such a long history, nor would it be continuing today on such a large scale. But as Saynsumthn points out, fetal tissue harvesting has actually been around longer than that. Much longer:

According to that 1989 article:

Another leading supplier is Dr. Thomas Shepard, a professor of pediatrics, obstetrics and environmental health at the University of Washington in Seattle, who is supported with Federal money to collect about 600 fetuses a year… estimated that he has obtained about 10,000 fetuses in the past 26 years.

Let’s back up a moment. In 1989, Dr. Thomas Shepherd said he had collected 10,000 preborn children in the past 26 years – putting the beginning of his fetal body parts harvesting operation in 1963. Therefore, it seems that fetal body part harvesting has been going on for at least five decades, with the help of willing and well-compensated abortionists.

Dr. Arthur Caplan of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Bioethics told the NYT, “90 percent of researchers get fetal tissue through private arrangements with abortion clinics or gynecologists,” but things hit a slight snag when researchers decided it might be wise to get the patient’s consent before harvesting fetal tissue.  Abortion providers and hospitals were reluctant. Why? Again, via Saynsumthn:

About half of Mr. Bardsley’s suppliers refused and no longer provide him with tissue, he said….

Many hospitals, he said, “did not want to have anything to do with changing their consent policies,” adding, “They felt that would bring it to the attention of the patients and that would be bad public relations. 

Perhaps Warren Hern felt the same way. And as last week’s video revelations have left Planned Parenthood scrambling to cover a public relations nightmare, perhaps he was smart to throw those letters in the trash 26 years ago.

(Editor’s Note: New York Times quotes and other content from Saynsumthn’s Blog reprinted here with permission.)

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