She waited, at least, until after breakfast to call my office.
A volunteer for 40 Days for Life, who had been praying outside of a Michigan abortion clinic, noticed that something was off about the clinic’s daily habits disposing of “medical waste.” After the clinic had closed, the volunteer went to look in the dumpster around back — a perfectly legal thing to do — only to discover the remains of 25 aborted babies casually discarded among what was left of the day’s office lunch and a slew of patient records. Tiny remains, all in individual bags, all marked with the name of the mother and the date of the abortion. As their volunteer attorney, I spent the next several days walking the organizers through the process of reporting what we thought amounted to a “bio-hazardous waste” disposal violation, and poring over Michigan’s HIPAA act, only for the clinic to receive nothing more than a slap on the wrist — and even then, for the medical records, not the remains. Days later, a similar discovery was made at another clinic. Years later, it happened again.
This form of disposal was ultimately legal. In Michigan, as in many other states, as long as the remains are properly preserved — in Formaldehyde, typically — a garbage dumpster is a fine final resting place.
I’m usually a humor columnist, I know, and this story is downright depressing. But when yesterday’s revelations — that Planned Parenthood has been recalibrating its late-term abortion procedure so as to preserve tiny organs for ultimate “donation” — dropped, that story, of tiny baby bodies in garbage bags, discarded with the rest of a clinic’s waste, was the first thing that came to my mind. As Planned Parenthood bound itself into knots, convincing the media (and probably itself), that its practice of packaging up baby bits and shipping them off to research facilities was both humane and altruistic, it reminded me of every time I heard a clinic worker or abortion activist claim that the procedure was the foundation of women’s rights, and that Planned Parenthood, the cathedral in which the most important sacrament of modern feminism, abortion, is so often performed, is a paragon of virtue; without abortion clinics, apparently, all American women would be barefoot, pregnant, and chained to the stove, forced to endure the pains of childbirth whether they wanted to or not, while watching the clock literally roll back on every right we as a gender have obtained throughout our long history as humans.
Planned Parenthood, as other abortion facilities, is far from the Magical Vagina Fairy Palace it’s advertised to be. In most urban neighborhoods, it’s just another free clinic, albeit one that knows how to do Pap smears, and is less likely to have a waiting room packed with homeless men and junkies in various states of decay. And that’s if you’re lucky enough to get the national brand. Across the country, hundreds of abortion clinics have faced allegations of health, well-being, and safety violations, many of them lacking the basic standards of medical concern we associate with the places we take our pets. Because they sit at a political touchpoint, many clinics are never punished for their lack of patient care, and because shutting a single clinic down would unleash a chorus of feminist harpies decrying the oppressive paternal state, much of what passes for “woman-centric care” is a filthy nightmare of creepy doctors, sub-par facilities, and callous disregard for any human life.
What happened in that friendly chat over wine and salad in the video released yesterday is merely another indication that Planned Parenthood’s concern for women is secondary to its concern for its own bottom line. Whether the act of “transferring” fetal organs is legal or not, whether Planned Parenthood actually turns a profit on baby bits, is immaterial: its utterly gruesome, blasé attitude towards how and why a child ends up on its organ donation list is purely sociopathic, and any woman looking to obtain a medical procedure through its facilities, abortion or otherwise, should be concerned.
This isn’t a pro-life thing, though admittedly, my experience handling the “products of conception” post-disposal was one of the key factors in turning this dedicated libertarian into a dedicated abortion opponent; it’s a pro-woman thing.
While Planned Parenthood claimed that it was doing the world a favor, turning over stem cell-filled blood and organs to facilities that would “put them to good use,” ultimately, it’s made clear that it prioritizes that aspect of the procedure over ensuring the health and safety of it patient. If an abortion is about the woman’s rights and the woman’s choice, then why worry whether some scientist, somewhere, will have to wait a few days or hours longer for an un-crushed liver? Is it really Planned Parenthood’s top priority to deliver intact fetus pieces to StemExpress for its countless clients, or is it supposed to be Planned Parenthood’s priority to ensure that a woman who comes to it for care, even for a late-term abortion, is given the majority of concern? Clearly, Planned Parenthood has made its choice, and it isn’t to deliver top quality care to the woman on their operating table.
This attitude also raises the question of how reliable its allegations of “complete consent” really are. Planned Parenthood is quick to describe its typical client as someone in a difficult position, choosing to terminate a pregnancy often because she has no other option. In that case, is any woman who comes to it for an abortion really in the typical, rational frame of mind usually required to assent to having her child’s remains packed up and sold to the highest bidder (of transportation costs, of course)? And what’s Planned Parenthood’s ultimate incentive? The more abortions it performs, the more figurative “altruism” it can accomplish. Doesn’t that imply that Planned Parenthood ultimately has a stake in the choice its patients make, rendering it unable to neutrally counsel a woman on her options? Certainly, if Planned Parenthood is supplying our nation’s laboratories with the fetal stem cells they need to make remarkable medical discoveries, is it going to tell a potential resource she should carry her baby to term and give it away to someone who would lovingly care for it, or is it going to treat the woman like a commodity fresh for harvest, destined to give the medical elite the supplies it needs to bring a bizarre science fiction fantasy to life? And as Dan Scotto asks, would it be more likely to force a woman to wait, as the fetus develops better, more complete organs, more acceptable to scientific researchers, forcing her to undergo a more dangerous and emotionally traumatic procedure, all in the name of humanity?
I don’t think any of these are illegitimate questions, from a pro-life or a pro-choice perspective.
If you go to any pro-abortion rights protest, you’ll see bloody displays, often depicting hangers, accompanied by questions of whether pro-lifers, who want to ban the practice, want the abortion industry to return to an era where it performed procedures in back alleys, in filthy, substandard clinics, where women were at the mercy of careless providers, most of whom did not have the patient’s interests at heart. I’d say that question, at least in light of yesterday’s revelations, is a moot one. Abortion, in this country, isn’t about women. It’s about keeping an industry live, perhaps ultimately for profit. If it were about women — if it were even, basically, about humans — reports of discarded babies in dumpsters, allegations of unsanitary clinic conditions, or horrifying videos of top doctors extolling the virtues of well-formed livers, wouldn’t exist. Instead, abortion in this country seems mostly about maintaining the continued employment of feminist activists and Women’s Studies majors, and achieving progressive political goals, at the expense of the very people they claim to both serve and be fighting for.
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