Donating Baby Parts? Behind the Truth at Planned Parenthood

Recently, there have been quite a few of supposed released videos from Planned Parenthood discussing the selling of fetal tissue. Of course that created a huge uproar, and caused a huge commotion as well. It is now a large topic with the 2016 Presidential Candidates.  The purpose being addressed is the importance of fetal tissue and what it is, what Planned Parenthood is and about, and debunking these so called videos. This is very important to make sure people are aware of what Planned Parenthood does, just besides abortions, as well as being educated in the importance of fetal tissue donation. This is not what was actually going on, the truth in fact, what Planned Parenthood is doing is taking fetal tissue, from aborted fetuses, which they must have permission, and using fetal tissue for medical research, vaccines, and diseases such as Parkinson’s. With the recent election, banning abortion and Planned Parenthood is a debate between the candidates, especially among Republicans. Closing Planned Parenthood clinics places a major consequence for women who are low income. Most of these accusations made are seemed to be falsified, but due to confirmation biases, people judge right away without looking at research first.

Medical researchers have been using fetal tissue since the 1930’s to create vaccine development, and in more recent create stem cell research. Researchers typically take the fetal tissue samples and grow cells in a Petri dish. One of the earliest advances with fetal tissue was to use fetal kidney cells to create the first poliovirus vaccines, which are now estimated to save 550,000 lives worldwide every year( Huffington Post). In early days researches used the sample cells that were infected kidney cells in Petri dishes to produce a large amount of the virus they could use, then harvest, purify it, and use to vaccinate people. The virus evolves to become less deadly when it effects cells outside the body, and thus could be given safely to prime their immune systems for the real thing. “Modeling estimated that, among children born during 1994- 2013, vaccination will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes, at a net savings of $295 billion in direct costs and $1.38 trillion in total societal costs” (Huffington Post).  Also, most every person has benefited from fetal tissue, from creating the vaccines for Chickenpox, Rubella, and Polio. Also, before creating the vaccine against Rubella the infection caused 5,000 miscarriages a year. Planned Parenthood donates the fetal tissue to these institutes that is where the issue came up about selling baby parts. According to David Daleiden, the man who was behind these videos, recorded Deborah Nucatola, a senior director of medical services for Planned Parenthood, explaining there is a cost of fetal tissue, but the amount reimbursed is for expenses related to handling and transporting the fetal tissue. Nucatola also was recorded saying, “Affiliates are not looking to make money by doing this. They are looking to serve their patients and just make it not impact their bottom line” (

Researchers have also discovered the use of fetal tissue for replacing stem cells. Fetal tissue is the richest source of primordial stem cells and has several properties that make it particularly useful for transplantation. It is superior to adult (mature) tissue in certain respects. When researchers studied excess embryos and fetuses from elective abortions this caused breakthroughs in understanding stem cells. First, fetal cells are capable of proliferating faster and more often than mature, fully differentiated cells. Eukaryotic stem cells are easier to manipulate into any type of cell, where as adult stem cells are stuck as whatever cell they are programmed to be. For example, a eukaryotic stem cell can be manipulated into a neurological stem cell, which can be used when treating Parkinson’s disease, where as an adult stem cell is not able to be manipulated. Because eukaryotic stem cells are the base for all cells, it is easiest to manipulate them. This means that these donor cells are able to quickly reverse the lost function of the host. In addition, these fetal cells can often differentiate in response to the environmental cues around them. This is because of their location–they can grow, elongate, migrate, and establish functional connections with other cells around them in the host. It has been found that fetal tissue is not easily rejected by the recipient due to the low levels of histocompatibility antigens in the fetal tissue. At the same time, angiogenic and trophic factors are at high levels, enhancing their ability to grow once they are transplanted. Which are the pre-cells of everything that develops in the human body. The promise represented by these stem cells, which because of their developmental potential can possibly be manipulated to replace diseased or ailing cells, raised anew the questions of whether studying tissues from unused embryos and aborted fetuses was ethically — and politically — acceptable. Fetal cells tend to survive excision, dissection, and grafting better because they generally do not have long extensions or strong intercellular connections. These fetal cells show a better survival rate, are more viable, and most importantly can become any type of cell in the body a scientist or researcher manipulates in into becoming. Finally, fetal tissue can survive at lower oxygen levels than mature cells. This would make them more resistant to the ischemic conditions found during transplantation or in vitro situations. Studies on fetal cell/tissue transplant have been encouraging. All of this research shows how fetal cells are a necessity in curing disabling and debilitating diseases such as Parkinson’s or ALS.

Researchers have found the use of stems cells for diseases, such as Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Parkinson’s, and other immunodeficiency conditions like DeGeorge Syndrome. A lot of the research over the past 10 years has mainly been focused on using neuronal fetal cells to treat Parkinson’s. Neurotransplantation with fetal tissue in Parkinsonism shows positive results in some globally accepted studies. There are futuristic potential uses of fetal tissue in bioengineering through coating/seedling of fetal tissue on implants, stents and other artificial surgical life-saving devices to improve their functioning, and it may also extend the life of these costly gadgets. By properly using pre-HLA fetal tissue seedling in orthopedic, thoracic and also neurosurgical appliances, there could be a reduction of long-term irritation sequelae of the implant and the host interphase, and thus, a better device, i.e., a more biofriendly interphase could be developed. This may help in the reduction of pseudomembrane formation, loss of patency and other resultant TH2 reactions of the host system. There also clinical research studies that are deciding whether transplanting fetal tissue into patients would help them recover from certain diseases, similar to organ donation. One study that is being tested is with testing fetal eye tissues as a possibility to treat retinis pigmentosa, which can lead to blindness.

When fetal tissue is used in research, it is often sent from the hospital or clinic, mainly Planned Parenthood that performs the abortion to an affiliated research center. A safeguard in the Health and Human Services guidelines is that the team that performs the abortion cannot know whether the fetus will be donated or not. This is to ensure that they do not change the way they perform the abortion, or jeopardize the woman’s health and safety. Abortions, which are performed at about half of Planned Parenthood’s 700 clinics, only constitute 3% of its services. A handful of clinics in two states supply the fetal tissue used for research. In 2014, the US National Institutes of Health funded 164 projects, using fetal tissue in these areas; HIV/AIDS (39%), developmental biology (18%), eye development and disease (14%), other infectious diseases e.g. Hepatitis C (13%), Miscellaneous e.g. type 1 Diabetes (8%), in utero diseases and toxic exposures (7%), and fetal tissue repository (1%). The cost of these projects cost a total of $76 million, which is about half of what agency spent on work with embryonic stem cells, and 0.27% of the 27.9 billion it spent on all research. Seeing that there is money funded into the research of fetal tissue, is where David Daleiden got that Planned Parenthood was indeed selling baby parts. This is not what in fact the truth is. According to the Huffington Post, “Americans want cures and to protect the health of their babies and children (as they should), but do not know where the cures from and when told, they do not want to hear about it.” This shows that because fetal tissue is from abortions, people just refuse to accept it or know of it. Daleiden was trying to end Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding, by creating these videos. Daleiden did not have any actual hard evidence, as the fetus he was using in the videos to create sadness and a dramatic effect, was not an actual aborted fetus from Planned Parenthood, that is was a still born at 19 weeks belonging to Alexa Fretz. He took this video without her permission from a memorial she had for her unborn sun. Daleiden even admitted to CNN that this fetus was not an aborted fetus, but still gave the same effect and made no difference. His whole plan was to air this anti-Planned Parenthood documentary during the CNN Republican debate, to end Planned Parenthood’s funding. Most people are not aware of what actually fetal tissue is, what it does, and that most of us have benefitted from it. People just know where it comes from, and automatically shut down because it has to do with abortion. Daleiden knew that was a weakness for people, and showing pictures of a fetus at 19 weeks was going to get people to side with him. Daleiden had no real proof that Planned Parenthood is actually selling baby parts. This documentary mainly focused on using factitious pictures, and recordings of employees who had no idea. None of his evidence was shot or taken from an actual Planned Parenthood clinic.

The actual research stands behind Planned Parenthood doing well for medical advancements, and not selling baby parts. The time researchers and scientists take in order to find out these cells can help with vaccinations, stem cell transplants, and disease treatment. There is so much opportunity for researchers and scientists in curing so many different diseases, and coming up with better treatment plans for terminal patients, with the help of fetal cells. People will always believe what they want to believe, and form confirmation bias, based on what they already know and were taught. Instead of actually finding out what Planned Parenthood was doing, people just fell to the knees at this anti-Planned Parenthood documentary. Just because a man claimed Planned Parenthood was selling baby parts, people believed it. Now Planned Parenthood and fetal tissue research could be in trouble with this upcoming election. There is an even more important need for fetal tissue research more than ever. Fetal tissue research has benefited most of us, as fetal tissues are the main derivative of vaccinations, such as Rubella, Polio, and Chickenpox. Those are the most common shots given, and you are a child when given them. As stated before, people want their children cured and their health protected, but they are not aware of where these cures come from, and when they are told where it comes from, they refuse to listen. It almost puts ignorance on people because; they want a cure, but refuse to accept that a cure came from something related to abortion. People just see or hear abortion, and their minds are closed. There is no changing their minds. The videos may have added steam to the fire with Planned Parenthood losing their funding, but this is not happening any time soon. The scientific research proves the benefits of fetal tissue donation and research.

Works Cited

Goodwin, Michele. “Let’s Remember Why Fetal Tissue Research Matters” The Huffington Post, 2015. Web.

Storrs, Carina. “How Exactly Fetal Tissue is Used for Medicine” CNN, 2015. Web.

Fox, Maggie. “Why use Tissue from Aborted Fetuses?” NBC News, 2015. Web.

Levitan, Dave. “Unspinning the Planned Parenthood Video” Fact Check, 2015.

Griffin, Drew and Fitzpatrick, David. “The Real Story Behind Those Planned Parenthood Videos” CNN, 2015.

Harris, Adam. “Everything You Need to Know About the Planned Parenthood Videos” Pro Republica, 2016.