In the latest investigative video (6th video) about Planned Parenthood’s tissue-harvesting practices, a whistleblower tells how workers at a Fresno, Calif., center took the remains of babies for experimentation without a mother’s consent.
Holly O’Donnell, who worked for the tissue procurement company StemExpress, recalled one of her coworkers at the center taking blood from a woman in late-term pregnancy after the woman had already refused to donate tissue or blood to StemExpress.
O’Donnell asked the worker, “What did you say to her to get that blood?”
“Nothing,” the worker replied.
The video is the sixth released by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) in a series about selling the remains of aborted babies for scientific research. Planned Parenthood claims it only receives reimbursement for the costs of harvesting the specimens. But earlier videos show Planned Parenthood employees working out the details of selling the specimens to undercover journalists posing as tissue buyers. Planned Parenthood executives tried to negotiate for higher fees and said they could alter abortion procedures to provide higher quality specimens for more money.
The video released today did not contain undercover footage but focused on O’Donnell’s experience working for StemExpress.
“It really wore me down,” she said. “The environment, it’s morbid. You can hear screaming. You can hear crying.”
While she worked for StemExpress, O’Donnell started her days by reviewing sheets of tissue orders. One such sheet shown in the video listed the need for a liver from a baby at 18 to 22 weeks gestation for UCLA, a 14-week pancreas for the University of Massachusetts, and a 16- to 18-week brain that was “complete but can be in pieces” for Temple University.
O’Donnell said she felt pressure from coworkers to meet the demand for specimens. She was once scolded for not getting a consent to donation from a woman who was crying and throwing up and didn’t know if she wanted an abortion. “That was an opportunity you just missed,” she said she was told.
“If there was a higher gestation, and the technicians needed it, there were times when they would just take what they wanted. And these mothers don’t know. And there’s no way they would know,” O’Donnell said.
Federal law requires patients to consent to all donation of aborted tissue. The consent must take place after the woman has already made up her mind to have an abortion.
The videos from CMP have shed light on the high demand for aborted babies’ remains for science experiments and Planned Parenthood’s relationship with tissue providers. In a hearing Tuesday in the Wisconsin state Senate, Dr. Robert Golden, dean of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, said tissue from aborted babies is essential to the school’s research. The state legislature is considering whether to ban the use of aborted tissue in experiments.
When asked by a lawmaker what would happen to the school’s research if women quit having abortions, Golden said, “It would have a substantial negative impact on our capacity to do the life-saving research that we are doing.”
But Dan Miller, state director for Pro-Life Wisconsin, equated excuses about deriving good from using aborted babies for research to the talking points parroted by Nazis who experimented on Jews during the Holocaust.
StemExpress has defended its practices, saying 90 percent of its business involves adult donors and its work contributes to finding cures for disease.
“The nation’s and the world’s great research facilities need a reliable source of human-derived blood, tissue, and cellular specimens to perform their studies,” a statement on the StemExpress website reads. The company also noted it has never requested an intact human fetus from an abortion provider. In one video by CMP, an abortion worker told its undercover journalists she could provide an intact fetus.
StemExpress has sued CMP to stop it from releasing undercover footage of its employees. The company has accused the pro-life group of violated California wiretapping laws by making clandestine recordings of its employees. A judge has ordered CMP not to release a video allegedly taken in May during a restaurant meeting with high-ranking StemExpress officials until an Aug. 19 court hearing on the matter.
O’Donnell, who no longer works for StemExpress, said, “I’m not going to tell a girl to kill her baby so I can get money. That’s what this company does. Straight up.”
— by Lynde Langdon