August 23, 2019 | 79° F

Planned Parenthood debate reflects lack of knowledge

Opinion Column: Essentially Essex

Planned Parenthood has been in the news a lot lately, but what exactly is going on? While most of the talk surrounds funding, something else is going on. It has been said that there is a video including footage circulating of a “fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.” The group who supposedly released this video is called the Center for Medical Progress.

As a response, Planned Parenthood stated that these videos had been heavily edited, and that it significantly distorts and misrepresents actual events. The question everyone is asking is, where are the full, unedited videos? Despite the demands, the Center for Medical Progress will not release them. But as of now, the video is assumed to be showing a Planned Parenthood fetal tissue donation.

Planned Parenthood released the following statement after the accusations: “It is inaccurate to say that earlier videos released by this group showed Planned Parenthood staff members discussing 'selling' tissue. Staff discussed voluntary, nonprofit fetal tissue donation-identical to programs at hospitals and universities across the country.” I’m sure that now you're asking, what exactly is fetal tissue donation? Such a procedure happens after an abortion and results in the use or donation of organs and tissue from aborted fetuses and embryos for research.

What I found shocking was David Daleiden’s statement on what he thinks of fetal tissue donation. Daleiden, who runs the Center for Medical Progress, takes a pro-life stance, which makes him biased. He stated, “The whole world of selling baby parts and most fetal tissue work is real Frankenstein stuff.” When all of this came out, politicians jumped all over it, of course, launching an investigation into Planned Parenthood. Yet what I find most sad about this is how it seems that no one is on Planned Parenthood’s side. Everyone seems to be attacking and/or suspicious of the organization that does so much good for not just women, but men as well. Out of this investigation comes the threat of stripping funding for Planned Parenthood all together. What is this madness? Why would we want to get rid of an organization that does so much good, in the way of offering abortion services, healthcare, flu vaccines and helping people to quit smoking?

What’s often the case of such accusations is that people only hear the negative and are only thinking of the distorted image of fetal tissue donation. Since the 1930s, scientists have used tissue from aborted fetuses as a means of understanding cell biology and as an important tool in the development as vaccines. Fetal cells were used to develop both the polio and rubella vaccines, and the 1954 Nobel Prize for medicine was awarded to American immunologists who developed the polio vaccine based on cultures of human fetal kidney cells. So before you jump on the bandwagon against Planned Parenthood, realize that tissue donation has been around for many years, and has been very helpful for discovering cures and defenses against serious diseases.

There is nothing negative about this research — it will only further help us understand more about medicine. Also, the donation is not done without the woman’s permission. Not to sound like a broken record, but the “my body my choice” argument can easily be brought into this. If a woman wants to the fetal tissue to be donated after the abortion is complete, that’s her choice. If she wants to make something positive out of a seemingly, but not always negative experience, that’s her choice.

Furthermore, it is absolutely ridiculous to think that fetal tissue donation will encourage abortion, but the argument has been brought up. No woman wants to have an abortion, and no woman enjoys making that difficult decision. Some activists believe that some women who might have religious objections toward abortion would otherwise be persuaded to get one if she can donate to science — not that the religious should interfere with a woman's choice to have an abortion, regardless of her religious affiliation. Another ethical concern is that fetal tissue donation will change the way abortions are conducted. In other words, the doctors will perform the abortion to better increase the chances of preserving the fetal organs most needed in medical research. There will always be something, always another war for women to fight, another right that we should have access to if we want and another positive thing being put in negative light. But where would many of us be as women without Planned Parenthood?

Diana Essex is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in Women’s and Gender Studies. Her column, “Essentially Essex,” runs on alternate Wednesdays.

Diana Essex

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