First, a few stipulations: Planned Parenthood offers abortions at many of its healthcare clinics. The tissue that results from those procedures is medically valuable. Texas Governor Greg Abbott, and his predecessor, Rick Perry, have a deep-seated interest in making abortion illegal or as close to illegal as possible, as evidenced by their promotion and continued defense of 2013's Texas House Bill 2. If it ever becomes fully effective, House Bill 2 will close all but eight or nine of Texas' remaining abortion clinics.
Given that set of facts, everything that's happened in the last 48 hours makes sense.
First, this video got uploaded Youtube Tuesday morning:
Released by an entity calling itself The Center for Medical Progress, the video shows a meeting between a purported buyer of fetal body parts and Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Senior Director of Medical Services Deborah Nucatola. Depending on your perspective, Nucatola is either talking about donating tissue resulting from a legal medical procedure to facilitate research that can save lives or admitting to the harvesting of organs from fetuses for profit.
As would logically follow, Texas took the video as proof that it's been right in its march against abortion rights.
“The video showing a Planned Parenthood employee selling the body parts of aborted children is a disturbing reminder of the organization’s penchant for profiting off the tragedy of a destroyed human life,” Perry said Tuesday in a statement. “It is because of stories like this that I signed legislation defunding Planned Parenthood in the state of Texas – to protect human life and the health and safety of Texans.”
Late Tuesday night, Abbott took the video as an opportunity to call for dual investigations of the healthcare provider.
"The video of a high-level Planned Parenthood executive discussing the details of internal abortion procedures — including harvesting of baby body parts — is unnerving and appalling. In light of the video, I have directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to conduct an immediate investigation of this alleged practice in addition to a separate investigation ordered by the Texas Office of the Attorney General," he said
Of course, Planned Parenthood defends its practices. Any money exchanged between the organization and researchers covers actual costs, spokesman Eric Ferrero said in a statement. Politicians like Abbott, according to Ferraro, are acting in their own political interests.
"These outrageous claims are flat-out untrue, but that doesn't matter to politicians with a longstanding political agenda to ban abortion and defund Planned Parenthood. Women and families who make the decision to donate fetal tissue for lifesaving scientific research should be honored, not attacked and demeaned. Our medical practices and guidelines in this area are clear, and we do this important work just like other high-quality health care providers — with full, appropriate consent from patients, under the highest ethical and legal standards, and with no financial benefit for the patient or Planned Parenthood," he said.
Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, an umbrella organization that includes Dallas' Planned Parenthood clinics, says that it doesn't participate in tissue research like that described in the video.
"Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas has been providing high-quality, affordable health care to Texans for 80 years. We are committed to providing the full range of reproductive health care that our communities support and need such as lifesaving cancer screenings; birth control; sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment; HIV screening; and safe, legal abortion. Our health centers and ambulatory surgical centers do not participate in any tissue research programs though it is a recognized, standard practice within the medical community. Some patients wish to contribute to scientific research that can help lead to medical breakthroughs for treatments and cures for serious diseases. Women who have abortions are no different and should not be attacked and demeaned for political purposes. As a trusted provider of healthcare and education to nearly 85,000 Texans each year, our health center doors remain open to the women and men who rely on us," the organization says.
Wednesday afternoon, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that his office was officially investigating Planned Parenthood.
"The Office of the Attorney General has launched an official investigation into Planned Parenthood following the release of a video that details the organization’s calculated slaughter of human babies to maximize the available body parts they plan to sell," he said. "The video offers a glimpse into an organization that knowingly and deliberately destroys human life to further its bottom line.”