During a Congressional hearing today, Representative Diane Black, a nurse of more than 40 years, slammed the sale of aborted baby parts during her question and answer session with witnesses. Black spoke at the inaugural hearing of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, focusing on bioethics and fetal tissue research related to the exposure of Planned Parenthood and others selling the body parts of aborted babies.
The hearing came just one day after a 12th video exposed how Planned Parenthood officials sell the body parts of aborted babies for profit and alter abortion procedures to obtain the parts. Both are potentially violations of federal law.
Black condemned the killing of an 8-10-week-old aborted baby who was subsequently sold for parts to a research university.
“This is not dignity. This is not respect for human life,” Black said. “I want to ask the panelists – have we reached a point in our society where there effectively is an Amazon.com for human parts, including entire babies?”
A transcript of Congressman Black’s remarks and questioning of the witnesses is provided below:
Congressman Black: I want to thank all the panelists for being here today. I want to begin by saying that I’ve spent my entire career as a nurse. I worked in the emergency room most of that time and it was my responsibility when I was in the emergency room, before we had the organ procurement organizations, to come and talk with the family members. It was my responsibility when someone was deceased to look [the family members] in the eyes and ask them if they could consider donating their family member for research or transplantation. It was a very sensitive time and I’ve got to tell you that, as I think about those times, I can actually see the eyes of the people that I asked this of. One of the things that I will always remember is the dignity and respect for those family members.
There was a report done by the Office of the Inspector General, and if I may insert this into the record, that looked at informed consent and tissue donation and what the expectations and realities were of these family members. Here are the things that were found in there. I don’t think it will surprise any of us because if we have someone we love who dies expectedly or unexpectedly it is a very traumatic thing. What organs will be procured? Will the body be treated with respect? And special care to ensure that the gift is used for the stated purpose. Those are the three main things that were found both in this report and also in my experiences . . . Very tender times. As I say, a dignity of life. I am curious that we don’t have that same dignity and respect for the life of what we call “tissue” and “fetus” and “embryo.” This is a baby . . . This is not tissue. You don’t get a brain, a liver, a kidney, all of these organs from a “tissue,” it is a baby.
Now, what I want to go to is if we could put up Exhibit F. In these documents – documents were produced to the panel by a leading university to show that a researcher sought from a tissue procurement business “a first trimester human embryo, preferably eight to 10 weeks of gestation.” . . . This is not dignity. This is not respect for human life. I want to ask the panelists – have we reached a point in our society where there effectively is an Amazon.com for human parts, including entire babies? And I’d like to ask our panel for their opinion on this email and the notion of obtaining potentially entire embryos on demand.
Dr. Kevin Donovan: I personally find that it shocks my conscience and I think that it should shock the conscience of the nation. I think you’re absolutely right. We have commodified what has been referred to as the ‘products of conception’, meaning babies and baby parts and yes they are for sale – supposedly just to cover one’s costs but those costs seem to be quite variable. But even if they were given away free, it’s shocking to be ordering what you want – “Can I have a boy fetus or a girl fetus or a brain or a heart or a liver . . . “ This is totally in distinction to the honorable transplantation industry that is life-saving and shows great respect for the donors.
Page Comstock Cunningham: I think what we need to pay attention to here is not ‘Is this somehow increasing abortion.’ My concern is that researchers will come to count on induced abortion for their research. One of the articles I cited in my written testimony shows that they say that liver from induced abortions is widely available and is a promising source. What have we come to where researchers need induced abortions to do their research? Wouldn’t have been better if we had banned this at the beginning and used the creative minds that we have to fight for better alternatives.
Congressman Black: I just have one brief comment to make . . . I believe we should give the same information and dignity to these young women that are making these decisions. I believe it should be a more informed and educational decision that they are making and I don’t believe that is happening currently.