New England Journal of Medicine Defends Planned Parenthood Selling Aborted Babies

National   |   Wesley J. Smith   |   Sep 3, 2015   |   3:41PM   |   Washington, DC

The New England Journal of Medicine is as much an ideological as a medical and science journal.

Case in point, an angry tribute to Planned Parenthood by editor-in-chief Jeffrey M. Drazen and two other doctors (one, a volunteer for PP). From, “Planned Parenthood at Risk:”

Planned Parenthood is under attack — again.

This time, a campaign of misinformation about the retrieval of fetal tissue used in research and therapy is the excuse.

When women have made the decision to terminate a pregnancy, Planned Parenthood allows them the opportunity to have the fetal tissue that would otherwise be discarded be used by qualified researchers to help answer important medical questions. The organization does so carefully, following all applicable laws and ethical guidelines.

That’s a mere assertion and a particularly questionable one, given what the undercover tapes have disclosed.

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Whatever one thinks of obtaining fetal organs and tissues after abortion for use in research, the tapes provide very reasonable suspicion that PP breaks the law by altering the way it aborts, not to benefit the woman, but for the purpose of obtaining whole organs, i.e. in a “less crunchy” manner.

But the good doctors avoid any discussion of that by pretending that we have not seen the crass recounting of “intact babies” and the report of heartbeat restarting prior to dissection.

Instead, they resort to the time-tested defense when questionable ethics are disclosed; resorting to the usual bromide that the questionable practice will lead to CURES! and increased knowledge.

But utility doesn’t justify all things. Moreover, good ethics is integral to good science–supported by the public. Fetal tissue can be obtained through ethical means.

Besides, if all that matters is THE SCIENCE!, why not keep the aborted fetuses alive to conduct research. Imagine what we could learn!

Oh, right. We used to do that–funded by the NIH–until the public found out and the Kennedy family led a drive to end the abhorrent practice.

Perhaps Drazen et. al. should tell us whether they would support renewing such research. If not, why not?

The PP apologists also praise the organization for the non abortion health care it offers. But doing good in one area does not justify wrongdoing in another.

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But non (or less) controversial areas of practice PP provides are irrelevant to the question at hand about their organ harvesting procedures.

Then, a full-throated attack against pro-lifers:

It is shameful that a radical antichoice group whose goal is the destruction of Planned Parenthood continues to twist the facts to achieve its ends.

We thank the women who made the choice to help improve the human condition through their tissue donation; we applaud the people who make this work possible and those who use these materials to advance human health.

We are outraged by those who debase these women, this work, and Planned Parenthood by distorting the facts for political ends.

Technical point: The “tissue” isn’t that of the woman: It is–was–the fetus’s. This isn’t the same as giving blood or allowing a cell line to be created from one’s own tumor.

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More to the point, notice the provocative, hyper-political, and emotionally-laden language deployed by the advocates, inappropriate for one of the world’s most influential learned journals.

This short article is one small example of how highly ideological our medical intelligentsia have become. Remember that next time “the experts” opine–always, in the name of better science–on a crucial moral question. Note: Wesley J. Smith, J.D., is a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture and a bioethics attorney who blogs at Human Exeptionalism.