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A tech company may have received whole fetuses for tissue harvesting

Banner ultrasound credit cdc jim gathany public domain 4 8 15 cnajpg 1

Ultrasound. Credit: CDC/Jim Gathany. Public domain.

Is a fetal tissue supplier receiving whole fetuses from abortion clinics? That’s what one citizen journalist group claims from video of a secretly-recorded conversation released Tuesday. At issue is a statement by the CEO of the California-based fetal tissue supplier StemExpress, Cate Dyer. In a dialogue about procuring liver tissue, Dyer said that StemExpress receives “intact cases” from abortion clinics. Whether by “cases” she meant intact livers or intact fetuses is debated. The group that recorded and produced the video, the Center for Medical Progress, claims she is clearly referring to wholly-intact fetuses, which if true could mean that abortion clinics are performing live-birth abortions, they say. StemExpress, however, replied in a written statement that Dyer was specifically referring to intact livers and that the company has never received a whole fetus from an abortion clinic. The Center for Medical Progress released the video Sept. 25 after a federal court’s temporary injunction was lifted on Friday. StemExpress had secured the injunction in July to prevent undercover videos featuring its top executives from being made public. At the beginning of the discussion on liver tissue, Dyer asked one of the actors posing as a tissue “buyer” what volume of liver tissue they could provide her.   “So liver, and what about intact specimens,” the buyer responded. A problem for fetal tissue suppliers is ensuring that tissue obtained from abortions is “intact” enough to be used for research. “If you have intact cases, which we’ve done a lot, we’ve sometimes shipped those back to our lab in its entirety and that would also be great if you have those,” Dyer said. “The entire case?” one of the actors replied. “Yeah, yeah,” Dyer responded, because tissue procurement at abortion facilities, she added, “can go really sideways, depending on the facility, and then our samples are destroyed, and we’re like, ‘Really?’” StemExpress said in a written statement that the company “has never requested, received or provided to a researcher an ‘intact fetus’.” The term “intact case” is routinely used in a “clinical abortion context,” David Daleiden, project lead for the Center for Medical Progress, explained to CNA. “In the [abortion] clinics, they have problems with the procurement [of tissue],” he said, and Dyer admits that the abortion procedure often does not leave the tissue intact. Thus, StemExpress would need a wholly-intact fetus from which to procure fetal tissue, CMP claims. Elsewhere in the conversation, Dyer refers to “cases” as whole abortions and not just body parts such as livers, Daleiden said. In two separate instances, she appears to refer to a “case” as a whole aborted fetus from which StemExpress procures fetal tissue. Regarding the abortion procedure and its damaging effect on fetal tissue, Dyer says that at a clinic “the suction destroys everything and it gets to the point where you could look at 60 cases and get nothing.” Elsewhere, she talks about the number of abortion “cases” that clinics might perform in a day, and the quality of fetal tissue that may be procured there. “If you’re a physician in Nebraska, well, not Nebraska but somewhere else right? Minnesota or something and you’re doing ten cases a day, you know, and you can take your time and do a thorough job and go home at the end of the day, that might be good for you and the tissue would be good. Then you go to Planned Parenthood six blocks away, they're doing fifty cases a day and you couldn’t collect one thing, if you tried.” Planned Parenthood considers a “case” to be one whole aborted baby from which multiple organs can be extracted, according to one of its top doctors. In another undercover video previously released by the Center for Medical Progress on July 14, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, was asked what the organization considers one “specimen.” “One case,” she answered. She clarified that “if you end up shipping four individual specimens, that’s still one patient.” “Yea, that’s what I was going to say. If we take kidney, liver, thymus and say bone marrow --” one of the actors posing as a tissue “buyer” responded, and Nucatola interjected “Yeah, to us it’s all just one.” Dyer made other admissions in the Aug. 25 video, that sanitary conditions at some abortion clinics are quite poor and StemExpress is also a big supporter of abortion rights. “I’ve seen really rampant, rampant problems with bacteria in certain clinics,” she said. “ I’ve seen staph come out of clinics.” “You know, we’re so much more the advocate, we're like the total pro-choice advocate, NAF [National Abortion Federation] supporters,” she admitted, “we sponsor events, we sponsor NAF, we give money to these organizations. We’re totally committed to everything, with supporting the clinics.” She also joked about the harvesting of body parts of aborted babies, noting that researchers are uncomfortable when receiving fetal tissue at laboratories. “They’ll open the box, go, ‘Oh God!’” Dyer noted, laughing. “So yeah, so many of the academic labs cannot fly like that, they’re not capable.” Tuesday’s video is the latest in the “Human Capital” series produced by the Center for Medical Progress, a three-year investigation into the fetal body parts trade. The group began releasing the videos on an almost-weekly basis beginning on July 14. Previous videos featured secretly-taped conversations with top Planned Parenthood doctors, who told of how their affiliates supply body parts of aborted babies to fetal tissue procurement companies. In one of the videos released July 30, the vice president for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Dr. Savita Ginde suggested that babies are delivered at clinics before an abortion can be performed, leaving open the question of whether clinics were performing live-birth abortions. “Sometimes, if we get, if someone delivers before we get to see them for a procedure, then we are intact, but that’s not what we go for. We try for that to not happen,” she said. In the first video in the series released July 14, Nucatola was seen discussing compensation prices for the fetal body parts and describing in grisly detail the process of obtaining fetal tissue from an aborted baby. In the second video released the following week, the president of the organization’s medical directors council, Dr. Mary Gatter, joked about the pricing of fetal body parts, saying she wanted a “Lamborghini.” Additionally, Gatter suggested that the abortion procedure could be changed to better obtain an “intact specimen.” CMP had also taped conversations with StemExpress executives about their participation in the fetal body parts trade, but these specific videos had been temporarily banned for release by the federal court order. The group did feature testimony of a former StemExpress technician, Holly O’Donnell, about the company’s partnership with Planned Parenthood clinics, in videos released Aug. 12 and Aug. 19. Fetal tissue was extracted from aborted babies without the mother’s consent, O’Donnell claimed in the video released Aug. 12. She also told of her having to harvest tissue from a baby whose heart was beating after an abortion. “I’m sitting here and I’m looking at this fetus, and its heart is beating, and I don’t know what to think,” she said. “I don’t know if that constitutes it’s technically dead, or it’s alive.”

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