Post-Abortion Organ Harvesting Ban: BDF Model Bill Enacted
The “dead donor rule” is a longstanding ethical norm that protects the integrity of human organ donation by providing that (a) organ donors must be dead before procurement of organs begins, and (b) organ procurement itself must not cause the death of the donor.
In addition to laying bare the horror of abortion in general, the videos and newly obtained evidence before the House Select Committee on Infant Lives raise serious questions about how the abortion industry targets the living bodies of unborn human beings by using the prospect of research to incentivize women to have abortions.
This is unethical coercion and exploitation of women who are often still in the decision making process.
On June 16, 2016, Democrat Governor John Bel Edwards of Louisiana signed legislation that prohibits the buying, selling or donation of human organs and body parts obtained from aborted human beings.
Based on a BDF model bill, HB 815 was co-authored by Rep. Julie Stokes (R-Dist.79) and Sen. Regina Barrow (D-Dist.15), and passed both houses with overwhelming bipartisan support.
BDF attorneys Nikolas T. Nikas and Dorinda C. Bordlee encourage other states to adopt this humane legislation based on the proposed Legislative Findings and Talking Points below.
We can be reached for pro bono consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Read the Louisiana Act based on the BDF Model: LA Act 593 of 2016-Body Parts Harvesting Ban
- Review the BDF Model Bill Banning Post-Abortion Fetal Body Parts Harvesting: Model Legislation-BDFBabyPartsBan8-28-2015
BDF Drafted Legislative Findings:
- The “dead donor rule” is a longstanding ethical norm that protects the integrity of human organ donation by providing (a) that organ donors must be dead before procurement of organs begins, and (b) that organ procurement itself must not cause the death of the donor.
- The harvesting of organs, tissues and cells from unborn children whose deaths are directly caused by induced abortion violate the dead donor rule in both respects because (a) the unborn children are alive when the fetal repositioning and crushing point decisions are being made by the abortion provider with the goal of procuring intact fetal heart, lungs, livers, brains and other tissues and organs; and (b) the repositioning of the fetus and crushing above and below the thorax to procure intact fetal organs, tissues and cells is itself the cause of death of the human being from whom the organs are then harvested.
- The dead donor rule is further violated because the human being whose fetal organs are procured does not have the capacity to consent to organ donation, and because proxy consent for donation by the unborn child’s mother is invalid given that the unborn child is alive at the time the consent forms are signed.
- The practice of presenting fetal organ donation forms to pregnant women considering their options constitutes unethical undue influence and coercion, and amounts to an incentive to actively participate in the killing of a living human being for the speculative and attenuated benefit of helping researchers.
- Whether or not prior obtained proxy consent by the mother is ethical and proper for an unborn child whose death is imminent due to natural miscarriage, it is a gross violation of ethical norms to unduly coerce a mother who is considering pregnancy options to directly participate in the decision to cause the death of her living unborn child for the speculative and attenuated benefit that may come from scientific experimentation.
- States are free to ban the practice of commodifying the bodies of human beings killed by abortion because federal law does not preempt the area of law regarding research on fetal tissue. See, e.g 42 U.S.C. 289g-1(e)(1)-(2) allowing the conduct “only in accordance with applicable State and local law.”
 James M. DuBois, Is Organ Procurement Causing the Death of Patients?, 18 Issues L. & Med. 21 (2002)(citation omitted); see generally, John A. Robertson, The Dead Donor Rule, Hastings Center Rep. 6-13 (Nov./Dec. 1999). See also James L. Bernat, M.D., Life or Death for the Dead Donor Rule?, N. Engl. J. Med. 369(14):1289 (Oct. 3, 2013)(“The DDR is not a law but an informal, succinct standard highlighting the relationship between the two most relevant laws governing organ donation from deceased donors: the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act and state homicide law. The DDR states that organ donation must not kill the donor; thus, the donor must first be declared dead. It applies only to organ donation from deceased donors, not to living donation, such as that of one kidney or a partial liver.”).
Planned Parenthood’s Organ Harvesting Should Be Outlawed
Aleteia.com Interview with Dorinda Bordlee by reporter John Burger. Published: July 22, 2015
What do you find especially troubling about the secretly-filmed videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue and organs?
In addition to laying bare the horror of abortion in general, the videos raise serious questions about how Planned Parenthood is commodifying human babies and using the process of research to incentivize women to have abortions.
But they say the women who sign the consent forms have already made the decision to have an abortion.
With elective abortion, until the woman is actually in the room and the abortion has been completed, she can always change her mind. Many women go into Planned Parenthood clinics wanting information, and they have not made that final abortion decision. So it seems to be highly unethical for a Planned Parenthood employee say, “Well, you could do good for science by donating your baby’s body,” because that would induce them to do something they might not otherwise have chosen to do. There’s just an inherent coercion by presenting a pregnant woman with the option of fetal organ harvesting at all, and that’s why Bioethics Defense Fund president Nikolas Nikas and I believe that the practice of organ harvesting from elective abortion is completely unethical and it should be completely illegal. We’re working on model legislation for the federal government and the states to prohibit this practice completely.
What’s the history? How long has it been legal?
In the early nineties, people who support legalized abortion pushed through a federal law that permitted research using “human fetal tissue” regardless of whether it was obtained from a miscarriage or an induced elective abortion. However, there is a companion law that makes it unlawful for any person to “knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration.” The term “valuable consideration” could be manipulated to hide profits because it is defined as not including “reasonable payments associated with the transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control or storage of human fetal tissue.” These items are all fungible. Because the law says it is unlawful to profit from the sale of organs, Planned Parenthood’s response was, “Look, we’re not selling the babies’ organs, we’re just setting the price for the use of our facilities, storage time, the time it took us to farm through the parts and decide which ones are usable and which ones are unusable.” It’s really just a shell game and a fiction and it’s not ethical at all. That’s why it needs to be made totally illegal to trade in fetal body parts for any reason, especially when those body parts are coming from an elective abortion.
Regardless of whether Planned Parenthood is found to have received valuable consideration or not, investigators will likely pay close attention to other provisions of those federal laws including the provisions about obtaining informed consent, and the alleged practice of using an alternate procedure of abortion that is more dangerous to the mother in order to keep the fetal organs in tact.
Isn’t organ donation something that can help research?
There’s a big difference between a woman donating her aborted baby’s body parts and a person deciding to donate his own body to science. When we’re dealing in the organ donation industry, usually we’re dealing with people who have terminal illnesses. They may sign something that says “Upon my death I donate my body to science.” That’s allowing the natural dying process to take place, and anticipating that your own organs can be used after natural death.
In this instance, we’re dealing with a healthy mother of a healthy baby, and we’re presenting her with an option to sign a form that says, “If you sign here, we will directly kill your baby and then harvest the organs.” That completely violates every ethical norm when it comes to organ donation. There’s an ethical norm called the dead donor rule. So, for example, if I found out I had terminal cancer, I couldn’t say, “Before my organs get too bad, go ahead and kill me so you can take the organs.” That is highly unethical; it would not be allowed. And yet here we are allowing Planned Parenthood to kill unborn human babies for the purpose of trading on their organs. And they’re trying to make the women who are in desperate situations feel better about abortion by telling them that they’re helping science. That is incentivizing direct killing. It’s completely wrong, it’s immoral, it’s evil, and it should be illegal.[Turning of the baby in the womb] would be dangerous if it were done at term, but would it still be dangerous if done much earlier, say, at 15 weeks or 18 weeks?
Yes, the increased medical risks are always there. The later the gestational period is, and the bigger the baby is, the riskier it is. A lot of this evidence came out during the partial-birth abortion litigation. My law partner, Nicholas Nikas, and I were directly involved in defending state partial-birth abortion bans. There was medical evidence that explains many of the reasons why partial-birth abortion is so dangerous. Partial birth abortion also known as “intact D&E” involves flipping the baby from a head first into a feet first position, then pulling the baby out feet first, leaving only the head in. At that point they pith a hole in the spine and suction the brain out of the baby’s skull. Investigators will have to look into the details, but it sounded like Dr. Nucatola was describing a procedure that seemed very similar to partial birth abortion. So that’s something else that investigators would have to verify, because it would be a separate federal law that is in question.
What happens to these body parts? Who purchases them, and for what reason?
There are apparently brokers, there are middlemen, who actually go in and sometimes send representatives to induce the women to sign the consent form, inducing them into killing their children with the prospect of helping science. Once they get these consent forms and the woman has the abortion procedure, the clinic workers try to ascertain the organs that are usable, or the broker sends someone to find the organs that are usable, and they fill orders from researchers, whether they are at universities or institutions. I have reviewed requisition forms for fetal eyes, fetal hearts, fetal livers, all kinds of organs and tissues.
So that’s one of the biggest questions on whether the law is being broken or not, namely as to whether there is financial profit. In America, brokers don’t set up shop unless there is a profit to be made, and these videos raise the question of whether brokers are promoting that same profit incentive to Planned Parenthood clinics. The victims are the women who are being manipulated, and the children whose bodies are used for parts.
What are your thoughts about some of Planned Parenthood’s defense in response to the Center for Medical Progress?
I think that it was remarkable that the only problem that Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards had was the tone of Dr. Nucatola. In a world where we’re killing millions of unborn children and incentivizing women who will then pay with their own psychological troubles for the rest of their lives, it’s remarkable that she is so insensitive that they admit, “Yeah, we engaged in this process, and we’re just sorry for her tone.” She should be sorry for the women and children whose lives she has destroyed.
Are there any new revelations from the second video?
The second video seems to shed more light on the alleged profit incentives of both Planned Parenthood and the fetal organ broker. It’s very helpful to show that that was a negotiation, just like any other contract negotiation. It’s interesting how at the end of the video, the representative of Planned Parenthood agreed on $100 per specimen, unless she found out that other clinics are getting more, in which case she would want more “compensation.” And of course she ended with the flippant statement that she wants a Lamborghini. That statement is strong evidence that it is about making a profit, and that it’s not about reimbursing expenses. If this were only about reimbursing actual expenses, then why is the Planned Parenthood doctor negotiating a price? If this is about negotiating expenses, she would simply need to say “Look, this is the cost of our expenses, and you will need to reimburse that.” This seemed to be a negotiation for profit, and that’s why I think the state and federal investigations have strong reasons for going forward. In the meantime, Bioethics Defense Fund is available to consult with state or federal policy makers who agree that this evil practice should be completely prohibited.
Bioethics Defense Fund, www.BDFund.org, is a public interest legal and educational organization whose mission is to put law in the service of life.
CONTACT: BDF attorney Dorinda Bordlee can be contacted at email@example.com or 504-231-7234.