I Am Pro-Life and Pro-Choice

Planned Parenthood harvests fetal organs for medical research. Whether they donate them or sell them matters but not nearly as much as the cold indifference with which they do so.

Having had an abortion myself some 25 years ago, I can tell you that cold indifference may get you through the procedure, but it is no match for the emotional fallout that burns in most women thereafter.

Along with about half of Americans, I am both pro-life and pro-choice; safe, legal abortion with some limitations, e.g., rape, incest, life of the mother at risk, and procedure performed within a certain number of weeks of conception.

Another 20 percent of Americans take the extreme view that no abortions should be allowed under any circumstances. In a perfect world, there would be no abortions. In the real world, women have always found a way to terminate unwanted pregnancies; I see no value in returning to back alleys and coat hangers.

The remaining 30 percent of Americans take the extreme view that no limitations should be put on abortion under any circumstances. That is a view, I freely admit, I used to share, but now I wonder how many of those with that view have actually had an abortion.

It's like trying to describe what being a parent is like to someone who doesn't have kids. You can't possibly understand what it's like to have an abortion--mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually--unless you've had one.

When I became pregnant, my husband told me it was my decision, but he didn't want a baby. My girlfriends all said, "Oh, go on, every woman gets one abortion. You can have your kids later."

I was so disconnected to whatever it was growing inside of me that I couldn't wait to get it out, forced to wait six weeks for it to be big enough to extract.

Finally, I was able to rid myself of this thing inside me. I came back to work with a new haircut, a brighter shade of lipstick, and everyone said I looked so fantastic, that there was just something different about me.
I was 28 at the time and thought, "Whew! Problem solved."

What I learned, and what almost any woman who has passed through that portal can tell you, is that abortion is a physical solution--not an emotional one. Women who escape the backlash of sorrow are the lucky ones.

Ticking along with our biological clocks is a wisdom clock, a growing awe for the creation and meaning of life. I never had another chance to have a baby, so I can speak only for the ache of what I threw away out of ignorance; rows of tiny shark teeth that constantly gnaw on the outer edges of my contentment.
For women who go on to have children after an abortion, do little shark teeth eat around the joy they feel with their children?

With few exceptions, abortion is a life-changing event that forever marks, and sometimes scars, a woman's psyche.

If Dr. Nucatola is the warm and caring woman I suspect her to be, I also suspect she must numb herself to the fact that she is terminating potential life after potential life. Planned Parenthood by definition minimizes, even negates, that reality. Ergo the cold indifference.

The only emotion Dr. Nucatola exhibits is her excitement at extracting relevant body parts for medical research. What struck me the most is "huddle" at the beginning of a surgery day to match the abortions on her schedule with "the list" of needed organs. As a "reasonable" provider, she plans which organs to harvest from which fetuses.

The plan guides her to "crush" the body in optimal places or even to use "graspers" to move the fetus around to breech position, preserving intact the all-important head, which can only be extracted whole with sufficient dilation toward the end of the procedure.

Planned Parenthood is in the business of solving problems, and like all problem solvers, depends for its survival on the problems continuing. Only by continuing to treat millions of women can they continue to receive hundreds of millions, more than half a billion, of tax dollars each year.

In the puppy mill business, upstream production creates downhill consumption, which creates more upstream production. Has Planned Parenthood created a similar business cycle on the backs of unwanted fetuses?

Even if they don't profit from donating body parts, it is clear from Dr. Nucatola that Planned Parenthood has plenty of takers. So many in fact that the national office considered a blanket donation contract, but, ironically, their attorneys nixed the plan. Better, said the lawyers, to let the local affiliates contract with research companies than subject the parent organization to moral and legal exposure.

The thirty-second apology by Planned Parenthood's CEO Cecile Richards, impassioned and humbly delivered, tells us exactly where Planned Parenthood stands. She personally apologizes for the "tone" and lack of compassion exhibited by Dr. Nucatola but not for the organ harvesting itself. She is proud of their "programs that help women donate fetal tissue for medical research."

It has been a long time since my own procedure, and if I signed a consent to donate fetal tissue for medical research, I have no recollection of it. I'm pretty confident I didn't sign a release that allowed Planned Parenthood to turn my fetus around feet first in order to extract the head intact.

Something is wrong with this equation.

Disclose the potential emotional aftermath prior to the procedure; if a woman elects to go forward, provide counseling as part of the after-abortion healthcare services; if a woman elects to donate fetal tissue, explain in detail how that tissue is extracted for medical research before she gives consent; and require that Planned Parenthood contract for such a controversial process from the national office with full disclosure.

We only need undercover videos if they're hiding something. If they're proud of what they do, proclaim it from the rooftops, and let women make truly informed decisions.