By Tia Will
As a forward to my perspectives on this tape, I want to address one issue first. Some posters, in response to my previous articles, have stated that the tapes are now released unedited in their entirety. I believe this is inaccurate. In order to portray this accurately, I have indicated when there is a cut. I have again stated the time on the tape the quotes occur, who is speaking and have prefaced my own comments with an asterisk.
The interviews with Melissa Farrell, Director of Research Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, while portrayed as a single intact interview are clearly selected and edited from two completely separate conversations as seen by the different settings, one against a blank wall in what is probably an office and the other in a restaurant. The Daleiden group does not make this distinction and switches back and forth to juxtaposition portions of conversations from different times and in different contexts.
24 seconds: Melissa Farrell Director of Research Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast:
“If we alter a process and we are able to obtain intact fetal cadavers,…It’s all just a matter of line items.”
*This statement by Dr. Farrell includes an obvious edit to exclude her full comment.
There is then a cut away to a written statement of illegality of knowingly transferring any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration.
44 sec: In public comment at a meeting or hearing: Abby Johnson – Former Clinical Director Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast stated: “$100 per specimen, 50 specimens/day, $5000/$120,000 dollars per month. That is certainly not recouping cost .”
* This statement is in error since each procedure costs far more than $100 to perform at 30 minutes of MA time, at least 20 minutes each of physician time on two separate days, and at least 10 minutes of nursing time for direct patient counseling and care alone.
- Physician time – $ 70/hour
- Nurse time – $30/hour
- MA time -$12/hour
Obviously these are estimates that will vary by location of the affiliate, but I believe them to be representative. Rounding low this would come to approximately $50 in personnel time alone. This does not include equipment or medication costs, tissue processing and packaging costs, counseling time for the donation (which would require about another 20 minutes of MA time), nor cost for rent and/or building ownership and/or maintenance. So one can see that Ms. Johnson’s statement is inaccurate even using the $100/per procedure estimate which was the high end of the range quoted by Dr. Nucatola as ranging from $30-$100/ per specimen. So by her own estimate, Ms. Johnson’s testimony would have PP operating at a loss.
1:02: Cut back to Melissa Farrell: “In terms of areas that I can contribute to the organization both locally and nationally would be the diversification of revenue streams.”
* Factual statement explaining her role and having absolutely nothing to do with the alleged “selling of fetal tissue.”
During office interview
1:41: “Our organization…..has been doing research for many, many, many years.”
*No claim is made that the research conducted is on fetal tissue, since of course, it is not. The research done by PP is on issues of reproductive health.
3:03: When asked if specific tissue can be obtained intact Dr. Merrill replies:“Yes, I think we can, I mean some of it is really happenstance because you know, sometimes as the procedure is happening, the procedure itself is generally standardized and so just depending on the patient’s anatomy, how many weeks, how it is placed in the uterus we are going to potentially have some that will be more or less intact and some that will not be.” She further notes that this is the purview of the doctors and that they would have to be consulted with regard to what procedures could be used to attempt to obtain an intact specimen.
*As I explained previously, obtaining an intact specimen is actually better for the patient as well as it is usually less traumatic to the maternal tissues to have the fetal tissue removed intact .
4:42: The female interviewer has introduced the subject of compensation, saying: “So we have, for specific specimens, the cost would be higher.”
5:02: Ferrell replies: “We can work it out in the context of, obviously the procedure itself is more complicated. So that anything that we integrate into that procedure, without having you cover the procedural cost is going to be higher.”
* Clear statement that it is not the tissue that is going to be charged more for, but that any compensation is for the time and expertise required to obtain the tissue.
5:20: Ferrell: “So anything of a higher gestational age there is more opportunity for complication, there is more administrative time involved, sometimes the procedures are longer so that anything that we piggyback onto that for collection purposes, obviously would have to reflect that additional time cost, administrative burden.”
*Another clear statement that this is not the tissue being sold but rather compensation for the time of the personnel involved
5:36: Female interviewer states: “So that our compensation that‘s higher to you for our specific intact specimen could be built into that.”
*Implication is that the compensation is for the specimen even though Ms. Ferrell has just stated specifically that it is for the additional time and expertise involved.
6:17 Cut back to the restaurant interview
Female interviewer states :
“Back to your financial background, I think that’s what …..You can see the benefit of this financially. Just having had that background , and seeing how a – it’s gold out there. And, it could be so beneficial. So I’m glad that you have that background, so that you see the financial benefits of – getting the right specimen and getting it intact and if you change the procedure just a little bit within –the framework that you said so that we’re talking about it the same way, and the right way, but the financial gain, and being, to your staff knowing this is the end we’re gong for—“
* Please note that these are the words of the female interviewer, not those of Ms. Farrell.
Change of procedure is the norm in medicine as one technique may prove to be sufficient for one woman’s care, but not for that of another patient. The only requirements are that the physician remain within the standard of care and that the patient be appropriately consented for each eventuality that may arise during the procedure.
Ms. Farrell’s reply including a statement that her research division is the largest in PP is then truncated so that we cannot hear her response and there is an immediate cut away back to the office interview.
7:26: Female interviewer: “If that provider is needing to change that technique a little bit and I know I’m going against my side of this, but I’m okay with it, no I want you to be paid per specimen.
Ms. Ferrell: “Mhm mhm.”
*While Ms. Ferrell makes no clear agreement or disagreement at this point, it is clear from her previous comments that any compensation in her mind is for staff time and processing of each specimen, not for the body parts themselves.
8:16: “And if we are able to obtain intact fetal cadavers and can make it part of the budget that any dissections are this, and splitting the specimens into different shipments is this, I mean its just a matter of line items.”
*It is clear that the “line items “ that Ms. Ferrell is referencing are the processes, time and expertise to prepare the specimens, not the specimens themselves. At no time does she discuss the relative worth of thymus, or liver, or neural tissue. For her it is always about the cost of acquisition and processing, despite the Daleiden group’s efforts to make it sound as though she is referencing specific fetal tissues.
8:28: After an obvious edit, the male interviewer asks: “And so are they requesting just liver, or liver-thymus or just long bone?”
Ferrell: “Let’s see. Everything CNS, brain, kidney, thymus, liver, bone marrow, hepatic stem cells.
Followed by inaudible portion of conversation between male interviewer and Ms. Ferrell.
9:02: Male interviewer: “So, for a study like that where we could provide the whole cadaver, they could take whatever they want.”
To which Ms. Ferrell agrees.
*This addresses a point made by a poster previously about why not submit the entire specimen intact. This is the policy for research institutes that desire multiple different tissues for varying projects within their institution, but would not be an adequate process for those who are located in different geographically separated institutions. Again, the issue of line items is a referent to the processes involved in obtaining and transporting the specimens, not the value of the individual tissues themselves as the Daleiden group is attempting to imply.
9:32: Ms. Ferrell states, while looking at her computer screen: “Oh, and I was wrong. They want $ 120.00.
*There is no reference to who wants the $120 and the tape is edited out immediately after the male interviewer’s statement of surprise. The tape then cuts to the clinical pathology laboratory with a disclaimer that some viewers may find this content disturbing.
9:55: Male interviewer asks if there are any fresh specimens that they can view. A technician states that they are “all mixed up in a bag. If I had known, I could have saved something.”
*Now, I agree that those not in the medical field are likely to find this disturbing. But the question arises – what is the more positive outcome? Is it for the tissue to end up in a bag to be destroyed, or is it a greater good for it to be donated for research, regardless of how one feels about the reason for it being available ?
10:05: Not to be deterred, the female interviewer then pushes to see that material just to get “a visual” anyway. “Is that possible?”
The technician then says, “Hmm, let me see.”
Male interviewer then suggests that they would just like to get a look to see the relative intactness on a typical day.
The technician states: “You are not going to see anything intact today because the way we collect the tissue, it all gets put into one container.”
*Obviously this is not a for-profit venture based on fetal parts or the tissue would always be preserved separately and as intact as possible in case it could be sold.
They then proceed at the urging of the interviewers to bring out the tissue obtained from an 18-week abortion in which there is a large amount of tissue fragmentation which allows the male interviewer (same man as in the previous tapes) to act as though he is uncertain about the identity of various tissues (which on previous tapes he has been seen pointing out to the doctor).
*This is, in my opinion an obvious attempt to provide those “disturbing images” and has no relationship to the legality of Planned Parenthood’s processes.
12:52: The Planned Parenthood representative then describes the role of the sensitivity of the patient to the procedure and the role that this plays in the ability to obtain an intact specimen.
*Here it is important to note that the kind of anesthesia used is conscious sedation. This means that the patient has an IV through which pain medications are administered (which cross through the placenta thus also sedating the fetus). However, because she is not intubated, the amount of drug is limited to the amount that will leave that patient in full control of her airway and breathing. This is less risky for the patient, but may mean she will experience some pain during the procedure albeit it much less than with just oral medications. She also discusses, as I have previously noted, that the least number of passes needed for complete evacuation of the pregnancy will result in less maternal discomfort. Thus, more intact tissues extraction is preferable and safer for the mother.
15:22: After an obvious break in the tape,
Female interviewer asks: “Any idea why the other affiliates in Texas think it’s illegal?”
PP representative says looking puzzled “No….really ?”
*Of note, we do not hear what is said immediately prior to this exchange so it is unclear what the “it” is in this conversation.
The tape ends with the technician, obviously trying to be helpful to the Daleiden group who pressured her to bring out the tissue in the first place, asking : “Do you want to see some more ?”
My impressions after viewing this tape:
- The tape is not a complete unaltered video but rather a compilation of selected comments from four different events, an office interview, a clip of a presentation before a civic panel of some kind not identified, a luncheon, and a laboratory inspection.
- They have been clearly been cut and pasted to support the presuppositions of the Daleiden group.
- In the case of the laboratory inspection, the tape has been altered to be as disturbing as possible, with the Daleiden representatives picking through and holding up tissue fragments in ways that I have never seen done by any medical personnel. This is in my opinion the only truly disturbing display of disrespect for the tissue shown during all of the tapes to date and it was done by the Daleiden group, not the doctors or technicians of Planned Parenthood.
- This tape, like the others, while presenting information and visuals that will clearly be disturbing to some, including myself as above, provides no factual information that anything illegal is occurring at all.