MSNBC Guest Compares Getting an Abortion to Donating Blood; ‘There Are Costs Associated With Donation’

While appearing on the Tuesday edition of MSNBC’s Now, Dr. Anne Davis of the Physicians for Reproductive Health compared undergoing an abortion to donating blood in context of the Planned Parenthood video scandal and that both have “costs associated with [the] donation” of giving “fetal tissue” over to “science.”

Davis was guided through the discussion by host Alex Wagner, who insisted that she confirm the “numbers that are thrown out” per baby by Planned Parenthood Medical Directors’ Council President Dr. Mary Gatter in a second video released Tuesday from the Center for Medical Progress (CMP).

After Wagner asked to what degree do prices of “$50, 75 and $100 per fetus...seem reasonable in the sort of the course of medical transport,” Davis first emphasized that “it’s helpful to understand what the money is for” and then began her analogy [emphasis mine]:

So, imagine you do something familiar like go to donate blood. So, you go to donate blood. You go to the center. You have a technician who places an IV. You donate the blood. The blood goes into a little bag. The bag into a little cooler. People have done blood donation, right? So, that is someone's job who has to help with the blood donation, make sure the donated blood goes to the appropriate place, it's transported to the hospital. So, those are jobs people have. So, the costs – there are costs associated with donation and that’s exactly what this is for. So, those are – seem like reasonable numbers that would go along with that kind of donation. 

Fellow panelist David Corn of Mother Jones chimed in moments later to lament that CMP and “right-wing media” have created “a false controversy” as “[t]he fact that there are tissue donations was not a secret” and “she was obviously making a joke” in stating that “selling body parts is her way to her Lamborghini.”

Continuing to portray abortion as an act of moralism, Wagner declared that, for some women, “fetal tissue extraction is for medical purposes and in some ways, is the silver lining of a very difficult process for most women.” Joining in complete agreement, Davis dubbed the donation of aborted babies as a “compassionate gesture” and one “that is very generous and very altruistic.”

The relevant portions of the transcript from MSNBC’s Now with Alex Wagner on July 21 can be found below.

MSNBC’s Now with Alex Wagner
July 21, 2015
4:19 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: ANTI-ABORTION GROUP RELEASES SECOND PLANNED PARENTHOOD VIDEO]

PHYSICIANS FOR REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH’s DR. ANNE DAVIS: Ok, so, I think it’s pretty straightforward actually for people to understand that there’s research and the backbone of medical progress is research, right? So, some of research involves tissues, cells, different things, right, we use to test experiments and to try to move science forward. Certainly, there is a role for donated tissue in those kinds – in that kind of science and that is something that's also been standard medical practice and is not a surprise.

WAGNER: What about – to the point that this group is trying to make, that Planned Parenthood may be in some way inflating the cost of the fetal tissue extraction to make a profit that there are a couple of numbers that are thrown out. $50, 75 and $100 per fetus. Talk to me about the numbers. I mean, to what degree do they seem reasonable in the sort of the course of medical transport. 

DAVIS: Well, I think it’s helpful to understand what the money is for. So, I certainly have full confidence that there isn't a profit being made under the circumstances. So, imagine you do something familiar like go to donate blood. So, you go to donate blood. You go to the center. You have a technician who places an IV. You donate the blood. The blood goes into a little bag. The bag into a little cooler. People have done blood donation, right? So, that is someone's job who has to help with the blood donation, make sure the donated blood goes to the appropriate place, it's transported to the hospital. So, those are jobs people have. So, the costs – there are costs associated with donation and that’s exactly what this is for. So, those are – seem like reasonable numbers that would go along with that kind of donation. 

(....)

MOTHER JONES’s DAVID CORN: Well they’ve done a really good job of creating, in some ways, a false controversy. The fact that there are tissue donations was not a secret and they have led people to believe – some people to believe that this was being done for profit, which makes it sound worse when actually it is not. And if you just watched the little clip you showed and the other clips, you can see how hard they’re trying to get someone to say something. Those of us who have studied these type of operations in the past can really see it. So she gives a number and they say, oh no that's too low like you should have more and when she's negotiates she goes, I want a Lamborghini – she was obviously making a joke, yet if you read right wing media, they latch on to that as if this is her way, selling body parts is her way to her Lamborghini.

(....)

WAGNER: Well, Dr. Davis, they’re also leveraging, I think, a certain amount of shame maybe that people feel. I think the language around 20-week abortion bans has been so divisive and also inaccurate. I mean, we don't understand why women have 20-week abortion bans and in the vast number of cases, it is because it is medically necessary and here, fetal tissue extraction is for medical purposes and in some ways, is the silver lining of a very difficult process for most women. Why do you think – and I would ask you this as a doctor, there needs to be a space where we can talk about this stuff because information is I think the beginning stage to explanation and acceptance. 

DAVIS: We would bring this to the actual reality of what happens, which is always my favorite job to do as the doctor – which is that, certainly, it is the common experience of anyone whose an abortion provider and myself included that when a patient is in a situation that is very difficult, and this particularly will turn up in a case where there is a rare fetal condition and they’ve decided to end the pregnancy that in a gesture that is very generous and very altruistic, they will volunteer to donate fetal tissue to help people understand how the condition developed, if there’s any way it could have been prevented to really move science forward for that particularly situation. So it is a compassionate gesture, it is a very private moment where people volunteer to do this and certainly so my colleagues around the country and I are, you know, the recipients of that sort of – in that moment with people and it’s very genuine. So, there are certainly services where people can help women do that generous thing they would like to do at that moment.


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