Deceptive informed consent documents. Crudely chopped-up body parts. Excuses about "fees" when confronted about organ and tissue trafficking. Detailed prices per body part. Federal and state regulators out to lunch.
These are the features of the stories involving Planned Parenthood's practice of selling human body parts following abortions in their clinics. These are also the same features of a series of stories involving "body brokers," who run filthy chop shops where corpses are bought and sold by part like a butcher's shop.
One man in Michigan, Arthur Rathburn, is the nexus for these two stories. Reuters released an exclusive report yesterday that federal investigators found the bodies of four unborn babies in Rathburn's chop shop. The discovery is notable for two important reasons. First, selling body parts from corpses is legal, but selling fetal tissue is against federal law. Second, as Reuters reports, the unborn babies are not mentioned in the indictment of Rathburn or other public documents.
Another familiar parallel that may be present in this case is investigators failing to take laws against fetal tissue trafficking seriously.
Since October Reuters has been running a series detailing the macabre body broker industry that operates almost entirely beyond regulation and public scrutiny. Usually cases involving the unborn require some unrelated hook to get proper scrutiny, for example, Kermit Gosnell was initially caught because of his massive drug trafficking. In this case, Reuters' body broker series was flying under the radar of the public consciousness until Reuters found evidence of the dead babies, linking the practices of body brokers to the abortion industry.
Reuters so far has done seven stories in their series. Those who closely followed David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress' investigation will see nearly perfect parallels in the details, as will prolifers used to dealing with the abortion industry. On the surface people are told these "services" are a benefit to them and society overall by advancing science. In reality, however, the body broker industry appears to show the same familiar disregard for the value of human life and the same willingness to violate moral norms to line pockets with blood money.
Several examples from the seven-part series stand out. In exchange for paying for cremation services, poor loved ones would donate bodies to science, and in return be given back some ashes. One body broker found a use for every body part of a deceased man, and sent grieving family members back sand masquerading as the man's ashes.
Reuters easily purchased the severed head and spine of a young man by posing as a tissue buyer. After purchasing the decapitated head, Reuters was able to locate the young man's parents to inform him of his grisly fate. The body broker failed to tell the young man's parents that this was going to be his fate in death.
Medical conferences held in major hotels—even a Disney resort—have used their event ballrooms for cadaver labs. Body brokers sell the corpses, which are wheeled into the ballrooms on gurneys. Cheap plastic is thrown down on the carpet so the next day's wedding crowd (hopefully) won't discover bone fragments and bodily fluids as they dine and let their small children crawl on the carpet. Apparently abortion clinics aren't the only places where proper sanitation is an afterthought.
What does this story mean for the prolife movement? It could mean a lot.
Planned Parenthood did everything they could to distract from the undercover videos that revealed their practices to the outside world. They've been able to trick many of their supporters into believing the practice of fetal tissue trafficking is "fake news." With this news coming on the heels of revelations of a federal investigation into Planned Parenthood and convictions in a related case, the baby body parts story may have just begun. The story may result in a public examination into wider practices involving tissue trafficking. Laws may be changed.
Organ donations and tissue donations are not just an issue that impacts unborn children, but also plays an important role in end-of-life situations. Simmering in the background is the idea that euthanasia can be successfully combined with tissue donation. Will patients find themselves pressured into accepted death, only for their bodies to be horse traded like cuts of beef at the market?
In the particular case of Michigan's own body broker, Arthur Rathburn, it's unclear if the four bodies discovered were children who had been aborted or stillborn. From the pictures Reuters released, at least one baby was either not aborted using the dismemberment abortion procedure (D&E), or the baby may have been born before the abortionist had a chance to tear apart his or her body. The babies may have come from Michigan, or anywhere; one part of Reuters story involves Rathburn driving back from Canada with 10 severed heads in his vehicle.
These questions demand answers, but from Reuters' reporting, it appears investigators may once again be derelict in their duty. If nothing else, at least these revelations have served to bring public scrutiny to these awful cases.
Rathburn's trial in federal court in Detroit is scheduled to begin on January 4. He is facing charges of fraud and lying to investigators. We'll hopefully have more details for you after that date.
Is there no end to the depth of human depravity?