Abby Johnson testifies before Texas Senate on Planned Parenthood’s profiting from sale of fetal remains

Warning: The following testimony deals with the graphic issue of abortions, the dismemberment of fetal tissue after abortions, and the harvesting and disposal of fetal remains. Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood abortion clinic director, testified before the Texas State Senate.

If you are reading this and have had an abortion, I am not judging you at all. I love you and pray for you, as does the whole Orthodox Church every day. My fervent hope is that you will not despair of your decision, but will unite yourself all the more deeply to the Church who loves you. If you are not an Orthodox Christian, Google “Orthodox Christian parish” and find the one closest to you. Stop by for a service sometime and revel in the peace. You are always welcome in the Lord’s temple. The Lord still loves you and always will, and He wants to offer you the healing your soul needs. If you were coerced by your partner or parents into getting an abortion, the Lord understands the truth of what happened. Nothing you can ever do will destroy or take away His love for you. If you are struggling after having had an abortion, please Google your nearest Orthodox Church, and, if you want, feel free to stop by, call, or talk to a priest there. That is a core part of their job, to counsel people in grief and desperation. They will not turn you away. God bless you and keep you, and bring you healing of soul and body. You are a beloved child of God, and always will be.

You are not alone in your struggle. Every year thousands of women who have gone through abortions regret their decision and feel deep pain over it. Abby Johnson has dedicated her life’s work to helping post-abortive women in the recovery and healing process. She worked for Planned Parenthood for many years and saw the evil of the institution from the inside.

Here is most of Ms. Johnson’s testimony:

My name is Abby Johnson, I am a former Planned Parenthood abortion clinic director. I worked directly for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast affiliate and ran one of their abortion centers. My testimony is going to specifically talk about the procedure of harvesting fetal tissue and organs. It is not true that [at PP] fetal tissue is only harvested through DNA procedures. Fetal tissue is harvested through manual vacuum aspiration… and vacuum aspiration procedures. The vacuum aspiration procedure is twenty-seven times more powerful — the suction — than a household vacuum, so it is not always a D&E [“dilation and evacuation” abortion procedure] that is performed. .. After the abortion is performed, the fetal tissue, the aborted child, is suctioned into a glass container. That glass container goes into a lab called the POC lab, the poc lab, that officially stands for ‘products of conception’, however in Planned Parenthood the joke was that it stood for ‘pieces of children’. The tissue would be dumped into a glass baking dish, a little water would be squirted in there, and the POC technician who is not medically trained in any way would then begin pulling the parts of the baby away from each other and, depending on what was ordered by the company that we [PP] were going through — we personally went through Amphioxus Cell Technologies and Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast– and we would pick out depending on what was ordered, whether it was eyes, liver, the entire body, babies are always dismembered during abortion procedures, whether it’s through D&E or an aspiration procedure. It is very rare to get intact tissue unless you are doing a procedure over sixteen weeks’ gestation. Many times they would also be ordering extremities — legs, arms, the calvarium, which is the skull, the head. We would piece these parts and then we would put them into a bio-hazard zip-lock bag. That would go into a Styrofoam container that had dry ice in it. That would go into our freezer that was already in the POC room. The freezer was jokingly called the nursery inside of our abortion facility, that was where all of the babies were held until a company…would come and either take them for bio-hazard waste [disposal] or we would ship them to the Amphioxus Cell Technology company. Generally, in our studies that we did, we received $200 in compensation per baby that was sent. I can assure you that there is no additional charge for collection, or storage of fetal tissue. The only additional expense would be shipping and that’s between five to ten dollars per specimen, not $200. That [the $200] is sheer profit for Planned Parenthood, and let’s just be a little generous here, the Planned Parenthood in Houston off of the Gulf Freeway, their abortion quota is to perform 75 abortions every day, 6 days per week. Let’s be conservative and say they only charged $100 per specimen, and let’s say that only 50 of the 75 women consented to harvesting this fetal tissue. That would be $100 per specimen, 50 specimens per day would be $5,000 per day, multiply that 6 days a week, we’re talking about $30,000 per week that Planned Parenthood was collecting from fetal tissue. Extrapolate that $120,000 per month. That is certainly not recouping cost from the abortion procedure or anything relating to fetal tissue research…

You can hear Ms. Johnson’s full testimony which begins at 2 hours and 30 minutes into this video. You can follow and ‘like’ Ms. Johnson’s page on Facebook here, and link to her professional website here.

Just to give you an idea of how much profit Planned Parenthood makes off the sale of fetal remains: if we take Ms. Johnson’s figure of (a low estimate) of Planned Parenthood making only $100 per fetal specimen, harvesting 50 fetal specimens a day, results in a profit of $5,000 per day, multiply that by six days a week (how many days PP operates) and you have $30,000 per week. Multiply that by four and you have $120,000 per month, with a grand annual total of an astonishing $1,440,000 — this is how much profit an average Planned Parenthood clinic could make per year off the sale of fetal remains. Yes, that ugly Planned Parenthood building closest to you could well be making over one million dollars per year off the sale of fetal remains. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, friend of President Obama and daughter of the late Democratic Texas pro-abortion governor Ann Richards, makes a whooping annual salary of $400,000 per year — the same salary as the U.S. President himself. In just three months of one clinic’s sale of fetal remains, Richards’ annual salary is paid for.

Planned Parenthood’s website lists over 700 clinic locations across the United States .If we multiply the annual fetal remains profit of $1,440,000 per clinic by 700, the result — the total annual profit Planned Parenthood obtains from the sale of aborted fetuses’ remains — is a staggering $1,008,000,000 — yes, over one billion dollars. In this March 25, 2006 Washington Post article by Darragh Johnson covering Cecile Rechards, then the newly-appointed president of Planned Parenthood, the article claims that the organization operates “850 health-care clinics”, meaning that, if we take the earlier figure of an annual profit per clinic from the sale of fetal remains of $1,440,000 and multiply it by 850, the total annual profit Planned Parenthood obtains from the sale of aborted fetuses increases to a numbing $1,224,000,000.

President Obama refers to Wendy Davis’ filibuster as “something special”

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“Something special is happening in Austin tonight” – these are the words of one of President Obama’s recent Tweets.

For the President of the United States to write about any place-specific event being “something special”, one might assume that he is either campaigning in a town that is part of a crucial county during an important election, speaking at a memorial service for someone he deeply respects, or reflecting on something which he considers to be of great national importance. The President does not simply throw around endearing, praiseful language such as this without reason; for him to call any event “something special”, he has to see it as important and worthy of praise. Most of all, he has to believe that his response is expected.

Bearing this in mind, I was thus all the more disturbed by the President’s choice [or one of his staffer’s – I don’t know if the President actually writes his own Tweets, though, giving his well-known folksy speaking style, I wouldn’t be surprised if he actually wrote this one] to refer to Texas state senator Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth)’s infamous filibuster as “something special”.

Perhaps naively, given the escalation of the ongoing “culture wars” which show little sign of causing any real engagement between polarizing and opposing worldviews, I never expected that I would see the U.S. head of state single out a state senator’s filibuster against a state bill which would have outlawed abortions at the fifth month of pregnancy (20 weeks). It is truly astonishing for the President to laud Senator Davis’ work as “special”. As jarring as it is to read such a statement coming from the President, ultimately, no one should be surprised, given that this is the man who wished God’s blessing upon Planned Parenthood, that infamous federally-funded political group which, yes, does provide many low-cost and free health services to women, while also serving as the nation’s largest abortion provider (what a sickening word in this context, as if obtaining an abortion were comparable to obtaining a new wireless telephone network or Internet provider!).

I tend to refrain from posting directly about political topics on here for various reasons, the most obvious one being that, as a university student, I have ample opportunity to discuss domestic and international politics with friends, professors and colleagues both offline and on that medium which has become so ubiquitous in most people’s lives today, Facebook. I don’t follow President Obama’s Twitter account, but I came across this image, and it so disturbed me that I decided to print-screen copy and save it as a Paint document in order to showcase this particular Tweet for all the world to see.

This is so far the only time in my life that a Tweet has actually made me sick to my stomach. It is truly sad to see the degree to which President Obama is either enslaved to the demands of what I have taken to calling progressive liberal orthodoxy (of which the cause of safeguarding a woman’s “right to choose” is a core tenet, underlined by the general desire to ‘liberate’ women to be the absolute masters of their own bodies, even if this means opposing bans on partial-birth abortion), or the degree to which he genuinely believes in its creed. I am filled with so many different thoughts, ranging from disgust to shock, but most of all, the horror that I voted for him in 2008. Did I really once believe that this man offered a vision that could somehow unite the country and move the country “forward”? Granted, I am from New York, a liberal state which the President carried with a super-majority in both 2008 and 2012, so it is not as though my vote in 2008 was of any consequence, and of course, one vote makes no difference in a contest decided ultimately by unelected presidential electors, yet it truly amazes me that, only five years ago, I enthusiastically supported this man and his agenda.

Most people in the United States and, I imagine, millions of people across the globe are well-aware of President Obama’s position as one of the most vocal and consistent advocates for “abortion rights” in political history. Even so, it is shocking to read that he considers a female state legislator’s obstructionist filibuster in defense of a woman’s “right” to terminate a developing life inside her at up to 20 weeks as “something special”. Of course, the full Tweet bears examination, and in its concluding hashtag, #StandWithWendy, we can infer why President Obama really sent out this Tweet: he (or his political handlers) feel a deep indebtedness and sense of obligation to be seen to publicly support and encourage all aspects of the progressive feminist movement, of which Planned Parenthood is at the forefront nationwide.

In this short hashtag, inserted to instantly generate positive feedback from the President’s progressive supporters connected to him through Twitter, we can read just how clearly the President and his team of advisers value their connection to the progressive feminist movement. When one considers this, it comes as no surprise that, evidently, President Obama doesn’t consider the tens of thousands of abortions which happen each year in Austin, TX to be “something tragic”, or “something awful” which our society needs to collectively respond to and work to reduce. Instead, he feels a strong sense of obligation to respond to praise Senator Davis’ speech as “something special”.

Perhaps you are wondering why I have been so particularly disturbed by this one tweet, when the President’s position on this issue is well-known. I have written on here previously on the subject of abortion from a Christian existentialist perspective (the logical conclusions that, to be fully “pro-choice”, you must inevitably assert that you do not believe in your own right to exist, for your mother’s right to abort, had she wished to do so, would have trumped this). Yet the audacity of the President’s Tweet, his callous and complete indifference to the terrible reality that even contemplating abortion is an agony for most women, let alone his complete disinterest in pushing for commonsense reforms to fix the nation’s domestic adoption program, struck a chord within me.

This president cannot truly see abortion as a “tragedy”, as he referred to it in one interview during his presidential candidacy in 2008, but he genuinely does not care about reducing abortions. He cares very much about the opinion of that minority of female voters who identify as progressive, but for the silent witness of millions of unborn babies, he cares not at all.

This legislation in Texas also disturbs me on a very personal level: I was born at 5 and a half months, 24 weeks. I weighed 1 and one-half pounds, and could fit in my father’s hand. The best doctors available all assured my parents that my twin brother Sean and I would both die, or be severely physically and mentally handicapped for life. I spent the first months of my life in an incubator in a neo-natal unit. While my brother sadly did not survive, here I am, with no physical or mental disabilities or ‘marks’, save some scars from the tracheotomy and open heart surgery from when I was an infant thought to be dying.

I am, by God’s grace, a living testament that someone who entered this world almost four months early can not only survive, but thrive beyond the best doctors’ expectations. But to President Obama, my very entrance into this world at all is an unexpected outlier, an anomaly that clashes with his worldview: my mother could have had me, but he would be equally fine with her having decided, for any number of reasons, that she just didn’t want to go through with it. To this day, in New York State, a woman can abort her developing baby up to, and past, the point at which I entered this world. This thought alone is alarming. But what is most alarming is that this President, who claims so often to value consensus-building and dialogue, couldn’t be bothered to try to make it easier for women considering abortion to look to the alternatives. Instead, he prefers to Tweet his support for a woman who crusades against the developing lives of those in the womb at the very gestation when I entered the world.

Thoughts on the sanctity of all life

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Why do I have the right to be alive right now writing this? Why do you have the right to be alive now reading this?

Ultimately, if you defend any means of artificially ending life – the death penalty, abortion, suicide, or euthanasia of the elderly or of the disabled – as ‘situationally variable’ (as sometimes morally justifiable, and therefore intrinsically ethical or right in certain situations), then you have to deny that anyone has an absolute right to existing at all. If you believe that, in certain circumstances, it is morally justifiable to end a life, then life itself can have no inherent meaning as sacred or intrinsically worthy of protection.

If you believe that you have the right to terminate a developing life in utero, or execute a convicted criminal whom a court and society judges to be of no value, or euthanize an elderly person who is judged to be a burden to his or her caretakers and to broader society, then life itself can have no intrinsic meaning for you beyond what you subjectively get out of your own life or hope others get out of theirs. Thus, your life matters to you and those people in your life, but ultimately your life doesn’t actually have inherent worth to the world or to existence. Thus, your life matters to you, and the lives of your friends and loved ones have real value for you, but Life itself is gray, neutral, of no certain worth or value.

Why then do you have the right to be alive and thinking the thoughts you are thinking right now, and someone else who was aborted, executed, or euthanized doesn’t have that same right? If you defend the notion that some developing lives aren’t worth their cost or burden to the would-be mother, then why should your mother have ever borne you? If you defend the notion that some elderly people are a burden on their families and society, and that we should mercifully hasten their end, then why shouldn’t this be done to you when you are old and vulnerable, even if it is against your will?

These are major existential questions, and the confusion and internal struggle which they evoke in someone unsure of how to answer them can only be avoided by affirming that either everyone has the absolute right to life, or no one does.

If you believe the latter, then why fight for your right to live as you please in any way, since what you do with your life, and your life itself, doesn’t actually have any inherent worth or meaning whatsoever? This kind of thinking is the seed of nihilism and the inevitable consequence of taking the moral relativist position that not all lives are worth protecting.

The above image, taken at yesterday’s March for Life here in Washington, D.C., has been circulating widely on the internet, especially on Facebook. It makes use of a popular Facebook meme. Abortion (while on my mind due to the March occurring here yesterday) is not the principal focus of my thoughts here. The image featured above prompted me to engage with the much broader, deeper question of the value – objective or subjective – of life itself.

The sign which the marcher holds contains just four simple words. These words convey a very powerful witness: “Respect ALL the life!”. But what does this really mean? To me, it’s a whole philosophical worldview. Believing that abortion is a terrible tragedy, the loss of a developing life, is just one part of it. Babies developing in utero, infants whose babble we can’t understand, the physically and mentally disabled, the psychologically impaired, the dying elderly, and even murderers who might in our eyes deserve death: all deserve life. All received life from God, or from Providence or “Nature”, to use the Enlightenment language, but no one receives life from any laws or government.

All of us received our lives without any part in the process other than simply coming into this world. So what right have any of us to say who should be allowed into this world and who shouldn’t? Or when someone should be sent out of this world, and when they should be sent in? If we entertain these notions, we risk taking on the role of God. This thinking produces tyrannies beyond measure.

The foundation of the idea that life is a mystery and a gift which is not ours to dispose of when unwanted, or to take away when inconvenient, is thus the foundation of a civil and decent society. What is the alternative? A society in which people desperately want their lives to matter, but have no basis for them to actually have any inherent worth. Ultimately, in a society where life has no inherent meaning because people have agreed that lives can be morally ended at certain points, in certain circumstances, no one can actually justify their existence, their very living, as anything beyond sheer luck and fortune in time and circumstance.

Why am I alive writing this? Why are you alive reading this? If you believe that human life can legitimately be ended by artificial means ,whether through abortion, suicide, euthanasia of the elderly or the dying, or state-sponsored execution, then you really can’t answer that question except with an acknowledgement that your mother decided to bring you into the world. If you truly believe your mother could have been morally justified in, for whatever reason, deciding not to have you, then ultimately you cannot believe there is any real foundation for your existence, or that of anyone else in your life, or in this world. Life is either inherently worth protecting in all its forms, or it is inherently worthless in all forms. Which position would you rather take?