Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director turned anti-abortion activist, detailed the process of fetal tissue donation from what happens the moment a woman walks in the door to how the body parts are shipped.
Johnson, whose views took a 180 when she watched a 13-week-old fetus struggle on an ultrasound during an abortion procedure, spoke with The Daily Signal, a publication produced by the conservative Heritage Foundation, about what she saw during her eight-year tenure at Planned Parenthood in light of the recent undercover videos regarding the practice of fetal tissue donation. Planned Parenthood has denied that it profits off of donating fetal parts.
Johnson said that staff members at the Texas clinic where she worked until 2009 were “compensated for every patient that we were able to enroll in a study.” This, she added, “creates coercive tactics.”
“For our fetal tissue study, we got paid about $200 per baby that we sent,” Johnson added to the Daily Signal in the Q&A-style article . “If I recall correctly, I think the compensation to the staff was about $20 per enrollment. If it was a minor study … one time we did a study where they were testing different kinds of pap brushes … we got about $5 for each patient.
Johnson revealed that when a woman came to the Planned Parenthood clinic where she worked for an abortion, the topic of donating the tissues removed during the procedure was brought up during counseling.
“After she signs the consent form for the abortion, then we would bring up the study,” Johnson told the Daily Signal.
“We would tell the client that we are participating in a study and she has an opportunity today to donate the tissue that’s removed from her uterus to a research laboratory where they will be working on life-saving treatments for various diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or other types of medical studies,” Johnson said. “We would tell her this is an opportunity for her to possibly save the life of someone else by donating this tissue. By creating this altruistic scenario, women would almost always consent and say, ‘Yes, absolutely.’”
Unlike the videos where Planned Parenthood employees were filmed detailing body parts for donation, Johnson said they never spoke in terms of specific body parts or organs to the women. She added that they even refrained from saying “fetal tissue research because just calling it tissue sanitizes it — the women don’t necessarily think about the body of their baby, they’re just thinking about blood and tissue.”
Johnson told the Daily Signal they were coached by research teams on how to speak to clients about the studies, but they were not told what exactly the tissues would be used for.
As for the abortion procedure itself, Johnson said that remained essentially the same if the woman agreed to donate fetal tissue. But, she added, the doctor would sometimes use a “manual aspiration technique as opposed to the vacuum aspiration because the vacuum suction that we used was so strong that it would basically just shred the parts of the baby.”
From there Johnson said the fetal tissue would be sent to an on-site lab where a technician would separate parts for donation (as seen in the fourth and fifth videos released by the Center for Medical Progress). The parts would be packed in a Styrofoam box with dry ice and shipped for about $20,
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