I heard about the firestorm raging over Planned Parenthood but I didn’t want to believe they would do that. Having looked at the data and absent a strong official denial backed by evidence, I was forced to conclude that Planned Parenthood Federation of America has added kill-for-profit as another perverse incentive to our already sick healthcare system.
An incentive is perverse when that incentive promotes a behavior that results in outcomes you don’t want. Steven Kerr warned of this activity in 1975 when he wrote, “On the folly of rewarding A, while hoping for B.” If you reward a doctor by the number of tests or surgeries he or she performs, called pay for performance, why are you surprised that you get more tests or surgeries than you need or want? Pay for performance is a classic perverse incentive that is applied thousands of times every day in our healthcare system.
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Evidence shows that Planned Parenthood is doing a thriving and burgeoning business selling fetal parts after an abortion. Therefore, Planned Parenthood has a powerful reason to talk women into having abortions.
If you are Pro-Life, you want zero abortions. If you are Pro-Choice, you want what former President Bill Clinton said, that abortions should be “safe, legal, and rare,” with strong emphasis on the last word. Either way, you want nothing that encourages the performance of an abortion, such as trafficking in fetal body parts, which also happens to be illegal as well as immoral.
Kill-For-Profit In England
Planned Parenthood is not the first to kill-for-profit in healthcare. Great Britain has this activity well established in its National Health Service through the Liverpool Care Protocol. As Obamacare is modeled after the NHS, we can expect to have similar experience here as have befallen our British progenitors.
The Liverpool Care Protocol is reputedly a more kindly, compassionate hospice facility for terminally ill Britons. They are put on intravenous morphine drips, which hasten their deaths. Even worse, reports suggest LCP is in fact a healthcare kill-for-profit. The NHS offers bonus payments to British physicians who sign up more patients for the LCP.
Given that British doctors are "paid less than minimum wage,” such bonus payments could easily drive doctors to sign up patients who are not terminal or even against their will. LCP offers another example of Kerr’s perverse incentive: promoting death when the outcome we want is life.
Fetal Sales Are Illegal
Planned Parenthood’s kill-for-profit is plainly illegal. There are “Prohibitions regarding human fetal tissue” (42 U.S. Code § 289g–2) that read as follows:
- (a) Purchase of tissue: It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce.
- (b) Solicitation or acceptance of tissue as directed donation for use in transplantation: It shall be unlawful for any person to solicit or knowingly acquire, receive, or accept a donation of human fetal tissue for the purpose of transplantation of such tissue into another person if the donation affects interstate commerce, the tissue will be or is obtained pursuant to an induced abortion, and— ... (3) the person who solicits or knowingly acquires, receives, or accepts the donation has provided valuable consideration for the costs associated with such abortion.
Even the Supreme Court would have trouble parsing those words to say that what Planned Parenthood is doing is legal. Both the text and the intent underlying this Code are clear and unambiguous: it is illegal to sell or distribute fetal tissues. There shall be no commerce where there are human body parts.
Planned Parenthood’s business that sells fetal tissues is perverse, immoral, and illegal. It should be stopped immediately by federal action. This is one termination – one abortion – that even the Pro-Life movement should support.
Dr. Deane Waldman MD MBA is author of “The Cancer in the American Healthcare System;” Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, Pathology and Decision Science; and Adjunct Scholar (Healthcare) for the Rio Grande Foundation, a public policy think tank. Dr. Deane also sits on the Board of Directors of the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange, as Consumer Advocate. Opinions expressed here are solely his and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Board.
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