The Center for Medical Progress, a pro-life medical ethics group, has released the 11th video in its ongoing undercover and investigative series purporting to show that Planned Parenthood has sold fetal body parts and performed illegal partial-birth abortions.
The new video purports to show Dr. Amna Dermish, a medical practitioner for Planned Parenthood in Austin, Texas, "describing a partial-birth abortion procedure to terminate living, late-term fetuses which she hopes will yield intact fetal heads for brain harvesting."
When asked by undercover pro-life activists posing as tissue buyers during an undercover encounter filmed in October 2014 if she can "convert to breech" — a position in which the baby emerges feet-first rather than head-first — Dermish appears to have answered affirmatively.
Image source: YouTube
"I can if I need to. I generally don’t have to do that. I don’t usually do it in the 16 to 18 weeks," she said. "With a further gestation I will sometimes do that if it’s a cephalic presentation [head-first], just because it’s easier to get."
Dermish later said that she hasn't yet been able to get an intact calvarium, or head, though she laughed that it is "something to strive for," based on what's presented in the heavily edited footage.
The discussion about the breech presentation led the Center for Medical Progress to accuse the doctor of "describing a partial-birth abortion procedure" — something that is illegal in the U.S.
"Dermish does not use the chemical digoxin to kill the fetus before 20 weeks, so her feet-first, intact extraction abortions are done on living fetuses," reads a statement from the pro-life group. "Using ultrasound guidance to manipulate the fetus from vertex to breech orientation before extracting the yet-living fetus is a hallmark of the illegal partial-birth abortion procedure (18 U.S.C. 1531)."
It should be noted that the doctor does not specifically discuss whether the fetuses are alive during her procedures, though the assumption from critics based on the edited footage is that the absence of digoxin indicates that the babies were alive during the procedure.
"If it’s a breach presentation I’ll remove the extremities first, the lower extremities … and then go for the spine and bring it down that way," said Dermish, who reportedly performs abortions through 21.6 weeks.
The doctor went on to discuss how gestational age impacts how she prepares for the abortion procedure, noting that her aim is "usually to get the specimens out ... more intact."
Watch the video below (caution — graphic):
The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 makes it illegal for doctors to perform partial-birth abortions, which the government defines as follows:
"An abortion in which the person performing the abortion: (1) deliberately and intentionally vaginally delivers a living fetus until, in the case of a head-first presentation, the entire fetal head is outside the mother's body, or, in the case of a breech presentation, any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the mother's body; and (2) performs the overt act, other than completion of delivery, that kills the partially delivered living fetus."
It is unclear if the abortion cases discussed in this latest undercover video would qualify as violations.
Dr. Dennis Sullivan, director of the Center for Bioethics at Cedarville University Cedarville, Ohio, told TheBlaze this past summer that he had concerns about separate comments made in the first video from the Center for Medical Progress series that featured Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s senior director of medical services.
Here's what Nucatola said in the earlier video:
“So then you’re just kind of cognizant of where you put your graspers, you try to intentionally go above and below the thorax, so that, you know, we’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m going to basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact. And with the calvarium, in general, some people will actually try to change the presentation so that it’s not vertex, because when it’s vertex presentation, you never have enough dilation at the beginning of the case, unless you have real, huge amount of dilation to deliver an intact calvarium. So if you do it starting from the breech presentation, there’s dilation that happens as the case goes on, and often, the last, you can evacuate an intact calvarium at the end.”
This caught Sullivan’s attention, as he said that — though one can’t say for certain — the discussion about how the baby is positioned creates some questions.
“We’ve got this director who’s saying, ‘You know what? Sometimes for our convenience … we’re going to rotate the baby … that might even help preserve the calvarium, so we can get some of the brain tissue in tact for use for fetal research,” he said. “So, sounds awfully close to saying that ‘We’re willing to do an illegal procedure in order to provide this tissue.’”
Both Dermish's comments in the new video and Nucatola's statements in the earlier footage have piqued some critics’ interest and fears that partial-birth abortions are illegally being utilized in some clinics.
“I delivered a lot of babies. I’ve done a lot of OB,” Sullivan added. “The normal way that the fetus sits in the womb is head down.”
Watch the first video featuring Nucatola — who trained Dermish — below (caution: graphic):
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