The Planned Parenthood controversy over fetal body parts, explained

Over the past three weeks, an anti-abortion group has been releasing a series of sting

videos on Planned Parenthood.

They pretended to be a company that procured fetal tissue from abortion clinics and gets

it to researchers.

They're essentially using little cameras, presumably pinned to their shirt, and they

argue in the videos that Planned Parenthood is profiting off of the sale of fetal tissue.

And if Planned Parenthood were making profits, that would be illegal. It is illegal under

federal law to make money off of any body parts -- fetal or otherwise.

However, those regulations do make space for people who provide tissue and organs to be

compensated for whatever work has to happen to preserve those organs.

And I should mention that these are heavily edited. If you watch the full unedited videos,

you do see Planned Parenthood officials repeatedly saying that 'we're not going to make profits, this is to cover

our costs'.

There is a Congressional investigation into the issue that is happening, but at this point

they don't seem to prove that Planned Parenthood makes profit.

They do show some things that are uncomfortable even for people who do support abortion rights.

They do show the actual fetal body parts.

And I think it was surprising to see that sometimes Planned Parenthood is willing to slightly

alter the abortion procedure to make sure that tissue comes out more in tact so it's

able to be used in research.

I think that raises some ethical issues about is this a good practice

for women? Are their patients ok with the procedure being changed in the service of procuring

better tissue?

There's been a very swift political reaction to these videos.

About 40% of Planned Parenthood's money comes from the government -- from both state and

federal public funding.

And most of it's moving through Medicaid, which is the healthcare program that covers

low-income Americans.

Planned Parenthood is not allowed to use government funds for abortions. What they mostly use

it for are for other reproductive health services that they offer -- things like cancer screenings,

and contraceptives, and other STD screenings.

The defunding effort is pretty much done out of rival. President Obama has said he's not going

to defund Planned Parenthood. But if you were to see an administration -- say the administration

after the Obama administration -- that did want to defund Planned Parenthood, it would

probably make it very difficult for the clinics to operate.