Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

New York Times propaganda piece on fetal-tissue sales

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jul 28, 2015

Today’s New York Times report on the sale of fetal tissue is the journalistic equivalent of a diet pill: a “news” story designed not to satisfy, but to suppress, the reader’s appetite for information.

Let’s start with the photo at the top, because although it is not part of the story, it sets the tone. It’s a shot of a woman, standing alone in front of a Planned Parenthood clinic, saying the Rosary. But wait; she couldn’t be alone, because the caption says she is a participant in an “anti-abortion rally.” So we know the photo was taken to catch her in isolation.

Read the caption:

Mary Roy of Potosi, Mo., at an anti-abortion rally last week outside a Planned Parenthood building in St. Louis. Planned Parenthood's procedures for providing fetal tissue to researchers have drawn the attention of Congress.

Notice anything funny about that caption? The first sentence has nothing to do with the second sentence. But then, the photo has nothing to do with the news story, either. Mary Roy is not part of this story, nor is the rally she attended. This story is about Planned Parenthood, and the sale of fetal tissue.

So why run that photo? Because it sends a subliminal message. These are the people Planned Parenthood is up against: people who don’t notice that they’re isolated (by the camera’s lens); people with grim faces and rosary beads in their hands. So different from the chic, perky representatives of Planned Parenthood!

There’s another illustration for the story: a picture of human fetal tissue under a microscope. It looks like… nothing. Or maybe like a canvas painted by an abstract expressionist. But it definitely does not look like a baby. A photo of a newly dismembered fetus, ready to be harvested for vital organs, would have sent a very different message.

The main message of the Times piece is that the harvesting of fetal tissues promotes medical research. Scientists “say it is an invaluable tool for certain types of research, including the study of eye diseases, diabetes and muscular dystrophy.” Moreover, researchers have been using fetal tissue “for decades,” the Times reminds us.

What’s missing from this report is a list of the medical breakthroughs that have been achieved by the use of fetal tissue. That’s because there have been no breakthroughs. After “decades” of research, supported by millions of government dollars, we’re still waiting for the first major cure.

Eye tissue from fetuses has played a crucial role in studies aimed at finding treatments for degenerative diseases of the retina that are a major cause of vision loss in people as they age, …

See? There it is again. Fetal tissue plays a role in research aimed at finding treatments. Where are those treatments? How many more unborn children must be dissected before we can expect results?

Of course, even if there were medical breakthroughs, the harvesting of organs from unborn children would be morally repugnant. But the Times story is building a case for the practice, signaling readers that it is important, for the benefit of mankind, to continue the trade.

Needless to say, this Times report appears today only because the undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress have caused a furor, exposing the ghoulish profiteering by Planned Parenthood clinics. Even the Times concedes that the sale of fetal tissues takes place “in a gray zone, legally.”

Federal law says they cannot profit from the tissue itself, but the law does not specify how much they can charge for processing and shipping.

If this were a story about any other industry, the Times would observe that the law is toothless, and call for reform. But since the story involves the abortion industry, the reporters are tame. They report that some companies buy fetal tissues from Planned Parenthood:

Those companies pay small fees, usually $100 or less a specimen, to abortion providers like Planned Parenthood, who say they charge only what they need to cover their expenses.

Remember that this story was written in response to the undercover videos, in which Planned Parenthood official haggled over the prices for fetal organs, and said quite openly that they wanted to be paid more than their expenses. The most recent video shows a price list—with quite a few items listed for well over $100. This information was all readily available, yet the Times reporters ignored it.

The Times piece becomes nearly comical when it introduces Cate Dyer, the founder of Stem Express, the tissue-procurement company that was the focus of today’s undercover video release.

She agreed to be interviewed on the condition that she not be asked about the congressional investigation into her company’s partnership with Planned Parenthood. Her lawyer and a crisis communication expert were present on the telephone interview.

Neither the lawyer not the “crisis communication expert” could have been displeased with the bland paragraphs that follow, describing the work of Stem Express. The crucial point has already been made, and passed over lightly: a key player refused to discuss the controversy that prompted the news report. The Times did not press the issue.

And what about the Center for Medical Progress, the folks who broke the story? The Times story contains not a word from them. Did they refuse to talk without a lawyer present? Were they unavailable for comment? It’s standard journalistic practice, when a subject declines an interview, to mention that fact in the story. But the Times reporters do not say that they were unsuccessful in obtaining an interview with the Center for Medical Progress. It makes you wonder whether they tried.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Terri11 - Aug. 02, 2015 11:26 AM ET USA

    "Moreover, researchers have been using fetal tissue 'for decades,' the Times reminds us." Yes they have. And they've been using them in vaccines for decades... Until we get the fetal cell lines out of commercial production, we won't have a leg to stand on asking researchers to stop using them as well. And since the Catholic Church is pretty much silent on this issue, what will change?? Where were they when SB277 was passed in California? "Watching with no comment." Ie, complicit.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Jul. 28, 2015 4:13 PM ET USA

    Talk about unintended truth! That photo may have had EVERYTHING to do with the unveiling of the PP Meatman scandal. Thanks, Mrs. Roy! And thank you, Jesus, all the Saints and Angels who have prayed with her.