The Planned Parenthood videos keep hitting, and with each, the conversation becomes more awkward and difficult, for pro-life and pro-choice advocates alike.

Now, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes says his office has received calls to investigate Planned Parenthood for wrong doing. While he did not comment on any investigation, in a statement to Utah Politico Hub, Reyes said that Planned Parenthood’s attitude in the videos was “cavalier and dehumanizing.”

Sean Reyes, Utah Attorney General
Sean Reyes, Utah Attorney General

My office has ethical obligations not to comment on our investigations or even whether one is taking place.

“However, I can say this: We have received calls for an investigation and we will do whatever reasonable and necessary to make sure all children, born and unborn, are protected under the law.

“The allegations of profiteering from human fetal tissue are very serious and merit scrutiny–either to put an end to illegal activity or clear the name of the organization.

“We will continue to pay close attention to any facts and evidence uncovered nationally or locally by any agency or political body. If the allegations are true, I can think of little else that is as dark a criminal enterprise. Even if not true, and the organization is operating within the law, the cavalier and dehumanizing attitude displayed in certain videos toward what was so recently a precious life is still very disturbing.”

Reyes comments arrive at time when elected officials are under increased pressure to look into Planned Parenthood’s practices.

It was easy to dismiss allegations of profiteering from aborted babies when it was one video that appeared to be selectively edited. Liberal talking heads and writers were quick to point out the editing; they were also quick to note that it isn’t illegal to use the aborted human remains for scientific study, nor for Planned Parenthood to charge a fee for the overhead costs of transporting the remains.

But when a second video hit, and then a third emerged on Tuesday. Where the first two featured Planned Parenthood officials appearing to explain how they receive a fee for fetal remains, the third shows a whistle-blower alleging that her biomedical company reimburses Planned Parenthood based on the condition and quality of the fetal organs of an aborted fetus.

In the video, Holly O’Donnell, the whistle-blower, says that “The more valuable the tissue the more money you get, so if you can somehow procure a brain or a heart you’re going to get more money than just umbilical cord.”

What she says next, though, is damning. “So I guess that’s incentive to try and get the hard stuff because they get more money.”

And there’s the rub. Is there a profit motive behind the abortions that Planned Parenthood conducts? Do they have an incentive to advise women to have abortions at certain stages of fetal development because of increased quality of the remains? If so, are they actually doing so? It shifts this case from an argument about choice and life to one of profiteering versus the sanctity of human life.

Part of the problem, and why I would urge caution to any of the states or members of Congress calling for or opening investigations of Planned Parenthood, is that it is still early, yet.

Yes, the dialogue in these videos is chilling and gruesome, and yes, it’s a sad commentary that so many are able to blithely dismiss the wholesale marketing of fetal remains to biomedical companies, even for no more than an administrative fee, without experiencing even a twinge of conscience.

But, at least yet, not enough is known, and passing judgment based on the cable news network story churn is little better than relying on mob justice. In the absence of specific complaints or hard evidence, it’s a legally complex and dangerous place, even for safely conservative constituencies, such as Utah, or even Arizona. Those investigating the Planned Parenthood videos face the potential for accusations of conducting unwarranted probes, abuse of power, or of redistributing resources from other priorities. While it appears that there is evidence that Planned Parenthood may be profiting off of the sale of the remains of aborted fetuses, it may be, at best, circumstantial and open to interpretation. At worst, it reveals what we’ve already known: our laws permit abortion of the unborn and the logical outgrowth of that policy is the use of the remains in research.

It’s a strange day when the debate has moved from if and when abortion should be legal, to whether it is okay to sell the remains of aborted fetuses. Life should matter at all stages—and indeed, it’s odd to hear one medical technician point to an ultrasound and describe a growing baby while another, removed by just a couple of weeks development, will call it a medical condition remedied by an abortion.

Nevertheless, it is where we are. Law enforcement should be attentive as more evidence emerges and should invite individuals with experiences or evidence of wrong doing to come forward.

Life is precious at all stages—and the actions we take to protect both the unborn and human remains reflect our society’s consideration for the sacredness of human life.

With three videos released—all are available to view whole and uncut—there’s no sign that the story is over. I’ll be watching closely to see what else emerges, as well as for how policy makers respond.

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