NPR Anchor Can’t Say The Words ‘Selling Fetal Tissue’


The Planned Parenthood scandal surprisingly came up in the Friday “Week in Politics” segment on NPR’s All Things Considered. (We can’t say the same for the PBS NewsHour.) Both the liberal and the pseudo-conservative spoke up a bit for the humanity of the unborn. But anchor Audie Cornish developed a bad case of the euphemisms.

“I want to turn to another issue that’s been very much in the news the last few weeks,” she began. “That’s Planned Parenthood. The group is in crisis mode after a video sting operation by a group opposed to abortion has put Planned Parenthood in the spotlight for the practice of fetal tissue in medical research.”

What does that mean, “the practice of fetal tissue”? Shouldn’t it have been “the practice of selling fetal tissue for medical research”?  NPR was never this nervous when it described Abu Ghraib photos or the American treatment of terrorists at Guantanamo. But with abortion clinic practices, it speaks in tortured phrasing. It has a bad case of “Planned Parenthood patriotism.”

She added “Now, elsewhere in the program, we’re going to hear more details about the fetal tissue research industry.” But that one-sided Jennifer Ludden story underlined the claims that no one anywhere is making a profit, and no pro-lifers were interviewed to say “So why were they joking about Lamborghinis?”

Here’s how liberal columnist E.J. Dionne and pseudo-conservative columnist David Brooks at least expressed some horror at the videos:

DIONNE: Well, the response that that they haven’t broken laws is very important. But the fact is, if you look at that video, I think whether you are for or against abortion, it was deeply disturbing to have what looks like a casual discussion of fetal parts over lunch is just going to bother a lot of people, and understandably so.


The irony is that if Planned Parenthood were put out of business — and a pro-life congressman made this point some years back [?] — you might well have more abortions because Planned Parenthood dedicates a lot of its work, much more of its work to contraceptive and to preventing unintended pregnancies. So this is — I wish we could come to a time where we had a less inflamed and more sober discussion of abortion because it’s an issue, I think, at least, where it shouldn’t be hard to understand why there’s such passion on both sides.


CORNISH: E.J., David, I want to give you a chance to answer this. I don’t know if you’ve seen the videos, but what does this moment say to you about this discussion?


BROOKS: Oh, I’ve seen the videos, and I guess, to me, they are a sign of a sort of a gradual moral degradation that occurred. Whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice, to talk in this way, suggests to me just a hardening of the heart that happens when you, I guess, deal with this on a daily basis and are not – don’t remain morally sensitive to the issues involved. One of the oddities now is we may have a government shutdown over this as Republicans seek to defund federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and Democrats fight to preserve it. This unexpected showdown may actually lead to a real budget crisis because of these videos. More

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