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Jewish World Review Nov. 10, 1999 / 1 Kislev, 5760

Mona Charen

Mona Charen
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Body parts for sale --
"KELLY" (a pseudonym) was a medical technician working for a firm that trafficked in baby body parts. This is not a bad joke. Nor is it the hysterical propaganda of an interest group. It was reported in The American Enterprise magazine -- the intelligent, thought-provoking and utterly trustworthy publication of the American Enterprise Institute.

The firm Kelly worked for collected fetuses from clinics that performed late-term abortions. She would dissect the aborted fetuses in order to obtain "high-quality" parts for sale. They were interested in blood, eyes, livers, brains and thymuses, among other things.

"What we did was to have a contract with an abortion clinic that would allow us to go there on certain days. We would get a generated list each day to tell us what tissue researchers, pharmaceutical companies and universities were looking for. Then we would examine the patient charts. We only wanted the most perfect specimens." That didn't turn out to be difficult. Of the hundreds of late-term fetuses Kelly saw on a weekly basis, only about 2 percent had abnormalities. About 30 to 40 babies per week were around 30 weeks old -- well past the point of viability.

Is this legal? Federal law makes it illegal to buy and sell human body parts. But there are loopholes in the law. Here's how one body parts company -- Opening Lines Inc. -- disguised the trade in a brochure for abortionists: "Turn your patient's decision into something wonderful."

For its buyers, Opening Lines offers "the highest quality, most affordable, freshest tissue prepared to your specifications and delivered in the quantities you need, when you need it." Eyes and ears go for $75, and brains for $999. An "intact trunk" fetches $500, a whole liver $150. To evade the law's prohibition, body-parts dealers like Opening Lines offer to lease space in the abortion clinic to "perform the harvesting," as well as to "offset [the] clinic's overhead." Opening Lines further boasted, "Our daily average case volume exceeds 1500 and we serve clinics across the United States."

Kelly kept at her grisly task until something made her reconsider. One day, "a set of twins at 24 weeks gestation was brought to us in a pan. They were both alive. The doctor came back and said, 'Got you some good specimens -- twins.' I looked at him and said: 'There's something wrong here. They are moving. I can't do this. This is not in my contract.' I told him I would not be part of taking their lives. So he took a bottle of sterile water and poured it in the pan until the fluid came up over their mouths and noses, letting them drown. I left the room because I could not watch this."

But she did go back and dissect them later. The twins were only the beginning. "It happened again and again. At 16 weeks, all the way up to sometimes even 30 weeks, we had live births come back to us. Then the doctor would either break the neck or take a pair of tongs and beat the fetus until it was dead."

American Enterprise asked Kelly if abortion procedures were ever altered to provide specific body parts. "Yes. Before the procedures they would want to see the list of what we wanted to procure. The (abortionist) would get us the most complete, intact specimens that he could. They would be delivered to us completely intact. Sometimes the fetus appeared to be dead, but when we opened up the chest cavity, the heart was still beating."

The magazine pressed Kelly again: Was the type of abortion ever altered to provide an intact specimen, even if it meant producing a live baby? "Yes, that was so we could sell better tissue. At the end of the year, they would give the clinic back more money because we got good specimens."

Some practical souls will probably swallow hard and insist that, well, if these babies are going to be aborted anyway, isn't it better that medical research should benefit? No. This isn't like voluntary organ donation. This reduces human beings to the level of commodities. And it creates of doctors who swore an oath never to kill the kind of people who can beat a breathing child to death with tongs.

JWR contributor Mona Charen reads all of her mail. Let her know what you think by clicking here. Please bear in mind, though, that while all letters are read, due to the heavy amount of traffic, not all letters can be answered.

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©1999, Creators Syndicate