ABC's '20/20' to air report on fetal-tissue trafficking

WASHINGTON (BP)--ABC's "20/20" newsmagazine is scheduled to telecast the results of a three-month, undercover investigation into trafficking in body parts of aborted babies. The program will be shown March 8 at 10 p.m. Eastern.

The report is scheduled on the eve of a congressional committee hearing into the fetal-tissue trade. The Health and Environment Subcommittee of the House of Representatives Commerce Committee will hold a hearing March 9 on the subject.

"20/20" used a hidden camera and an undercover reporter to compile its report on an industry that sells tissue and organs from aborted children for hundreds of dollars to medical researchers, according to a March 6 ABC news release. While federal funding of fetal-tissue research has been permitted since 1993, the law does not permit high fees to be charged for the tissue.

The macabre trade in fetal body parts reached public awareness last year when Life Dynamics Inc., a Texas-based, pro-life organization, began releasing the results of a clandestine investigation showing some businesses are operating as agents between abortion clinics and researchers. They procure organs and other body parts from aborted children, then ship them throughout the country to scientists who have requested them.

Life Dynamics began its investigation in 1997 when a woman asserting she worked as a procurer of baby tissue in an abortion clinic secretly contacted the pro-life group. She continued to work undercover in a Planned Parenthood clinic and provided copies of forms from researchers requesting specific fetal tissue. LDI made available to interested news media copies of more than 50 of those orders, as well as price lists and, from one company, a brochure touting "fresh fetal tissue harvested and shipped to your specifications."

In a previous report by Baptist Press, bioethicist Ben Mitchell, a consultant for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, called the trafficking the "21st-century equivalent of grave robbing but worse. At least the grave robbers didn't kill their victims."

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