[July 16, 2015] There are times here at theLeaderMaker.com that I point out mistakes made by senior leaders so that we can all learn from them. The point, of course, is to make ourselves better through careful study and analysis and to avoid making the similar mistakes. Sometimes this means that highly charged topics will be on the table for us to review and today I’m bringing up a serious leadership failure at Planned Parenthood.
Abortion has been a hot topic, full of emotion and vitriolic talk for as long as I remember. Not surprisingly, polls have consistently shown a fairly even split on public opinion in the United States. Abortion here and in most countries, is controlled by law. Like any human enterprise, the written law is imperfect and not always perfectly clear, leaving room for interpretation. Abortion is also very much a moral issue where many believe it to be taking of a life and therefore abortion is unacceptable.
Yesterday, a secretly-taped video was released purportedly showing a Planned Parenthood senior executive talking about selling aborted fetal organs. This was a sting operation by a group called The Center for Medical Progress. Regardless of our feelings about this issue, we should take a close look at what’s happening. The edited video of Dr. Deborah Nucatola – Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical research – shows her talking about selling fetal organs.1 Selling of fetal tissue for profit is a felony under federal law. What Planned Parenthood is saying is that they are only recouping expenses and not making a profit; which are permissible by law.
We are going to hear a lot of talk about this over the next few weeks and there will be calls for Congressional investigations into Planned Parenthood. This stems from the video of Nucatola callously describing the “crushing” of the fetus in such a way that keeps specific internal organs intact. Those organs have been made by request for medical research.
“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.” – Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood
Anyone who doesn’t find this disgusting is heartless. Although we don’t know the full context of the discussion, at a lunch with wine, we do know that this is no simple failure of the leadership at Planned Parenthood. It is a catastrophe in the making for this federally funded organization. The Center for Medical Progress has promised more videos of Planned Parenthood in the future. All of these will reignite a nasty debate (review the comments on any news site to see the level of bitterness and rancor).
I recommend watching the edited video in its entirety; posted at the Washington Post webpage (warning: the language is graphic – see link). I watched it and found it personally abhorrent. There have been calls for President Obama to “denounce and stop these gruesome practices.”2 As the senior most leader in the U.S., he should quickly use his power of the pulpit to address the nation. Over the next few days we will see investigations of Planned Parenthood, some temporary suspensions of licenses at the state level, and calls for barring of federal dollars to support abortion.
Senior leaders should pay very close attention to this contentious issue. At some point in our careers we will be in the middle of a highly emotional issue. It offers all good leaders an opportunity to learn valuable lessons but it most importantly offers us a chance to stand up against a well-funded government malevolence that is slowly growing.
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