The Marketing of Aborted Baby Parts

Posted on Wednesday, March 8, 2000 in Reports

About this time, it was becoming increasingly obvious that, at best, Senator Smith would only be able to get one subpoena. We were also being told by sources outside his office that another major obstacle was that the committee that would be assigned the hearing was chaired by Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah. It was made clear to us that, if Hatch chose to do so, he could make the Senate hearing happen and “grease the skids” for the necessary subpoenas. Instead, when Smith’s staff began trying to pull the hearing together they encountered unexpected resistance from Hatch.

We were initially surprised at Hatch’s reluctance to get on board. For many legitimate reasons, his claim to be pro-life is rarely taken seriously and this hearing would have been a perfect low-risk opportunity for him to shore up his standing within the pro-life community. Of course, our surprise evaporated the moment we discovered that some of Hatch’s largest campaign contributions come from the same pharmaceutical companies we were exposing as the main buyers of dead baby parts. In other words, for a successful hearing to be held in the Senate, the pharmaceutical lobby’s handpicked boy would have to be willing to sell them down the river.

That sobering reality left us with a hard decision to make. We felt a profound sense of loyalty toward Senator Smith, but our primary responsibility was to get this story in front of the American people. We also knew that, to make the hearing effective, we would need at least four subpoenas and Senator Smith was telling us there was a real possibility that he would not be able to get any. Given that, and in light of the Orrin Hatch situation, a hearing in the Senate was starting to look improbable.

At one point we seriously considered abandoning the whole idea of a Congressional hearing. We were never convinced that even a successful hearing would have much effect and we would have been perfectly happy to just take our case directly to the American people. But that was no longer an option since 20/20 was now telling us that without the hearing they would drop the story. We had also discovered that no other national media outlet would take the story because we had already released our undercover material to 20/20. They were not going to spend the time and money necessary to produce a program on this subject as long as there was a risk that they might be scooped by 20/20. In other words, if we lost 20/20 we would lose the national exposure this issue needed.

Given all of these realities, I reluctantly made a decision to go with the House. When we informed Senator Smith of this, he was graciously disappointed but he understood that subpoenas were the key to success. Then, in a demonstration of complete unselfishness, through his staff he continued to give us advice on how to make the House hearing a success. Regrettably, we were about to learn the hard way that we had walked away from a good honest man who truly cared about this issue, to join a collection of bungling political opportunists. We would soon discover that because we traded commitment with no subpoenas for subpoenas with no commitment, we would end up with neither.