Bishop Morlino, pro-life leaders support ban of selling fetal body parts Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015 -- 12:00 AM
fetal body parts testimony
Pro-life advocate Abby Johnson addresses the media prior to the introduction of a State Assembly bill that would make it illegal in Wisconsin to sell fetal body parts that come from an aborted baby. Standing next to her are Representative André Jacque, who authored the bill, and Senator Duey Stroebel, one of the bill’s sponsors. (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

MADISON -- “People can never be reduced to things,” said Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison as he concluded his testimony before the State Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety on August 11.

Bishop Morlino spoke in support of Assembly Bill 305 (AB 305), which would make it illegal to sell and use fetal body parts from an abortion in the state of Wisconsin.

The bill was authored by State Representatives André Jacque (R-DePere) and Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) with support from State Senator Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) and other state lawmakers.

It comes after videos were released reportedly showing discussion among Planned Parenthood officials relating to the sale of fetal body parts.

The bill was introduced to the committee on August 11. Community members, including Bishop Morlino, came out to testify in support of the bill, as did those who were opposed to its passage.

“Every fertilized egg is a unique individual of the human species,” said Bishop Morlino during his testimony. “To say that a unique individual of the human species is not a human being is quite a jump, but then to dismember it in precisely such a way that it is useful for other purposes makes a person into a thing,” he added. “Our human reason tells us that human people are never things.”

Opponents of the bill made the argument that the ban could halt important life-saving research in the health care field where researchers use fetal body parts for their work.

Support for the bill

Prior to the committee hearing, Jacque, Kleefisch, and Stroebel addressed members of the media on the bill.

Also joining them was Heather Weininger, executive director of Wisconsin Right to Life, which supports AB 305.

Weininger said, “We believe in protecting life from conception until natural death . . . now we want to work on protecting those children who are being torn apart limb from limb and being used as a profit motive.”

Also speaking was Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director turned pro-life advocate.

While directing a Planned Parenthood facility in Texas, Johnson directly oversaw the organ-harvesting program. At the press conference, she offered an insider’s view into Planned Parenthood’s practices of selling fetal body parts.

“It’s a very profitable business for Planned Parenthood and others who participate in this grisly practice,” said Johnson, noting that her affiliate made around $1.4 million per year selling fetal body parts.

When Johnson later testified before the committee, she said, “As the director of a Planned Parenthood clinic, I was given quotas -- quotas for number of abortions and for the number of sales of unborn baby body parts.”

She added, “I came to Wisconsin to share my support of AB 305 to ensure that facilities like Planned Parenthood do not have the opportunity to profit off of a child who has lost their life to abortion.”

‘Long overdue’ bill

Representative Jacque called AB 305 “very basic legislation instituting a common sense standard for human dignity,” and added the bill was “long overdue.”

Foreshadowing Bishop Morlino’s comments of the dignity of life at the moment on conception, Senator Stroebel said, “The time is now that these aborted children be treated as humans and not specimens.”

Stroebel added, “As a state, as a country, as a society, we must ensure our unborn are protected. We must give a voice to these voiceless children.”

Speaking to the concern from the research community, Stroebel said, “Science is moving away from fetal cells. It’s moving more toward adult cells, so old science is what we’re dealing with here.”

The Wisconsin Catholic Conference (WCC) -- the public policy voice of bishops in the state of Wisconsin -- supports AB 305.

WCC Associate Director Barbara Sella also gave testimony during the committee hearing.

She said, “The sale of fetal tissue and organs is one more example of what Pope Francis has called the ‘throwaway culture, which has today enslaved the hearts and minds of so many.’”

The committee adjourned without taking further action on the bill, but Representative Jacque said a committee vote would likely happen before the next Assembly session this fall. He added the full Assembly will likely take up the bill in the next month and a half.

Voters are encouraged to contact their representatives, urging them to support this legislation.

To find representatives’ contact information, go to and type in your home address under “Find My Legislators.”