A settlement was filed in the Orange County Superior Court in December regarding two Orange County companies unlawfully selling fetal tissue and stem cells for profit.
Yorba Linda-based sister companies DV Biologics LLC, and DaVinci Biosciences LLC reached a settlement with the Orange County district attorney’s office. The terms included the companies ceasing operations in the state of California, paying $195,000 in civil penalties, and paying over $7.5 million through donated assets and biological materials for to a nonprofit teaching institution, a Dec. 8, 2017 Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) news release stated.
California law prohibits unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business practices regarding the sales of fetal tissue and cells. The law also prohibits purchasing or selling embryonic or cadaveric fetal tissue “for valuable consideration.”
The office of District Attorney Anthony Rackauckas filed a civil complaint alleging the companies’ unlawful practices in October 2016. The OCDA Bureau of Investigations investigated the case beginning in September 2015 after a complaint against the defendants was submitted by David Daleiden’s Irvine-based Center for Medical Progress.
Prosecutors stated the companies intentionally sought to maximize prices and sold hundreds of different fetal tissue products for valuable consideration. This included tissues and cells from the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, intestines, skeletal muscle and bones of aborted fetuses.
Prosecutors also stated the companies obtained the aborted fetuses from donations by Planned Parenthood from 2009 to 2015.
The companies then turned these donations into a profit-driven business. “Most products were priced somewhere from $300 to $700 per vial when the ‘products’ were produced for $20 per vial or less,” prosecutors noted.
As revenue skyrocketed, the defendants illegally sold their products to global pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions in numerous countries.
Referring to the donations as “prenatal products,” the companies saw increased growth year after year. An outside marketing consultant was hired to developing market materials and an online catalog listing the company’s inventory was published. Prices advertised, the D.A.’s office stated in its Dec. 8 statement, reached “as high as $1,100 a vial for specific cells derived from fetal brain tissue.”
Not only did OCDA obtain a $7.8 million settlement against the defendants, but also an admission of liability.
Dr. Pia de Solenni, chancellor of the Diocese of Orange and theological advisor to Bishop Vann, sees this settlement as “acknowledging the grave indignities committed against these unborn children.”
Catholic teaching has not shied from such matters of science and ethics, maintaining its consistent upholding of the inviolable right to life and dignity of each human person. Dr. de Solenni pointed to the 1987 Vatican document, “Donum Vitae,” developed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as a clear statement on the Church’s position.
The document states, “The corpses of human embryos and fetuses, whether they have been deliberately aborted or not, must be respected just as the remains of other human beings.”
As secular culture shifted toward greater openness toward abortion, fetal experimentation, stem cell research, and other life matters, the Church continued to define its position of consistent respect for the human person. Among those is the landmark 1995 encyclical from Pope St. John Paul II, “The Gospel of Life.”
Paraphrasing from a 1983 Vatican document, “Charter of the Rights of the Family,” John Paul II wrote, “The use of human embryos or fetuses as an object of experimentation constitutes a crime against their dignity as human beings.”
An updated instruction on bioethical issues was issued by the Vatican in 2008. “Dignitas Personae,” prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, again confirmed Church teaching as put forth by “Donum Vitae” and “Evangelium Vitae.” Frequently quoting from those two documents, it cites from the very beginning the fundamental principle of the dignity of the human person.
Dr. de Solenni is confident the settlement sends a clear message to Planned Parenthood, the source of the “prenatal products” procured by the defendants. “[This settlement] has exposed this is just a for-profit, money-making industry,” Dr. de Solenni said. “It is an industry that perpetuates the trafficking of human beings and human body parts,” she added.
The Department of Justice is currently investigating Planned Parenthood’s practices and the selling of fetal tissue.