The End of Planned Parenthood?

Planned Parenthood’s unmitigated implosion continues. Since last week’s report, the Missouri Senate announced it would investigate Missouri’s chapter with an interim committee on the Sanctity of Life chaired by Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia). Attorney General Chris Koster announced Tuesday he would heed Sen. Schaefer’s and my call for a criminal investigation, noting that the video released called for careful review “regardless of whether one is pro-life or pro-choice.” Two Missouri House committees have also announced a joint investigation.

Also on Tuesday, the Center for Medical Progress released yet another disturbing hidden video of a Planned Parenthood doctor trafficking in human body parts. In the new video, Planned Parenthood’s Medical Directors’ Council President is shown haggling over payments and jokes, “I want a Lamborghini.”

Planned Parenthood has since apologized for the first video’s tone –which only further shows that they exist in a parallel moral universe from the vast majority of Americans. I could feign shock or surprise by the latest video. But think about it. Set the legal arguments aside. Planned Parenthood leaders believe what they are doing should be legal, but also believe there is nothing wrong with what they are doing. Slave owners didn’t think there was anything wrong with what they were doing either. The brazen treatment of innocent lives by Planned Parenthood should not shock anyone.

For normal moral people, every abortion is a tragedy a for the child, but also for others, for the mother and father, for the family, for society. For Planned Parenthood, abortion is just another medical procedure. To the Planned Parenthood leaders on the videos, these are not lives they are talking about. To Planned Parenthood, these are mere tissues – in these videos, commodities to be bartered over and sold like ordinary property –even though in many cases they could survive outside the womb.

I am not suggesting, of course, that every person who is pro-choice thinks like Planned Parenthood doctors. Most people who are pro-choice try to avoid assigning a moral value to decisions on abortion. Many people say, “Personally, I’m pro-choice. I could never do that. But it’s not my choice. I can’t tell a woman what to do with their own body.” For most pro-choice Americans, the child is tertiary. It’s the individual choice of the woman. The child doesn’t have a say.

For most things in life, a general live-and-let-live philosophy is not only defensible, but a necessary value for a free society. Abortion is different. As uncomfortable as it may be, the pro-choice position requires acceptance of the same logic that justified slavery. The pro-choice philosophy requires one to accept that the moral value of an individual life is entirely dependent on some other person’s perspective. But just as “no human being can be justly owned by another,” neither can the moral value of an innocent life hinge on anyone else’s decision.  

Pro-choice advocates have polluted the political debate on the issue by portraying pro-lifers as anti-woman. It is true that the pro-life focus is on the child first. We fight for these children to give voice to the voice-less. There is nothing sexist about insisting that every child matters.

As a society, we do not accept the pro-choice logic in any other aspect of law or life. We don’t accept “honor” killings within a family like they do in the Middle East. It is illegal for husbands here to subjugate their wives. Even the very same child who can be legally aborted is protected by our laws against murder when someone else carries out an act of violence against a mother.

Abortion defenders argue this is different – that what us pro-lifers say is a child is, in their view, not developed enough to be worthy of our protection. But how different is it really? At 18 days a baby’s heart beats. At just eight weeks, all organs function. At nine weeks, they have fingerprints. At 10 weeks, tests show they can feel pain and respond to stimuli. At 12 weeks, they can suck their thumb and make a fist. At 22 weeks, they can survive outside the womb. At 25 weeks, they have a greater than 50 percent chance of surviving.

In short, they are alive. They are human. They are gifts from God. They have souls. They have moral value. And they are more than worthy of our protection.

In 2009, a similar series of hidden video led to the break-up of ACORN. Could the same thing happen to Planned Parenthood? I hope so. The organization’s defenders argue that it provides vital non-abortion health care services to millions of women. True. But there are better options.  Why can’t county health departments or other health care providers provide those services? If Planned Parenthood did not exist, someone else would provide the same services. And, rather than referring at-risk women for abortions, instead they’d refer them to pregnancy help centers.

Perhaps Missouri can give Planned Parenthood a helpful nudge by passing a law to prohibit any health care provider from operating in this state if it has any relationship with an organization convicted of illegally harvesting or trafficking in human body parts.