The double standard, or perhaps more correctly, the blind eye turned towards Planned Parenthood was exposed this week with a shocking video release of a Planned Parenthood chief official talking about the sales of fetal parts…It’s a disgusting video because of the content, made even more disgusting by the fact that it’s alledgedly one of the top staff members in the company, and made even more disgusting (yes, that is three “disgustings”…there’s probably more) by the fact that the topic in question is talked about so casually through dinner! The very fact that abortion has become so routine to some people within that industry that it can be talked about over a salad and a glass of wine, as if you’re contracting out the sale of PVC piping, is horrifying.
So, like the Kermit Gosnell case, this story caught the attention of the nation and has created an almost unanimous (I say almost, because there are still a lot of people who are taking to social media to showcase their support of Planned Parenthood in this) backlash against the group…We saw something as a nation; something we’re not used to seeing and we have a profound sense of moral disgust with it.
I’ve been reflecting on this for the past few days. This represents a strange moral irony within the public opinion…actually, two strange ironies. First, we find ourselves as a country legitimizing the a-morality, if not the pro-morality, or abortion as a “choice” and yet are outraged at the post-abortion procedures. I’m curious about this…How in the world is it that we can see abortion as an okay thing…even a “courageous” thing as some have spoken of it…and yet attribute wrongdoing to what is done with the fetus in the aftermath. In other words, the killing of the baby is okay and has no moral significance in and of itself but the dissemination of the baby’s body parts for money is morally atrocious? Something doesn’t add up. After all, the general public narrative on this is that the fetus is little more–at least morally speaking–than tissue in a developmental process. It has no inherent rights, and while it is biologically human it holds no real sense of personhood until birth (unless, of course, the baby is wanted–in which case, apparently the mother is the one who ascribes significance…but that’s just pure ethical relativism which is always a bad thing when it comes to human rights).
If the fetus is little more than tissue and the termination of that life is itself not a question of inherent morality, why is does the selling of its parts have inherent moral value? I am not all bothered by the fact that I can go to the grocery store and buy a chicken thigh or breast (my choosing) because, at the end of the day, the chicken does not have personhood. So why, if the fetus is just a fetus and holds no inherent personhood, if a woman can walk into a clinic and have an abortion for pretty much any reason she wants, and if our culture is so accepting of it that it refers to the termination of 125,000 fetus’ a day as a “medical procedure”, are we bothered by the aftermath of what is done with the aborted tissue?
See, I think what’s happening right now is the subconscious realization that we’re living in social cognitive dissonance. Most of us have never seen an abortion, most of us never spend time to research it and learn about how it’s done, it’s talked about generically as a woman’s medical procedure, and in legal terms our society has naturally assumed the sole rights–if not the primary rights–are the mother’s alone. But when these sort of “unheard of” situations arise, we’re forced back into a moral dilemma. “That’s disgusting!” we say in response to this situation or the Gosnell case…but my question is this: why? Why is it better for Planned Parenthood to dispose of unborn children in bio-hazard containers or cremate them or put them in pathology buckets? Because they’re making a profit? I just have a bit of trouble with all of this philosophically and ethically speaking. Tissue is tissue. I don’t care if I get a mole taken off what the doctor does with it? He can sell it for a quarter million if he really wants to! It has no rights; it’s my decision to get it removed; and it’s probably an inconvenience to me. I remove it and continue on with my life. If the fetus has no moral significance in killing it, why does it have moral significance when selling it?
I’m sensing that we’re not really being all that honest with ourselves about what the human fetus really is: a baby. We are disturbed not because the tissue of an unborn fetus is being sold; we are disturbed because the organs of an unborn child are being sold. We are disturbed because for once in our daily lives, we are forced to look at what this really is. Profit or no profit, our moral sensibilities are forcing us to recognize what’s really going on.
And that leads me to the second irony. Just as in the Gosnell case, very few of those disgusted will actually ask what the ultimate foundation of this outrage is. We don’t want to ask that question because it’s easier to treat the dislikable symptoms than it is to accept that those symptoms arise because there is an underlying disease. The rhetoric of Planned Parenthood puts forward language intent to focus public perception of abortion as “caring for women” and abortion itself has almost garnished a position of moral exemption. Pro-Abortion advocates will continue to denounce Gosnell and Dr. Nucatola while separating them from the act of abortion itself. And so, as long as abortion (the normal) can be separated from these sorts of cases (the non-normal), we’ll never as a society take a hard re-evaluative look at the ethics of abortion.
So why shouldn’t Planned Parenthood be allowed to sell these fetuses if, at the end of the day, nothing is wrong with abortion? Why shouldn’t they be allowed to profit off of what otherwise would be dispensed with? Why shouldn’t the aborted tissue be used for scientific progress if it holds not intrinsic value? If it is okay to kill the fetus, then it is okay to dispense with the tissue in whatever way most benefits society. After all, when I die, I’d just as assume somebody take my organs and put them to good use (as one buyer claims to be doing with the fetus organs). Or are we as a society recognizing that there is inherent value in these children that we kill every day? Is our issue really the fact that Planned Parenthood is selling organs or is it the fact that for once abortion confronted us in a strange and unusual way and we don’t like looking at where it logically leads?