But WHY are these videos so damaging to Planned Parenthood?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jul 25, 2015

It's odd, isn't it, that Planned Parenthood has been hurt so badly by revelations about the sale of fetal organs? We already knew that unborn babies are killed, by the tens of thousands, in PP clinics. Isn't the killing a worse offense?

If I told you that I planned to chop you up into pieces, and offer the pieces for sale, no doubt you'd object. But wouldn't you object primarily to being chopped into pieces? Selling the body parts would be ghoulish, for sure. But you'd be more concerned about staying in one piece than about the aesthetics of the proposed operation. 

Yet it's the aethetics of the Planned Parenthood business that we find so jarring. Discussing the harvesting of human livers over a nice red wine, or joking about how the extra income might provide for a Lamborghini: these are shockingly distasteful images. 

Still, the way these PP officials talked on the undercover videos is entirely consistent with the way they go about their ordinary work. Yes, they dismember unborn babies; didn't you know that? And once you allow for the babies to be dismembered, why should you worry overmuch about what happens to the body parts? That's why the Planned Parenthood leadership has been caught off guard by the public outrcy; that's why their PR machinery, which ordinarily runs so smoothly, has coughed and sputtered. They don't understand the uproar. 

You wanted to get rid of these "products of conception," didn't you? Well, we're getting rid of them for you. And we're helping advance science-- science!-- in the process. What's your problem!

The problem-- the problem that Planned Parenthood doesn't and can't understand-- is that these videos have torn back a corner of the veil. America has caught a glimpse of the brutal, bloody reality of abortion. As long as we think of it as a sterile process-- or better yet a complete abstraction: "choice"-- it's possible to stomach it. Think about the concrete reality, and the hardened people who make their money in the trade, and you immediately feel queasy. 

Yes, the hardened people. We've already seen those horrible pictures of dismembered babies. Most people gag, then turn away; they blame the people who showed the pictures for violating the boundaries of good taste. Now in these videos, in very tasteful surroundings, we see the people whose business involves picking through fetal remains. They seemed respectable; they acted respectable. But we all know instinctively that something is profoundly wrong when respectable humans behave like vultures. 

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: msorensen71798 - Jul. 25, 2015 8:37 PM ET USA

    Amen! Well said. The videos take abortion from an abstract ideally to a viscerally reality. Let us remember to pray for those who have had abortions, for whom these videos - and the news about them - are re-opening and salting their old wounds.