Unless you've been living under a rock, chances are you've seen or heard of the videos released over the last couple weeks showing representatives from Planned Parenthood discussing the sale of fetal tissue for profit. If you're anything like me, you're feeling more than a few things about these videos: disgusted, sad, confused, not sure what to do, and sometimes maybe even a strong desire to just avoid the whole thing. A few things to consider:
Looking Away is Not an Option
Trust me, I as much as anyone else would rather ignore this whole thing. And, at times, I have (shamefully) ignored a lot of important pro-life moments. But this is beyond anything our nation and pro-life culture have seen before: this is a blatant statement that Planned Parenthood feels that unborn children are worthless--until they can make a literal profit off of them. It also means that they have a financial incentive to continue doing (and to do more) abortions. That's not care for women, that's care for the bottom line and nothing else. Do keep in mind, though,
"Medical Research" is Not a Free Pass
Many pro-choicers defend Planned Parenthood's sale of fetal tissue, saying that they're selling it for medical research and that's a good thing so the practice is acceptable. Frankly: no. No, it's not. Such logic completely disregards the long and disturbing history of unwanted people groups being used for medical "research" and experimentation. A simple Google search will find you scores of articles and books on how medical "research" has been used throughout history on Civil War-era slaves, Native Americans, prisoners, Jews in concentration camps during the Holocaust, and more. Not all research and experiments are acceptable.
"Heavily Edited" Doesn't Mean "Untrue"
Look, anyone who knows me knows how passionately I feel about looking at the context of a statement, seeing how it was originally intented, and noting any cultural bias in your interpretation. It's how I was trained in Biblical exegetics in college and I think approaching dialogue and study with this attitude would rid a great many misunderstandings. Many have pointed out that these videos coming out are heavily edited. That may be true, and that's regrettable to the purity of the message trying to be conveyed, but I ask those people: in precisely what context is the message of these videos appropriate? Because I can't think of a single one. Unless phrases like "we would [absolutely refuse to] charge more for an intact specimen [because that's morally and ethically wrong]" is the kind of "heavy editing" to which you are referring.
"Preventative Care" Doesn't Excuse All
"But what will poor women do without Planned Parenthood? They need preventative care! Like mammograms!" cry many. First of all: offering a kid a lollipop before you destroy their favorite teddy bear doesn't make you a good person. (Also, Planned Parenthood centers aren't *actually* accredited to offer mammograms, so....) Second: there are other options. MANY other options, the least of which is offered right here at the Newman Center: our FertilityCare Practice. (If you'd like to learn more about our Practice and the Creighton Method, click here). I promised my local representative that if the vote to defund New Hampshire Planned Parenthood locations goes through on Wednesday, I will offer our Creighton Method Natural Family Planning services to low-income families completely free of charge.
So now that you're sufficiently disturbed, what can you do? Here are a few ideas:
Check out Feminists for Life, the most level-headed and non-obnoxious pro-life organization I've ever seen. Pro-life movements with religious roots are fantastic, but not all pro-choicers are religious and won't listen to arguments on religious grounds. They all, however, claim to be pro-woman and that's where Feminists for Life shines, pointing out that without exception, all the feminist formeothers (hard hitters like Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony) opposed abortion on the grounds that a society that accepts abortion is a society that hasn't yet met the needs of women.
If you want to get a truly incredible story from both sides, you must check out Abby Johnson. Once a Planned Parenthood Director, she became disgusted with the daily practices of her organization and turned from being radically pro-choice to radically pro-life. Her website tells her story, gives resources to Planned Parenthood workers to get out of the organization (many of them can't due to legal actions...how's that for a compassionate employer?), crisis pregnancy resources, and more. She's amazing! Check her out!
If you or someone you know is suffering from post-abortion depression or trauma (an extremely common occurance), seek out help at Project Rachel, the Church's ministry to post-abortive men and women.
Start with yourself. Do you consider yourself pro-life? Then don't just look at your bumper stickers and Facebook likes, look at your smallest actions to see if they're contributing to the cultural problem that sees children as an inconvenience:
If you look at single or young mothers and react with disgust at her "irresponsibility", you're part of the problem
If you chastise low-income families for taking advantage of government social programs to support their children, you're part of the problem
If you haven't done anything to contribute to or support facilities and services that would help those in a crisis pregnancy feel like keeping the baby is a viable alternative, you're part of the problem
Pro-life is more than being anti-abortion; it's being pro-children, no matter how, why, when, and to whom they come.
One last thought: if this whole issue makes you feel like you need to take a shower with a Brillo pad and just keep scrubbing, that's actually a good thing. The devaluing of human life (in any form) should make you radically uncomfortable. But here's the good news: God is bigger. I know it feels like this is an Everest that can never be summitted, but remember that this is the God who parted the Red Sea to release an entire people from slavery in Egypt, who cured illnesses with a mere word, who defeated death itself...and He can defeat this too. Peace to you.