By: Bruce Riley Ashford
It seems a pity to let all these freshly killed babies go to waste when we could creatively recycle them by selling them, or at least parts of them. So appears to be the logic of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), as revealed in video footage of top PPFA officials, released by the Center for Medical Progress. So far, four videos have been released.
The first video captures Dr. Deborah Nucatola, PPFA’s Senior Director of Medical Services, discussing over lunch PPFA’s sale of body parts of unborn babies. In the video, Nucatola is talking with actors who were posing as fetal tissue buyers from a human biologics company. She states that PPFA uses partial-birth abortions to supply body parts to researchers, says that PPFA will pay per-item for the harvested parts, and understands the need to cover up these practices in order to avoid legal liability.
At one point over her lunch and in between sips of wine, Nucatola explains how PPFA has honed the partial-birth abortion procedure so that it will produce intact baby parts. “We’ve been very good,” says Nucatola, “at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”
In the fourth video, another PPFA employee, Savita Ginde, discusses a potential contract for fetal parts. Her responses make it seem that PPFA not only profits from a mother’s donation of the baby’s fetal parts, but may alter their procedures to provide more sales-worthy parts. The latter puts them in violation of ethical standards and potentially federal law for fetal parts collection. Later in the video, a medical tech exclaims “another boy!” as she crushes the baby boy’s skull and then “five star!” as she rates the baby’s kidneys.
In response to these videos, what should we do? We should find ways, as Richard John Neuhaus put it, to seek an America in which every unborn child is protected in law and welcomed in life. We must work for legal reform and cultural renewal. The debate over abortion and embryonic stem-cell research is not nearly as morally complex as pro-choice advocates make it to be. Hopefully, a generation or two from now, Americans will have as much moral clarity as they do now about slavery, genocide, and other evils.
These babies are persons. It doesn’t make sense when people deny that an unborn baby in the first trimester isn’t a baby and doesn’t even look like a baby. Of course it is and of course it does. It looks just like you and I looked when we were unborn baby humans.
We know this, even if we deny it. That is why some states have feticide laws that make it a crime to kill a fetus. If a drunk driver crashes into the car of a pregnant woman and accidentally causes the death of the unborn baby, he is charged. The baby is a person. Under the same logic, it should be argued that a fetus is a person when an abortionist intentionally takes its life.
Similarly, in the Planned Parenthood scandal, we see operative the recognition that the fetus is a human person already. If livers and kidneys and brains can be harvested and used to produce vaccines and therapies that fight sicknesses in (already-born) human persons, then it follows that those organs were harvested from (unborn) patients who are human persons.
Years ago, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty towards Animals (ASPCA) pushed a vision of “no-kill cities.” They wished to put a stop to the euthanizing of diseased animals. Instead of euthanizing, they declared it best to put those animals up for adoption. Their commitment to this vision extended even to the payment of the animal’s long-term medical care. If we Americans care for animals, can we not also care for our own? One wishes Americans would have the same zeal for unborn babies that the ASPCA and many Americans have for animals.
These babies are created in the image and likeness of God. They are precious to him, and should be precious to us. Let us not lose this moment in American history, when many Americans might be experiencing an awakening of their consciences toward the horror of abortion. One way we can make the most of this moment is to speak up both in private and in public, and to do so not merely by denouncing the actions of PPFA, but also by speaking gospel words about our Lord’s love for his creatures.