Planned Parenthood is hustling to deal with the public relations embarrassment of a sting video (above) by an anti-abortion group, catching a PP executive enthusiastically discussing the harvesting of tiny livers and other fetal organs.
Over lunch at a Los Angeles restaurant, two of the group’s activists, posing as employees from a biotech firm, met with Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical research. They made a surreptitious video capturing Nucatola over a three-hour span as she chatted about Planned Parenthood’s work providing fetal tissue to researchers. The hit job—these stings are per se unethical, no matter what they reveal, no matter who they target, and no matter how virtuous their motives—emerged as a shortened, edited version of the session featuring the most disturbing of Nucatera’s comments. The group responsible, the Center for Medical Progress, is accusing Planned Parenthood of illegally trafficking in aborted fetal organs.What is more significant from an ethical perspective, however, is the stunning callousness of this executive’s attitude toward unborn human beings.
She casually describes “crushing” fetuses so that their internal organs remain usable for research. “I’d say a lot of people want liver,” she as she munches on a salad. ( I wonder if she a vegan, since it’s, you know, unethical to kill animals for food, and we’re so cruel to cattle and chickens. ) “And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance so they’ll know where they’re putting their forceps.”
Nucatera later boasts, “We’ve been very good 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.”
I continue to believe that a tipping point may lie ahead for the abortion controversy. When a cultural equivalent of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” cuts through the deceit and fantasy, forcing the public to confront the ethical and moral depravity of the most extreme pro-abortion position, civilization may come to view the current period with shame akin to how we now look at the slavery era.
Maybe not, however. I don’t understand how the ghoulish rhetoric of abortion advocates hasn’t already had this effect. Perhaps the ethical corruption of the culture on the topic of destroying innocent human life in the womb has already proceeded too far. Perhaps groups like Planned Parenthood have succeeded in imbedding the factually untenable concept that the welfare and life of only one individual is at stake in an abortion choice, rather than two.
“The promotional video mischaracterizing Planned Parenthood’s mission and services is made by a long time anti-abortion activist that has used deceptive and unethical video editing, and that has created a fake medical website as well as a fake human tissue website that purports to provide services to stem cell researchers,” Planned Parenthood said in a statement.
This is the equivalent of an ad hominem argument: whether the Center for Medical Progress is shady or not does not explain or excuse the Planned Parenthood exec’s comments.
For example, Nucatola says at one point,
“Every provider has patients who want to donate their tissue, and they want to accommodate them. They just want to do it in a way that is not perceived as: This clinic is selling tissue. This clinic is making money off this. In the Planned Parenthood world, they’re very, very sensitive to that. Some affiliates might do it for free. They want to come to a number that looks like a reasonable number for the effort that is allotted on their part . . . ”
When one of the fake biotech firm representatives asks,
“Okay, so, when you are — or when the affiliate is — determining what that monetary . . . So that it doesn’t raise the question of . . . ‘This is what it’s about’ — What price range would you . . . ?”
“You know, I would throw a number out, I would say it’s probably anywhere from $30 to $100, depending on the facility and what’s involved. It just has to do with space issues, are you sending someone there that’s going to be doing everything . . . is there shipping involved? Is someone going to be there to pick it up?”
The Washington Post found a medical ethicist who explained why this kind of talk should set off ethics alarms. Arthur Caplan, director of New York University’s Division of Medical Ethics, pointed out that when an abortion provider undertakes a procedure with the primary intention of preserving organs, there is an instant conflict of interest. “I think the only relevant goal of an abortion clinic is to provide a safe and least risky abortion to a woman,” Caplan said. “If you’re starting to play with how it’s done, and when it’s done, other things than women’s health are coming into play. You’re making a huge mountain of conflict of interest around a period for many people is morally difficult.”
Ironically, his statement sets off ethics alarms of its own. Quick: what considerations other than the mother’s interest must “come into play,” or at least be considered? Isn’t there another human being’s life and health involved here, although one unprotected by law and abandoned by the culture? Think hard now. Caplan, of course, is beyond even pausing to ask the question. The fact is that an abortion by definition creates a conflict of interest for the mother, the doctor, and society.
The most eloquent indictment of the horrifically callous attitude of Planned Parenthood to a human body ripped to shreds juuust carefully enough to cash in some little organs is the disturbing post yesterday by Slate’s Amanda Marcotte, the site’s resident pro-abortion feminist militant. Titled “Live Action Puts Out Another Titillating but Misleading Video About Planned Parenthood,” it shows a furious abortion-on-demand absolutist using every rationalization and logical fallacy she can muster to deny the res ipsa loquitur status of Nucatola’s attitude, which is fairly summarized as, “These aren’t human beings we are aborting, they are just inconvenient meat.”
Here are the low-lights of Murcotte’s article, a window into the mind of a radical abortion-lover. My comments are in bold. :
“The conservative media is a-flutter thinking they have a “gotcha” against Planned Parenthood: a video supposedly exposing the organization for “selling” fetal body parts, which is against the law.”
I know I make this point a lot, but is it really true that only conservatives would be disturbed by this video and the comments recorded? If so, progressives and liberals have lost a big chunk of their humanity to ideological purity. They need to start looking for that chunk, and quick. Who knows what will fall off next…
“But the legal accusations are just the fluff, easy to disprove and not really the point of the video. No, the real meat of the video is capturing Nucatola speaking candidly about the process of getting fetal tissue, which the heavily edited 8-minute “highlight” reel released by Live Action dwells on in great detail, in order to gross out the viewer. This is Live Action’s typical method: being as lurid and grotesque as possible to titillate its largely conservative audience. As William Saletan laid out in painstaking detail for Slate in 2013, Live Action really knows how to zero in on those gross medical details for maximum impact.”
This is more ad hominem, and an especially desperate strain. Imagine a Holocaust denier making exactly this argument but with “concentration camps” substituted for “the process of getting fetal tissue,”and “Jewish” for “conservative.” How outrageous to expose the most disgusting aspect of what is going on, right, Amanda?
“As someone who is squeamish, it was extremely difficult for me to listen to Nucatola talk about extracting liver, heart, and other parts to be donated to medical research. (I nearly fainted when a friend showed me the video of her knee operation once.)”
A false analogy for the ages. Come on, guys! Extracting organs from a human embryo you just killed is just like a knee operation! What are you getting all emotional about?
“But people who work in medicine for a living do, in fact, become inured to the gore in a way that can seem strange to those of us who aren’t regularly exposed to it.”
Blow that whistle, Amanda, and let the parade of rationalizations commence!
“Everybody does it!”
“It’s not the worst thing!”
“If it isn’t illegal, it’s ethical.”
“If he/she doesn’t care, why should anyone else?”
“She also thought she was speaking to people in her profession who would be similarly accustomed to this sort of thing.”
Ah. So as long as there is someone who shares your ethically dubious sensibilities, it is unfair for one who does not share them to characterize them as unethical. Marcotte is actually arguing that the video is unfair because Nucatola would never have expressed how she really feels if she knew someone who disagreed with her would hear it.
I’m trying to remember: did Nixon use this defense to claim that it was unfair to use the White House tapes against him?
“Abortion is gross, no doubt about it.”
Stop: What’s gross about it, Amanda? Oh, that’s right: it’s like knee operations. But nobody’s really being hurt, right? So the gross-out is irrational.
“It becomes grosser the later in a pregnancy it gets. But so is heart surgery. So is childbirth, for that matter.”
Amanda is confusing “gross” with “messy.” If messy is the issue, then by all means, lets add “So is biting the head off a kitten. So is tossing a dog into a spinning airplane propeller. So is slaughtering a Blue Whale.” And also “So is capital punishment. So are ISIS beheadings. So is Steve Buscemi being fed into a woodchipper.” All of these are better comparisons, because they involve killing something. The point where the pro-abortion advocates leave honesty and fairness…and ethics….behind is when they persist in the myth that nothing is killed in an abortion.
“We don’t deny people who need help in those cases because the help is gross. Nor should we deny people that help when it comes to needing abortion.”
This is a blatant appeal to the logical fallacy known here as “The Blind Man’s Trap”:
“The fable about the six blind men who each mistake the character of an elephant because each is touching a different part of the beast illustrates the fallacy. Because an argument is true of part of a position doesn’t necessarily mean it is applicable to the whole, and for a critic to represent the part as the whole hopelessly warps the debate.”
“We also shouldn’t deny women who want to donate fetal or embryonic remains to science any more than we would deny someone who wants to be an organ donor, even though the latter is also quite gross to ponder.”
Does it not occur to Amanda that there is a material difference and an ethical distinction between donating your own organs and those of someone else? No, it doesn’t. This is what radical abortion theology has done to women’s consciences.
“Live Action is, above all, a group of propagandists who roll out lurid and titillating videos to push an agenda that expands far beyond just trying to ban legal abortion. We have noticed that the rise in the availability and use of cheap birth control coincided with increases in the rates of sex addiction, divorce, unmarried childbearing and abortion,” Lila Rose, the founder of Live Action, wrote in a 2012 Politico piece. In the same piece, she also declared that “the surest way for a young woman to attain stardom is by performing in and releasing pornography” and bemoaned “that something precious is lost when fertility is intentionally excluded from marriage.”
Look! Straw men! The video raises issues about abortion. It has nothing to do with banning pornography, birth control, or divorce.
“This latest attack on Planned Parenthood are not just about abortion, but about demonizing an organization that makes sex safer and easier, while making it possible for women to plan when they have children.”
And to kill the ones that arrive unplanned, making sure that their heads are crushed carefully enough to preserve their livers for research.
Amanda Marcotte has reached the point where she cannot perceive what rational people find ethically and morally troubling about live, healthy embryos, which unimpeded would grow, be born, live, love and inherit full human rights, being killed while as the abortionist carefully makes sure to protect their valuable livers and other organs. She does not see how it should bother anyone more than a knee operation. As Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Simon Legree was typical—typical!—of many slavery proponents who believed that their property could be raped, sold or killed without shame, crime or compunction—the killing part was sometimes gross, though—so Amanda Marcotte is typical of the 21st Century abortion advocate.
Your Slate piece may not be “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”
…but it’s a start.