Tag Archives: human rights

Observations On The Center for Medical Progress Indictment In The Planned Parenthood Case

Never mind....

A Houston grand jury investigating undercover footage of Planned Parenthood taken in a lengthy hidden-camera sting operation engineered by the Center for Medical Progress not only found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood, it instead indicted the anti-abortion activists involved in making the videos. The Center’s founder David Daleiden was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to purchasing human organs. Another activist involved in the operation, Sandra Merritt, was indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

1. It looks like they may have violated the law, at least it looks that way sufficiently to justify an indictment. In order to sting Planned Parenthood, the Center and its allies 1) used a fake drivers license and 2) allegedly offered to buy human baby parts, which is against the law. I have no problem with the indictment, and neither should anybody else. The ends don’t justify the means, and an activist group trying to do what it thinks is right has no more leave to break laws than anyone else.

2. The Center for Medical Progress defends it actions  by arguing that its activists use “the same undercover techniques that investigative journalists have used for decades in exercising our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and of the press.” That’s an everybody does ut argument. As the Volokh Conspiracy, points out, journalists have no more right to break laws than anyone else.

3. Kevin Drum, at Mother Jones, of all places, questions the indictment because “the law prohibiting the solicitation of human organs for purchase was clearly intended to prevent a black market in such things, not to punish people who are so against the sale of human organs that they falsely represent themselves as buyers in hopes of discovering and shutting down illegal activity.”  I take it back; that sounds like a Mother Jones argument. It’s like saying that murder laws exist to stop good people from being killed by bad people, and shouldn’t apply to good people killing bad people. Or that laws against theft were never intended to punish a poor family trying to feed its children. Laws are put in place to stop conduct that society doesn’t want to occur. When an exception is necessary, then an exception must be drafted,  passed, and signed into.  law. Continue reading

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The Seventh Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Best of Ethics 2015, Part I

Sweet Briar montage

Welcome to the Seventh Annual Ethics Alarms Awards, our blog’s retrospective of the best and worst in ethics over the past year, 2015.

It was a rotten year in ethics again, it’s fair to say, and Ethics Alarms, which by its nature and mission must concentrate on episodes that have lessons to convey and cautionary tales to consider probably made it seem even more rotten that it was. Even with that admission, I didn’t come close to covering the field. My scouts, who I will honor anon, sent me many more wonderfully disturbing news stories than I could post on, and there were many more beyond them. I did not write about the drug company CEO, for example, who suddenly raised the price of an anti-AIDS drug to obscene levels, in part, it seems, to keep an investment fraud scheme afloat. (He’ll get his prize anyway.)

What was really best about 2o15 on Ethics Alarms was the commentary. I always envisioned the site as a cyber-symposium where interested, articulate and analytical readers could discuss current events and issues in an ethics context. Every year since the blog was launched has brought us closer to that goal. Commenters come and go, unfortunately (I take it personally when they go, which is silly), but the quality of commentary continues to be outstanding. It is also gratifying to check posts from 2010 and see such stalwarts who check in still, like Tim Levier, Neil Dorr, Julian Hung, Michael R, and King Kool.  There are a few blogs that have as consistently substantive, passionate and informative commenters as Ethics Alarms, but not many. Very frequently the comments materially enhance and expand on the original post. That was my hope and objective. Thank you.

The Best of Ethics 2015 is going to be a bit more self-congratulatory this year, beginning with the very first category. Among other virtues, this approach has the advantage of closing the gap in volume between the Best and the Worst, which last year was depressing. I’m also going to post the awards in more installments, to help me get them out faster. With that said….

Here are the 2015 Ethics Alarms Awards

For the Best in Ethics:

Most Encouraging Sign That Enough People Pay Attention For Ethics Alarms To Occasionally Have Some Impact…

The Sweet Briar College Rescue. In March, I read the shocking story of how Sweet Briar College, a remarkable and storied all-women’s college in Virginia, had been closed by a craven and duplicitous board that never informed alums or students that such action was imminent. I responded with a tough post titled “The Sweet Briar Betrayal,” and some passionate alumnae determined to fight for the school’s survival used it to inform others about the issues involved and to build support. Through the ensuing months before the school’s ultimate reversal of the closing and the triumph of its supporters, I was honored to exchange many e-mails with Sweet Briar grads, and gratified by their insistence that Ethics Alarms played a significant role in turning the tide. You can follow the saga in my posts, here.

Ethics Heroes Of The Year

Dog Train

Eugene and Corky Bostick, Dog Train Proprietors. OK, maybe this is just my favorite Ethics Hero story of the year, about two retired seniors who decided to adopt old  dogs abandoned on their property to die, and came up with the wacky idea of giving them regular rides on a ‘dog train” of their own design.

Ethical Mayor Of The Year

Thomas F. Williams. When the Ferguson-driven attacks on police as racist killers was at its peak (though it’s not far from that peak now) the mayor of Norwood, Ohio, Thomas F. Williams, did exactly the opposite of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio in response to activist attacks on the integrity of his police department. He released a letter supporting his police department without qualification. At the time, I criticized him for his simultaneously attacking activists as “race-baiters.” In the perspective of the year past, I hereby withdraw that criticism.

Most Ethical Celebrity

Actor Tom Selleck. In a terrible year for this category, Selleck wins for bravely pushing his TV show “Blue Bloods” into politically incorrect territory, examining issues like racial profiling and police shootings with surprising even-handedness. The show also has maintained its openly Catholic, pro-religion perspective. Yes, this is a redundant award, as “Blue Bloods” is also a winner, but the alternative in this horrific year when an unethical celebrity is threatening to be a major party’s nominee for the presidency is not to give the award at all.

Most Ethical Talk Show Host

Stephen Colbert, who, while maintaining most of his progressive bias from his previous Comedy Central show as the successor to David Letterman, set a high standard of fairness and civility, notably when he admonished his knee-jerk liberal audience for booing  Senator Ted Cruz

Sportsman of the Year

CC Sabathia

New York Yankee pitcher C.C. Sabathia, who courageously checked himself into rehab for alcohol abuse just as baseball’s play-offs were beginning, saying in part,

“Being an adult means being accountable. Being a baseball player means that others look up to you. I want my kids — and others who may have become fans of mine over the years — to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help. I want to hold my head up high, have a full heart and be the type of person again that I can be proud of. And that’s exactly what I am going to do.”

Runner-up: MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who dismissed the ethically-addled arguments of Pete Rose fans to reject his appeal to be have his lifetime ban for gambling lifted.  For those who wonder why football never seems to figure in this category: You’ve got to be kidding.

Ethics Movie of the Year

SpotlightTIFF2015

“Spotlight”

Runner-up: “Concussion”

Most Ethical Corporation

Tesla Motors, the anti-GM, which recalled all of its models with a particular seatbelt because one belt had failed and they couldn’t determine why. Continue reading

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Update: More Abortion Advocate Struggles With Ethics In The Midst Of The Planned Parenthood Videos Revelations

panda

As the pro-abortion lobby has rushed to defuse the ticking time bomb of comprehension that might make lazy and inattentive American think. “Wait, that’s what happens in an abortion?,” its dishonest, desperate, and unethical arguments have been as revealing as the videos themselves, and as damning.

Frankly, I’ve been surprised: they really don’t have much that makes ethical sense, just “it’s legal!” and “It’s Our Bodies And We’ll Kill If We Want To!” (a little known B-side flop by the recently departed Leslie Gore.)  I recently wrote about their defenses in the posts Planned Parenthood Videos Surprise: Forced To Defend Abortion Ethics Acknowledging The Existence Of A Second Human Life In The Equation, Advocates Run Out Of Arguments (Part One) and Part Two: Bad Analogies. As I wrote in the latter: “If an advocate has persuasive, honest, strong arguments not based on fallacies and rationalizations, I assume that those would be the ones he or she would use.”

More evidence that they don’t possess them and also don’t care to have an honest debate recently came to light.

The most bizarre was an article in the Washington Post ostensibly about the ongoing drama at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. The female panda there gave birth to twins (“Awwwww!”) then abandoned and neglected the smaller one (“OH NO!!!”) which soon died. Before the little panda’s demise, those clever abortion advocates of the Post saw an opportunity, and had a female reporter, Sarah Kaplan, author an article which the Post titled “The perfectly sensible reason why panda mothers and other creatures selectively abandon babies.”

If you want to think it’s a coincidence, go ahead. I don’t. To Kaplan’s credit, she avoided any overt analogies to human beings, and played it straight, as she always does. (She’s a terrific reporter.) Still, there is that headline. It’s sensible to “abandon” babies that will be too difficult for the mother to care for, “abandon” in the wild being the equivalent of “kill.” This points to  Rationalization #51—the latest on the Ethics Alarms list-–as a defense for abortion: “It’s natural.” Continue reading

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Planned Parenthood Videos Surprise: Forced To Defend Abortion Ethics Acknowledging The Existence Of A Second Human Life In The Equation, Advocates Run Out Of Arguments, Part Two: Bad Analogies

The involuntary liver transplant from Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life." Why, you're RIGHT, Amanda! It's EXACTLY like a pregnancy!

The involuntary liver transplant from Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life.” Why, you’re RIGHT, Amanda! It’s EXACTLY like a pregnancy!

(Part One is here.)

If an advocate has persuasive, honest, strong arguments not based on fallacies and rationalizations, I assume that those would be the ones he or she would use.

The recent Center for Medical Progress videos featuring employees of Planned Parenthood and StemExpress describing in graphic detail the process by which fetal tissue is harvested for research, and in some cases showing the process itself, have made abortion advocates squirm by making it difficult for them to deny that a tiny, growing human being is sacrificed in the act of abortion. This makes the evasive “choice” defense of abortion inadequate. Why shouldn’t unborn lives matter? Either because of neglect (“It’s legal” and “it’s my right” have been used to cut off debate for decades), because the rationale for debate has been built on a convenient fiction (“Life? I don’t see any life!”), or because there really aren’t any ethically satisfying justifications for abortion on demand, the pro-abortion lobby’s attacks on the videos have been notable for their lack of substance and abundant desperation.

This has been especially true of the analogies offered for the relationship between a mother and unborn child, and the fetus itself.

In the Washington Post last week, Margo Kaplan, who as an associate professor at Rutgers Law School should be skilled at analogies, attacked anti-abortion advocates with what she seemed to think was a definitive “gotcha!” She notes that there is nowhere near the same level of attention paid to frozen embryos that are donated to research as aborted fetuses, and from this concludes all manner of horrible things about abortion opponents: Continue reading

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Planned Parenthood Videos Surprise: Forced To Defend Abortion Ethics Acknowledging The Existence Of A Second Human Life In The Equation, Advocates Run Out Of Arguments (Part One)

The Center for Medical Progress released a trailer yesterday promoting its yet to be released eighth undercover investigative video, this one, like the last, focusing on StemExpress, a biotech company in northern California, that has worked with Planned Parenthood to obtain aborted fetus tissue to be used in research. In the clip, StemExpress CEO Cate Dyer explains that her company receives “intact” aborted fetuses from the abortion clinics they work with.

“Oh yeah, I mean if you have intact cases – which we’ve done a lot – so we sometimes ship those back to our lab in its entirety,” Dyer says on the trailer.

Later, she jokes about shipping little aborted heads. “Tell the lab its coming,” she chuckles. “They don’t want to open the box, go, ‘Oh God!’”

I can’t wait.

Undoubtedly the allies of abortion-on-demand feminists and progressives will attack this video as they have the rest, focusing on anything and everything but the single powerful issue it raises that the abortion movement has successfully obscured, denied and obscured since Roe v. Wade and before. These are small, helpless, innocent human beings being killed, chopped up and distributed like prime beef, and the adults doing it and insisting on it have devolved into callous, cold-eyed mutants incapable of considering what their conduct is. They have not had the courage or integrity to confront the ethical conflicts that abortion raises. These videos are making that avoidance increasingly difficult. As I wrote yesterday, bravo for the The Center for Medical Progress and their allies, who are finally forcing the passive public and cynical political class to consider the issues.

The most fascinating revelation is how weak the case for abortion appears to be, once its advocates are required to stop pretending that there is only one human being—the mother—involved. We know it is weak because the attacks on the videos have largely not addressed the ugly fact on display in them—that human, unborn babies with beating hearts and functioning organs are being killed—nor found a persuasive justification for it.

They haven’t had to do either since Roe v. Wade. “It’s my right!” has been enough, though this is a rationalization that does not address the question of right and wrong. Meanwhile, by adopting the deceitful and misleading label “pro-choice,” aided by lazy and sympathetic journalists to facilitate a deceptive framing of the issue (we are seeing the same process now as “immigrant” is substituted for “illegal immigrant”), the pro-abortion lobby has warped all policy debates into a discussion of the effect of an unwanted pregnancy on women, and never about the effect of ending those pregnancies on the women’s’ off-spring. (They die.)
Suddenly, the videos have made the existence of other human beings in the abortion dilemma is unavoidable, so what are the pro-abortion advocates and their allies doing? Let’s survey them; I’m not going to rehash all the earlier deflections of the videos by Planned Parenthood and pundits (“All medical procedures are hard to look at!”) and the usual hyperbolic accusations of evil motives (“This is a war on women! They want to control our bodies!”). I’ve covered them before, and they should be self-rebutting anyway.

“The videos are illegal!”

Continue reading

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Ethics Hero, Maybe For The Ages: The Center for Medical Progress

As I said with the release of the first surreptitious “sting video” of Planned Parenthood released under auspices of the anti-abortion group, the Center for Medical Progress, such videos are, in principle, unethical. However, while the unethical should be used in pursuit of a greater good only with great reluctance, moral certainty and a minimum of harm, there are instances when utilitarianism must apply.

This is one of them.

In the case of abortion, the prospect of saving the lives of millions of unborn is certainly worth the incursion on the ethical values of honesty and respect for privacy implicated by these videos. Indeed, it is worth a great deal more. With the seventh video, released yesterday, the conclusion is unavoidable that we, the public, the nation, and humanity, owe a debt of gratitude to the Center for taking radical action to force  confrontation with the reality of abortion so that there can be a real, open and honest debate  that doesn’t duck the central issue. That issue  is not women’s control over their lives, but the ethics of killing innocent human beings to achieve it.

The latest video, like the earlier ones, compels any fair, emotionally functioning and rational observer to accept the brutality and near complete callousness towards human life that the abortion machine creates and requires. In this respect the seven videos—with more to come— are abortion’s equivalent of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” forcing genteel, moral, good people by their own confident assessment to confront the horrors that have been occurring under their noses with their passive approval. Because they chose not to think about what abortion really involved, just as so many Americans had no idea what  slavery was like until Harriet Beecher Stowe forced them to consider it as more than an abstraction, abortion advocates, passive and active, have an ethical obligation to watch these videos. Those who refuse are admitting that they are incapable of letting facts disturb their ideologies. Continue reading

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Interview Ethics: CNN’s Alisyn Camerota Shows Why News Anchors Need Training In Basic Ethics, Not To Mention Journalism Ethics

Alisyn

This morning, as I rush to get my act to together to fly, sick, to Rhode Island where the bar will allow me to teach ethics to its members in the first two of three planned seminars, I made the mistake of checking in on CNN’s New Day to see what trouble Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota could get themselves into. Sure enough, there was Allison interviewing Oklahoma Senator Jim Lankford regarding Republican efforts to de-fund Planned Parenthood over the revelations of the surreptitiously taken “sting” videos showing various Planned Parenthood personnel seeming to haggling over the prices for tiny little human organs successfully harvested from embryos whose tiny wittle heads have been crushed juuuust right. These individuals discuss unborn human beings with the sensitivity a normal person bestows on a Jimmy Dean sausage, but Planned Parenthood acknowledges that they need to practice a more pleasant tone in case somebody who cares about these inhuman organ bags is listening.

Is that an unfair characterization?

Let me know why you think so.

But I digress…

Camerota’s questioning demonstrated in multiple ways just how ethically ignorant the highest levels of our broadcast journalism are: Continue reading

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