The appalling video of Planned Parenthood executive Deborah Nucatola chatting about harvesting fetal body parts deserves to be seen by millions, but not because it supposedly shows Nucatola admitting to a bunch of federal felonies. The scandal isn’t what laws Planned Parenthood might have broken. The scandal is the laws they aren’t breaking.
At the video’s release, the Center for Medical Progress chose to take a legal, antiseptic approach to the matter: By golly, Planned Parenthood was illegally selling fetal parts rather than just donating them! And it was using a banned abortion procedure to do it! Send them to jail!
While a just society certainly would punish the behavior Nucatola so nonchalantly chats about, unless the Center can produce some more evidence, its legal claims probably won’t fly. Watching the full version of the Center’s video reveals a lot of holes in their interpretation: Nucatola repeatedly talks about how they can’t sell fetal parts for a profit, and her description of abortion procedures appears to be in line with legal dilation and extraction procedures.
But that all misses the point. The video isn’t galling because Planned Parenthood might make a few extra bucks selling a 24-week fetus’s spare leg or because some abortionists might be using a rare abortion procedure Congress banned 12 years ago. It’s galling because it shows just what Planned Parenthood is:
Nucatola: “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m going to basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”
It’s the place that employs people like Nucatola, who can casually jab a fork in her salad while talking about strategically crushing a fetus’s torso so as to kill it without damaging its lungs or its heart (“They’re looking for specific nodes”!).
It’s the place that can do its best to give away whole livers to eager companies, without caring that those livers were harvested from human bodies, and indeed are only so valuable because they are human.
It’s the kind of place that genuinely tries to follow the partial-birth abortion ban, but, perhaps with a clinical coldness not unlike Nucatola’s, views it simply as a regulation to be obeyed rather than a law preventing the infanticide of perfectly recognizable and otherwise survivable children.
And it’s the kind of place that dresses this all up with a sterile statement assuring three different times that this is all fine, because it was for “scientific” purposes.
Sadly, in their fervor to dismember Planned Parenthood the way Planned Parenthood dismembers unborn children, the Center for Medical Progress has overreached and misfired. Even if they disgrace some Planned Parenthood execs, they’ll simply be replaced, and in the process nothing will have been done to undo the laws that allow them to act as they do.
The questions raised by Tuesday’s video are moral, not legal. To argue over legalism is to play on Planned Parenthood’s turf. The company that loves euphemisms like “termination,” “extraction,” and “calvarium” is perfectly ready to quibble over whether $100 is too much to legally pay for the intact liver of a 24-week fetus.
Why on earth are people choosing that battleground when they should be pointing out that fetuses at 24 weeks are clearly human beings, and have often survived being born at that age or even younger (the record is under 22)? How on earth is it acceptable that in most U.S. states it’s still totally legal to abort at that stage, and why do so many politicians fervently reject any efforts to stop it? In a world where it’s a hate crime to not cater a gay wedding, why do we obfuscate and allow abortion and its realities to be a massive moral blind spot?
Tuesday’s video has laid bare the morally-warped thinking that lies at the heart of the pro-abortion movement, and it’s a mistake to help Planned Parenthood obscure that fact by debating legal technicalities.
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