Last week an undercover video was released purporting to show that Planned Parenthood is in the business of selling fetal body parts. The video reinvigorated the anti-abortion movement and renewed calls to defund Planned Parenthood.
But despite what many are so loudly proclaiming, the video — when watched in its entirety and with a dose of common sense — doesn’t actually support the claim that Planned Parenthood is using “partial-birth abortions to sell baby parts.”
What it does show is that Planned Parenthood facilitates the donation of fetal tissue for medical research. This is entirely legal and entirely appropriate. Why shouldn’t cells from aborted fetuses be used for medical research with potentially life-saving applications? Would those opposed to abortion prefer that these resources be simply squandered? Since the abortion is going to happen anyway, what possible reason is there for not utilizing the aborted tissue?
Perhaps the biggest fallout from the video, however, comes from the “tone” with which the medical procedures are described, something for which Planned Parenthood has already apologized.
I don’t think there’s a need to apologize. Conversations between medical professionals are often seemingly callous and matter-of-fact. Anyone who’s spent time around those in the medical field — doctors, PAs, nurses, EMTs — has likely heard gruesome stories recounted in a completely offhanded manner. What’s unsettling to us is commonplace for those who deal with it regularly.
When a doctor describes an abortion, it is gross and unsettling. But does that necessarily make the act itself morally wrong? When it comes to medical procedures — including abortion — I don’t think the mere fact that it strikes us as being gory and gruesome is sufficient to characterize any and all abortion as morally objectionable. If that were the case, we’d have good reason to question the morality of most invasive medical procedures.
Let’s be honest, Planned Parenthood isn’t the abortion mill that the far right would have us believe it is. The services they provide are far broader and far more important. They provide crucial medical care to an often desperately underserved population, and devote far more resources toward preventing pregnancies than to terminating them. As a comprehensive provider of reproductive and sexual healthcare — especially to female, minority, and underprivileged populations — we need more of Planned Parenthood, not less.
I realize that in most Christian circles anything less than complete opposition to abortion is anathema. But given the theological, philosophical and scientific ambiguities surrounding the issue, I find such absolutism untenable. I don’t want anyone to ever be in the position where they’re considering abortion, but I also don’t want to deny them that option. I’m not God and, despite what many Christians claim, God doesn’t seem to have said anything that’s directly relevant to this topic.
So, while those on one side of the debate re-commit themselves to fighting Planned Parenthood, I think it’s the perfect time to show support for them. You can donate to Planned Parenthood here.
Dan is the Executive Editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians blog. He is a writer, graphic designer and IT specialist. He lives in Montana, is married and has two cats.