Yesterday, Planned Parenthood’s Action Fund held a crusade in Pittsburgh, PA, recruiting and training volunteers to further its mission. “We brought 1,000 people here to train them,” said Deirdre Schifeling, the Action Fund’s executive director. “These 1,000 people are a key. These folks are going to go back, and they’re going to reach tens of thousands of other people” with Planned Parenthood’s “mission.” This crusade and others like it provide evangelical Christians another opportunity to reflect our own mission to make a mother’s womb the safest place in America.
How does the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) implement its mission, for which it is recruiting “tens of thousands of other people?” It does so not only by terminating babies but by creatively recycling and selling organs harvested from the babies’ dead bodies. Although the public has always known abortion to be PPFA’s rainmaker, only recently—through the release of undercover videos by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP)—did the public become aware of PPFA’s practice of reselling infant body parts.
For those who might be unaware of the videos, which were released last year, 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 the practice of abortion and its attendant practice of reselling body parts, what should Christians do? How should we respond? 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 is not nearly as morally complex as pro-choice advocates make it to be. Hopefully, a generation or two from now, Americans will have gained as much moral clarity about abortion as they already possess about slavery, genocide, and other evils.
These babies are human persons. It is irrational to say 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.
As evangelicals, our plea should be for American society to give the same love and care to our own babies that the ASPCA does toward diseased animals. Our babies are precious to God; they should be precious to us also. As PPFA hosts crusades and recruits evangelists for its mission, we evangelicals should renew our efforts to seek legal reform and cultural renewal so that one day our cities will be “no-kill” cities and our mothers’ wombs will be the safest places in America.