In mid-July, investigative journalists from the Center for Medical Progress began releasing undercover video footage showing Planned Parenthood executives engaged in negotiations to sell the body parts of preborn human beings. The videos expose the fact that the nation’s largest abortion provider not only destroys human life on an industrial scale, but also seeks to profit from the “byproducts” of that business.
It’s possible that you’ve heard nothing about this scandal. Media coverage has been spotty; some networks have barely mentioned the controversy. This neglect should give us pause. How did we come to a point where the destruction and sale of dismembered babies does not qualify as news?
The undercover videos were shot at meetings with employees of Planned Parenthood. In one, a top executive discusses extracting tiny aborted babies carefully, so as to preserve organs for harvest and sale. “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver …,” the doctor explains, “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 another, the medical director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in California negotiates the pricing of body parts with the journalist who is posing as a potential buyer; she jokes that she hopes to get a Lamborghini with the extra income. Revenue from the sale of body parts adds incentive for Planned Parenthood to promote its already lucrative abortion business. (As of this writing, more videos continue to be released.)
Planned Parenthood receives more than $500 million in federal funding every year. Claims that none of this money is used for controversial practices such as abortion fall flat. Anyone familiar with corporate or nonprofit budgets knows that money is fungible: Income in one area frees up funds to be used in another.
In response to the evidence furnished by these videos, the governors of five states have acted to end contracts with Planned Parenthood. Indiana enacted a law that regulates the disposal of fetal remains and thereby prevents their sale. Several Republican presidential candidates have expressed their support for defunding Planned Parenthood.
These are praiseworthy efforts that show that we have not completely lost our capacity to be outraged at rank injustice and appalling abuses of human dignity. But the fact is that Planned Parenthood and other smaller operations have been in the business of destroying unborn babies for decades, and many people apparently are not aware or do not care. In election-year polling, abortion is rarely mentioned as the issue that voters find most important. Instead, “the economy” normally tops the list.
The economy is important and it is relevant to the cause of justice and human rights. But in abortion we witness the direct, widespread, legally sanctioned killing of millions of unborn human beings every year. Bringing an end to this practice must be seen as the top priority of all who are concerned about truth, justice, and protecting the most vulnerable among us.
None of this is meant as a condemnation of anyone who, feeling trapped in desperate circumstances, has turned to abortion as a solution. It is instead a collective call to examine our consciences. What kind of society do we want to be? Will we permit and even promote with our public money enterprises that profit from the desperation of women who feel threatened rather than blessed by pregnancy? Let us instead stand ready to welcome into the world every child who has begun developing in her mother’s womb, and offer the support necessary to help mothers to make decisions that protect their babies’ lives as well as their own emotional, physical, and spiritual health.
Let’s put our resources — individually and collectively — toward building a life-affirming culture, where the abortion industry and commerce in fetal body parts have no place. No more taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood would be a good start.
Kevin Schmiesing is program director at Right to Life of Shelby County.