One year after the Planned Parenthood video story: some “what if's” to consider

What if, instead of accusing Planned Parenthood of illegally selling baby parts, the Center for Medical Progress had just admitted up front that what was going on was legal?

What if they had released the videos, in which a medical director for Planned Parenthood calmly explains how an abortion can be carried out to increase the likelihood of recovering the intact skull of the fetus the procedure kills, in order to recover its valuable brain tissue—and then asked us: “Right now, this is legal. Why?”

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What if, instead of carefully editing out the parts where that doctor explains that Planned Parenthood can only accept payment to cover costs, and not to profit, they had left them in, and then asked if that careful adherence to legal technicalities makes any moral difference?

What if, instead of shouting #DefundPP, only to be met with #StandWithPP, we had instead been able to ask, on behalf of the unborn: “You want my brain, but why not me?”

While it has achieved new heights of political drama, the attack on Planned Parenthood mounted with these videos as the main weapon has been a tactical and strategic failure for the pro-life movement. The most recent ironic reversal, when a Texas grand jury, convened to consider whether Planned Parenthood broke the law, instead indicted the people who made the videos, provides an almost too-perfect coda to the whole mess.

As I said on the day after the first video was released, after watching the full footage, the way C.M.P. edited the videos to focus on illegal sales while obscuring Planned Parenthood’s efforts to stay within legal boundaries simply reinforced, for many people, the standard pro-choice narrative about pro-life activists as unscrupulous and dishonest extremists willing to do anything to interfere with abortion.

And now, with those very visible pro-life activists indicted for the false identification they used to get into Planned Parenthood clinics and National Abortion Federation conferences, that narrative is neatly completed.

Of course, the neatness of that story is unfair in many ways, not least in that the vindication defenders of Planned Parenthood feel should be exposed to some critical analysis. If an activist had used deception to gain access to document something that we all agreed was wrong, say for example abuse of the elderly in a nursing home or extreme cruelty to animals, would we want them prosecuted for that offense?

What if instead of focusing on how unfair it is that Planned Parenthood should emerge vindicated from the revelation that they’ve worked to maximize the collection of fetal tissue from abortions, we instead asked how we go forward from here?

I understand and share the frustration that nothing can be done to hold Planned Parenthood to account. I am still saddened and disgusted that an organization which reported 323,999 abortions and only 2,024 adoption referrals in 2014-2015 can continue to cite the meaningless statistic that abortion accounts for only three percent of the services it delivers, while probably close to one-third of its clinic revenue is derived from abortions. I remain unconvinced that government funding for other services but not abortion is a meaningful restriction, since money is fungible and the organization has made it clear that they give first priority to access to abortion.

I wish there was something we could do about it. But on the evidence of the last six months, there doesn’t seem to be a realistic path towards defunding Planned Parenthood at the federal level.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that we should do nothing. But we should do something with a better chance of changing hearts and minds and improving the national dialogue on abortion than accusing Planned Parenthood of crimes that hinge on the technical definition of "sales" and trying to drum up enough outrage to put them on the defensive.

We don’t need more outrage over abortion; we need more sadness. We don’t need anger at Planned Parenthood for breaking the law; we need weeping because what they’re doing is legal in the first place. We don’t need people shouting about baby parts; we need people asking why women are being “comforted” with the possibility that tissue from their unborn children can be used in medical research instead of being supported with the resources and policies necessary for them to feel secure in welcoming those children into the world.

We need to be asking how we can value a fetal brain more than an unborn child, and why we’re encouraging women who feel that abortion is their best or only option to do the same.

At a Mass before this year’s March for Life, just days before the Texas indictments were handed down, Paddy Gilger, S.J., preaching to students from Jesuit schools, reminded them that “No one ever changes from being yelled at. They change from being loved.”

When people we love are holding fast to great evil, we have several tasks. If we can prevent them from carrying the evil out, then we should; but whether we can or not, we don’t stop there. We have to do what we can to avoid any cooperation in or support of the wrong, but we don’t stop there either. We want their hearts to be converted; we want to help them repent of evil and choose the good.

With its video strategy, C.M.P. prioritized attacking Planned Parenthood ahead of trying to change the hearts and minds of those who support them. We’ve seen the results of that approach.

What if we try something different?

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Bill Mazzella
1 year 12 months ago
"We don’t need people shouting about baby parts; we need people asking why women are being “comforted” with the possibility that tissue from their unborn children can be used in medical research instead of being supported with the resources and policies necessary for them to feel secure in welcoming those children into the world." This is the right question. But the facts show that we don't want these born children if they are Muslim or minorities. For all its rhetoric the pro-life movement has no balance and has allowed this to become a blatant political issue...just to get elected... while the politicians can care less. Carly Fiorina is one of the strident examples of this startling hypocrisy.
Crystal Watson
1 year 12 months ago
If pro-life people really do want to reduce abortion, why not talk about contraception? No one here has yet answered this question, though I've asked it a few times.
William deHaas
1 year 12 months ago
Thank you......Fr. Sawyer - you started out balanced but then repeated the same tired, old, and inaccurate statements that have given the pro-birth movement a bad name. Today on NPR: http://www.npr.org/2016/01/28/464728393/texas-tries-to-repair-damage-wrought-upon-family-planning-clinics Key focus: For the past five years, the Texas Legislature has done everything in its power to defund Planned Parenthood. But it's not so easy to target that organization without hurting family planning clinics around the state generally. Of the 82 clinics that have closed, only a third were Planned Parenthood. Midland Community Healthcare Services Clinic in West Texas is open, and every day it's three lines deep as women file in for treatment. The clinic's 15 examination rooms go full throttle all day but can't come close to satisfying demand. The numbers are harsh. In Texas, just 22 percent of childbearing-age women who qualify for subsidized preventive health care treatment actually get it. The latest family planning predicament began in 2011 when the Republican-dominated Legislature decided it was done, once and for all, funding Planned Parenthood. It eliminated funding for any clinic associated with an abortion provider even if the clinic itself didn't perform abortions. In the process, the Legislature ended up slashing the state's family planning budget by two-thirds. Please go to Fact Checker - some of your other citations are partial - the 3% quote needs to be more nuanced. Your bold statement is incorrect and skews facts. Same with some of your other statements. Suggest that you read America's other post by the Poynter Institute - they make the strong point that using incorrect date, not being transparent, etc. only defeats your purpose and makes it even more frustrating to move forward to reach an acceptable position that protects most life.
Sam Sawyer, S.J.
1 year 12 months ago

I have read the post where Kevin Clarke interviewed the Poynter Institute representative, and I agree that C.M.P.'s tactics with the videos were self-defeating, from a broader perspective of trying achieve actual change in how people view abortion. (That's what my whole post was arguing.)

With respect to the three percent number, I linked to a Planned Parenthood defender explaining why that statistic is meaningless. I don't disagree that Planned Parenthood does other things that are important and that are not abortion; I'm arguing that to pretend that abortion is a minor part of what they do is, at best, wildly disingenuous. Since Planned Parenthood (as is their right) only reports that misleading statistic and won't tell anybody how abortion relates to revenue, we have no really good way of judging the relative importance they attach to their different services.

As I said in the post, I don't think arguing to defund Planned Parenthood is the right strategic priority for the pro-life movement, but I understand why people want to achieve it. One of the reasons that's it's not the right strategic priority is because it leads into dead-end arguments like this over who really cares about women's health, instead of focusing the question on the injustice of abortion, both for women and unborn children.

Crystal Watson
1 year 12 months ago
" to pretend that abortion is a minor part of what they do is, at best, wildly disingenuous" I was a volunteer at a PP one summer and it's true that the majority of work done there is gyn exams and birth control, not abortion. I understand that you want to change the hearts and minds of people, not get in arguments about various ways to reduce abortion, but you will never be able to change the way people think and feel without doing the dirty work of engaging them over what they believe is important. You almost always ignore my comments, and I think I'm one of the few pro-choice women who comments here.
Sam Sawyer, S.J.
1 year 12 months ago

Hello Crystal — thanks for commenting.

I'm not denying that Planned Parenthood provides a lot of non-abortion services. I was trying to explain (since I expect this piece will also be read by pro-life folks who may be very frustrated that I'm calling the videos a failure for the pro-life movement) that I understand why defunding Planned Parenthood seems like such an important goal. A huge part of that reason is that Planned Parenthood wraps itself in the protection of saying how important they are to women's health, which is true, and then saying that abortion is only 3 percent of what they do, which is only true is the most technical sense, and is designed to mislead. If we aren't counting every STI test and contraception prescription as a "service" numerically equivalent to an abortion, things look different. Recognizing that Planned Parenthood performs almost as many abortions as it does breast exams or Pap tests puts things in a different light (respectively: 323k, 363k, 271k according to their own annual report).

In any case, I've said above and I'll say here that defunding Planned Parenthood is unlikely to succeed and is not the right strategic goal for the pro-life movement. 

Regarding responding to other comments, you've often commented about the need to focus on contraception as a way to decrease the incidence of abortion. That's a complicated and thorny issue, particularly from a Catholic perspective. It's also not been the direct topic of anything I've written about in the videos issue (since the videos don't involve contraception). The question of how much contraception can reduce the incidence of abortion certainly worthy of discussion, but I don't think it can ever serve as an answer to the question about whether abortion is unjust and wrong. We're still going to have to figure out how to talk about that.

In any case, my apologies for seeming to ignore your comments by not replying; I assure you I have read them.

If I can ask you a question in response: if pro-life folks were more willing to talk about contraception, how do you think that would change and improve the dialogue about abortion? 

Crystal Watson
1 year 12 months ago
How would an acceptance by pro-life people of contraception change the dialogue? I think it would show that they are serious about reducing the number of abortions - studies have shown cheap and effective contraception really can do this. The thorniness of the contraception issue .... it's not just about a failed Catholic teaching because many pro-life people are not Catholic, but it seems to be about ideas of what women should be doing with and feeling about their reproductive lives .... and that's why some pro-choice people think this is all about controlling women, not saving babies. But as to how to get people to change their hearts/minds on abortion ... I kind of understand that wish because I feel that way about animals. I wish people wouldn't eat them or experiment on them. I support groups that try to change people's hearts and minds, like the American Anti-Vivisection Society.
Sam Sawyer, S.J.
1 year 12 months ago

Thanks for replying. To push the question a bit further—do you think that convincing pro-choice people that pro-life people are more serious about reducing the number of abortions make them any more likely to give serious consideration to the question about whether abortion is unjust and wrong? Otherwise, pro-choice people telling pro-life people that they won't listen to them about abortion because they find them hypocritical on contraception seems kind of hollow. Or have I misunderstood something about how you see the issue?

About the thorniness of the contraception issue—yes, it's not just a Catholic issue. But hopefully the way I've put the question helps explain why someone with a pro-life perspective might not be convinced that talking about contraception more will necessarily advance the cause of justice they're concerned about. (And I know that's not a satisfying answer; it's not meant to be.)

Crystal Watson
1 year 12 months ago
Thanks for talking to me about this stuff. If pro-choice people and pro-life people worked together to reduce abortion with contraception, there would be fewer abortions and pro-choice people would respect pro-life people more. But, I guess you're right - it wouldn't change a pro-choice person's beliefs about whether abortion was morally wrong in all instances. Maybe an achievable but partial goal is worth the effort? But if your main purpose is to abolish legal abortion through popular opinion, then the contraception thing becomes almost a side issue, I suppose. Is that why you think it's not worth arguing about? The idea that we're all entrenched and there's no common ground or hope of rethinking is depressing :(
Sam Sawyer, S.J.
1 year 11 months ago

Thank you for the conversation, too.

I do think the contraception issue is worthy of discussion. But I also think that work needs to be done to keep the deep question of justice alive about abortion. Certainly we should try to reduce the need for abortion, but we shouldn't "let ourselves off the hook" about the question of whether or not it is right, whether or not it sacrifices the innocent lives of the unborn, and whether or not it contributes to structures that expect women to choose between pregnancy and economic security/opportunitity.

And quite often, I think that the shift to "how do we reduce the need" is a (sometimes only implicit) way to move away from the question of "is this just?" and "why is this legal?" We need to find ways to talk about those questions in common, and I don't think focusing on contraception, as important as it is in other ways, helps us there.

Crystal Watson
1 year 11 months ago
One last comment. I understand the wish to stand up for the defenseless, but this issue isn't just about fetuses but about women and girls, and as much as some would like to characterize them as a second victim of divorce, it seems to be true (a study) that women mostly feel relieved about abortion. The Jesuits at the 34th general congregation promised they would listen to the lived experience of women and would align themselves in solidarity with us ... http://www.sjweb.info/documents/sjs/docs/Dr%2014_ENG.pdf .... but it doesn't seem that's even considered on this issue.
Monica Doyle
1 year 12 months ago
I couldn't agree with you more. Whenever I hear of abortion I feel overwhelming sadness for everybody involved.
Steve Perzan
1 year 12 months ago
We need to see the human mammal-animal we are through the eyes of evolution. A good way to do that is to view David Attenborough's "Dawn of the Mammals" on the Smithsonian Channel. When we see our evolutionary relationship to the rest of creation -- and with the rest of the mammals -- we gain a better understanding of how "abortion" is anti-evolution, anti-animal, anti-mammal. Seeing that biology of evolution recognized and explained will help almost anyone make a good sound biological choice against aborting the human mammal-animal in evolution. The program's promotion states: "Through new fossil discoveries, we chart how and when our ancestors developed hair, placentas, and milk, and laid the foundations for the major mammal groups we see today." Building on our relationship with other mammal-animals helps us understand our own evolution as a human mammal-animal and moves us in the direction of compassion for who we are and the need to preserve our evolutionary process to the fullness of life and not destroy it. You cannot watch this program and leave wanting to destroy the human-mammal-animal in any of its god inspired stages of evolutionary development within the protection of the placenta.
Neil Purcell
1 year 12 months ago
Maybe the better question is why do you all focus on abortion in the first place? We legalized abortion because women who want them are going to have them one way or the other - safely or under unsafe conditions. We all got tired of poor women getting butchered so we made it legal and safe. In the years since Roe v Wade, the Church has made abortion the focus of its moral teaching, while the many great moral issues of the era have largely been ignored. So we see today that the 1% have all the wealth and the poor are poorer. Immigrants are persecuted. Food stamps, welfare and unemployment relief have all been cut. Society is segregated, and the schools available to the poor are woefully inadequate. We tortured prisoners taken in an unjust war. We ignore the refugees of that war. I could go on, but you get the point. It is always abortion. The Church hesitated to protect children from pedophile priests but has never doubted its stand on abortion. Silent or indifferent on so many issues - outspoken, and wrong, on just one. Have you even considered what the consequences would be if we went back to the days when abortions were illegal? No, of course not. Why would you care about poor women?
Beth Cioffoletti
1 year 12 months ago
Teaching the beauty and sacredness of life would have more success in decreasing the number of abortions performed than a political / legal solution. But this teaching would have to extend beyond abortion to the death penalty, war, and torture to be believable.
Crystal Watson
1 year 11 months ago
I think too that there needs to be some reason why abortion is wrong that a majority of people can accept. Not even all Catholics believe in the idea that human life is sacred from conception to natural death ... an example is Catholic Jerry Brown signing the physician assisted suicide bill here in California.
Beth Cioffoletti
1 year 11 months ago
The personal decisions - abortion, assisted suicide - have to come down to the individual in my opinion. Never the state. Actions taken by the state in our name - the death penalty, torture, war - have to be governed by laws. For many years of my life my husband and I tried to conceive a child. This was when In Vitro Fertilization was new and very expensive and not often successful. I pondered it, knowing that many embryos would be produced and have to die (or be frozen forever). In my conscience I was able to justify it, knowing that these beginning lives would be sacrificed so that we might have a child. Having gone through this discerning process, I knew that I could never tell a pregnant 14 year old that she could not sacrifice her embryo, for whatever reasons she had. In Vitro Fertilization is now commonplace, even among Catholics. I have never heard a word from a pulpit condemning the procedure. Situation surrounding death are also very personal, each one different. These decisions should never be subject to general "laws" and the criminal procedures surrounding them. It is for these reasons, mainly, that I consider myself a pro-choice Catholic.
Crystal Watson
1 year 11 months ago
Me too, Beth.
John Peirce
1 year 11 months ago
Your comments are by far the most rational I've heard on this most contentious subject. Our Church would have been better served to have kept this matter on a moral plane and out of the political arena. The lack of consensus on abortion is unfortunate, but its real. Trying to engage the criminal justice system to impose the catholic position at this stage would be a mess and counter productive to our broader mission.
Gabriel Marcella
1 year 11 months ago
Would deception have been OK if it was used to save Jews destined for extinction? How about freeing slaves in the American South? In fact, deception was used to save both Jews and slaves. And we applaud those saviors. Does this statement hold true in all cases--"We have to do what we can to avoid any cooperation in or support of the wrong"? It's too sweeping as a guide for moral conduct.
Joseph Manta
1 year 11 months ago
Fr. Sawyer, while I agree with much of what you say, I think you have fallen for the pro-abortion spin. C.M.P. did not say what PP was doing was illegal . They merely showed what PP was doing with aborted babies body parts. The pro-abortion lobby focussed on the legality because they knew it could be legal. They didn't want to ask why it was legal. And the old argument about pro-life people just shouting at or condemning women who get an abortion is way past its time. Are you aware of organizations like Legacy of Life which has a very respectful, loving approach to women seeking an abortion. They support the woman and her baby for up to 3 years after birth. For those women who get abortions there are a number of ministries that minister to them with love. The old saw about the cruel, self-righteous pro-lifers is no longer true, if it ever was. Lastly, I disagree that the videos have hurt the pro-life movement. It has in fact reinvigorated it. It always strikes me as incongruous that those who demand choice but neglect to give the babies a choice. It is absolutely scientifically accurate that life begins at conception. The genetic pro-file of mother, father and unborn child has demonstrated that. Apparently some people just want to decide what life is worth protection. Remind you of any other situation? Joe Manta
Carlos Orozco
1 year 11 months ago
Paraphrasing a PP employee in one of the C.M.P. videos, "my soul for a Lamborghini !", would sum up the spiritual state of the members of that organization. In the current trough-away culture, anything goes to make an extra buck and since the unborn can't fight back, well, who thinks PP and the cannibal medical establishment will let "opportunities" pass by? Far more concerning to me are Catholics whom try to rationalize or justify such atrocities, repeating old lies from corrupt politicians that also take delight in funding terrorists in the ME (Libya and Syria, to be precise). Warmongering grandma Clinton comes to mind.
Crystal Watson
1 year 11 months ago
One PP employee's remark about a car can't be used to describe all the people who work there. It's a simplistic negative generalization and it's untrue.
Gabriel Marcella
1 year 11 months ago
Fr. Sawyer tells the story very well: "I am still saddened and disgusted that an organization which reported 323,999 abortions and only 2,024 adoption referrals in 2014-2015 can continue to cite the meaningless statistic that abortion accounts for only three percent of the services it delivers, while probably close to one-third of its clinic revenue is derived from abortions."
Carlos Orozco
1 year 11 months ago
I suppose that, in your criteria, PP is full of God-fearing people. Don't forget that PP was founded on racist principles, that were the base of the pseudo-science of Eugenics. Such ideas were considered "scientific" at the beginning of the XX century. Margaret Sanger was well known for her biased concern against the "negro" population. Don't believe me, research it. A quick study of the history of PP helps understand its current mission. http://www.blackgenocide.org/
Crystal Watson
1 year 11 months ago
I doubt most pro-life people have ever been to a PP or met any of the people who work there. I have. They are nice normal people like the rest of us.
Carlos Orozco
1 year 11 months ago
Some people that once worked in PP are now among the most powerful pro-life witnesses (I doubt you are referring to these). They have come to understand the mentality and the workings of the organization from an inside perspective, and have abhorred them. For example, I remember a technician that was featured in one of the C.M.P. videos. They are testimony that God can move any heart, and that no sinner is without hope. But let there be no doubt, PP as an organization, is an agent of formidable evil. It profits from the killing and selling of the unborn, especially targeting racial minorities. There is nothing "nice" or "normal" about that, certainly nothing Catholic.
Crystal Watson
1 year 11 months ago
The stuff that happens at PP is no different than the stuff that has always happened at any gynecologist's office or at hospitals. Pro-life terrorists have made it so dangerous now to do abortions that clinics like PP are one of the few places left that will do them. It's the pro-life movement that has made such clinics necessary, but they are not staffed by monsters and what they do is normal gyn care. But I give up arguing because facts don't seem to matter here.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 11 months ago
“No one ever changes from being yelled at. They change from being loved.” How did that work for the fight against slavery, for civil rights, or for fights against the nazis or now ISIS? I think it naive to think that the pro-abortionists in the main will respond to the approach Fr. Sawyer is advocating. There is too much to gain (ideologically, financially, sexually, etc.) for them to give this up. Just replace the word "slavery" for abortion in the comments below to see how articles like this really just perpetuate the injustice. or, imagine if we responded to the sexual or physical abuse of children by this approach. It is one thing to turn the other cheek when one's own life is in danger, but it is an act of injustice or even cowardice to cooperate with the evil by not strongly objecting when innocents are being slaughtered. This is an injustice far worse than the institution of slavery, and the ultimate child abuse. Planned Parenthood makes 86% of its profits from their abortions, but hide behind their other services. http://www.redstate.com/streiff/2015/09/30/cecile-richards-abortion-86-planned-parenthoods-revenue/ Contraception stands or falls on its own moral evaluation, but abortion is completely different - the willful destruction of another human being for one's own personal gain. CMP were acting justly and prudently in deceiving PP on their identities and motives to expose what was going on at PP. Their methods were similar to what NBC's dateline used in their "Catch a Predator" series (they tricked pedophiles). Now, PP and its political allies are trying to de-legitimize CMP's findings by focusing on their methods. It will not work. In fact, it will keep the issue more in the public eye, and further expose the motives of PP.
Beth Cioffoletti
1 year 11 months ago
"Contraception stands or falls on its own moral evaluation, but abortion is completely different - the willful destruction of another human being for one's own personal gain." Would you say the same thing about In-Vitro Fertilization?
James Addison
1 year 11 months ago
Agree. The willingness of some to equate a fertilized egg / a blastocyst / an embryo with a human being is a large part of the challenge of even having these conversations. And to suggest an equivalence with slavery seems to me almost obscene http://www.eurostemcell.org/files/human_blastocyst_hair_scale.png
Tim O'Leary
1 year 11 months ago
It seems to me that you and many supporters of abortion see the unborn as animals (or less than animals) without souls, so you make judgments of worth based on size and biological complexity. You seem to have lost the sense of the sacredness of human life, preferring instead a form of animal rights. But, by your logic, there would be nothing wrong with sex selection abortions, or abortion as contraception. Even infanticide would not be equivalent to killing a more mature human. Notice how many supporters of abortion are vegetarian or get outraged at the killing of animals (baby seals, dolphins, etc.), The Church rejects the idea that humans, at any age, are just animals, deserving only of some form of animal rights. Every conceived human being has an eternal destiny, and will outlast the physical universe.
Crystal Watson
1 year 11 months ago
Keith Ward on this ... https://youtu.be/1q6Lpm-3ZUU
Tim O'Leary
1 year 11 months ago
Crystal – I listened to your link. Keith Ward, an Anglican priest, makes the same mistake I describe above. He judges the value of human beings by physical size and thinks we cannot be so important because we are puny compared to so many galaxies. Ward says God loves planets, cats and dogs as much as humans (yet He only became human). To quote him directly: humans are just “little lumps of DNA which have grown brains and become conscious.” This is the very anti-human idea that infects our secular culture that sees the unborn as discardable. Ward says St. Thomas Aquinas was wrong on centering humanity in creation and that Holy Scripture doesn’t give any special importance to humanity in creation. He must be forgetting a lot of Scripture: that only humans are made in the image of God (Gen 1:27), that God knows us and “formed us in the womb,” (Jer 1:5), that God chose us before the foundation of the world (Eph 1), that God became man to save humans (Jn 3:16), that we are far more valuable than sparrows (Lk 12”7) and Psalm 8 (3:6) “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands and put everything under their feet…”
Carlos Orozco
1 year 11 months ago
Excellent comment, Tim.
Beth Cioffoletti
1 year 11 months ago
No, you're assuming too much, Tim. All I asked was whether or not you thought In Vitro Fertilization - a routine procedure used in the USA and around the world with little question or comment from religious moralists - should be given the same condemnation as that given to 14 years olds who opt to abort. You did not answer my question, but rather ran off in the other direction.
Tim O'Leary
1 year 11 months ago
Beth - any procedure that treats human beings, at any age from conception, as discardable parts subject to be killed for the desires of another is denying their sacred dignity. It is wrong to buy or sell them like slaves, and it denies them their full sacred human dignity. You should know the Catholic Church rejects this modern manipulation of human beings. Here is the relevant CCC paragraph: 2377 Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization) are perhaps less reprehensible, yet remain morally unacceptable. They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that "entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children." "Under the moral aspect procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not willed as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses' union . . . . Only respect for the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and respect for the unity of the human being make possible procreation in conformity with the dignity of the person."
Beth Cioffoletti
1 year 11 months ago
Tim, I see where you are coming from. And there is a part of me that totally agrees with you and the consistency of the idea. Where this got broken down with me is in coming face to face with it in a personal reality. Real life circumstances are quite messy and not as clear cut or black and white as the idea. Francis gets this when he says that the pastoral must take precedence over the ideology. As I was pondering over the possibility of conceiving a child via in-vitro-fertilization, I realized that I really could, in good conscience, do this. Allow a few embryos to die in the hope that one might become a child for us. After all, month after month I was grieving the few cells that had not become a child for us. If this procedure could help us, I could do it -- and I would forever honor the embryo-angels that gave themselves for that one embryo that survived to become a child. When I came to this realization in myself, I knew that I had no right to ever tell anyone else what they could do with their embryos. Throughout the ages women have found themselves in dire circumstances and have found ways of preventing and aborting pregnancy. For most of history women have known to keep these techniques "secret" and away from the knowledge and control of men. I honor that choice (and power) in myself, in other women facing pregnancy problems, and in all women of all times. In many ways, without in any way diminishing my conviction of the sacredness of life at all stages, I see it as a God-given choice. As you say: "You made them rulers over the works of your hands and put everything under their feet…”" I believe that the best way to reduce abortions is to teach and model the sacredness of life. Rather than being focused on abortion, this teaching includes opposition to war, torture, and the death penalty. Isn't it odd that the folks who are up in arms about abortion don't have much interest in ending the death penalty? The Catholic Church, of course, does lip service to this in theory, but not in actuality.
Joe Kash
1 year 11 months ago
The statistics concerning planned parenthood services and revenue are very interesting. I have not seen any data concerning services that are directly connected to abortion services versus services that occur in a visit independent of the abortion service. When a woman presents for abortion services, at the abortion post-op follow up visit they get contraceptive services. They also might get STD services at this visit. They might get a breast exam. Thus at least 50% of their services will be considered to be non-abortion service even though these were clearly an abortion-related services. Do they get federal money for these services that are done as part of the abortion visit? It would be interesting to see the data concerning how much PP does for woman independent of abortion services. How many woman get contraception and STD testing and breast screening independent of the abortion visit? I suspect that this number is very low in both visits and revenue.
Crystal Watson
1 year 11 months ago
Most women visit PP not for an abortion but for a regular gyn exam for contraception or infection. When I was a patient there that was why I went. At worst ... "looking at the share of abortions per patient (and assuming one procedure per patient), the figure rises to 12 percent." ... http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2015/aug/04/sandra-smith/fox-business-reporter-95-planned-parenthoods-pregn/
Joe Kash
1 year 11 months ago
They report that there were 327,653 surgical abortions and there were 1,440,495 "emergency contraceptive kits". That's a total of 1,768,148 pregnancy termination visits. They gave out 2,100,000 reversible contraception. I would guess that most of these patient's who came for termination visits left with reversible contraception. That leaves a minimum of patients who came for contraception without abortion service.
Gabriel Marcella
1 year 11 months ago
Some historical perspective: Number of slaves in the U.S.at the time of the Emancipation Proclamation: about 3,000,000. The total number of slaves from the 1600s to 1863 may never be known and early mortality was high. Number of abortions in the US since 1973: nearly 58,000.000 (only surgical abortions, chemical not included). Number of abortions performed by Planned Parenthood since 1970: some 7,000,000. (http://www.lifematterstv.org/abortioncounters.html) The Constitution and the Dred Scott decision protected slavery, Rose v. Wade protects abortion.
Robert Lannan
1 year 11 months ago
Well said, Father.
Carlos Orozco
1 year 11 months ago
Did not God create each person in His image? Did not He Incarnate in the womb of the Virgin to save us from sin and eternal damnation? Did he not love every man, woman or child he ever came across with? Did he not endure the unbearable for each and everyone of us? Did He not Resurrect his human body? Did He not ascend into heavens in this glorified human body? Does not this same Jesus sit and reign in eternal glory to the right of His Father? Has He not said that He will exercise justice of every sin committed against the "smallest" among us in the Final Judgement? No human life will ever be created in vein. And yet so many "Catholics" think they can destroy the unborn human life... what evil was gotten into them? What a tragedy of genocidal proportions.
Carl Kuss
1 year 6 months ago
The point of the videos was never to show that the selling of body parts was something illegal, but to show that it is something disturbing. But the essence of the evil being brought to light is not the evil of selling body parts, but the evil of institutionalized abortion itself. (If one accepts institutionalized abortion the selling of body parts for research and other good purposes becomes natural.) The injustice and essentially oppressive nature of institutionalized abortion speaks for itself and is not corroborated by a sting operation meant to show that certain people happen to be moved by the petty pursuit of avarice. In fact the films do not show petty avarice, in spite of some jokes about expensive cars. The films showed people acting in a quite principled way. But what principles are these? It asks all of us to look in the mirror and ask ourselves how the Culture of Death has grown such deep and death-dealing roots in our nation and in the world, in ourselves. It remains necessary to bring to light the injustice, violence and oppression of institutionalized abortion: one cannot love when one does not reject injustice. Injustice must be brought to light. Yet the fight against injustice will not be served by judging people, and engaging in new forms of Manichean thinking and scapegoating. Yet to connect institutionalized abortion to the Cult of Money is not to judge anyone, but constitutes a profound phenomonological analysis, following St. Paul who tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil. The struggle for freedom of religion achieves its full concreteness in the struggle against the tyranny of the Cult of Money.

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