“Can it be that evil is a zero sum game? That each generation is allotted its quota of evil, and must express it – discharge it in any way it can?”
- Lance Morrow – “Evil – An Investigation” (Basic Books – 2003)
The reactions from both sides of America’s abortion issue after the release of videos by the Center for Medical Progress have been swift. This morning I read in the Topeka Capitol Journal that Sam Brownback is calling for an investigation of Planned Parenthood facilities in Kansas. It won’t be long till pro-abortion supporters accuse the Governor of playing politics. Pro-life supporters will claim he’s acting out of principle.
Will the accusations and counter charges bring any resolution to heated debate? I don’t know.
Me? I’m pro-life. I don’t consider myself to be an activist, although I have engaged in some activities on behalf of the movement. Back in the 80’s I once carried a pro-life sign that read “ABORTION STOPS A BEATING HEART” to a rally near downtown Kansas City. I chose the sign carefully. I could have carried one with photos of aborted children, but decided on something less incendiary. I didn’t seem to make much difference in the way some counter demonstrators reacted to me. I was spit on once and got whacked a couple of times. One demonstrator screamed at me about Ronald Reagan and our government’s support for the counter-insurgency in Nicaragua. I had no idea what Nicaragua had to do with abortion, but felt it would be best to bite my tongue.
When Nancy and I moved to New Jersey, we took one trip to Washington, D.C. with a large contingent of pro-life Roman Catholics. We spent some time praying near the capitol building and stopped by Senator Bill Bradley’s office to leave notes expressing our views. That was as provocative as it got.
Since that time, Nancy and I haven’t been particularly visible in the pro-life movement. We could best be termed “quiet” pro-lifers.
This brings me to what I think of the current heated rhetoric.
Is what Planned Parenthood doing illegal? I don’t know enough about the law to say. I do know that Chief Justice John Roberts has said that Roe v. Wade is “settled law.” I do know that Planned Parenthood claims that they follow all federal statutes covering human fetal tissue research; particularly those concerning the logistics of the movement of the “tissue” from the abortion clinics to research facilities wanting said “tissue.” Planned Parenthood is also making the claim that the tissue is being used to help medical science find cures for Alzheimer’s and other scourges that plague humanity.
Some commentators have said it’s like Soylent Green in reverse.
Is what Planned Parenthood doing based on altruism? Are they acts of kindness? Are they moral?
I don’t believe so.
I think the problem here is that too many pro-abortion supporters are confusing legality with morality. They’re two different things. While the law can have moral roots, law can also be used to make something immoral seem like a perfectly moral course of action. Our own history makes this clear. In 1857, for example, a majority of Supreme Court justices ruled that Dred Scott was nothing more than a piece of chattel property. In 1927, justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote on behalf of the seven other justices who supported the idea that forced sterilization was legal in Buck v. Bell. His words were chilling – “It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. . . . Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”
As I read the recent op-eds about this issue I get a queasy feeling in my gut. Pro-abortion supporters are saying things like “Yawn,” which is another way of saying this is not a big deal. They apparently find the videos boring. Some are claiming that pro-lifers are letting their emotions override their logic, as if logic should be the only proper way to measure what’s happening.
Well, I have to admit it. I find what’s going on emotionally disturbing. And, like the Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby, I think pro-abortion supporters should also be emotionally troubled by what they’re seeing and hearing. Like him, I find it morally repugnant to hear a Planned Parenthood official like Deborah Nucatola say over a salad and red wine, “We’ve been very good 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.”