When a pregnant woman says “My body, my choice,” her own body disagrees. The proof doesn’t come from a pro-life person’s persuasive arguments. It comes from the “testimony” of her body’s physiology.
During pregnancy, the mother’s circulatory system and the unborn’s circulatory system come very close together in the placenta, but they don’t mix. This allows oxygen and nutrients to pass to the unborn while simultaneously allowing carbon dioxide and waste products to return to the mother.
In some abnormal conditions, the unborn’s blood enters into the mother’s bloodstream. If this happens, it evokes an immune response by the mother. Her body creates antibodies that attack the unborn inside her. That’s because the mother’s body recognizes the unborn’s body as a foreign body, not merely an extension of her own body.
The mother’s immune system doesn’t create antibodies against her appendix, her tonsils, or her teeth because these are part of her body. She can correctly state, “My body, my choice,” regarding those parts and – without committing a moral crime – procure an appendectomy, tonsillectomy, or tooth extraction.
Procuring an abortion, however, doesn’t remove a part of her own body, but rather, a different body. That’s the unbiased testimony of a pregnant woman’s own physiology.
Getting Faith Right by Tim Barnett: “Here’s how I explain faith to students. Imagine you are standing at the edge of Niagara Falls. While you are watching this magnificent waterfall, you notice there is a tightrope walker walking from one side to the other, pushing a wheelbarrow full of rocks. You are mesmerized by his amazing ability, so you keep watching him do it over and over again. The tightrope walker sees that you have been watching for some time and walks towards you. He asks, ‘Do you believe that I can do it again?’ Given that you have seen him do it numerous times already, you reply, ‘Of course, I’ve seen you doing it all day.’ Without hesitation, he dumps out all the rocks and replies, ‘Okay, climb in the wheelbarrow.’ You believe based on evidence. And stepping into the wheelbarrow is active trust. Therefore, biblical faith is active trust based on evidence.” (Read more.)
Planned Parenthood Isn’t the Only Abortion Problem by Alan Shlemon: “Planned Parenthood was evil last year, long before they were exposed. They were evil the year before that, and the year before that. The reason is because they take advantage of vulnerable women who face crisis pregnancies and help them kill their innocent children. They’ve been doing that with government protection for over 40 years. These videos have not changed what Planned Parenthood does, only the public’s perception of them. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad these videos have exposed Planned Parenthood’s barbaric behavior. I want as many people as possible to see them. More than that, though, I want pro-lifers to be passionate about saving the lives of unborn children for as long as abortion remains legal, not just as long as the hype of these videos remains.” (Read more.)
reTHINKING Youth Ministry by Brett Kunkle: “My passion has always been discipling the next generation, and it’s motivated me to seek out ways to more effectively reach students. That's why I started and developed Stand to Reason's apologetic mission trip to Berkeley and our theological mission trip to Utah. Due to the nature of these trips, though, most Christian kids won't have the opportunity to experience them. So I've thought a lot about strategies to reach and train larger numbers of students.... Four years ago, we tried out one of my ideas: an apologetics conference tailored for youth. I called it the reTHINK Student Apologetics Conference. Approximately 400 students, youth workers, and parents attended the first conference in Southern California, and we were ecstatic. We did it again in 2013 and more than 600 showed up. Last year, almost 1,100 came out. And just last month, 1,504 people (most of them students) turned out for our fourth annual reTHINK Conference. The response was tremendous.” (Read more.)
There’s some confusion on both sides out there about what’s in the Planned Parenthood videos. You can watch the episode that’s being debated here, in which a former tech from StemExpress describes what she witnessed in a Planned Parenthood clinic.
Here are some important clarifications:
At 4:02, O’Donnell says the tech said this before restarting the heart of the aborted baby: “Come over here! I want you to see something kinda cool. This is kinda neat.”
There’s no explicit explanation given by the tech as to why she’s starting the heart. It’s unclear whether she was doing something “cool” just for fun, or whether she was doing it for some other purpose and simply called O’Donnell over because she might want to see it. Since I first saw this video, I have feared we may find out in future videos that it’s done to keep specimens fresh, but for now, that has not been specifically said. Regardless, playing with an infant’s life is evil enough.
We don’t know that the baby’s heart was still beating when they cut its face to procure the brain; O’Donnell does not specifically say either way.
The clip of the fully-intact and moving fetus (at 5:58) was not filmed at the Planned Parenthood clinic. The clip is, in fact, credited, “Courtesy of Grantham Collection & Center for Bio-Ethical Reform.” The image is intended to show the viewers the age of the fetal human being O’Donnell is describing, but it is not the human being described in the story. I don’t see anything illegitimate about adding this footage to help people understand what O’Donnell was seeing. Neither do I think CMP was intending to deceive people with it. (I say this not only because of the credit, but also because later on in the video they show another picture of a 19-week fetus that obviously wasn’t aborted at a Planned Parenthood clinic—care was clearly taken where the umbilical cord was cut.) But at the same time, because these videos are so shocking and most viewers only saw them once, many people have understandably misinterpreted what they were seeing and/or misremembered what they saw.
Yes, the moving fetus in the video was aborted. The website for the Grantham Collection says their images were “lawfully obtained in working abortion clinics.” I verified that the video clip in question can be found in one of their videos, as described here. (I’m not linking to the video of live abortions directly because it is extremely graphic and starts playing automatically, but there is a link to it on that page.) CBR has confirmed this, saying, “The video clip we provided to CMP depicted an intact delivery abortion. It was filmed at an abortion clinic. It was not a miscarriage.”
We need to be careful about how we talk about these videos. If you give people even the smallest thing to quibble with (even if it’s not ultimately relevant), that is what they will focus on, and they’ll use it to justify dismissing everything in the videos. This is what I’m seeing happen now.
Even stranger, I’m seeing journalists out there saying obviously wrong things, like, “There is nothing in the videos made by CMP, either in the edited or full-length versions, that has anything approaching images of legs kicking or hearts beating”; and, “At no point do they include footage of an entire aborted fetus”; and, “None of the videos have anyone talking about ‘harvesting’ brains” (actually, this topic comes up in a few of them); and, “There is no moment where Planned Parenthood discusses procuring fetal tissue for profit” (see here and here); and, “The Center for Medical Progress released five videos” (there are 10, not counting full footage videos); and, most amazingly, “Each video made by an anti-abortion group, The Center for Medical Progress, merely shows people talking” (i.e., without images).
Let’s not add to that confusion. Watch the videos carefully, and don’t assume anything that isn’t explicit. Stick closely to the facts; the facts are horrifying enough on their own.
I’m skeptical of the possibility of convincing people who don’t believe in God that human beings have intrinsic value (see “Atheism and Universal Human Rights” for more on why I’m skeptical). But Wesley J. Smith keeps insisting it’s possible, and I can’t help but hope he’s right when he says things like this:
Happily, human exceptionalism does not require belief in a transcendent God, or indeed, spiritual allusions of any kind if we understand that what matters morally is not the capacities of the individual—which, after all, are transitory—but our intrinsic natures as human beings—which are innate.
If we can convince people our value comes not from the abilities we’re expressing at a particular moment in time but from the kind of being we are—and that’s a big “if” that Smith doesn’t make a case for in his following argument, though you can read an argument for it here—then a case for universal intrinsic human value can be made.
[A]s recent headlines about Planned Parenthood and the push for assisted suicide demonstrate, now is the time to defend intrinsic human value….
A belief in human exceptionalism…does not depend on religious faith. Whether we were created by God, came into being through blind evolution, or were intelligently designed, the importance of human existence can and should be supported by the rational examination of the differences between us and all other known life forms.
After all, what other species in known history has had the wondrous capacities of human beings? What other species has been able to (at least partially) control nature instead of being controlled by it? What other species builds civilizations, records history, creates art, makes music, thinks abstractly, communicates in language, envisions and fabricates machinery, improves life through science and engineering, or explores the deeper truths found in philosophy and religion? What other species has true freedom? Not one….
Perhaps the most important distinction between the fauna and us is our moral agency. The sow that permits the runt of her litter to starve is not a negligent parent, but a human mother doing the same would be branded a monster. The feline that plays with a fallen baby bird before consuming it is not being sadistic; she is acting like a cat! But any human who tortures an animal is rightly seen as pathological.
A former StemExpress tech tells of her supervisor playfully making an aborted baby’s heart start beating again. Of having to cut the baby’s face open in order to get the prized brain ordered by researchers. Was the heart still beating when they did that? Maybe. It’s unclear. Thankfully, there’s no video of either of these things. But you do see a live baby moving on a tray, and that’s enough.
Or, at least, it should be enough.
I can’t stop thinking about the people doing these jobs day in and day out. And of those who watch the videos and either yawn or continue to defend Planned Parenthood. And of how entwined this industry is with the medical community. I just heard that parents who go through IVF can sign a consent form to donate their leftover embryonic children to research. Now that I’ve seen what Planned Parenthood is doing, I can’t help but think: Are IVF doctors getting compensated by researchers for providing them with embryonic human beings? Are they pushing parents to create more children so they’ll be able to provide researchers with more and get more benefits in return? This doesn’t seem like an outlandish speculation anymore. There’s money to be had selling human beings.
How far does this go? How much of our entire society is connected to this barbarity? What are we letting happen all around us, every day?
It’s a horror to realize what I should have always known to be true: There was no special evil in Nazi Germany. The human heart is evil. Either the norms of a society keep the evil human heart in check, or they give permission for that evil to be unleashed. But it’s there. In every society. Waiting.
The doctors in the Planned Parenthood videos seem like normal people because they are normal people. It’s normal for human beings to take their cues about proper behavior from the people around them. Everyone around you is cutting babies’ faces off like it’s no different morally from using the copy machine? Well then, it must be normal and okay! How did people shuffle papers for Nazis in thousands of offices? This is how. This is how an entire culture loses its ability to see the evil right in front of its nose. All it sees are regular people, working in ordinary offices, doing something everybody knows about, and surely something so commonplace couldn’t be evil, right? Meanwhile, the evil spreads its tentacles into multiple areas of life (economics, medicine, etc.) until we’re convinced we can’t manage without it. We have so many reasons to keep it around, you see. Like slavery.
We need to rip this evil out of the fabric of our society. Because it’s so intertwined with our way of life, it may rip some things we’ve come to regard as comforts out with it. We may lose some opportunities for research. We may have more children than we were expecting. We may have less control over designing our dream lives. But take a step back for one minute and look at the baby moving on the tray. Look at it! This is the moral cost of those “comforts,” and it is dark and ugly evil. I pray we are not yet too far gone to see it.