OPINION

It is time to restore dignity to children in the womb

In this Nov. 11, 2011, file photo, a mother holds her newborn baby.

In this Nov. 11, 2011, file photo, a mother holds her newborn baby.  (Michael Zamora/Corpus Christi Caller-Times via AP)

The details coming out these last two weeks from the undercover work of the Center for Medical Progress, showing overwhelming evidence of the fact that Planned Parenthood sells the body parts of the babies it aborts, are brutal and disturbing.

The first undercover video showed Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Senior Director of Medical Services for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, having a casual lunch while talking about the abortions she does and oversees, and how to more effectively get the organs she wants. She states, in between bites of food and sips of 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.”

The other two videos likewise show Planned Parenthood doctors speaking about, and examining, the body parts of these babies, with no apparent emotion or trouble of soul.

Are they crazy, or are they just being logical?

I'm not saying anyone is responsible for the actions of these doctors than the individuals themselves. But I am suggesting that a certain climate, and a certain set of presumptions, has been created by our current public policy on abortion, and the arguments made to justify it, and that if we are horrified by what Planned Parenthood does to these babies, we have to examine what that connection might be.

Statistics from the Guttmacher Institute show that some 12,700 abortions per year in the United States occur legally at 21 weeks of pregnancy and beyond. These are babies the size of a large banana.

One of the most memorable conversations I ever had was with abortion provider Dr. Martin Haskell of Ohio, who performs abortions in the latest stages of pregnancy. I asked him how he justified doing such a thing. He told me, "I don't know when the child receives a soul."

Recall also what late-term abortionist Dr. James McMahon once said: “After 20 weeks where it frankly is a child to me, I really agonize over it. ... On the other hand, I have another position, which I think is superior in the hierarchy of questions, and that is: 'Who owns the child?' It's got to be the mother." (Interview with American Medical News, July 5, 1993).

Notice that we are not hearing an argument here that denies these children to be living human babies, but rather that there is such a thing as a baby who does not deserve protection of the law. It seems to me this dichotomy starts with the dual assertion in Roe vs. Wade that, on the one hand, "We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins" [410 U.S. 113, 159], yet on the other, “the word 'person,' as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn” [410 U.S. 113, 158].

So some humans don't have to be considered persons. The difficulty, of course, is drawing a clear line and having a clear rationale for that line. And we have all kinds of evidence of how dangerously flexible that line can be.

One of the laws possibly violated by Planned Parenthood as it seeks to harvest intact organs from the babies it aborts is the federal "Born-Alive Infants Protection Act."  As part of the legislative testimony for a Florida bill of the same kind, a Planned Parenthood lobbyist named Alisa LaPolt Snow gave testimony a couple of years ago and was asked this question: "If a baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion, what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child that is struggling for life?” She responded,"We believe that any decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family, and the physician.”

And about a year earlier, the Journal of Medical Ethics published an article by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva titled, "After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?" (February 23, 2012). The authors state, “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.”

As the authors admit, the assertion is not new. Controversial ethicist Peter Singer said long ago: “[T]he location of the baby inside or outside the womb cannot make such a crucial moral difference" ("On Letting Handicapped Babies Die"), and that to be consistent, there are "only two possibilities," namely,"oppose abortion, or allow infanticide" (Rethinking Life and Death, p.210).

Various federal laws are attempting to restore sanity to our federal abortion policy, and some dignity to children in the womb. The House of Representatives recently passed the "Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," aiming to protect babies from 20 weeks forward. The legislation has been introduced in the Senate as well. This would protect many of the babies whose hearts, eyes, and brains are being put on the market.

But does drawing a legal limit do enough to resolve the underlying dangerous tension created by allowing children to be killed at certain stages for rationales that no longer apply to the same children at later stages?

Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Dr. Mary Gatter, and other Planned Parenthood employees are being exposed today for their gruesome activities in selling the body parts of babies they kill. Are they just crazy, or are they simply following the logic of an industry based on the assertion that the mother’s choice overrides any consideration for the dignity of that child, and her body?

 

Father Frank Pavone is National Director of Priests for Life and Missionaries of the Gospel of Life. He is president of the National Pro-life Religious Council and Pastoral Director for Rachel's Vineyard, the world's largest ministry of healing after abortion. He travels throughout the country, to an average of four states every week, preaching and teaching against abortion.