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Planned Parenthood video shows an apalling trivialization of life


MICHAEL GERSON

Source:
Washington Post
Type:
Media/Opinion
Date:
7/16/2015

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ABSTRACT Planned Parenthood video shows an appalling trivialization of life - The Washington Post Accessibility for screenreader Sign In Username PostTV Politics Opinions Local Sports National World Business Tech Lifestyle Entertainment Classifieds Jobs Real Estate Events Rentals Cars WP BrandConnect Subscribe Newsletters & Alerts washingtonpost.com © 1996-2015 The Washington Post Help and Contact Us Terms of Service Privacy Policy Submissions and Discussion Policy RSS Terms of Service Ad Choices Sections The Washington Post Planned Parenthood video shows an appalling trivialization of life Sign In Username Subscribe Opinions Planned Parenthood video shows an appalling trivialization of life Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Plus Share via Email More Options Share on Whatsapp Share on Pinterest Share on LinkedIn Share on Tumblr Share on LinkedIn Share on Pinterest Share on Tumblr Resize Text Print Article Comments 596 Pro-choice demonstrators rally in front of the Supreme Court in January. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post) By Michael Gerson Opinion writer July 16 at 8:01 PM Follow @mjgerson At first, it seemed like an Internet hoax. A doctor, over a glass of wine and a salad, coldly describes the extraction and monetization of fetal body parts. Surely this is some kind of sick parody. But it is not a hoax. It is Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, Deborah Nucatola, caught in a sting video by an antiabortion group. Planned Parenthood’s reaction essentially confirmed the conversation as genuine, but insisted that it concerned the extraction of tissue for scientific research “under the highest ethical and legal standards.” Michael Gerson is a nationally syndicated columnist who appears twice weekly in The Post. View Archive RSS The full video of the lunch is available online for those willing to risk losing their own. An excerpt : “I’d say a lot of people want liver ,” says Nucatola. “And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance so they’ll know where they’re putting their forceps. The kind of rate-limiting step of the procedure is the calvarium. Calvarium — the head — is basically the biggest part. . . . 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. And with the calvarium, in general, some people will actually try to change the presentation so that it’s not vertex. . . . So if you do it starting from the breech presentation, there’s dilation that happens as the case goes on, and often, the last step, you can evacuate an intact calvarium at the end.” “A lot of people want liver.” Defenders of Planned Parenthood assure us that this is a normal feature of modern medicine. But many will find it surprising that there is a market for human body parts — running, according to Nucatola, from $30 to $100 per specimen — that includes a demand for fetal heads. This harvest, according to Planned Parenthood, is ethical because the charge is only for shipping and handling and brings “no financial benefit.” But charging a fee certainly improves the finances of a clinic compared with not charging a fee for the same work, even if a profit isn’t made. The anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress posted a long version of the conversation between a Planned Parenthood executive and undercover actors on YouTube along with an shorter version that has been shared widely. These are excerpts of the longer version. (CenterforMedicalProgress.org) What do we learn from the video? First, it shows the appalling trivialization of life at the heart of extreme pro-choice ideology. If a developing life is really the moral and medical equivalent of a cyst or tumor, there is no limit on how it may be exploited. But most people — even those who support Roe v. Wade — intuitively recognize that the boy or girl in the sonogram is not a cyst. We see a family resemblance in a genetically differentiated human at an early stage of development. And people generally don’t want developing human beings treated as rubbish or raw materials. Second, this shows the ethical danger of dehumanization. Whenever we start down the path of saying that some lives have diminished (or nonexistent) value, we harden something about ourselves that should be soft. This is true, in a different and lesser way, of comparing poor people on food stamps to animals. Or of saying that most illegal immigrants are rapists. It is always a source of serious ethical risk when we categorize a group of human beings as different and worthless. It leads, over time, to a callousness that can be shocking and dangerous. Third, this case shows a deep tension within American society. All our best instincts push toward expanding the circle of inclusion and protection. Even opponents of same-sex marriage must admit that the rapid shift of pub.......