Politics & Policy

Planned Parenthood’s Lame Defenses

After days of reeling from the most macabre revelations of the Center for Medical Progress’s undercover videos — from talk of “less crunchy” abortions, to the news that “a lot of people want liver,” to clinic employees staring at dismembered human remains and exclaiming “another boy” — Planned Parenthood’s defenders are launching their counterattacks.

There was of course no way that Planned Parenthood would go quietly. They’ve got the full support of a president who asks God’s blessings on the nation’s most prolific abortionists and the fanatical devotion of the sexual revolutionaries in the Democratic party, the academy, and the mainstream media. And the stakes are quite high: In the sexual revolution’s moment of triumph — with abortion legal, marriage redefined, and the biological facts of gender rendered irrelevant in the face of human will — it has suddenly been exposed for what it is, a tawdry and deadly exercise in human selfishness.

Planned Parenthood’s defenses fall into three general categories: the desperate, the immoral, and the nonsensical. The first — and most desperate — defense relied on buzzwords like “extremist,” and “anti-woman,” and “politically motivated” — almost always paired with an allegation that the tapes were edited. Yet by releasing the full tapes simultaneously with the condensed versions, the Center for Medical Progress was able to respond with simple truth. Yes, they were pro-life, and yes, they were running a sting. But the Planned Parenthood officials said what they said, and it was shockingly brutal.

Then came the immoral claim — that harvesting aborted fetal tissue for medical research is actually a good thing. Here’s Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern: “The graphic images of aborted fetuses are meant to disgust me, to convince me that abortion is a barbaric act of killing. But I don’t see death in these videos. I see hope.” How can one see hope in a mutilated child? Stern claims that by killing these kids and selling (or, excuse me, receiving handsome reimbursements for) their body parts, Planned Parenthood is helping advance medical research toward curing diseases like ALS, which killed a friend of his.

Simply put, there is no credible defense for mass murder.

I too have known people who’ve died from ALS, and it is indeed a horrible disease. But the ALS sufferers I’ve known would never ask a single baby (much less thousands) to die for the sake of research that one day might possibly yield a treatment. And this is especially true when advances in adult-cell research may very well yield methods of potential treatment that don’t rely on fetal tissue at all. The only way for Stern and others to justify their moral calculus is to dehumanize the aborted child — and to do so in a way that defies science. After all, from the moment of conception a child is a distinct and separate human being, possessing its own DNA. In the face of this inarguable fact, Stern and others like him are judging not just that one human life is worth more than another but that other humans can and should be chopped to pieces, their body parts apportioned to labs for the sake of preserving a favored population.

#related#Planned Parenthood’s most nonsensical defense is calculated to appeal to the wavering middle, to those who don’t like abortion but also don’t necessarily want to see it outlawed. We’ll call this Planned Parenthood’s “pro-life” defense — that defunding Planned Parenthood will actually increase abortions by depriving women of much-needed contraceptives. Planned Parenthood claims that the 327,000 abortions it performs annually represent just 3 percent of its total services, and that its contraceptive distribution programs actually prevent 216,000 abortions per year. But if the contraceptive services are so valuable and the abortions so inconsequential to Planned Parenthood, why not drop 3 percent of its business to save the 97 percent? If Planned Parenthood stopped killing babies on a mass scale, it would no longer be America’s most controversial “health care provider.”

But Planned Parenthood would rather close its doors than stop killing babies — because of ideology and self-interest. The 3 percent number has always been misleading. Planned Parenthood counts both distributing a pack of birth control pills and performing an abortion as “services,” yet the abortion yields far more revenue. Its protestations to the contrary, abortion is big business for Planned Parenthood, and the group is working furiously to keep it that way.

Yet even if Planned Parenthood refuses to yield the 3 percent to save the 97 percent, it’s simply not the case that there’s a simple statistical correspondence between federal funding for contraceptive distribution and abortion. Yesterday, Nick Kristof wrote a much-forwarded column decrying the Republican plan to defund Title X, a federal family-planning program. He claims that if the federal government stops buying condoms, unintended pregnancies will increase, in turn leading to more abortions. Yet, as he himself concedes, “Since 1980 inflation-adjusted spending on Title X family planning has fallen by two-thirds.” Teen pregnancy, meanwhile, has been declining for more than two decades:

And the number of abortions is falling as well:

Given the complex cultural factors in play, there isn’t even necessarily a straight-line relationship between contraceptive use and abortions. As Michael New notes, there is strong evidence that contraceptive use and abortion rates actually rose simultaneously in several countries. He continues:

A 1996 Quarterly Journal of Economics study, which was co-authored by Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen, found that the advent of the birth-control pill led to more sexual activity and more unintended pregnancies. And a University of Michigan study analyzed what happened when the 2005 Federal Deficit Reduction Act led to a sharp increase in the price of birth-control pills at college health centers. It found that there were statistically significant decreases in both the frequency of sexual intercourse and the number of sex partners. The unintended-pregnancy rate remained about the same.

Planned Parenthood systematically and brutally kills children by the hundreds of thousands. The Center for Medical Progress videos show that it does so with a casual indifference to the undeniable humanity of each baby. Unless Planned Parenthood willfully gives up its abortion business, defunding the group will not only save lives, it will help rid this nation of its most reprehensible corporate citizen. Simply put, there is no credible defense for mass murder.

— David French is an attorney and a staff writer at National Review.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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