Recently, there have been some rather disturbing videos surrounding Planned Parenthood. I am sure you have heard or seen them. They are surreptitious videos of Planned Parenthood doctors and administrators discussing the sale and separation of baby (fetus) body parts. There are more to come but they have been temporarily blocked by a California court. The videos have brought the abortion debate back to full throttle along with the obligatory circular arguments. Planned Parenthood is engaged in providing overall health care for women. As part of that effort, they say a very small part, they give abortion counseling and provide abortion services. I would like to set aside the rest of what Planned Parenthood does and focus strictly on abortion itself.
That is not an easy thing to do. The arguments surrounding Planned Parenthood and abortion are rife with deflection and circular arguments. The clandestine organization that filmed and released these videos obviously has an agenda. They lied and misrepresented themselves. But arguing that the messenger, no matter how scandalous, somehow alleviates the action itself is just deflecting the issue. Where the videos come from does not diminish the brutality depicted and described. Some will complain about the horrendous videos being edited. Let me remind all that the full length videos were posted at the same time. But again that is just another side issue. Some blame the “Republicans” or the “Conservatives” for waging a calculated war on women. That of course is pure political propaganda. There is no war on women. It is a manufactured issue. The Republicans would love to gain the woman vote. These arguments and other similar points are all side shows that deflect, detract and confuse the only issue that anyone is objecting to, the brutality, morality and indignity of voluntarily aborting a human embryo and thereby denying life.
During the Clinton Administration, the formal policy was to make abortion “safe, legal and rare.” For the past 42 years, since Roe vs. Wade, abortions have been available in the United States. Has the Clinton administration’s policy been achieved? Abortions are safe and available but are they rare? My Facebook friend correctly instructs me that the birth rate in this country is much higher than the abortion rate, less than 1.7% of women of reproductive age abort annually. She considers that pretty rare.
In fact, she is a little high with the number of abortions, the 1.7% is rounding up. There were roughly 1,060,000 abortions in 2011. Down about 18% since 2008. The drop is accredited to the greater availability of affordable birth control. It is interesting to note the number of abortions in 2011, while being 1.7% of the women of reproductive age, still closely resembles the population of Montana which was 1,024,000. I wonder, is an abortion rate which exceeds the population of Montana actually rare?
Another Facebook friend pointed out that abortions deal with “a fetus not a baby.” She is not wrong. That distinction has been central in legislation concerning abortion. In Roe vs. Wade the court considered the point at which a baby could be expected to survive outside of the womb as significant. Earlier laws considered the “quickening”, the point at which a baby began to move within the womb as being significant. The discussion of when life begins has been, and still is, a long and arduous debate. Bill O’Reily considers the presence of human DNA at conception as the point at which life begins. For Chris Christie, it was hearing the beating of his daughter’s heart during an ultra sound that convinced him life existed before birth. Bill Clinton relies on some advice gathered from a minister early in his political career to argue that life begins at birth. For me, I believe that we existed as spirits before we came to Earth and this earth life begins when the pre-mortal spirit enters the body. I do not claim to know when that is.
Regardless, if you have to kill a fetus before you can extract it from the mother, then life, even if symbiotic, exists; and that implies the definitions of fetus and baby are not all that relevant to the discussion. Over one million Americans are aborted each year. Over one million times, American doctors reduced life to human tissue. Where there once was life struggling to become a viable being, it was stopped by a stainless steel crunch; 1.06 million times. If that is rare, it is not rare enough.
I am not trying to judge, deny choice or limit a woman’s right to control her own reproduction. I believe in choice. The foundational principle of the human experience is choice. Without choice we have no freedom. We cannot progress as a species or as individuals. Choice is that intangible which allows us to aspire to be something greater than we are. Lack of choice dooms us to mediocrity and slavery.
Accordingly, I believe in a woman’s right to choose. At this particular time however, I am terribly disappointed and even depressed over the way one million of our American women are exercising that choice. The choices we make determine the extent of our progression or regression. I would argue that 1.06 million choices to abort healthy, living American potential is placing a substantial group of our women and even our nation in a state of regression from a utopic civilization.
If we can so quickly rise to exceptional indignation at the callus taking by a hunter of a predatory Lion’s life, how can we be so cavalier at ending the struggle of a living human embryo in its bid to break free of the womb and become a glorious and intelligent being capable of action? Can we so barbarously end living potential for something as selfish and irresponsible as after-the-fact birth control? Where is the moral high ground and the responsible adulthood in such action? Abortion, if used at all, should be reserved for situations far more somber than mere convenience or as a last recourse for an irresponsible libido.
The rest of the revealing videos need to be released. As Charles Krauthammer commented, the videos “raise the curtain” exposing the true nature and brutality of abortion. In a society that increasingly accepts abortion as a viable means of birth control, we need to implant on the minds of this people the true depraved nature of the procedures along with the horrific backend negotiations. We need to see and hear the ugly side. We need to discover the easy way we dress simple convenience as noble in order to disguise what is truly barbaric. We need to see and hear the truth.
It is time to quite naming a selfish avoidance of adult responsibility with overreaching words of nobility such as choice and rights. It is time to be honest. Lastly, it is time to end the barbarism.
Samuel Waen Jensen