Wednesday, July 29, 2015

"Keep Your Eye On the Ball" [Megan]

In its July 22nd editorial, "The Campaign of Deception Against Planned Parenthood," The New York Times takes its eye off the ball in play and cries foul.

The article's main points regarding the recently released undercover investigative videos of Planned Parenthood employees selling aborted fetal body parts are as follows:

• The [first] video [involving Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical services] does not show the illegal sale of tissue from aborted fetuses, but a discussion of the legal collection and transporting costs of donated tissue from aborted fetuses for the purpose of medical research.
• The donated aborted "fetal tissue" is used to study and develop treatments for diseases and conditions including H.I.V., hepatitis, congenital heart defects, retinal degeneration, and Parkinson's. (The article included the National Institutes of Health's $76 million in grants last year alone for such research.)
• To fall for this campaign of deception against Planned Parenthood would surely put "women's health and their constitutionally protected rights [to abortion] at risk."

While the case regarding the manner in which these videos were made and released may be undecided (my understanding is that they were obtained lawfully), the videos have been exposed. For those of us who have seen them, we still have the job of reasoning well about what we've seen. And while the choice to steer the rhetoric to the areas mentioned above traps many in a frenzied search for a foul ball in the stands, the action continues on the field as others see the larger picture, prioritize, and ask pointed questions:

• What kind of aborted fetal tissue are we talking about? Dr. Nucatola mentions specific human organs and body parts at various stages of development that are up for grabs, and they don't belong to the mother. (Note:  Two other videos have been released since.)
•That being said, whose "fetal tissue" is being used for research, even if the intent of the research is good?
• And if those donated parts come do come from a separate human being, just whose health and rights are more at risk?

The article is question begging because it assumes at the outset that the unborn are not human beings.

We wouldn't see arguments over obtainment of footage or specified funding to this degree if undercover investigative videos revealed the sale of parts from strategically dismembered 2-year-olds. Even if those parts were being donated for use to develop treatments for horrible diseases. We would see outrage of a different sort.

Why? Because we know that 2-year-olds are human and valuable, and no group in their right mind would advocate, much less fund, the intentional termination of an innocent toddler — even one that was unwanted — to farm out his organs and other parts for the benefit of others. This doesn't deny the bleak reality of diseases and conditions that cause great suffering, it simply points out that there are some lines that cannot be crossed if we mean to preserve human dignity.

So we're back to the question, "What is the unborn?" Are they human like toddlers?

The answer, which can be found in an embryology textbook — because for a scientific question one should expect a scientific answer — is that from the moment of conception, the unborn are living, distinct, and whole human beings.

Additionally, philosophy demonstrates that our value — the thing in which we ground our most basic rights, and which [rightly] fuels cries for human equality — is intrinsic, not functional. We are valuable and/or deserving of fundamental rights (such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) because we share a common human nature. Grounded in anything else, be it a trait or ability that some human beings possess, and what follows is a spectrum along which humans who have those properties to a greater degree are more deserving of basic human rights than those who have it to a lesser degree.

This is nothing new. We've seen whole classes of human beings stripped of their rights based on this kind of reasoning throughout history, and are still feeling the effects of those ideas today.

In the case of abortion, differences such as size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency aren't sufficient reasons to take the lives of smaller people over larger ones; pre-pubescent people over mature ones; people located in a specific place over those who aren't based solely on their location; or people dependent upon medicine over those who aren't.

Logically, those reasons don't hold up when used to justify abortion.

Keep the conversation on point when it comes to the entirety of what those videos expose. Ask questions that cut through unhelpful rhetoric, never forgetting that the person(s) you're talking to are just as valuable as the unborn lives you're trying to protect.

Keep your eye on the ball.

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