Joan Frawley Desmond, is the Register’s senior editor. She is an award-winning journalist widely published in Catholic, ecumenical and secular media. A graduate of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies of Marriage and Family, she lives with her family in California..
Last week, after two undercover videos badly damaged Planned Parenthood's credibility with the public, the nation's paper of record stepped up to do some damage control.
"The Center for Medical Progress video campaign is a dishonest attempt to make legal, voluntary and potentially lifesaving tissue donations appear nefarious and illegal," stated an editorial published by The New York Times. And within days, Kamala Harris, the attorney general of California, vowed to investigate the Center for Medical Progress — not Planned Parenthood, which also faces allegations that its abortionists alter their procedures to secure organs.
Likewise, Hillary Clinton criticised the videos as a "concerted" attack on an organization she has long supported -- without taking up any moral or ethical issues raised in the sting operation.
Yet it takes just a brief online search to locate this StemExpress ad, which features an endorsement from Planned Parenthood's medical director, and tells clinic directors that the sale of fetal body parts can be "Financially profitable."
Blaming the messenger is a time-honored tradition when you don't want to deal with inconvenient truths. And Ross Douthat, the lonely pro-life voice on The Times' opinion page, rightly challenges the Editorial Board's stance.
"Planned Parenthood’s defenders insist, listening to an abortionist discuss manipulating the 'calvarium' (that is, the dying fetus’s skull) so that it emerges research-ready from the womb is fundamentally no different than listening to a doctor discuss heart surgery or organ transplants. It’s unsettling, yes, but just because it’s gross doesn’t prove it’s wrong," Douthat noted in a July 25 column.
"[T]he problem these videos create for Planned Parenthood" is "a very specific disgust, informed by reason and experience — the reasoning that notes that it’s precisely a fetus’s humanity that makes its organs valuable."
The apologists for Planned Parenthood at the Times Editorial Board insist it is"legal" for abortion businesses to harvest and obtain fees for selling fetal body parts.
Strange that the Editorial Board, which frequently advocates the passage of proposed legislation to make our nation a better place, is content to defend the legality of this practice, while ignoring the moral problems it poses.
They want us to look away.
Douthat understands that all-too-human impulse.
"This reluctance is a human universal. It’s why white Southerners long preferred Lost Cause mythology to slaveholding realities. It’s why patriotic Americans rarely want to dwell too long on My Lai or Manzanar or Nagasaki. It’s why, like many conservatives, I was loath to engage with the reality of torture in Bush-era interrogation programs," said Douthat.
But the analogy doesn't quite hold up. Right now, the unlimited abortion license continues to touch the lives of millions of Americans: the women who turn in desperation to the abortionist, the boyfriends, husbands, parents, siblings and best friends who breathe a sigh of relief when the crisis is over — or even pay for the procedure.
But just as the videos highlight the humanity of the unborn child, who is killed and dismembered, so the tapes also expose the wages of denial in the casual brutality of the abortionist. She eats her lunch, sips her wine and chatters away about crushing the skull of a tiny child.
Apologists fear the videos could be the "tipping point" that will result in the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Pro-life activists and legislators would cheer if that long-awaited goal is finally achieved.
"It is unclear whether the new offensive will succeed in crippling Planned Parenthood," acknowledged The Times today, in an article that looked at the response of GOP presidential candidates to the videos.
But our first hope and prayer should be that the blanket of denial that insulates the conscience of many Americans is finally lifted, so that forgiveness can be sought, and the healing can begin.
It will get harder and harder to look away, warns Douthat.
"The pro-life sting was sweeping; there are reportedly 10 videos to go. You can turn away. But there will be plenty of chances to look, to see, to know."
According to the Times, the next undercover videos on the horizon are likely to deepen the culture's unease with Planned Parenthood and its practices, "legal" or not.
"Planned Parenthood has told Congress that it believes the next installments could have a racial element to them, with its employees possibly discussing the different characteristics of the extracted fetal tissue based on race. The group also says it knows that Mr. Daleiden or his colleagues were admitted into a clinic area that processes tissue after abortions, and it believes they may have obtained footage of that."
second thoughts from Attorny General Harris.