Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical services
mentions multiple times that they will take the organs from
babies as old as 20 weeks. This is a photo of what such a child looks like. -CC
It should shock us into admitting we kill the most vulnerable of human beings for financial profit.
And convenience. We get rid of the unwanted in the same way the Nazis did - but it is more clinical, more sanitized and socially-economically-medically necessary. It is a process of dehumanization. Those of us who are pro-life, anti-abortion know that the victims are human beings, vulnerable children - prenatal children are unborn babies. Vulnerable means defenseless. They are children - crushing the head of a child is not unlike decapitating a person - in fact it is quite similar to what ISIS does to terrify the world.
'As important as the legal questions are, the moral questions are even more important.' - Camosy
That said, I found something on Fr. Martin's Facebook page which speaks to this issue - for me it clarifies the significance of the Planned Parenthood revelation that party parts are harvested from prenatal children. Baby body parts on the market. We should have known this - especially with the controversy surrounding the push for embryonic stem cell use. The Chinese harvest organs from adult prisoners - doesn't affect our bottom line or stop trade with them. As the author I link to observes, noting the Pope's reference to abortion in Laudato si: "Pope Francis laments a view which "sees everything as irrelevant unless it serves one's own immediate interests" and "treats others as mere objects." Our "use and throwaway" culture:
"leads to the sexual exploitation of children and abandonment of the elderly who no longer serve our interests. It is also the mindset of those who say: Let us allow the invisible forces of the market to regulate the economy, and consider their impact on society and nature as collateral damage. In the absence of objective truths or sound principles other than the satisfaction of our own desires and immediate needs, what limits can be placed on human trafficking, organized crime, the drug trade, commerce in blood diamonds and the fur of endangered species? Is it not the same relativistic logic which justifies buying the organs of the poor for resale or use in experimentation, or eliminating children because they are not what their parents wanted?" - Laudato si
I can't express it better than what Charles Camosy says in his article, so I will post an excerpt - I apologize for the length, but sometimes readers just don't want to finish reading at a different site.
'If there is a silver lining in this horrific story, it is the possibility that our culture will be forced to confront the moral reality of vulnerable prenatal children.' - Camosy
This beautiful formulation of the consistent ethic of life is an important lens through which to look at the "baby body parts" story. The moral reality of the child is erased from the scenario, with the only thing left being a mere object to be crushed, used and thrown away - especially when there is a financial profit to be made. Our own immediate interests dominate such that we become unable to see the vulnerable person who is (quite literally) objectified by our behaviour. The dignity of such persons is simply too inconvenient for us to acknowledge and thus must be ignored if we are to get on with the business of pursuing our interests.
If there is a silver lining in this horrific story, it is the possibility that our culture will be forced to confront the moral reality of vulnerable prenatal children. In the video, Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical services mentions multiple times that they will take the organs from babies as old as 20 weeks.
For most of our history, vulnerable persons like these were hidden from view such that those with power over them were rarely forced to confront their reality. But the current controversy over distributing aborted baby body parts brings the focus squarely onto their reality. Over and over again, this story includes references to the various human organs of the child: heart, liver, lungs and so on. We've received horrific but telling descriptions of how, in an attempt to acquire these organs during an abortion, the best practices involve crushing the feet and legs of the child first, leaving the bodily organs largely intact, with the final part being the evacuation of the baby's head.
This reality, in all its gruesome detail, resists any Orwellian euphemism which might disconnect us from the reality of the child. In other contexts, we might be able to get away with calling a baby a "foetus" or the "product of conception." Or, as the video transcript mentions, calling the body a "thorax" and the head a "calvarium." Not in the context of this controversy. With these kinds of images and descriptions, it becomes clear that what we are talking about is a human baby - a baby whose reality, dignity and vulnerability cannot be euphemized away.
Can our culture maintain the focus necessary to move to protect our prenatal children? News cycles are notoriously short-lived, and the reality of what Planned Parenthood does to these babies is very difficult to face for any length of time. The major media in the United States, to the extent they have seriously covered the story at all, have already attempted to push our focus away from babies and onto other things: the motives of the people who took the video, what the legal definition "selling" means and so on.
But Pope Francis challenges us to resist these distractions - and the throwaway culture they end up serving - by consistently lifting up the dignity of the most vulnerable. Even (and perhaps especially) when it is difficult and inconvenient for us to do so. How we will respond to his challenge remains to be seen.
Charles Camosy is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at Fordham University. His most recent book is Beyond the Abortion Wars: A Way Forward for a New Generation.