The Rational Catholic blog has recently been cited in reference to the role of Theresa Deisher’s participation in the discussions regarding the videos newly released showing profoundly disturbing conversations between high level staff at Planned Parenthood and a potential buyer of fetal tissue.
These videos left many of us simply without words. To see such nonchalance in describing the deliberate killing of a child in such a manner as to leave his or her organs in the best state for purchase is beyond what I could have imagined. I am horrified for the children who were treated as convenient vehicles for the procurement of human organs. I am horrified for the mothers who may have chosen abortion, who now have to wonder what exactly happened to the children they chose abortion for. I am moved with pity for the doctors, the nurses and support staff who have performed or supported these procedures. I am angry that this is the world in which I live, and raise my children: where a human child can be seen as having less intrinsic value than his dismembered body can fetch on the open market.
These videos depict evil, and evil almost always comes through good people who are acting with varying degrees of good intentions. People don’t do things thinking that they are evil. All things are done under the aspect of the good, in pursuit of the good, although what we perceive as good and what is actually good are not always the same. This is what has happened when good doctors who have seen great suffering decide to provide as a service the deliberate destruction of human life at the request of the parents of the child to be disposed of. It also happens when good people who oppose abortion are willing to find any possible, plausible sounding reasoning to use to make other people more pro-life, never mind the collateral damage caused. We stand firmly in favor of good science and good ethics, and believe that both science and ethics lead to a pro-life and pro-vaccine position.
A pro-life position is pro-science position. There can be absolutely no question that a human zygote, embryo or fetus is an individual member of the human species. Toddler, teenager, senior… these are all positions on the continuum of personal development. That spectrum doesn’t begin until conception, but it doesn’t begin after that point either, at an arbitrary number of weeks or faculty gained. Any qualification concerning who counts as a human person beyond simple belonging to the human species is ultimately not a scientific one, and is often an utilitarian tool used to decide who has earned existence and who can be treated as less than human. Artificial lines such as race, sex, infirmity, disability, sexual orientation and age have all been used as justifications to abuse and disenfranchise human persons throughout history. And they have all been evil. The doctors performing these abortions, by their own descriptions of how they perform these procedures, are well aware of what… of who they are crushing and turning into breech positions.
To be pro-life and to be pro-science is to be pro-vaccine. Science tells us that vaccines work. A pro-life conviction tells us that we have an obligation to ourselves to treat our bodies well (including preventing preventable diseases) and that the weakest among us have a particular claim to our defense. This is particularly true in the case of vaccines, when so many of them protect the weak, including those babies who have not yet reached birth.
To the pro-vaccine community, I urge you to take seriously the concerns of those who are so deeply outraged by the treatment of fetal remains. Immunization is an universal good, but it is something that requires that we all be able to walk together towards control or eradication of these diseases. It is legitimate to be concerned about whether a child before birth can be so worthless as to be killed but their organs to have sufficient value for a doctor to crush their small bodies in the manner best for the purchaser of their tissue. To belittle these concerns undercuts everything you work for, and it makes it difficult for people with pro-life convictions to trust in the ethics of the medical community at large.
To the pro-life community, I ask you to not allow your righteous anger, sadness and frustration to be placed on anything other than where it rightly belongs: the deliberate destruction of human life and the sale of bodies of children who have been killed. Focusing on other issues will only make these legitimate evils seem like one in a laundry list of complaints by members of a minority position, and we lose all claim to respect when in our zeal to fight against abortion we are willing to endanger the lives of the innocent by taking as important a tool as immunization (acknowledging the moral issues with some vaccines) and lumping it in with the absolutely horrifying evils we have seen discussed in these videos.
The actions described in these videos have no place in a just society. They have no place in a compassionate society. We can and must do better than this.