Beliefs Culture Ethics Institutions

To some, Planned Parenthood is immoral; to others, it’s doing God’s work (COMMENTARY)

The Planned Parenthood logo is pictured outside a clinic in Boston. The organization's leader defended it before Congress on Sept. 29, 2015. Photo courtesy of Reuters.
The Planned Parenthood logo is pictured outside a clinic in Boston, Massachusetts, on June 27, 2014. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Dominick Reuter *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-PLANNED-PARENTHOOD, originally transmitted on July 16, 2015.

The Planned Parenthood logo is pictured outside a clinic in Boston, Massachusetts, on June 27, 2014. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Dominick Reuter *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-PLANNED-PARENTHOOD, originally transmitted on July 16, 2015.

(RNS) There are so many lies in the “gotcha” videos of Planned Parenthood staff members — jump cuts, edits, distortion, lack of context, entrapment — that defenders of the beleaguered organization have been loathe to grant them any merit whatsoever.

When one staff member says “we don’t sell organs” and the editor makes it seem like they do, and when another says Planned Parenthood is “not in it for the money,” and the video suggests that they are, it’s understandable that many want to focus on the deceit.

But this has left progressives open to the charge that they are unwilling to discuss the merits of what the videos do show.

Let’s suppose that what the undercover videos depict is true: that two staff members were occasionally cavalier about the work they do, and that they treated fetal tissues as commodities. On first blush, this shouldn’t be so surprising.

After all, funeral home workers are inured to corpses, nurses are inured to sick patients — it’s human nature to numb ourselves to the work we do every day, even in matters of the sacred. It’s how we cope.

But let’s go further. Let’s grant that many people find it morally repugnant to talk about fetuses with words like “crush” and “specimens.”


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Fine — but that is just one philosophical, even theological, proposition. Sure, if the staff members are talking about babies, their discussion is inexcusable. But for many religious Americans, a fetus is not morally equivalent to a person. We don’t think that fetuses are “babies”; we think they are fetuses. Deserving of moral consideration, yes, but not the same consideration as people — and most importantly, consideration on the part of the woman carrying them. Not you or me.

So even if two Planned Parenthood staff members really are blase about harvesting fetal tissue, that, too, is just another philosophical position. They are regarding this tissue as material, not sacred.

You or I may disagree with that assessment, but must all government-funded service providers agree with our philosophical worldviews? Isn’t the whole point of a constitutional democracy that we don’t get to decide other people’s religious and philosophical beliefs for them?

Here’s an example of a government-funded organization whose religious beliefs I find offensive: Catholic Charities, which at $4.3 billion in revenue is 23 times larger than the $185 million Planned Parenthood.

According to 2013 data reported in Forbes Magazine, 65 percent of Catholic Charities’ revenues derive from government sources.

Catholic Charities is the leading provider of adoption services in many states — services that arguably should be provided by the government, but are instead outsourced to this particular organization.

And according to their sincere religious beliefs, my partner and I are unfit to be parents, because we are both male. So, thanks to the religious exemptions baked into government regulations these days, Catholic Charities can take $2.8 billion of taxpayer money, and still discriminate against me.


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They’ll never place a child in my family, no matter how moral I am, how fit I am to be a parent, how sincere my own religious beliefs. That is, to put it mildly, offensive to me.

In fact, Catholic Charities’ discrimination is actually a worse offense than whatever those Planned Parenthood staff members said. They’re telling me I’m less than fully human, and acting on that belief. Not only are they telling me I’m less than fully human, they are acting on that belief, and causing me harm — not just offense.

So, two nonprofit organizations, both taking money from the government, both acting in accord with their philosophical views, both distasteful to some.


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If we have space in our democracy for Catholic Charities to discriminate against me based on their philosophical views, we should also have space for Planned Parenthood to offend some people based on theirs.

I’ll even go one step further. These two Planned Parenthood staff members seem to have a scientific, materialistic attitude toward fetal tissue. But many of us have fervent religious beliefs about it: namely, that if utilizing it for medical research can save a life, it is a moral obligation to do so.

As a rabbi of progressive Judaism, that is my view. Of course, under the Constitution the pregnant woman is the sole arbiter of what happens to the potential life inside of her. But religiously, in my tradition, it is a mitzvah, a commandment, to save a human life. And if the remnants of a potential life can help save an actual one, then God bless all those who make it possible to do so.

These are not just my views. Nearly 20 years ago, the Conservative movement, then the largest movement in American Judaism, ruled that not only is organ donation permitted — it is religiously required. The Jewish-legal issues regarding the use of fetal tissue for stem cell research are more complicated, but many rabbis believe the obligation to be similar.

So, yes, in my religious understanding, those two Planned Parenthood staff members are helping fulfill a divine commandment. Perhaps not as delicately as they should have been, but once again, that’s human nature.

As everyone knows, the real purpose of the videos — the work of a young activist bankrolled and supported  by the leadership of the extremist Operation Rescue organization — is to shock middle America into seeing Planned Parenthood as some callous, inhuman “other.” (Note the numerous references to wine in conservative coverage of the event, as if sipping wine is, itself, a sign of decadence and decay.) These are traffickers in death, the videos say.

But even if the videos are telling the truth (which they are not), other interpretations are possible. Perhaps these medical professionals are exercising their right to freely exercise their religion, or the lack thereof. Perhaps they are even doing God’s work.

YS/AMB END MICHAELSON

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Jay Michaelson

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  • Just a bit of correction, Catholic Charities decided it was more in their interests to close up shop with adoption services rather than take government subsidies with the condition of not discriminating.

    “But for many religious Americans, a fetus is not morally equivalent to a person. We don’t think that fetuses are “babies”; we think they are fetuses. Deserving of moral consideration, yes, but not the same consideration as people — and most importantly, consideration on the part of the woman carrying them. Not you or me.”

    That is really the important thing here that is always, always, always ignored by the anti-abortion crowd. There is virtually no consideration or even acknowledgment of the existence of the pregnant woman.

    What little is there amounts to s1utshaming, harangues about their “irresponsibility” and nonsense distinguishing between “innocent life” worthy of consideration and “not-innocent life” which must be ignored or denied acknowledhment.

  • “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”
    ~ Matthew 2:18

  • Religious/philosophical beliefs are all wrong. If one was right there would be only one. Democracy evolved as a system of ‘governing’ in a vain attempt to accommodate all people who believe they are right. There is only one human right. All other ‘rights’ are wrong. There’s enough proof in our democratic self-destruction. There’s more proof in the democratic destruction of our environment. http://thelastwhy.ca/poems/2013/1/25/religion.html

  • Abortion is immoral, so how can using pieces from an immoral act be thought of as moral, “God’s Choice”? If this is not nipped in the bud now, girls will be getting pregnant to abort and sell the baby parts.

  • Bible-cultists on the march, ignoring Christ and the Gospel because it’s much more fun to selectively quote the Bible to validate personal bigotries.

  • This is why the law is already written as it is, and nobody can make a profit from organ sales. The PP staffer was quite clear, they charge $30-$100 to pay the cost of transferring the organs (which is a routine cost for any organ donation.) This is not “profit” it is a cost.

    I really appreciated this column, and I share the writer’s opinion.

  • We should do away with non-profit status altogether. None for churches, health agencies, advocacy groups. None for any. It is not right for people to be forced to subsidize, and/ or exempt from taxes, organizations that do things to which they are morally or even politically opposed. Almost every non-profit is political, and often politically divisive. Non-profits do not provide any more value to society than for-profit businesses (arguably much less), and their activities should not be tax free.

  • Another example of the Religion New Service promoting an immoral leftist agenda. A piece defending Planned Parenthood’ callous disregard for life. Irresponsible.

  • As opposed to an immoral rightist agenda, wherein birth control and responsible sex education are decried and opposed, with attempts to ban abortion following soon after because it avoids the consequences of sin, according to the rightists. This is then followed by opposition to welfare and charitable support of families that couldn’t afford to have a second, third or fourth Child, condemning both family and the children born to it to all of the consequences of poverty. It is also followed by drives to keep gay people from adopting, making sure that those children stay in state institutions.

    Irresponsible ANDShameful

  • LOL!! Dominic, it is obvious you are not a woman. You think getting pregnant & having an abortion is actually something we would do for a living?? I hear being a stripper is pretty lucrative and much less invasive than deliberately planting a growth in one’s body, then having it surgically removed. Someday when you grow up, you’re going to look back on your naive comment and be embarrassed.

  • Deitenbeck, whose life are you referring to? Certainly not the life of the mother. Probably not the post-natal life of the child either, since you are probably also in favor of cutting social services to the poor, essentially condemning to misery and lack the life you would “save.”

  • ‪Thank you for a thoughtful article. Abortion‬ should be rare and organ donation automatic. One should not sign an organ donor card, but rather sign to opt out card. While I am opposed to abortion I recognize that it is founded in my religious beliefs. However, as long as abortion is legal and occurs I find not using the tissue and organs to save the lives of others rather selfish. Under no circumstances should it be for profit. I hope in death my last act is one of charity to save lives and not one of selfishness to put an intact corpse in the ground. We can end abortion, but we should do so through dishonest or indifference toward the living.

  • The immorality starts by having unsafe sex The data once again:

    WHICH Birth control METHODS DO WOMEN (men?) USE?

    • 64% of reproductive-age women who practice contraception use reversible methods, such as oral contraceptives or condoms. The remaining women rely on female or male sterilization.[2]

    FIRST-YEAR CONTRACEPTIVE FAILURE RATES – Guttmacher Institute)

    Percentage of women experiencing an unintended pregnancy (a few examples)

    Some examples
    Method……………..Typical

    Pill (combined)……… 8.7 (resulting in ~one millon unplanned pregnancies)
    Tubal sterilization ……0.7
    Male condom ……….17.4 (resulting in ~one million unplanned pregnancies)
    Vasectomy…………… 0.2
    Implant…………………1.0
    IUD (Copper-T)……….1.0

    (Masturbation mono or dual)………. 0

    (Abstinence) 0

    And the abortion rate in the USA? ~one million/year

  • i mistook a localized event with an organization-wide one. My bad.

    It certainly points to the level of malice involved with supporting a discriminatory policy. Rather than consider children, or continue without government support, they prefer to uphold policy instead.

  • okay, so denying you a kid is the same as crushing your head and pulling your limbs off and then saying you are less than human? kay then don’t know what Bible you’re reading (or maybe you’re Muslim and with ISIS oh wait they throw gay people off cliffs but wait Christians are the evil ones nvm)
    it’s a divine commandment to kill fetuses and then sell their body parts?!!? huh. never knew that 😛

  • ” Isn’t the whole point of a constitutional democracy that we don’t get to decide other people’s religious and philosophical beliefs for them?”

    biblically God is the ruler of christians lives – its not a democracy

  • It isn’t a matter of opinion what makes a life a life. At three weeks my wife’s “fetus” (my unborn daughter) had a heart beat. If we saw a sight on Mars like I saw on that ultrasound we would universally declare that we had discovered life and seek to protect it for study by any means possible. Not so on planet Earth. Instead it becomes the opinion of scientists and false teachers. Anyway, I can argue all day over this and any number of issues and get nowhere. Instead I will simply say with love what all who hold to such views in unbelief need to hear: all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), God is righteous and must punish misdeeds with eternal punishment in Hell (Matthew 25:45-46). The good news is that Christ died on the cross for the sins of all mankind (John 3:16, 1Peter3:18). We access forgiveness by repenting (changing our mind about who God is and acknowledging we need saving) and believing on Jesus as savior and accepting his sacrifice (acts…

  • At the end of WWII there was a movement among some to use Holocaust victim’s bodies for research. The idea was considered barbaric. My! how abortion has crunched and chopped our current moral vision into that of a bunch of Dr. Mengeles

  • Abortion existed before WWII, DeaJohn. Among what got worse with WWII was Christian barbarism to Jews and other groups, although Christians had been pretty barbaric before and have continued since.

  • Hitler and his SS were not Christians…at least not obedient ones. They were occultists who used Christian lingo in public and entertained black magic in private. That’s a proven fact. And I find it hard to believe that WWII worsened Christian oppression of the Jews, especially since most evangelicals support Zionism.

  • Failed how? Because it doesn’t jive with an atheistic or liberal understanding of the world? Clearly some truth suppression going on here.

  • Right, they aren’t making a profit. That’s why one of the staffers said she wanted a higher price to buy a Lamborghini and why certain fetal parts like liver fetch a much higher price, hence PP wants more for those. PP defenders are tying themselves in knots to rationalize the banal clinical barbarism these videos (whose full versions were posted the same time as the excerpts) exposed.

  • Except that wasn’t actually what was being stated. Those full versions refute the hysteria that was generated about “body parts selling”. But a convenient lie is still convenient.

    Lets face it, if the anti-abortion crowd had good faith points to make, they would not resort to constant lying.

    -This was one of many hoax videos that organization did to discredit PP

    -There would be no need to set up phony “crisis centers” where women would get advice which deliberately omitted abortion option. (If the choice not to have an abortion was so correct, you would not have to hide it from people dishonestly)

    -There would not be so many bills/laws adding medical/counselling procedures to the process of obtaining an abortion WHICH ARE OPPOSED BY THE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL COMMUNITY.

    Lying is simply part of the anti-abortion MO. No way around it.

  • So not only do you not acknowledge the existence of a pregnant woman, but you are squeamish about medical procedures.

    None of that changes the fact that a fetus is not the same thing as a born baby nor that it requires the will of the mother to survive. Your whole POV is dependent on ignoring, or denying the mother’s will and interests in all of this. A fetus is a person but a pregnant woman (or a born child) isn’t.

  • None of that has ever been relevant to abortion rights. When life begins has always taken a back seat to where life is being.

    The whole notion of the anti-abortion POV is that you have to restrain a woman from making decisions about what is going on inside her own body. This is what its rhetoric always ignores consideration of the pregnant woman or worse denigrates and attacks her. S1utshaming is a common tactic as is complete ignoring of the clear and material distinctions between a fetus and born child.

    The pro-choice POV is based on the notion that both abortion and being forced to come to term against one’s will are bad. But that abortion is the lesser of the two evils. That one cannot protect a fetus without attacking its mother. A fetus can’t survive without the mother. The reverse isn’t true. To value the those who are born and capable of exerting personal rights (which a fetus cannot), we cannot ban abortion.

  • “Not obedient ones” LMAO! Sure make excuses for the fact that every major denomination not only collaborated with Hitler but supported him from the outset. Anything to make yourself feel better.

    Btw Hitler was also anti-abortion and anti-contraception. Both fascists and reactionary Christians liked to think of women as little much but baby makers.

    So maybe you should dial back the Godwin’ing for a moment. You would not like the inevitable and factually supported associations it would bring.

  • Can an new baby “exert personal rights” Larry? How about a 3 year old? 6 year old? 12 year old? The slippery slope to infanticide is thinly veiled in your line of reasoning. And no, the woman has no right to “choose” to murder her unborn child regardless of it being in her body.

  • Every major denomination is and has been in league with the Roman church, which is a false Christianity. I am not surprised at all that Luther’s antisemetic and largely catholic ideas spurred Germany to support Hitler. Bear in mind that being a Christian means that one has a personal conversion and is born again (John 3:7). Hitler and his cronies may have made a profession of being Christian for political purposes but there is no evidence of them actually being converted (putting their faith in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross). It’s also a false argument to say that since Hitler hated contraception and abortion, that makes them evil. Hitler also liked wearing suits and driving Mercedes…are those now evil? The Catholic Church, which I already mentioned is false, supports many good things…does that make those things evil? Larry, behind all this arguing is the sad reality of a soul in need for Christ. Will these excuses be enough at the Judgement? Read John 3:16. That applied to you…

  • YES IT CAN.

    Its called having a legal guardian. Happens all the time when a baby is born under conditions where the mother is probably unfit to care for it, dies without another parent alive, or is abandoned. One can assert the rights of a baby the moment its born without ever affecting the autonomy of its mother. The life of the baby has no direct impact on the physical being of its mother after birth.

    Once its out of the womb, the mother need not be the sole form of its survival. Claiming otherwise is to deny the existence of obvious things like maternity wards, adoption at birth and non-parental legal guardianship.

    Any responsible adult can keep a born child alive, only the mother keeps a fetus alive. Claiming this distinction does not exist or is immaterial is an all-consuming lie of the anti-abortion POV.

  • So you are a sectarian bigot who likes to deny the existence of the overwhelming majority of those who share the same faith as yourself. You are not asserting facts, merely a personal opinion on those who identify as Christian.

    “It’s also a false argument to say that since Hitler hated contraception and abortion, that makes them evil. ”

    Its far more honest than equating abortion with the Holocaust. I can’t help it if fascism and conservative religious beliefs converge. Reactionary minds think alike.

  • I agree with the general tenor of this article, but Conservative Judaism’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards did not hold that one is obligated to be an organ donor. The cited teshuvah held that one is forbidden to withhold consent when donation is necessary to save a human life. Under general halachic principles, you’d have to be specifically told that. Moreover, the practical pastoral considerations — a rabbi telling a dying patient she is chayyav to donate her organs — make the import of this ruling highly dubious.

  • How easy it is for folks like this author to spin elaborate rationalizations to defend behavior. That our society so easily rips apart the unborn to harvest them for tissue and to remove the inconvenience of their lives and then so vocally defends the merits of the practice speaks volumes about the inhumanity of our culture. Perhaps we are just evolved animals, still eating our own young if they get in the way, governed by animal passions of the lower brain, using our higher brain only to justify the behaviors that feed our base appetites.

  • What an article. Most articles on this web site read like a conversation, providing a path for dialogue or at least some food for thought. This one is doesn’t. It’s just oppressive, ingrown, one-dimensional thinking. It’s like being in an inordinately stuffy, malodorous room with no ventilation, windows, or air conditioning.

  • One of the reasons I hate talking about the abortion issue is that it’s almost impossible to have a rational discussion, since the two sides seem to occupy two completely separate moral universes and talk two separate languages. The gap seems too big to bridge.

    But unlike the same-sex marriage issue, it’s way too simple to say that the difference between the two sides is only about religion. There are a number of atheist intellectuals, for example, who are pro-life, and there are plenty of religious folks who are pro-choice.

    So the divide is about something else in addition to religion.

  • Do we have a translator in the house — someone who can speak fluently and understand keenly Ted’s gibberish?

    Experience deciphering Larry’s posts will certainly be a plus.

    Those with experience dealing with multiple-personality disorders are also welcome to come forth.

  • John, it’s not even elaborate. The writer comes across a Lord of the Rings, orc-like drudge, with his head down, never bothering to look up or look around, as he toils diligently in his shadowy world, while over half of America is looking at people like him in marked amazement, wondering why such people can’t see what most human beings can, that a 4 1/2 month-old unborn baby with a head, eyes, and limbs is not identical to a one-day-old fertilized egg.

    This goes far deeper than religion, and is really about what it means to be a human being and to have humane feelings for others. Anyone who looks at a well-formed baby, in or out of the womb, and cuts themselves off from any normal accompanying human feeling has done something profound to their own conscience or soul. You don’t have to believe in any god at all to know that once it’s physically a baby, it’s not just material. That is not a religious precept, but it’s the core of what it means to be human.

  • Doc, most Americans don’t think like this. Once most Americans see an actual head, eyes, and limbs, they think “baby” and no words or rationalizations will budge them. Most Americans will think the writer of this article is displaying a kind of moral insanity. The visual trumps the written word, so this is one issue where sophistry loses.

  • Dominic, this has been going on for decades, but thanks to ultrasound, the jig is now about up for those who justify it. People can now actually see what’s being aborted in the second and third trimester, and realize it’s not a mere blob or clump of cells.

  • William, it will backfire. Most people are repulsed by this, including most pro-choice people.

    This article is just words. The visual trumps words. And once people see the visual, the twisting of words is no match.

  • Earth to everyone:

    You don’t need a Bible, you don’t need any religion, you don’t need even to believe in a deity, to know that it’s wrong to take a well-formed baby, inside or outside the womb, and kill it.

    Saying that a fully-formed baby in the womb should be treated as a fully formed baby outside the womb is in no way, shape, or form a religious statement. It is simply to acknowledge that a baby is a baby, and that its nature doesn’t magically change at birth, or does its relationship to its mother or anyone else in any way define its essence.

    It’s the idea of a sudden, magical change at birth that is a quasi-religious one, founded on pre-scientific superstition, before people knew about the science of fetal development.

  • Kylie, it is what it is. And this is one obvious area where science and faith are on the same page, and all you’ve got to combat both is empty rhetoric grounded in nothing — neither facts nor logic…..nor even observation.

  • Kylie apparently thinks that supporting mid-late-term abortions in America in 2015 somehow gets back at Christians in Europe in centuries past for their mistreatment of Jews.

    That is purely magical thinking — like believing that if you step on a crack on the sidewalk, your loved ones will become ill and die.

    Magical thinking seems to accompany people who hate Christians, Jews, or both, or those who wish to pit them against each other.

  • Wrong again, Larry. Hitler loved abortion, except for Germans and other “Nordics,” because he wanted them, and them alone, to reproduce prolifically. If you don’t know why, that might explain your ignorance of Hitler’s ideological proclivities — his beliefs on racial superiority and destiny, eugenics, and other beliefs that were either post-Christian, anti-Christian, or sub-Christian, depending on the belief in question.

    The reason Hitler can’t be considered a Christian has nothing to do with ethical conduct and thus the “no-true-Scot” fallacy is not the issue. One can show simply by doctrine and belief that Hitler did not subscribe in any way to Christianity.

    If I come from a family of vegetarians, was raised vegetarian, but while claiming to be a vegetarian so I can win office in a district where there are many vegetarians, nonetheless own a cattle ranch, raising them for beef, and also do ads for Perdue chicken, I am obviously not a vegetarian by conviction.

  • Wrong again, Larry. Fascism is a modern totalitarian ideology that has far more in common with Marxism than with Christianity. While Christianity is a message that is for the whole of humanity, irrespective of race or ethnicity, class or gender, Fascism proclaims one race, while Marxism proclaims one class, as the driver of human destiny.

    The ease with which Nazis in eastern Germany assimilated into the post-WW II East German Marxist police state says it all.

  • Notice how there is no mention of the person having the abortion, their role in giving birth or the situations which prompt such people to undergo the procedure.

    Its pure fetus worship for its own sake. Personhood for the fetus, not for pregnant women. Ignore any distinction between born and unborn. Its amazing how much stuff you have to pretend doesn’t exist to keep up an anti-abortion POV.

    “Fully formed” means what? Able to live outside the womb? Big enough to declare it to be a person to someone? There is some pretty subjective and vague lines being drawn here.

    Birth/survival outside the womb is not only a very bright line but a practical one as well. Outside the womb means independent existence, not dependent on the mother’s will and bodily integrity to survive. Again, anti-abortion means ignoring facts in favor of sensationalism.

  • LMAO, you have trouble observing the difference between born and unborn. How living inside a womb is different from being born. You also constantly forget the existence of the pregnant woman. As if she has no existence worth considering. Your faith is making you ignore facts in front of your face.

  • No Jack, you have always been wrong on this subject. Churches supported Hitler all over Europe. At least 3 disparate groups of Nazi collaborators deliberately used Christian appeals for recruiting. Lutheran and Catholic church agendas dovetailed nicely with the reactionary political agenda of the Nazis.

    The Catholic Church bought and paid for the Fascist government in Spain. Franco continued for decades under the good graces of the Church as he made half a million people disappear under his reign.
    The last forced conversions to a Christian faith in Europe were done by Nazi collaborators in Croatia in 1944.

    Your knowledge of political ideology has always been defective. That is why you constantly have to pretend opponents are some kinds of extremists and you employ nonsense strawman arguments.

    That being said, there is nothing more tasteless than appropriating the Holocaust for anti-abortion screeds.

  • No one should consider the murder in the crime of murder. They should focus full on to the innocent victim.

    It’s just too bad that people like you cannot see the reality of slaughtering the unborn humans for the convenience of people like you.

    Hopefully one day sexual pleasures will not be more important than human life.

  • Anyone that thinks that Planned Parenthood is doing “god’s work” are correct. They are doing Molech’s work as they have for millennia. The evil that permeates Planned Parenthood can only be seen as good by those whose souls are so darkened that nothing of value can reach them.

  • Anyone who uses Holocaust references to abortion deserve to be ridiculed. Its tasteless, offensive to the actual victims of the Holocaust and frequently invoked by people who share an affinity to the perpetrators of it.

  • Larry, the reality is exactly the opposite…..our whole discussion has been dominated by your refusal to admit that a baby is a baby regardless of where it resides.

    What it is, materially and scientifically, is not a function of where it lives.

    It’s a function of its own biological makeup, something that anyone can see with their own eyes on an ultrasound, and something that any biologist will readily affirm, whether they’re pro-choice or pro-life.

    You need to remove your ideological blinders and deal with the obvious.

  • “Using Christian appeals” publicly does not make one a Christian, especially when the person using them disagrees with Christian doctrine on all points. Nor does the fact that such appeals often work prove the appealer is Christian.

    I know all about the attraction of Fascist ideology in Catholic parts of pre-WW II Europe. But again, that does not change the fact cited above: Fascism was and remains anti-Christian in its doctrines and beliefs.

    It is you who are obviously ignorant of both Fascist political ideology and the basic creeds of Christianity.

    As for the Holocaust and abortion, no, I don’t like it when people appropriate the former for the latter. I don’t like comparing it to anything, because it is unique.

    However, to deny the existence of a certain way of thinking which lends itself to both is to deny reality. You need to read the history of Germany between the wars, or even Germany before WW I, to understand.

  • “You don’t need a Bible, you don’t need any religion, you don’t need even to believe in a deity, to know that it’s wrong to take a well-formed baby, inside or outside the womb, and kill it.”

    I wish I could agree with you on this one, Jack, but we as a species DID need something to tell us that killing a baby inside OR outside the womb was wrong, since infanticide was a socially-approved universal in human civilization up until a very specific point in history.

    Just more evidence of that “innate empathy” that atheists are always telling us about…

  • “Any responsible adult can keep a born child alive, only the mother keeps a fetus alive.”

    Any responsible person CAN, but that does not necessitate that a responsible person WILL. Once you condition personhood upon the sufferance of another person, whether one or a million, then all the premises upon which human rights rest go out the window.

    Any responsible person COULD have taken an ancient Greek baby off the garbage heap upon which it was left to die of dehydration or be eaten by rats — but usually that did not occur. So since the baby required the care of someone in order to survive and no one stepped up to provide it, then I guess it was morally OK to leave it there?

    That is where this kind of view of human “personhood” leads. Right back to the barbarism which is the natural fallen human state.

  • Once more demonstrating the pitfalls of Godwinning.

    “Using Christian appeals” publicly does not make one a Christian.

    So now you expect me to take the whole, “I don’t consider them Christian, therefore they aren’t” argument seriously. Good luck with that. Do you ever stop trying to insult the intelligence of everyone or do you honestly think that is something that can be considered credible to anyone with half a brain?

    ” But again, that does not change the fact cited above: Fascism was and remains anti-Christian in its doctrines and beliefs. ”

    Except that isn’t a fact, just your opinion. Not even an informed one. Reactionary religious political agendas fit nicely with fascist ones. Both were fiercely pro-industrialst/anti-labor, socially regressive and dismissive of democratic principles. This is why so many Churches openly collaborated with fascists.

    Maybe you should read about the Spanish Civil War and the rise of Hitler from sources beyond Christian apologia.

  • So where is any mention of the pregnant woman in your various posts? Nowhere.

    The constant use of “baby” instead of distinguishing the term from fetus is to make a false equivalence between the two.

    “What it is, materially and scientifically, is not a function of where it lives.”

    And a complete irrelevancy to the nature of abortion rights. Where it lives is the deciding factor there. A balance of interests between fetus worship and understanding why abortion occurs in the first place.

    Your ignorance of how abortion rights came to be is fairly obvious.
    Instead you have to play hysteric and omit material details to the issue.

  • “Any responsible person CAN, but that does not necessitate that a responsible person WILL.”

    Which doesn’t change the situation at all. Its the fact that it is possible to do so which makes the difference. It renders any equivalence between pregnancy and birth fictional. Abortion obviously is not the same as infanticide for such reasons.

    “Any responsible person COULD have taken an ancient Greek baby off the garbage heap upon which it was left to die of dehydration or be eaten by rats”

    Which is why abortion is not the same as abandonment or infanticide. Thank you for demonstrating a difference which most people in your corner ignore. You are not actually opposing abortion rights here. Just showing why it is so different from everything you people conflate it with.

  • The Bible is really good at justifying things like devaluing the personhood and autonomy of women. It treats them as property and inferiors to men.

    “Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.”

  • There doesn’t have to be absolute factual equivalence. There only has to be a common premise — that one’s personhood and fundamental right to life exists only at the sufferance of someone else. In the abortion instance it’s one person, in the infanticde instance it’s more than one. But the nature of the problem is the same — that human rights are not inalienable if they depend on someone’s consent.

  • “So now you expect me to take the whole, “I don’t consider them Christian, therefore they aren’t” argument seriously.”

    You aren’t obligated to “take it seriously” at all. Jesus’ instructions to take care not to be deceived by phonies was directed to us, not to you. One who is not born again can not even see the Kingdom of God, let alone exercise spiritual discernment.

  • You don’t have to be honest in your arguments if you can be sort of close and find excuses and equivocations for the flaws and misrepresentations made in your rhetoric. 🙂

  • The philosophical underpinnings of the issue are a bit beyond your reach, as you operate on emotion and prejudice more than logic. But of course that’s not true of all of you humanists — to shore up your positions a bit you ought to explore the work of your 2004 Outstanding Australian Humanist of the Year Peter Singer, who has written a great deal about abortion and infanticide and is much more honest and logical about it than you are.

  • Shawnie, historically speaking, you are correct, but I was referring to capability and also to the logic of the argument. In theological terms, I’m referring to general revelation as opposed to special revelation.

  • Larry, no one is proposing that anybody kill the mother, so I have no idea what you’re talking about and neither do you. The issue is what to do with the baby. Do we let it live or do we kill it? You advocate a right to kill and destroy; I don’t.

    I’m not the one bellowing for the absolute right to commit violence against pre-born babies all the way up to birth, and for any reason. You are. I’m not pitting mother against child. Again, you are. My approach is the opposite: I believe that what distinguishes civilized societies from barbaric ones is that civilized societies solve problems without resorting to primitive, zero-sum solutions like violence.

  • Larry, do they offer an intro to logic course at a college near you? If so, you should enroll. Your latest post is a cry for help — Heed it.

    Recall that I made the entirely unremarkable observation that using Christian appeals does not make one a Christian. This responded to your lazy equation of one with the other in Adolf’s case.

    We know Adolf’s story:

    Adolf rejected virtually every doctrinal assertion of Christianity, especially the ones about salvation — what the Gospel’s about in the first place.

    But Adolf was a politician in a country filled with professing Christians.

    The word, “politician,” should trigger instant alarm bells — because as everyone knows, even normal politicians lie and deceive to get votes.

    All the more so for mad, mad Adolf.

    So what was he to do?

    Simple: Use the right buzzwords and insinuations to convince at least the biblically and doctrinally illiterate that he was one of them.

    So quit feigning bovine stupidity….

  • Shawnie, the attempts to polish the turd of massive collaboration by various churches with Nazis only makes you look like stubborn revisionsist liars.

    To write off churches followed by millions of people as “not being Christian: doesn’t sound remotely credible to people who live outside of the self-confirmation bubble of fundamentalist thought patterns.

    That being said, Holocaust analogies to abortion are tasteless and offensive to say the least. Then again, if the anti-abortion crowd had taste and a sense of propriety, this article would not exist. There would have been no propaganda “gotcha” videos made.
    http://mediamatters.org/research/2015/07/14/attack-on-planned-parenthood-3-deceptive-edits/204419
    http://blogs.rollcall.com/218/interview-didnt-happen/?SD

  • You are not proposing anything which references the mother or what conditions prompt the decision for an abortion. Your concern fails to address the most important person.

    “Do we let it live or do we kill it?”

    There is no “we” here.

    It is only pure narcissism and ego that makes you think you have a right to even interject yourself into the decision with what a woman does with the fetus inside her body here.

    There is only “she”.

    You have no part to play which demands to be taken seriously. You want to deny the personhood of the woman and declare yourself the sole arbiter of her decisions.

    Since she does not exist in your eyes, it is a decision you think needs to be decided between us. As if she is a plaything to the discussion of others. People who bear no burden here to do anything. Never mind that neither of us have a say in the matter. Its in her body, her choice. Not ours.

    Your approach is nothing but self-absorbed arrogance.

  • Shawnie, you are full of crap. You demonstrated exactly why you can’t pretend abortion is akin to infanticide and abandonment. You demonstrated that you can rescue a child from infanticide and abandonment, but not from abortion. That proved my point.

    How do you rescue a fetus from its mother? You don’t. Not without attacking her very being as a person. This is why anti-abortion people always omit, ignore, or denigrate the pregnant woman in their discussion. Its either pretending she does not exist or s1utshaming.

    The reference to Peter Singer is nice, but it means nothing. An appeal to an authority you neither describe nor demonstrate relevance for. He is entitled to his opinion. It doesn’t mean I have to follow it just because he is a Humanist.

  • “You demonstrated that you can rescue a child from infanticide and abandonment, but not from abortion. That proved my point.”

    That an infant CAN be rescued from infanticide has no bearing on its personhood. What you have not demonstrated is why anyone MUST rescue a child from infanticide. This is what the ancients understood and you don’t — if non-autonomous human life has no inherent value endowed by a transcendent source and simply exists at the sufferance of others, then personhood would not attach until someone officially accepted the newborn into the family and assumed responsibility for its care. Until then it is not a person and no one is morally obligated to assume that burden.

    “It doesn’t mean I have to follow it just because he is a Humanist”

    You don’t have to follow anything. But you DO need a logical argument for your position, and Singer has at least presented one.

  • “To write off churches followed by millions of people as “not being Christian: doesn’t sound remotely credible to people who live outside of the self-confirmation bubble of fundamentalist thought patterns.”

    And tell me again why we should worry about whether you find it “remotely credible” or not?

    “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?..Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”

    What He finds credible is what matters.

  • Correction: …a logical argument for your position on ABORTION, rather, not infanticide. Singer was simply more intellectually honest by taking his position to its logical conclusion. I respect him for the same reason I do Nietzsche, for having the courage and honesty to repudiate the values left over from Christianity along with Christianity itself. Not many atheists have the guts to do that — at least not without the weight of popular culture behind them.

  • Again, Larry, it’s the baby’s life, not the mother’s life, that is on the line. Nobody is proposing that the mother die.

    And thus it’s the baby’s personhood, not the mother’s personhood, that is being denied. And the proof is in your post, which refuses even to call the baby a baby.

  • Looks like my reply never got posted.

    Okay, let’s try again.

    What is it that you don’t understand when I and others have repeatedly showed that the doctrines of Christianity, including salvation which is the whole Gospel message, was rejected by the ideology of Nazism?

    Are you really that ignorant of the Gospel message that faith in Christ alone saves, of the Nazi belief that race and nation are destiny, and the fact that the two beliefs are irreconcilable to any rational or intellectually honest human being? Do you truly not understand the difference between salvation by grace and salvation by race?

    I’m tempted to say you’re hopeless, but am debating whether the problem is the intellect or the will or some odd combination.

    The fact that Fascists or Nazis and Catholics were often allied politically in the pre-war period is obviously indisputable but to conclude that the former were therefore Christians is worse than sophomoric given what I’ve just said.

  • Larry, your position is hopelessly medieval, barbaric, and delusional.

    It is medieval in that it ignores the science of DNA, which highlights the unborn baby’s unique existence, and the science of fetal development, which confirms the baby’s exhibiting recognizable form and distinctiveness even in the first trimester, and organs capable of being extracted and used in the second trimester.

    It is barbaric in that it advocates the destruction even of fully developed babies, forcing you to justify the crushing of actual bodies, and the destruction of limbs and heads, and the salvaging of livers.

    And it is delusional in that it requires a magical belief in the distinction between a baby seconds before birth and a baby seconds after birth.

    Maybe it’s time for you to rejoin the human race by replacing your bug-eyed fanaticism with a respect for science and humanity.

  • A couple of things. Anyone remember the attacks on ACORN? Among other things, they taped employees explaining how to bring pregnant girls over the border, and virtually everything else you could want to believe they did. The problem is that their lies were shown to be lies, and some of the people who made the videos got in legal trouble. Guess what: This is the same loose group of people. James O’Keefe, who was the “leader” of the anti-ACORN group is friends with the guys behind this one.

    Secondly. Among other things tissue transfers are used in medical research. In some cases, where parents aborted the fetus because of some medical condition, they want to have the tissue studied as a way of preventing other families from the same experience. They are turning a personal disaster into the possibility of fighting the condition that caused them the heartache they suffered. This is turning something negative into a possibility of hope.

    Pr chris

  • I found Larry and Ted’s comments easy to understand. Perhaps their communication skills are not the problem here … 😉

  • Abortions are virtually never performed in the third trimester – on the rare occasion when they are, it’s generally because the fetus has an untreatable, severe congenital defect which means that it will not survive long after it is born if the pregnancy were to continue. About 91.3% of US abortions are performed during the first trimester. Another 5.4% in weeks 14-17, 1.9% in weeks 18-20, and 1.4% are performed in week 21 or later. Source: a pro-life group http://www.abort73.com/abortion_facts/us_abortion_statistics/

  • Enjoyed the post. A clarification, though – NPR (citing Planned Parenthood’s annual report) indicates that Planned Parenthood’s annual revenues are about 10 times what you put them at – $1.3 billion. This makes Catholic Charities a little less than 3 times the size of Planned Parenthood; not, as you indicated, 43 times the size. Also interesting – about 40% of that amount comes from government (compared to the 65% of CC’s revenue you indicated.) http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/08/05/429641062/fact-check-how-does-planned-parenthood-spend-that-government-money

    Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi! =)

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