"...if we come to see ourselves as meat, then meat we shall become." -- Leon Kass, M.D., "Toward a More Natural Science"
What is most shocking about an undercover video of a conversation between Deborah Nucatola, a Planned Parenthood executive, and two antiabortion activists from the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) posing as employees from a biotech firm is why anyone is shocked.
For those who haven't been paying attention (ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN all ignored the story during their Sunday morning political talk shows, but not Fox), the discussion centered on the sale of donated tissue from aborted fetuses. Nucatola says in the video, "We've been very good at getting heart, lung, liver ... so I'm not gonna crush that part, I'm gonna basically crush below, I'm gonna crush above, and I'm gonna see if I can get it all intact."
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, attempted to gain some moral high ground by explaining that in the sale of fetal tissue, "there is no financial benefit ... for either the patient or for Planned Parenthood." Instead, she says, "...actual costs, such as the cost to transport tissue to leading research centers, are reimbursed..."
On Tuesday CMP released a second undercover video showing Dr. Mary Gatter, president of Planned Parenthood's Medical Director's Council, "negotiating" a price for fetal body parts, an illegal act.
The response to the Nucatola video was immediate. Republican presidential candidates denounced the practice of "fetal organ harvesting" and GOP leaders in Congress have again threatened to "defund" Planned Parenthood. They won't, because they haven't before.
Since Roe vs. Wade, there have been more than 55 million (and counting) legal abortions performed in the U.S. There are a number of sociological, moral and political reasons why abortions continue, but the occasional outcry when something like the Planned Parenthood videos surface will not save the lives of unborn children. Because abortions are performed behind closed doors, is it simply a case of out of sight, out of mind?
Occasionally, though, something so horrible escapes the secret chamber that people are repulsed -- for a moment at least -- by what we have allowed to happen and the collective effect it has had on the growing disregard for human life some of us possess.
Kermit Gosnell comes to mind. The Philadelphia abortionist was convicted of murder for snipping the spines of three babies during abortions. We were aghast for a while. If our revulsion had been sustained it might have shocked our conscience into action, but we were too focused on pleasure and comfort and the pursuit of affluence and the moment passed. Pennsylvania subsequently passed a law that regulates abortion clinics as ambulatory surgical centers, subject to the same health and safety mandates, but the abortions continue.
The reason no one should be shocked by any of this is because it is the inevitable outcome when moral boundaries are removed. If we are living in an impersonal universe; if we are evolutionary accidents not endowed with certain rights by our Creator; if we are of no greater moral value than a hamburger; and if human value is to be assigned by the courts, then we are all potentially at risk of extermination should we become inconvenient or too expensive to sustain.
But once whatever remaining boundaries are erased, and the cost of medical care rises, government and insurance companies could very well increase the rationing of medical care (as happens now with unequal Medicare payments to medical groups vs. patients with private insurance and limits on what private insurance will cover). It will likely begin at the extremes, as most inhumanities do, but once the killing standard is expanded to the elderly and the sick, it will quickly threaten others.
How do you like what we have become, America? Maybe our loss of morality, not to mention our humanity, is one reason for the rise of ISIS. As we are reminded, "Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint." (Proverbs 29:18)
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Cal Thomas, America's most-syndicated columnist, is the author of 10 books.