In his satirical solution to Ireland's prolific poor, especially among Catholics whose fish diet was thought to enhance fertility, Jonathan Swift suggested a new menu item: Succulent 1-year-olds for dinner.
His essay "A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People from Being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country . . . " was intended to shake up the English and remind them that the Irish were, in fact, human beings. This took quite a while to sink in.
"The archers are ready," King Edward I is told in "Braveheart."
"Not the archers," the king replies. "Arrows cost money. Use up the Irish. The dead cost nothing."
Obviously, the Irish survived to write newspaper columns. And civilized people don't eat babies at least not roasted or steamed or as part of a ragout, as Swift suggested. But there are other ways to make use of the unborn, as revealed in the recent undercover video in which Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, explains how abortions can be performed so that body parts remain intact for medical research.
Nucatola thought she was talking to two buyers from a human biologics company that would serve as middlemen in procuring fetal organs for biotech companies. But the two were actually actors hired by the Irvine, Calif.-based Center for Medical Progress, reported to be an antiabortion group.
In the video, Nucatola is seen eating a salad, sipping wine and talking matter-of-factly about the procedures she uses. One gathers from her comments that she is a skilled abortionist.
To ensure the viability of the calivarium (incomplete skull), for instance, Nucatola prefers to move the fetus into a breech position so that the head comes out last. Otherwise, dilation is usually insufficient to avoid crushing the skull. She also avoids grasping the torso where valuable organs are located.
"I'm basically going to crush below, I'm going to crush above, and I'm going to see if I can get it all intact."
Her comments were shocking enough, but they were magnified by the banality of the circumstances. A fetal liver here, a bite of Romaine there, a sip of wine. Nucatola's strictly clinical view was that such valuable live tissue (a.k.a. hearts and livers) shouldn't go to waste. By providing terminated products for research, she was facilitating an "extra bit of good."
Apparently, this is also the view of women who sign the consent forms. At least donating one's issue to research is a way of casting abortion in a somewhat positive light, sort of like donating the organs of a deceased child. Except for all the obvious differences.
I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad, but I do aim to avoid euphemism for the sake of clarity. Basically, the volume of older fetuses at some of Planned Parenthood's locations is so great that they have a disposal problem. What do you do with all these bodies?
Environmental laws prevent throwing fetuses in the trash, and even if they could, some garbage collection companies refuse to pick them up. The middleman who, through sanitized packaging and clinical language, can clean up such a mess and, for a price, contribute to science is God-sent. Or is it from the other fellow?
Some of the research using these "products of conception" is, ironically, for ailments common to the elderly such as Alzheimer's and dementia. We seem to have traded "Soylent Green" wafers food made from the remains of old folks forced into premature termination in the 1973 film for gestational organs. There is a certain hideous symmetry to this dispensation of human products those too young or too old to be useful except when un-alive but I'm not sure this is how the cycle of life was intended to unfold.
Planned Parenthood's response to the video has focused on clarifying that no parts are sold for profit. The organization's affiliates only seek to recoup the cost of doing business. President Cecile Richards also has apologized for Nucatola's tone.
But let's clarify further.
Eventually, profits will be made perhaps with medications enabled by research on a 24-week-old fetus's brain stem. Just think: No unwanted baby; no burden to society; plus treatment for someone's dementia a perfect trifecta, made in hell.
And tone isn't the issue. The issue is that we're commodifying human fetuses and harvesting parts for distribution in the marketplace, using rationalizations that can justify anything.
The dead may cost nothing, but the livers of terminated fetuses are selling like hotcakes.