Lots of media attention continues to be given to the videos of Planned Parenthood staff members speaking about the disposition of aborted fetal tissue. Some people have questioned the undercover tactics used to capture the candid conversations.
This criticism, however, fails to acknowledge the deception employed by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League in using an advocate posing as a woman looking for help at crisis pregnancy centers.
This ploy to discredit the compassionate work of those offering women and their children a hopeful alternative was unquestionably accepted by local media. After all, it fit the politically correct narrative. The advocates were considered principled, clever crusaders. The staff at the centers was considered just wacky and wrong.
This undercover operation became the lame pretext for NARAL and Planned Parenthood’s attempt to push legislation – Assembly Bill 775, the so-called Reproductive FACT Act – that would fine clinics that don’t provide abortion information or referrals. But the bill would not require Planned Parenthood or other abortion providers to provide women with information on healthy and supportive alternatives to abortion.
What the Planned Parenthood videos have revealed is that crisis pregnancy centers are not the ones withholding information from vulnerable women or an unsuspecting public. Planned Parenthood has consistently hidden the morally repulsive aspects of its mission.
Its problem isn’t that the medical director’s comments were taken out of context or misunderstood. No, the problem is that staff members spoke clearly, without using euphemisms, and revealed the callous “throwaway culture” in its agencies.
The videos challenge the political acquiescence given to abortion clinics, closing our eyes to the degrading, numbing nature of the work. The senses of the staff, as well as women seeking help, are clouded to what is actually happening to themselves and their nascent child. The videos publicly reveal a very uncomfortable truth.
The Planned Parenthood controversy of past few weeks has been characterized as the latest salvo in the culture wars. Pundits have proposed that the shocking videos are a valiant effort in a losing war to sway the presumed majority opinion in favor of abortion access.
Yet, abortion proponents and providers are not at war with pro-life advocates. They are at war with themselves and the truth of their threatening procedures. The fact is, no matter how much money Planned Parenthood and others spend on expensive public relations firms, the politically correct veneer used to obscure the facts of abortion is wearing thin on our collective conscience – and that’s a good thing.
And since any discussion about AB 775 is supposed to talk about abortion facts, two other issues of public concern need to be explored: What is the demographic impact of abortion in California? Are more abortions being used to choose boys over girls?
In California, we have no way of knowing the truth and debating sound public policy because the state will not permit the “facts” of abortion to be scientifically gathered. Over the years, efforts to enact legislation to address this inadequacy have been stymied by the strident ideology of abortion providers. Women and children are the unfortunate victims of this fact-finding failure.
Facts are nothing to be afraid of, but AB 775 is just a “bully” bill intended to stifle debate and muzzle the good-faith efforts of pro-life Californians. If anything, the recent videos have shown that the “fact” shoe is on the wrong foot.
Jaime Soto is bishop of the Diocese of Sacramento.