Villainy is Not a “Right”

The recent Planned Parenthood videos that have surfaced have brought the abortion debate to the nation’s attention once again. The corruption within Planned Parenthood seems almost a farce, to see Dr. Mary Gatter, a Planned Parenthood medical director, haggle over the prices of aborted babies’ body parts while joking about wanting a Lamborghini seems too outrageous, too monstrous, too inhumane to be possible in our country.

Meanwhile Planned Parenthood is holding fast to their support of Dr. Gatter and Dr. Nucatola, mildly chastising Dr. Nucatola for not showing a “caring” attitude which is so central to their motto. But they are still defending their right to abortion, as well as their right to “donate” the “fetal tissue” (which is so clearly described by the doctors as hearts, livers, and lungs that are tricky to get out the right way so as not to crush them).

And the Pro-choice rhetoric is to a point where its assertions of “rights” is finally being held to scrutiny. This continual plea that it is a woman’s right to determine wether her child lives or dies is starting to sound questionable.

We had better be careful when we use the word “rights”.

Because the law defended a white man’s right to own a black man.

And the law defended a German’s right to seize the property of a Jew and send them to a concentration camp.

When we use this language of “rights” we had better tread carefully, because when we start to assert that our value and rights are held above another person’s we become the villains in our own stories.

Because to a slave-owner a black slave had more value as property than as a person.

And to a German Nazi a Jew had more value as an experiment than as a person.

And to a Pro-choicer a baby has more value cut in pieces for “life-giving” research than as a person.

Regardless of Planned Parenthood’s other programs, regardless of what percentage goes into abortion, we know, without doubt, that two of their medical directors look at human life as something to trade like a piece of meat, we know they look at human life as something they have the right to end and to distribute as they see fit, we know they look at human life as property, we know this, and Planned Parenthood still defends them. The corruption of Planned Parenthood is not something to defend, it is something to systematically eradicate.

To those of you who have identified yourself as pro-choice and supporters of Planned Parenthood, now is the time to acknowledge the corruption. I ask you to step back from what has been your Progressive rhetoric and look at what your place will be in history. Pro-choice holds the position of oppressor, and now is the time, as you are faced with the reality of what the abortion business really looks like, to repent to the gracious God whom we all must answer to, to find forgiveness and freedom in the sacrifice of Jesus, and to put yourself on the side of the fight that upholds all life and sees every person as valuable by the very nature of their being created by God.

Because no matter what good things Planned Parenthood may or may not do for women, their provision of abortion creates a callousness and a disregard for human life, as we can see so clearly in the two videos. Dr. Gatter and Dr. Nucatola perform abortions regularly, and the complete nonchalance they show when discussing the murder and dismemberment of babies is a natural conclusion to abortion justification. If that fetus is not a life worth defending, then Dr. Gatter and Dr. Nucatola haven’t shown any “lack of caring”, they’ve simply done their job with precision. They have gotten rid of a child that was perceived to have no value, and have in fact turned that child into something of monetary worth by it’s piecemeal organs. If this seems preposterous to you, it is. Because those livers and hearts they describe are not “fetal tissue”, but the body of a nameless child who was not deemed worthy enough for a grave. And the hearts of those two Doctors and the many others in the abortion industry have been hardened by their careers as systematic killers. The abortion industry must be abolished for the sake of the children being murdered, for the sake of the mother’s handing them over, and for the sake of the doctors who’s hands are bloodied.

No matter what “good” comes out of Planned Parenthood it will never make up for the evil within it. I side with John Wesley,

I deny that any villainy is ever necessary. It is impossible that it should ever be necessary for any reasonable creature to violate all of the laws of justice, mercy and truth. No circumstance can make it necessary for any person to tear apart all the ties of humanity!

-Thoughts Upon Slavery

Voluntary abortion (excluding instances when the mother’s life is threatened) is never necessary. It is never necessary that we ever claim one person has a higher value than another. It is never necessary that we dehumanize a person so as to justify our means to accomplish our ends.

Villainy is never necessary, and it is certainly not a right.

6 comments

  1. Hi Lydia,

    Thanks for sharing your perspective on the recent Planned Parenthood controversy. I agree that the Planned Parenthood workers come off as callous in these videos, although I think emotional distancing is necessary in many professions that involve regular encounters with tragedy (e.g., soldiers, child protective service workers, etc.). Dr. Nucatola’s use of humor was certainly inappropriate, although people often use humor as a way of emotionally distancing themselves from distressing thoughts and feelings. I know that I do.

    Because the post was also about the abortion debate more generally, I wanted to share a few thoughts for the purpose of arguing that the legal availability of abortion procedures is not as black-and-white of an issue as people on both sides of the debate would suggest. One of the many difficulties in even having a national discussion on abortion is that there is not agreement on when personhood begins. For example, Evangelicals typically believe that personhood begins at the moment the egg is fertilized. In contrast, Jewish tradition suggests that personhood begins when the soul enters the body at the moment the child takes its first breath after birth. And there are also non-religious perspectives. For example, some Ethicists have suggested that personhood should depend on physical development, such as the capacity to experience pain or consciousness (i.e., metacognition).

    In addition to the personhood issue, here are a few arguments supporting the legal availability of abortion procedures: 1. the protection of pregnant young girls (many of whom have become pregnant as a result of incest or sexual abuse) from the physical risks associated with childbirth. 2. the effect of having kids on generational poverty for low SES women who lack adequate resources (e.g., money, healthcare, education, childcare, social support, etc.). 3. The protection of the child of a drug abusing woman from a lifetime of suffering from congenital physical and developmental disabilities.

    The purpose of this comment was to bring up a few of the arguments supporting the legal availability of abortion procedures to suggest that this is a complex issue, and there are people driven by strong moral convictions on both sides of the discussion.

    Best,
    David

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    1. David,
      Thank you for your comment.
      In fact, I don’t believe my point could have been illustrated better.
      Certainly the personhood of Jews was one debated, as were the personhood of Africans. I’m not denying there is a debate over personhood.
      If the babies in question (i.e. those being aborted specifically by Nucatola and Gatter–it was Gatter who made the joke) are not persons, then there would be no tragedy involved by surgically removing them, and thus no “defense mechanism” would be necessary for the doctors, no tragedy exists.
      If those babies in question do indeed have personhood, then regardless of any reasons, the killing of them would be morally wrong. And any argument used to kill them would be akin to those used by say, Nazis to eradicate Jews, Homosexuals, gypsies and the physically and mentally impaired.
      Again, as I said before, either it is not villainy, or it is, and if it is, it is never necessary.

      1. You seem to be basing your excuse of said villainy on the safety of abortion over the safety of pregnancy, I’m afraid you are grossly misinformed on this subject as much research has been done to reveal that the statistics used to make this assertion (specifically in the case of Roe V Wade) were neither peer-reviewed nor reliable. I recommend you look into it yourself rather then naively adopting the mantra of the pro-choice narrative.

      Poverty being an excuse for said abortion, is much like the English complaint that the abolishment of slavery would hurt their economy.

      Your excuse regarding the “protection” of a child born from a drug abusing woman is absurd in its own right, since the “protection” of that child is their death.

      As you have so clearly illustrated though, you seem to feel the need to defend abortion by a number of exceptions. But, either the baby is a person, or they are not. If they are not, no need to justify it, if they are, there is no justification.

      Once again, I will plead with you, as I am with every other person who feels the need to defend abortion, you will stand before the God who created these persons who’s personhood that you feel obligated to determine does not exist, you are on the wrong side of history here, now is the time to turn.

      Lydia

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      1. Hi Lydia,

        Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comment. I will start with a couple of requests for if you choose to respond to this second comment. The first is to please not assume that I buy into pro-choice propaganda. I am fully aware of the propaganda on both sides of the issue. The second is to please not assume that I am unaware of the gravity of choosing a position in this debate. I am fully aware of the detrimental consequences for fetuses if the pro-life axioms are true and abortion remains legal, as well as the detrimental consequences for pregnant women (and possibly also for fetuses) if the pro-choice axioms are true and abortion is made illegal. My disagreement with you on this issue does not indicate that I am suggestible or naive, and I would encourage you to not assume these things when people disagree with you.

        With this said, I was certainly wrong about which of the PP doctors said the joke, and I very well could be wrong on this issue as well. For fairness sake, I should state my position. I don’t think abortion is ever a good option, although I think abortion is sometimes the best option when all of the options are bad. I actually grew up firmly in the pro-life camp, and my position started to change in college as a result of critical thinking about the issue and from experiences working with homeless teens. I agree with you that the crux of the debate is on the issue of when personhood begins, and I also agree that your conclusions are valid if personhood truly begins when the sperm fertilizes the egg. Although if your position on this issue is correct, then it is a tragedy the spontaneous abortion rate of fertilized eggs is estimated to be as high as 50%:

        http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pregnancyloss/conditioninfo/Pages/risk.aspx

        The Bible appears to make a compelling case that (a) fetuses are not persons (although they are persons-in-the-making) and (b) that fetuses have value. You wrote, “If the babies in question (i.e. those being aborted specifically by Nucatola and Gatter–it was Gatter who made the joke) are not persons, then there would be no tragedy involved by surgically removing them.” I disagree with your conclusion. I believe that fetuses have value, even if they do not have as much value as persons. In fact, their value comes from their potential to be persons, and it is indeed tragic when this potential is not reached. To quote the verse you referenced in a previous post (“SPEAK, THERE ARE THOSE BEING LED TO SLAUGHTER”):

        “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13, ESV).

        The womb is described here as the place where the person is in the process of being created. To continue with the knitting analogy, a ball of yarn (or even a few knitted lines) is not considered a sock, although it does have sock potential. The passage goes on to say (in verse 16):

        “Your eyes saw my unformed substance”

        suggesting that the person is not yet formed, but is in the process of being formed. This idea of persons-in-the-making is supported throughout the Bible (e.g., see Jeremiah 1:5, Job 31:15, Job 10:8-12, & Isaiah 44:2). Also, consider the Mosaic Law, which directly speaks about the value of the fetus:

        “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe” (Exodus 21:22-25, ESV).

        This passage suggests that causing a woman to have a miscarriage should result in a fine, but harming or killing the woman should result in a much more severe penalty (i.e., fetuses have less value than persons). Although you may not agree with this interpretation if you side with John Piper’s exegesis:

        http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-misuse-of-exodus-2122-25-by-pro-choice-advocates

        over Solomon ben Isaac’s exegesis (aka “Rashi”; a famous medieval rabbi)

        http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-fetus-in-jewish-law/

        Given that the Bible does not mention personhood beginning when the egg is fertilized, and also that there is no (apparent) philosophical or moral reason to believe that personhood occurs at this moment, I have two questions to ask you:

        1. If you believe that personhood begins when the sperm fertilizes the egg, then why do you believe this (i.e., what evidence supports this conclusion)?

        2. What would it take for you to change your position on this issue?

        I would greatly appreciate if you answered these questions, but I also understand if you do not have time. Whether or not you answer the questions, I hope you will take a look at the links I provided because this is an important issue with serious consequences.

        Cheers,
        David

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      2. David,
        I think you misunderstood, I was not suggesting you are naive on the whole topic of abortion (in fact you seem very thoughtful and informed regarding these issues), but in regards to the idea that abortion is safer than pregnancy for women specifically, to assert some of your excuses for an abortion you would have to be either naive, or swayed by propaganda, as there is much evidence to the contrary, especially in regards to abortions performed after 20 weeks (which is what our debate has mainly been discussing since the abortions described by Nucatola and Gatter are late-term abortions).
        To answer your two questions.
        1. It is a biological fact that life begins when the sperm fertilizes the egg. The evidence for the existence of life at conception is not a debated issue, you need only open a biology text book. As to personhood, personhood is not an empirically verifiable fact; it is ontological in nature and as thus it cannot be verified in the same sense. So your question is a philosophical one, and the nature in which you asked it is rather misleading.
        If life begins at conception, which we know it does, and we know that this life is a human life (not a germ, not a chicken, etc, but human), then the question you’re asking is, when does human life gain it’s personhood? (or in Christian terms, it’s soul, since the two are often synonymous). I assert, that it logically follows that personhood exists when life exists. Otherwise, you will be arbitrarily assigning a point in time that you, an outsider, determines someone gains their “soul”.

        So let me ask you, at what point does someone gain personhood? Is it at conception? The first detectable heart beat? When they are able to live outside the womb? When they take their first breath? When they are capable of self-identification? When they can communicate that they have personhood?
        And do they thus lose personhood if they lose any of the capabilities that they have to earn to gain it? Are they no longer a person if they cannot communicate it? If they have limited mental capacity for self-knowledge?
        If personhood is something gained apart from being a live human, than it is something gained arbitrarily, and assigned by a system of beliefs determined by an outsider. This is dangerous territory, as I pointed out in the post. The argument that personhood is something separate from human life is one that has been adopted by slave-owners and Nazis.
        You see, you put yourself in a rather philosophical conundrum if you assert that personhood is separate from human life, if it doesn’t begin at conception, it can begin at any time we determine if it is something that must be proved externally, in which case Peter Singer makes a compelling point that babies ought to be legally “aborted” up until the point of two years of age and the mentally disabled ought to compassionately killed as well as the elderly who’s minds are corrupted by dementia
        2. You would have to completely disprove scientific fact of when human life begins.

        What’s more, your case regarding scriptural evidence seems to be approached as to read your social ideals into the text, rather than allowing your social ethos to be shaped by scripture. The bible never directly asserts the philosophical notion of personhood, and I would argue it is assumed that life and personhood are synonymous. If we look at the Christian scriptures as a whole we know that human life is created uniquely, separate from the rest of creation in its value. We know that God identifies humans as being valuable because they are made in his image. We know that he loves people for no quality besides their being human in nature. We know that he, unlike the world, assigns people value based on no outward expression, but on the expressions of the heart (or soul). Our personhood is linked with our humanity, and the two are inseparable.
        I find John Piper’s interpretation regarding the Levitical law you mentioned to be compelling and in alignment with Scripture as a whole.
        In addition, I would ask you, when John the son of Elizabeth leapt inside his mother’s womb because he felt the presence of Jesus (who was also in the womb of Mary), were those mere fetal movements? Or perhaps a suggestion of personhood? Our God began as a fertilized egg when he came as man, are you suggesting he didn’t gain his personhood until an arbitrarily defined moment?

        From the experience that you have mentioned it sounds as though you approach this debate out of genuine concern for women. That is admirable, and I urge you, for the sake of those women that you care about to really examine the truth of the claims you’re making.
        I know the women who feel so desperate in life, and pregnancy added on top seems an impossibility, I know the women who have chosen to abort, and I have seen how it spirals their lives further into despair. And I know the women who have chosen to face what seems an impossibility and found Christ in the impossible.
        To answer the desperation these women face with death is not going to bring them freedom, but only further suffering, confusion, and physical complications. But we can walk with them, and offer them real hope.
        Because Jesus doesn’t look at a woman’s circumstance and offer one more bad decision among many other bad choices, Jesus walks in and offers life.
        And if you claim to follow him, you can’t offer anything less.
        Thank you, as always for your respectful and thoughtful comment,
        Lydia

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      3. Hi Lydia,

        Thank you for taking the time to answer the questions I asked. I am grateful for this conversation because it has increased my understanding of the arguments on both sides of the abortion debate. I appreciate your rational defense of the pro-life position. You are certainly very intelligent and passionate about the issue. I will bow out of the conversation after this comment, but I wanted to answer the questions you asked and also to comment on a few of the other issues you raised.

        In terms of the Biblical passages we have discussed, I agree with your observation that I project my own biases onto the text, and I hope you will admit that you project your biases onto the text as well. This is something we cannot escape from, although we can derive meaning from the text by studying it in its original form, and within its cultural and historical context. I would further propose that we must derive our personal theology from the Scriptures, rather than letting our personal theology influence our interpretation of the Scriptures. Here is an extreme example of personal theology influencing textual interpretation. Mark Driscoll, a pastor in the “reformed” camp, once preached a sermon about Genesis 6:9 (“Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation”, ESV) in which he interpreted the passage as saying that Noah was NOT a righteous man:

        http://www.christianpost.com/news/mark-driscoll-was-wrong-about-noah-117177/

        Driscoll came to this conclusion because the verse did not fit into his personal (Calvinist) theology. When verses are interpreted to mean the exact opposite of the words that are written, then “words no longer have meaning” as Justice Scalia recently quipped. The reason I bring this up is because Piper appears to be making the same (although less obvious) mistake in his interpretation of Exodus 21:22-25. Let’s consider the New Revised Standard Version (the version required in my Bible classes at Seattle Pacific):

        “When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman’s husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine. If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”

        There are a number of other versions that use the word “miscarriage” as well, which indicates that a number of Bible scholars have interpreted the original Hebrew to be referring to miscarriages, rather than to premature births in which the baby is unharmed, as Piper suggests. As I pointed out in the previous comment, rabbinical scholars have also traditionally interpreted this passage as referring to miscarriages, and they are certainly in a better position than Piper to understand the cultural and historical context. In fact, the Complete Jewish Bible is the most explicit in describing the miscarriage (“If people are fighting with each other and happen to hurt a pregnant woman so badly that her unborn child dies, then, even if no other harm follows, he must be fined. He must pay the amount set by the woman’s husband and confirmed by judges.”). Further, Piper seems to be arguing for the possibility, rather than the plausibility, of his scenario. If the passage is simply referring to a premature birth in which the child is not harmed, then why is a fee required? Additionally, how likely is it that a woman would be hit so hard that the baby comes out, but there is no injury to the baby? If Piper’s goal was to determine the original meaning of the passage, rather than to fit the passage into his personal theology, he would have presented an argument for the most plausible scenario, rather than suggesting an improbable one.

        Now, to answer your questions about personhood. From a Biblical perspective, Genesis 2:7 suggests that personhood is connected to breath:

        “Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” (ESV)

        In Jewish tradition, this verse is used to suggest that personhood begins when the child takes its first breath after birth. I don’t think Luke 1:41 offers evidence for or against when personhood begins. This verse says that “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (ESV), which indicates that this is a special situation that does not happen to every pregnant woman.

        I do not agree that personhood and life co-occur at the moment the egg is fertilized. This seems to be an arbitrary point in time to assign the beginning of personhood. In fact, a human embryo is not even viable (i.e., cannot survive outside the uterus, even with medical technology). Rather, I think personhood begins when consciousness begins. The mind is the closest modern parallel to the concept of the soul. A conservative estimate for the beginning of (primitive) consciousness is around the 24th week of pregnancy. To quote the Scientific American:

        http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/when-does-consciousness-arise/

        “Consciousness requires a sophisticated network of highly interconnected components, nerve cells. Its physical substrate, the thalamo-cortical complex that provides consciousness with its highly elaborate content, begins to be in place between the 24th and 28th week of gestation. Roughly two months later synchrony of the electroencephalographic (EEG) rhythm across both cortical hemispheres signals the onset of global neuronal integration. Thus, many of the circuit elements necessary for consciousness are in place by the third trimester. By this time, preterm infants can survive outside the womb under proper medical care.”

        Although regardless of when personhood begins, I think it is unethical for abortions to be performed after the fetus has the capacity to experience pain. I prefer to use a conservative estimate for the beginning of pain, such as at 20 weeks, in order to be cautious. Although some medical professionals are convinced that fetuses do not have the capacity to experience pain until at least 24 weeks:

        http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=201429

        http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/17/health/complex-science-at-issue-in-politics-of-fetal-pain.html?_r=0

        And yes, once humans lose the capacity for consciousness, they should not be considered persons anymore. Namely, if there is no longer brain activity as recorded by an EEG (e.g., the Terri Schiavo case), the human should no longer be considered a person. The technical definition of consciousness (in psychology) is the presence of brain activity. This means that consciousness entails sleeping, as well as many comatose states.

        With this said, I want to make it clear that I respect your beliefs on this issue and admire your passion. I think we can both agree that the number of abortions should be reduced, and I hope that your passion will drive you to focus on practical solutions to this end, such as making birth control affordable and available for low-income women, and improving sex education in public schools. If we can prevent unwanted pregnancies from occurring, then abortion never even enters into the discussion.

        Again, thank you engaging in this conversation with me. It has certainly been rewarding. I will bow out at this time.

        Best,
        David

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      4. P.S. I forgot to post the link to Rashi’s exegesis of Exodus 21:22-25. Here it is if you are interested:

        http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/9882/jewish/Chapter-21.htm#showrashi=true

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