Tag Archives: planned parenthood

Innocent Because You're Guilty

There’s a response by Senator Elizabeth Warren to all the graphic Planned Parenthood videos going around–or rather, it’s a response to those who condemn PP and the abortion industry for contributing to a devaluing of human life in our culture. It basically boils down to, “You all are pretty bad about valuing life too, so there.” 

It’s the standard trope that goes like this:

“Well, if the GOP and these so-called ‘pro-life’ people are so concerned about life, then they’d be more motivated to help people in need, like immigrants and refugees, instead of trying to kick them out and build a wall. They’d be more supportive of funding those living in poverty, providing for basic care, helping that new mother out after she gives birth to the baby they’re all worried about. They’d care about the children who are the same lump of cells and tissue after birth that they were so defensive about when that was a fetus in some mother’s womb. 

“This is how you know they’re not really pro-life, they’re just anti-abortion, anti-women, anti-freedom to choose. And so, just disregard all this evidence and all these allegations, because who wants to listen to those anti-abortion types anyway?”

That’s not an exact quote. That’s just the gist of the argument, as summarized by someone else. It’s also the same stuff I’ve heard over and over from abortion defenders. 

“You’re better off not thinking about what they say. Trust us. Everything’s fine.”

Some good Left-leaning friends taught me long ago (by pointing out when the GOP did it) that “when people don’t have any defense for their position and ideas, they attack the opposition and ignore the facts.”

That’s what you see here: Distraction and misdirection.

I think Warren and others make great and valid criticisms about the GOP, or the pro-life movement, or the Religious Right, or whatever group we want to call out. We’ll talk a lot of Jesus, go after what we claim are moral and societal ills, and sing the praises of personal charity. But when it’s obvious that personal charity isn’t on the scale required to address the overwhelming need, we’re still quick to condemn government intervention and support to the poor.

Yes, those critiques are valid, deserving of not just discussion but also action. We have to practice what we preach. We haven’t always fully lived up to the moniker “pro-life.”

That doesn’t sweep arguably immoral and allegedly criminal actions under the rug.

If fetuses are being accidentally born too quickly then they’re not fetuses, they’re infants. If they’re being harvested for parts after that point, then tissue isn’t being collected for medical research, human beings are being murdered. If everything is so kosher, then explain the myriad attempts by PP officials to distance themselves in the unedited videos from public backlash or government scrutiny. All of that still matters, even if you’re right and I’m wrong about some other political issue like welfare or immigration. 

My ignorant position on that subject doesn’t cancel out your intentional ignorance of allegations of murder.

If you get pulled over for drunk driving, you can’t point at a bunch of speeding cars and say, “What about them?” expecting to avoid the consequences of your actions.

But it’s okay. “Everyone knows pro-lifers are hypocrites… so just trust us, there’s nothing to see here.”

Except there is. 

I guess maybe the eleventh video might finally drive the point home. 

Literal Litter

“Someone would be dead if I found out who did this.”

That’s an actual comment on a video post about a dog that suffered severe torture. 

It reminded me of the outrage that stirs up when someone posts a hunting picture showing off a kill. I’m not talking Cecil the Lion, where illegal activity allegedly took place, just regular hunting for sport. Usually someone declares a desire to perforate the hunter or set wild animals upon him or her. 

Back to the point: 

In addition to other mistreatment, the dog’s nose was removed. This is horrific, terrible, unconscionable, inexcusable, and a number of other words to drive home “don’t treat dogs this way.”

Not that you needed to be told, but clearly someone does.

Well then. That link appeared in my feed right below another news post about undercover videos of Planned Parenthood activities and treatment of babies no wait fetuses no I mean human tissue samples not quite right let’s try medical waste.

But I keep hearing that PP’s actions are not nearly so bad as these “heavily edited” videos claim (beside the fact that full unedited versions are available to prove nothing has been taken out of context).

And champions of women’s right to choose defend PP and condemn those who obviously are out to destroy progress. 

So I wonder how they’d respond if I said “the video of the dog is photoshopped. She has a nose, they just edited it out to make their sad story.”

Who would believe that?

Or better yet. Suppose I found and posted video of fetal dogs being carefully extracted from a mother, let’s say at 5 weeks (about the midpoint of gestation). I mean, we spay and neuter to control pet populations so maybe this fits that category. 

Let’s say I have a video of a vet saying, “Watch this, you won’t believe it,” and poking the heart of the dog fetus so that it starts beating for a short time. Or cutting through the dog’s face to remove brains for medical research.

Let’s capture that on tape and see what kind of outrage it might stir up.

Would people feel differently if that was a human fetus removed from the womb whose heart continued beating for a bit in response to stimulus?

Because that’s happening.

Would people feel differently if litters of dog “tissue” or “waste” were being sold to research facilities without the owner’s consent?

I suspect so.

Replace dog with human and owner with mother and you have a factual story about what’s taking place in America today. We’ve turned humans into litter–and not the puppies kind.

I see that as a problem. I suspect that not everyone would. Because clearly not everyone does.

Callous disregard for life is generally frowned upon. Hearing what’s going on should stir our sensibilities and make us question whether we truly condone these activities. Ignoring it or blowing it off as “edited” is immoral. 

Not that you needed to be told, but clearly someone does.

Defining Moments

A friend posted a riddle presented in his managment class. “If the day before the day before yesterday is Tuesday, what is the day after the day after tomorrow?”

I came up with Monday, since ‘today’ in the riddle seems to me to be Friday. He had the same answer. The instructor said he was wrong, and the answer to the riddle was Friday. My linguist friends and I started tearing this apart trying to sort out what the right answer is and how to arrive at it. Some argued that the conditional ‘if’ phrase is trumped by the present tense verb ‘is,’ kind of like a grammar version of PEMDAS, the rule that guides which part of a math equation one must complete first. Had the question been stated “was Tuesday” instead of “is,” then Monday would have been correct.

(Or so they claim. I have my doubts. Not to mention, searching for versions of that riddle on Google pointed toward a similar-but-clearly-worded variant, one which doesn’t play a trick based on verb tenses but simply asks the reader to figure out the puzzle. I suspect the lesson writers or instructor copied the riddle wrong from the start. But I’m arrogant about these things.)

My frustration with the explanation boils down to playing a trick of grammar rules and definitions. Rather than speak clearly, the riddle as explained by my linguist friends ignores common usage of language and depends on an oft-ignored rule that supposedly shifts the meaning completely from what is implied. It’s someone claiming a simple answer depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is–technically accurate and a proper debate tactic, but readily dismissed as shady or truth-dodging by the average person.

I thought of this little exchange when my Facebook exploded with a mixture of Cecil the Lion and all the videos about Planned Parenthood. I very nearly posted a tweet something to the effect of

Maybe if there was a market for lion parts, PP supporters could get behind hunting. #profitsmatter

Then I realized that would do no good. It alienates rather than persuades. It mocks issues people care about deeply. And I think we have plenty of that already.

I got the video link for a feminist declaring “Planned Parenthood Isn’t Selling Baby Parts, You F@#$ing Idiots” and a day later, the right-wing response “Planned Parenthood IS Selling Baby Parts, You Freaking Feminist Hosebeast.” (They also sanctimoniously called out the feminist for dropping f-bombs left and right, while they stooped to a ‘clean’ version of name-calling that is no better in my opinion.)

Meanwhile plenty of people point out the disparity between response to the PP videos and the slaying of Cecil the Lion. Plenty of tweets and posts encouraging the murder of that dentist, whether by lion mauling or by drilling him a new orifice. Whichever side of the aisle your circle of friends leans toward, no doubt you’re seeing a ton of outrage that invariably paints dissenters as morons, idiots, worthless human beings devoid of morality. “How can anyone support this?!” both sides scream, while talking about two different subjects.

We’re talking past each other. Everyone’s speaking but no one is listening.

When the right yells about baby parts, the left sighs at best or swears at them, because the legal definition in our country is “fetal tissue” or “medical waste” produced by a legal and optional medical procedure. There may be aspects that are legally questionable, like whether “sales” are taking place or procedures are being altered from what the patients consented to in order to produce better remains. But “by definition” they’re not selling baby parts, duh, because you have to remember what the definition of “fetus” is.

And the right shouts, “How can you care about a stupid lion more than you care about the horrors depicted in those leaked videos? Look at the evidence; listen to the words of the doctors and the staff.” Many will admit if pressed that they’d like to see the hunter who killed Cecil prosecuted for where he broke the law, if indeed that can be proven. But to most, it’s just a lion, and doesn’t compare with the human remains shown in the PP videos. Going from a religious or moral definition of all human life as being precious, the anti-abortion / pro-life crowd can’t help but be furious about the sale of baby parts — because you have to remember what the definition of “life” is.

We’re all heavily invested emotionally into so many various societal and cultural issues that it can be hard to hit the brakes and take a look around. Maybe it’s a debate about white privilege and the #blacklivesmatter trend. Maybe it’s the Confederate flag, or gun control. Maybe it’s a fight for rights we feel we’ve been denied, or a challenging sense that the comfortable culture we once knew is slipping and changing into something far different.

The river of outrage in this country seems neverending. It’s easy to forget that there are people just like us on both banks.

Locking in on my one point of view and refusing to consider the opposition only creates tension, division, and strife. Yes, we might never agree… but at least I can do you the courtesy of listening to find out exactly what I’m disagreeing with, and vice versa. (For example, here is a challenging view on Planned Parenthood from a Christian man faced with an impossible choice.)

I’m grateful for my friends on all sides of these discussions who are willing to have conversations and dig down to the roots of where our points of view diverge. I spent a good chunk of yesterday morning discussing the value of life and the question “When is it justifiable to kill another human being?” I don’t think either of us walked away with a different point of view, but we maintained the mutual respect we’ve developed over the years.

For me, that respect is what matters. Rather than debate words and call each other names, we’ve made sure to define our friendship first. We’ve defined our individual morality to include striving to show respect for others, and we make sure our conversations on these subjects are guided by that definition.

A mind that won’t listen can’t be changed. And when my first thought is that someone else is guilty of this, usually I figure out that it’s me.

Let’s not categorize ourselves with “us” and “them” on this or any other issue. We are not engaged in a civil war despite all the cultural issues and debates. We have to figure out how to be “we the people” because that’s what this nation is founded upon and defined by.