If we ask someone who works for Planned Parenthood what happens in an abortion, we will hear that what is removed is “tissue” or a “blob of cells” or a “product of conception.” Such terms convey the image of an amorphous blob. On the other hand, the idea that they are harvesting organs and are careful to keep the body intact makes it clear that this is a human being. The image of an arm sticking out of a tray of parts and other visual images make it harder for us to dismiss the humanity of the aborted baby by calling them anything else. In the videos, we have heard abortion workers referring to a “baby” or saying, “It’s another boy.” Language can be used to dehumanize others, whether we are talking about racial epithets or terms used to objectify the opposite sex, and here language is used to dehumanize the baby in the womb.
The other matter of language comes from those who want to be called “pro-choice” rather than “pro-abortion.” Some people claim that nobody is pro-abortion. According to this argument, it is not that anyone really wants people to have abortions, just that they should be available for them. Contrast that argument with the image of a doctor discussing payment for organs from aborted babies and explaining, “I think the ‘per item’ thing works a little better just because we can see how much we can get out of it.” I have also read comments from Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director who now is a pro-life activist. Johnson states that her clinic was given a target, a minimum number of abortions which they were expected to perform. To state that there is no such thing as “pro-abortion” is to give the impression that abortion is a last resort. Even if that were true, there are other options other than the taking of an innocent human life.
Finally, we are hearing from some politicians who are claiming that Planned Parenthood has not broken any laws in their handling of “fetal tissue,” while others are certain that they are. I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me that the only way they are not breaking the law is through a number of loopholes. But even if it is technically legal, that is merely a reflection of how unjust the law can be when we abandon the basic principle of human dignity. What they have done may squeeze into the technical aspects of the law. It is still wrong. It is my hope that the recent revelations about Planned Parenthood may help us all to remember the God-given dignity of all human life.