Most of the GOP candidates are aligning themselves with those who find themselves “appalled and disgusted” by what they’ve seen or claim to have seen in doctored and intentionally deceptive videos produced to re-energize a key GOP wedge issue. They are equating the legitimate transfer of embryonic and fetal tissue with trafficking in “baby body parts.” This is a new and different tack made necessary because they have so far been unsuccessful in banning abortions through their previous efforts. It is still legal for women to have abortions in the U.S., and under the Hyde Amendment, it’s also still illegal for taxpayer funds to pay for them, something the GOP candidates wish the public would forget so they can claim a misuse of tax funds.
Carly Fiorina seems especially exorcised over what she calls “butchery by Planned Parenthood” with no mention that embryonic and fetal tissue pass through America’s hospitals when there are medically performed or spontaneous abortions. This is the giveaway that it’s all about defunding Planned Parenthood and not about the disposition of embryonic and fetal tissue. With patient consent, hospitals also provide fetal tissue for research purposes. Dr. Ben Carson, a fellow GOP candidate, has been involved in such research and believes it’s necessary, but with reservations about Planned Parenthood. And so do most medical researchers.
Raising the specter of “butchery” and “killing for baby parts” adds to the dramatic effect desired by those with the anti-abortion agenda. The tissue that women may agree to donate for medical study and advancement is what Planned Parenthood provides to researchers for the cost of preparation and transport only. This type of tissue has been used in medical research for 75 years and has resulted in mankind overcoming some illnesses and the ravages of some injuries. Spontaneous abortions, miscarriages, that occur outside a hospital do not result in such donations because the tissue is considered contaminated by occurring outside an appropriately sterile setting.
Living humans have benefited from the judicious use of human tissue. A few weeks ago I watched an amazing and marvelous thing occur at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. A man dying of inoperable brain cancer wanted to donate his viable organs upon his death. A younger man who’d fallen onto an electrified subway cable and lost the lower half of his face and who’d been living in a world that continually recoiled from him and with challenges associated with eating, speaking and breathing was a candidate for a facial transplant. He was a father and a veteran whose life and whose family’s lives changed after he received a successful transplant from the cancer victim. This, of course, meant disfiguring the deceased and dealing with body parts, but the wife of the deceased gave consent. You can see it all HERE.
There are already couples who have decided to have additional children so that if one of their beloved children becomes afflicted, that sibling would be an available and compatible donor for blood or bone marrow or perhaps even a kidney, as a friend of mine was with her sister.
The point is that being “appalled and disgusted” by concocted graphics to the point that tissue donation is put on a par with trafficking in body organs is the kind of reaction that keeps us from solving the medical problems that beset us and take loved ones out of our lives prematurely. And all of it done cynically for political advantage. This is particularly true for Carly Fiorina who sent 30,000 Hewlett-Packard jobs to China where the government forces abortions.
The gift of life means something beyond being born and includes sharing those physical, intellectual and spiritual things that allow our unneeded physicality to be passed on to sustain others. It is why there are blood and organ donors. It is why field combat divisions sometimes put their blood types on their helmets so that the wounded can survive from field blood donations by their fellow troops. It’s hard to imagine that that a person’s opposition to such a process would be so robust if they had a child or other loved one whose continued life depended on the outcome of studies done with fetal tissue.
Disagree with abortion if that is your judgment or your religious belief and, by all means, avoid having an abortion or causing a woman to have one. But because abortions are constitutionally legal, do not conflate the donation of fetal tissue after the legal abortion with the abortion itself and then try to smear Planned Parenthood for facilitating the research needed to save the lives of the born.
Here’s an important reminder about how critical it is to make a contribution to Planned Parenthood, no matter how small, from Dan Savage:
We have to stand with Planned Parenthood now. When it’s a little difficult. When it’s a little awkward. When they’re under fire. We need to stand with Planned Parenthood. I stand with Planned Parenthood and you should, too. I’m going to make a donation to Planned Parenthood today and I’m going to ask YOU to make a donation to Planned Parenthood today. Go to PlannedParenthood.org and click on “Donate“.
I’ve said this before – if you’ve been listening to the show long enough to hear me come to Planned Parenthood’s defense in the past, you’ve heard me say this – you don’t have to donate $500. You don’t have to donate $1,000. You don’t have to donate $25. If all you can spare is five bucks or ten bucks or twenty bucks, go donate it. Go make that donation. Because Planned Parenthood cannot only point to the amount of money it raises from the public as evidence of it’s support, it’s broad support, but the number of donors is another figure that really matters. Another data point that really matters in defending Planned Parenthood, in Planned Parenthood defending itself, and supporters of Planned Parenthood defending Planned Parenthood. Both those numbers have equal weight, equal value. The amount raised from the public and the number of donors, private donors, out their in the public who support Planned Parenthood.
So, even if you can’t inflate the numbers of dollars that they’ve raised, you can inflate the number of donors that they have, the number of supporters that they have who are motivated enough to donate. So, even if you can only spare five bucks, MAKE. THAT. DONATION. Stand with Planned Parenthood. Now. Now is when it really matters most.
If you’re in Michigan, make your donation HERE.