Jeff Atwater: Planned Parenthood and the consequences of speech

Bill Scheu

By now the videos of Planned Parenthood executives casually discussing abortion outcomes over lunch have been broadly distributed and widely viewed.  They have occasioned an appropriate and long overdue conversation on the nature of women’s health care, its availability and adequacy. Merely marketing oneself as a source of women’s health care is insufficient. Health care, above virtually any other service, must reflect the highest standards of care, compassion, sensitivity and ethics.

The callous and insensitive manner in which Planned Parenthood executives view abortion should not only strip away any pretext to claims of selfless outreach but thoroughly condemn the value structure of the organization. Our reaction as a civil society to this abhorrent and inexcusable behavior will speak volumes about our standards and values as well.

There are passionate people on all sides of the abortion argument. The ideas they espouse are, for the most part, deeply felt. One may vehemently disagree with public policy or judicial decisions, but no responsible advocate on either end of the equation has appeared more cavalier and course in the discussion of an unborn baby than Planned Parenthood executives. Not only what was said, but how and within what context, should be considered intolerable by all well-meaning people throughout the world.

On the tapes, one individual looks forward to owning a Lamborghini while negotiating the price of a baby’s body parts. Another is concerned that “war-torn” parts will not provide the best return on their investment, while yet another acknowledges that bundling a stomach, kidney and heart in a petri dish will not command as good a price as selling them separately.

Language and the choice of words are much more than a convenient way to convey an idea. They are accurate reflections of core values, they offer crystal clear insights into the very nature of the speaker, they are prisms that capture and magnify the soul and conscience of the individual. In short, they have very real meaning. There can be no such thing as casual speech, particularly when the topic should command the deepest reverence and respect, for both the unborn and those making the anguished decision to abort their child. How impartial can counseling services be when there is a return on investment attached to human fetuses?

If we accept the manner in which the executives of Planned Parenthood choose to describe the procedures they perform, if we accept the commoditization of unborn baby parts, if we can endorse, tacitly or otherwise, clinically debating the merits of which part of the baby can be best crushed without eroding the market value of the organs, then we have debased ourselves as a culture. We have, quite literally, sold our souls in a bargain from which we may never be able to escape.

Societies do not die from external assaults without first surrendering their essential humanity. This is the context within which our conversations on Planned Parenthood will be received by the generations that follow.

Jeff Atwater is Florida’s Chief Financial Officer. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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