It’s hard to have an honest debate about abortion in this country, when the issue is so often shrouded in evasion and deception.
That’s why we owe a debt to Deborah Nucatola. She is willing to tell it the way it is. She eschews careful talking points meant to obscure rather than illuminate and doesn’t worry about discomfiting the squeamish. On abortion, she is the great clarifier.
Nucatola is the Planned Parenthood official — and abortion doctor — whose frank discussion of the destruction of unborn babies was captured on secret video by an anti-abortion group.
She was drawn out over lunch by two actors posing as people interested in buying organs from abortion clinics, and speaks nonchalantly of the unspeakable. If watching the video doesn’t turn your stomach, you are either morally insensate, or angling to be designated Planned Parenthood’s Person of the Year.
The episode raises a public-relations challenge unique to that organization: How do you spin one of your officials casually talking about aborting babies and harvesting their organs for sale (“a lot of people want liver”) while sipping red wine and enjoying a nice meal?
Well, the first rule is not to refer to an aborted baby as a baby, or in any way to acknowledge his humanity. A PR firm doing work for Planned Parenthood — and surely earning every disreputable penny — called the body parts discussed in the video “the products of conception.”
The other is to talk about science and medicine, which are assumed to be invested with a talismanic power that trumps all other considerations. “In health care,” Planned Parenthood said in a statement, “patients sometimes want to donate tissue to scientific research that can help lead to medical breakthroughs.”
So nothing to see here, folks. But abortion is not health care — it is an overwhelmingly elective procedure undertaken to end a life. The baby isn’t a patient. The baby is a victim and has no choice in what happens to its organs after a Planned Parenthood abortionist does his work.
Critics of Planned Parenthood have focused on the potential illegalities revealed in the video. This is a mistake. The federal statute on selling fetal parts for profit was written by liberal lion Henry Waxman, who had no interest in forbidding the trade.
The true import of the Nucatola video is its casual moral grotesqueness. Manipulating a baby in the womb to kill it in a fashion best suited to selling off its organs, as Nucatola describes, is a repellant act.
This isn’t merely aesthetics. Yes, as Planned Parenthood’s apologists argue, almost any surgical procedure is unsightly. But other surgical procedures don’t involve deliberately ending a life and treating its body as a commodity.
Such is the business that Planned Parenthood is in. The group loves to portray itself as just a friendly neighborhood provider of health services. Abortion is left out of this sanitized version.
Nucatola provides the more accurate picture. She talks of how Planned Parenthood performs 40 percent of the abortions in the country and how clinics are stuck with the parts of dead babies (“tissue”) that they have trouble discarding.
An organization that exists in large part to perform abortion — about a million every three years — shouldn’t receive a dime in public funding. And the best way to limit the sale of the parts of aborted babies is to save the babies from being aborted in the first place, which proposed bans on late-term abortions in Congress would at least take a step toward doing.
We have long been told how unborn babies are “blobs of tissue” that deserve no moral respect or legal protection. Yet here is an official from the leading abortion provider in the country talking of their livers, lungs and hearts, and of preserving those organs for their value.
What Deborah Nucatola describes is the reality of abortion. If you can’t handle it, you can’t handle the truth.
Rich Lowry can be reached via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.