Among the more creative responses seen from the release of undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials over the last two months has been that pro-lifers should support the abortion mill’s efforts as a way to reduce abortions. A number of people have argued that cutting off Title X (and Medicaid) funding for Planned Parenthood would prevent women from accessing contraception, resulting in more unplanned pregnancies and therefore more abortions. The logic behind this argument is, well, inexplicable — since it (a) discounts the fact that Title X and Medicaid funding would go to other (non-abortion) clinics, and (b) assumes women are incapable of finding other outlets for contraception on their own.
Ross Douthat offers a resounding rebuke to this argument, on two other ground, in today’s New York Times. First, Douthat skewers the argument that a reduction in Planned Parenthood subsidies results in a rise in abortions, because the data actually shows the opposite:
First, whether you go state by state in the U.S. or make comparisons across developed countries (within Europe as well as North America), there is very little evidence for the kind of correlation between liberal social policies and lower abortion rates that the alleged “pro-life” case for Planned Parenthood assumes. In the U.S. especially, as I’ve noted before, the correlation often runs the other way: Abortion rates are generally lower in (conservative) states that have more abortion restrictions and fewer publicly funded family planning programs, and higher in (liberal) states where public policy is friendlier to Planned Parenthood, comprehensive sex education, public provision of contraception, etc. Indeed, to the (highly debatable) extent that there exists a “red”/”blue” divide in rates of out-of-wedlock births, it seems to be primarily driven by higher blue-state abortion rates rather than lower blue-state rates of unplanned pregnancy — which is the opposite of what the alleged “pro-life” case for Planned Parenthood would lead one to expect. …
In 2010 Congressional Republicans enacted a more modest version of the policy that Milbank believes will lead to many more abortions, and since 2010 the abortion rate has … fallen in almost every state in the union.
More importantly, the argument that pro-lifers must endorse public funding for the largest private-sector nationwide chain of abortion mills is not just absurd, but offensive:
Tell me anything but this, liberals: Tell me that you aren’t just pro-choice but pro-abortion, tell me that abortion is morally necessary and praiseworthy, tell me that it’s as morally neutral as snuffing out a rabbit, tell me that a fetus is just a clump of cells and that pro-lifers are all unhinged zealots. Those arguments, as much as I disagree with them, have a real consistency, a moral logic that actually makes sense and actually justifies the continued funding of Planned Parenthood.
But to concede that pro-lifers might be somewhat right to be troubled by abortion, to shudder along with us just a little bit at the crushing of the unborn human body, and then turn around and still demand the funding of an institution that actually does the quease-inducing killing on the grounds that what’s being funded will help stop that organization from having to crush quite so often, kill quite so prolifically – no, spare me. Spare me. Tell the allegedly “pro-life” institution you support to set down the forceps, put away the vacuum, and then we’ll talk about what kind of family planning programs deserve funding. But don’t bring your worldview’s bloody hands to me and demand my dollars to pay for soap enough to maybe wash a few flecks off.
Even apart from its intellectual dishonesty and vapidity, this argument serves as nothing more than another attempt to sanitize abortion. It’s misdirection, a way to change the subject from what the videos have put front and center: that abortion is the deliberate destruction of live human beings, and that abortionists not only acknowledge this but attempt to provide themselves extra revenue on the basis of the human bodies they have just killed. That’s what this argument is designed to obfuscate, just like the argument that the research that these organs and cadavers service are somehow more important than the industrial scale of the destruction of human lives that feeds those efforts.
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry demands that people look closely at those videos to understand the central core of this issue, rather than the red herrings tossed into it by abortion apologists:
We can talk about ideology, and philosophy, and metaphysics. Is it true that every single human life has value, regardless of the value assigned it by society? Is it true that there are such things as inalienable human rights? And is it not true that, if we value every human life, and value human rights, and abhor abortion, any sustainable solution must include policies and a culture that helps women and babies at every stage of life, and not simply laws banning certain acts? …
We are talking about creatures that, in any other context, would be referred to as babies. We are talking about creatures that, according to incontrovertible scientific evidence, experience pain, have a form of consciousness, have dreams, and are even capable of loving, as all babies are. We are talking about creatures that, in any other context, would be referred to as babies, and instead are being harvested for organs, for resale at a profit margin.
That is the reality that demands our attention.
It demands, first, that we look.
What are we so afraid of?
Some are afraid that the American public will find out the truth about abortion, and the lies the abortion industry has used for decades to sanitize it. And that’s why they are so eager to bloody everyone else’s hands along the way.