And the problem these videos create for Planned Parenthood isn’t just a generalized queasiness at surgery and blood.
It’s a very specific disgust, informed by reason and experience — the reasoning that notes that it’s precisely a fetus’s humanity that makes its organs valuable, and the experience of recognizing one’s own children, on the ultrasound monitor and after, as something more than just “products of conception” or tissue for the knife.
That’s why Planned Parenthood’s apologists have fallen back on complaints about “deceptive editing” (though full videos were released in both cases), or else simply asked people to look away. And it’s why many of my colleagues in the press seem uncomfortable reporting on the actual content of the videos.
Because dwelling on that content gets you uncomfortably close to Selzer’s tipping point — that moment when you start pondering the possibility that an institution at the heart of respectable liberal society is dedicated to a practice that deserves to be called barbarism.