Why nothing has changed despite the Planned Parenthood video expose

Seen in that light, abortion critics erred by promoting the relatively weak argument that the videos show Planned Parenthood officials engaged in illegal organ harvesting, rather than unseemly conversation and immoral actions, legal or not. Once defenders of the group decided the claim of illegal activity wasn’t true, they tuned out, dismissing the controversy as a frame job.

The sale of fetal tissue, while outrageous to people who oppose abortion, is easily rationalized by abortion rights advocates. If the fetus died in what they consider a legally defensible procedure, using the tissue for research is morally comparable to organ donation. By relying on edited videos and conservative pundits that abortion rights voters don’t trust, Planned Parenthood critics offered easy excuses to those inclined to dismiss the information by quibbling with the messengers.

Critics of abortion rights might have influenced more people who didn’t agree with them by dialing back moral instruction (“You are flawed if you don’t react as I do to this”) in favor of a request to have their values acknowledged (“Please consider my profound moral objections to the practices depicted here”).

For their part, Democrats and commentators backing Planned Parenthood reacted to the videos by seizing on excuses to avoid talking about the videos’ content. Pundits on the Left focused on presidential candidate Carly Fiorina misleadingly claiming a video depicts “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”