Ethics & Public Policy Center

A Glimpse Into the Culture of Death

Published in Commentary Magazine on July 20, 2015



Thanks to a secret video that was released by the Center for Medical Progress, a pro-life group, we have been provided a glimpse into the culture of death.

In this case, it was provided by Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services and an abortion doctor. Dr. Nucatola’s conversation was with two people posing as individuals interested in buying the organs of unborn children who had been aborted. It reveals the lethal, brutal logic of the abortion industry.

During what looked to be quite a nice wine-and-salad lunch in a Los Angeles restaurant, Dr. Nucatola speaks about the dismemberment of unborn children and the sale of their body parts.

“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part,” Nucatola tells the individuals posing as organ traffickers. “I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”

How tender.

Dr. Nucatola adds, “I’d say a lot of people want liver. And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they’ll know where they’re putting their forceps.”

So think about this: Planned Parenthood opposes the use of ultrasounds when their purpose is to reveal the humanity of a child (and in doing so may discourage abortion) – but it supports the use of ultrasounds when the purpose is for selling the body parts of unborn children. After all, how are we going to know which parts of an unborn child to crush without ultrasound guidance?

The reason this video is so damaging to Planned Parenthood is it exposes the unedited and animating principle behind the abortion industry and its flagship (and taxpayer-supported) organization. They are utterly indifferent to and unfazed by the lethal violence of abortion. (“I was like wow, I didn’t even know, good for them,” Nucatola said when speaking about the number of people wanting the intact hearts of aborted children.) They consider abortion as morally problematic as cosmetic surgery and the right to have an abortion to be a fundamental human right, a sign of an enlightened and progressive society. Given that, why not sell the body parts? Why not make money from the organs of a dismembered and defenseless child? At least she will be useful forsomething.

None of this should come as a shock. After all, Planned Parenthood opposes limitations even on partial-birth abortions. And we twice elected as president a man who is not only the greatest friend of the abortion industry in history; he is a man who, as a state senator, opposed legislation that would have prevented infanticide.

Perhaps this incident has created what President Obama likes to call a Teachable Moment. Let’s assume that liberals are troubled by abortion rather than indifferent to it. If so, I’m eager for them to explain precisely what it is about abortion that troubles them. Is there something happening during an abortion that bothers their conscience? Is something morally and ethically unsettling going on? If so, what? At what stage, if any at all, does abortion go from being fine to being un-fine? And by what objective standards, if any at all, are those determinations made? At what point, if any at all, does an unborn child begin to have any rights at all? Or is the whole thing completely arbitrary and ad hoc, to the point that allowing for an abortion up to the moment of birth is defensible? If the whole thing seems too morally complex to sort through, then shouldn’t we at least err on the side of life rather than death for the child? (I say “child” because the hearts, lungs and livers that are being sold are from a human being, not a giraffe or a coyote.)

Let’s now move from an educable moment to an ironic one: Many contemporary liberals like to portray themselves as the defenders of the weak, the powerless, and the vulnerable. Yet when it comes to the weakest, the most powerless, and the most vulnerable members of the human community – unborn children – they are for (or at least for legally allowing) crushing below and crushing above. In their more candid and honest moments – when the spin machine is turned off and the talking points are cast aside — progressives will even admit it over a glass of Pinot and a salad.

Peter Wehner is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times.

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