"Unless you stand for something, you will fall for anything." Everyone is familiar with this famous quote, though its original origins are unknown. What is known is that the sentiment appeared in a prayer offered by Senate Chaplain Peter Marshall in 1947. "Our Father," Marshall prayed, "we yearn for a better understanding of spiritual things, that we may know surely what Thy will is for us and for our Nation. Give to us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for – because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything."
This idea endures and people respond to it because deep down everyone recognizes that adherence to principle over pragmatism, especially when it's hard, is a virtuous thing. For the last 43 years, those who affirm the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception to the point of natural death have stood in the vanguard of opposition to abortion. Despite the sands of culture shifting around them, despite being dismissed as fools and decried as would-be oppressors, these individuals have refused to give way and refused to be silenced. Unlike many of their friends and neighbors, they never bought into the poisonous notion that the termination of an unwanted pregnancy is merely a medical "choice" made by a woman and her doctor. What they have always known – and what the rest of America is beginning to understand – is that abortion is nothing less than state-sanctioned killing of our tiniest and most vulnerable demographic: unborn children. What's more, we are learning that abortion is not merely a "service" provided by benevolent practitioners in the name of choice, but a profitable business that literally traffics in blood.
The media is still abuzz with talk of the recently released videos in which an undercover activist inquires about the purchase of fetal tissue harvested from aborted babies. In the first video, viewers are treated to a macabre scene in which a high-level Planned Parenthood official discusses– between bites of salad and sips of wine – how she and other abortionists preserve valuable fetal tissue during the procedure:
"… we've been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I'm not gonna crush that part, I'm gonna basically crush below, I'm gonna crush above, and I'm gonna see if I can get it all intact."
Defenders of the organization and of abortion in general were quick to respond. The video was recorded under false pretenses! The video and the responses to it are nothing more than a smear campaign again an impeachable organization dedicated to women's health! There's no evidence that Planned Parenthood is profiting from the sale of fetal tissue! The donation of legally aborted fetal tissue is not illegal! Et cetera, et cetera, and ad nauseum.
But then the second video was released. In it, a Planned Parenthood executive is seen haggling over the organization's rate for intact fetal organs in a way that indicates a profit-seeking motive. Her goal, she laughs, is a Lamborghini, so she wants to be sure she's getting a competitive price for the baby parts she sells. Additionally, she reassures her prospective buyer that she can have her abortionist modify his techniques to ensure an "intact specimen" even though this might be a violation of federal law.
It doesn't get more brazen than that. Of course, Planned Parenthood is still crying foul, accusing the operation behind the videos of manipulation and editing even though the full unedited videos were also published for all to see. In true Potemkin fashion, the powers-that-be at Planned Parenthood persist in their self-righteous insistence that nothing illegal or untoward occurs under their banner. The most they are willing to concede is that it might be in "poor taste" to discuss fetal murder and dismemberment over lunch.
Thanks to this undercover sting, it may be that finally Planned Parenthood's veneer of respectability has been stripped away. According to its website, "for more than 90 years, Planned Parenthood has promoted a commonsense approach to women's health and well-being, based on respect for each individual's right to make informed, independent decisions about health, sex, and family planning." What they don't happily advertise is the monstrous philosophy of their founder, Margaret Sanger. An unabashed eugenicist, Ms. Sanger's "commonsense" approach to unwanted pregnancies and undesirable demographic groups, such as minorities and the handicapped, was clear and unambiguous. She maintained that "the most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it," and that "birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race."
The women featured in the videos do Ms. Sanger proud. She was brutally honest about her disregard for the unborn, and so are her ideological and professional successors. The abhorrence of the procedure these executives discuss is utterly lost on them. They might as well be haggling over the price of a car or a piece of real estate. It seems from the response to these videos, however, that the American people see things differently. The fine legal nuances of the activities being discussed are irrelevant. What matters is that these people describe the crushing and dismemberment of unborn babies – the reality of abortion laid out in graphic detail.
Many women instinctively rally behind a woman's "right to choose," without giving much thought to the reality behind the choice at issue. So powerful has our delusion about the reality of abortion become – and so powerful the pro-abortion lobby behind Planned Parenthood – that our elected representatives allocate hundreds of millions of dollars each year to Planned Parenthood. This funding has withstood year after year of budget debates and political controversy. Planned Parenthood's operatives peddle the myth that pregnancy and parenthood is some kind misogynistic social construct used to keep women dependent and servile. They tell women that the right to choose abortion is a right intricately tied to their female identity, rather than a betrayal of a sacred duty bestowed by the author of the universe. They tell women that choosing abortion is an empowering decision, not one that can impact future fertility and inflict emotional and psychological scars that last a lifetime.
What they don't tell women is that there is a living, breathing, human being inside them that's worth more to them dead and dismembered than it is to them born alive. They don't tell women that the profits from the sale of their dead child's body parts will go towards their Lamborghini down payment. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat summed up well the profound impact of these videos and the ugly truths they reveal:
"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 . . . 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."
Barbarism, indeed. It's time for the American people – American women in particular – to face up to the gruesome reality of abortion. To willfully destroy human life, at any stage of development, is an act of evil and a gross betrayal of a sacred responsibility, that of one human being to another, and of a parent to his and her child. We cannot, we must not, look away.