The PJ Tatler

Have Planned Parenthood Vids Moved You on Abortion?

Reason author Shikha Dalmia is wringing her hands over “the death of pro-choice Republicans.” There used to be a time when the party had room for nuance on abortion, she writes. Not anymore, not after the release of several videos highlighting illicit practices by Planned Parenthood.

David Daleiden, the man who produced the Planned Parenthood videos, told National Review that the purpose of his exercise was—as the headline noted—to “end the tyranny of euphemisms” and show “buyer and end users haggling over the price of living children and negotiating the ways they will be killed in order to do experiments that they want.”

“Living children”? “Killing”? Seriously? Such terms used to be reserved for late-term abortions, even in the pro-life camp. But the majority of fetuses in Daleiden’s footage were 12 weeks or under, with some in the first month of the second trimester. Deploying such lacerating terminology is meant to create an equivalence between early-term fetuses and live children. This implies that every abortion at any time regardless of circumstances is murder.

She’s right. That’s exactly what such terminology implies. The question becomes: is not such terminology accurate? Is a fetus 12 weeks or under something other than a living child? If so, what? That’s what the Planned Parenthood footage compels us to answer.

Has the footage changed your opinion on abortion? If all abortion is murder, should there be exceptions for rape, incest, and the health of the mother? Dalmia worries that the answer might be no.

… if all abortions are murder, then isn’t the rape exception tantamount to “killing babies” for the sins of men? Yet if “babies” are allowed to be “killed” for their fathers’ transgressions, then by what moral standard can we force mothers who slip up to give birth except as a punishment for their turpitude?

What all of this shows is that in its obsession for moral clarity, the GOP is trying to shoehorn an enormously complex issue into a black-and-white framework…

Is the issue really that complex?