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Just as our ancestors grappled with the evils of slavery, abortion is the moral battle of our time. Here are three main reasons why fetal tissue harvesting is morally wrong, even if it's legal.

When I first saw the bombshell video of a Planned Parenthood doctor blithely describing over lunch how to crush unborn babies and harvest their organs, my response was visceral: I cried. When the second and third videos were released—the latest one containing footage of technicians picking through limbs and organs—my horror grew. Like most Americans opposed to abortion, I felt a revulsion in the story that seemed to require no explanation.

But it’s become clear that an explanation is, in fact, required. While some on the left have been deflecting the ethical issue by focusing on legal technicalities, a significant number are defending the practice of tissue sale (or donation) itself. “What’s so wrong,” their argument goes, “with using the body of a fetus who was going to be aborted anyway? Isn’t it better to use it for research and cures? Your real problem isn’t with tissue donation at all,” they conclude, “it’s with abortion.”

 

For the most part, that last charge is true. The heart of the matter, and the core of my objection, is abortion itself. I admit that pro-choice Americans who support using fetal body parts for research are adopting a logically consistent position. If unborn children have no right to life, they certainly have no right to bodily integrity that should trouble us. In fact (the reasoning consistently goes), this practice could actually be seen as praiseworthy and redemptive: a way for aborting women and doctors to give back by doing their part for science.

I understand this argument, but I couldn’t disagree more. A society that accepts the commodification of aborted babies’ body parts isn’t better or more humanitarian than one that merely allows abortion: it’s even more inhumane, more depraved.

I would go so far as to say that this is a pivotal moment for Americans grappling with abortion. The Planned Parenthood videos—and the surrounding debate over the use of fetal tissue—have revealed just how closely abortion parallels the last great moral evil enshrined in American law: slavery. And like that immoral institution, very few of us have clean hands. It’s easy to demonize those directly involved in the practice, but if we refuse to acknowledge the reality of what these videos show us about ourselves, we have no right to condemn our 19th century forebears.

So—setting aside the question of whether Planned Parenthood’s activities are legal—what exactly is wrong with using aborted children’s bodies for profitable research? I see three key problems.

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IN "THE EMPEROR'S New Clothes," a preening monarch is hoodwinked into believing that he's just bought a magnificent outfit when all he's been sold is a bill of (dry) goods. Prancing around in what he thinks is cloth of gold, the emperor is complimented by his obsequious subjects. They all would have lived happily ever after had a young boy not pointed his finger and said "he's naked!"

I love that story for what it tells us about the human capacity for self-delusion. We often believe what our hearts suggest despite the clear and urgent message relayed by facts.

Philadelphia has been getting a powerful lesson in self-delusion these past five weeks, as Kermit Gosnell has gone on trial and shown us a disturbing aspect of the abortion industry.

Of course, the supporters of pro-choice and their ubiquitous friends in the media will deny that fact. They, like the emperor's tailor, hope that most of us are gullible enough to believe that Gosnell was an outlier who is as much the face of reproductive rights as Josef Mengele was the face of scientific research.

But their arguments, necessary and understandable from a pro-choice perspective, are weak and contradicted by the facts, which are far more substantial than those invisible imperial garments.

To hear the abortion advocates of Planned Parenthood, NOW and NARAL Pro Choice America, the only way to prevent more Gosnells is to preserve Roe v. Wade. This is exactly what they want us to believe, hoping we don't notice that Gosnell exists precisely because Roe created him. Harry Blackmun did Jesus one better. The son of God turned water into wine, while Mr. Justice conjured a right to intrauterine murder out of the right to use birth control.

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