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Does life matter?

| Wednesday, September 23, 2015

In the era of the 24-hour news cycle, it is surprising that the majority of Americans remain unaware of the videos aired this summer that exposed Planned Parenthood’s alleged harvesting and trafficking of fetal organs. Seventy percent of citizens surveyed had neither seen nor heard of the shocking footage released by a pro-life, non-profit group called the Center for Medical Progress, according to an August YouGov poll.

Media coverage of the videos has been lost in the midst of Donald Trump’s endless inflammatory remarks and updates on the ever-changing contents of Hillary Clinton’s email server.

Notre Dame students, and all who work to promote a culture of life, should be aware of and appalled by the content of these videos. The Center for Medical Progress recorded Planned Parenthood officials and individuals from tissue procurement companies discussing abortion in frank and gruesome terms.

Officials were captured on camera discussing the routine harvesting of fetal body parts and the sale prices for procured organs.

The first video showed Planned Parenthood’s senior director, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, calmly discussing the most effective ways fetal bodies can be “crushed” so as to leave lucrative organs intact for sale. Similarly, a Planned Parenthood official in the second video described the process of haggling over prices for embryonic livers and joked, “I want a Lamborghini.” The fifth video in the series educates viewers that “intact” fetuses, those from late term abortions who could have been born-alive infants, sell for the most money.

Eight other videos have been released to date, bringing the CMP’s total to 11 and their project to a close.

Planned Parenthood has repeatedly denied participating in the sale of fetal organs, euphemistically calling the harvested parts “donations.” They claim the only money exchanged funds transportation and other overhead costs. Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens even went so far as to state, “the opportunity to donate fetal tissue has been a source of comfort for many women [who have chosen abortion].”

Reluctant to comment on the videos unearthing the sale of intact fetuses, Planned Parenthood instead sought a restraining order against the Center for Medical Progress, attempting to preclude further video releases. The order alleges invasion of privacy and illegal, undercover filming. In other words, the organization attacked the method by which the videos were procured rather than addressing their troubling contents.

The practice of undercover filming is legal, albeit ethically questionable, and has been used by groups on both sides of the political spectrum. “Mother Jones,” a left-wing magazine, published secretly recorded videos of candidate Mitt Romney conversing with donors at a private dinner prior to the 2012 election.

In an address to the organization on April 26, 2013, President Obama said, “Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you.” Accompanying the President’s praise of Planned Parenthood has been a steadily increasing stream of government — i.e., taxpayer — funding, to the tune of $528 million in 2014, according to the organization’s latest annual report.

Racial, political and advocacy groups continually make statements today about what type of lives matter. We hear that black lives matter, all lives matter and blue lives — those of policemen — matter. Worthy of the same attention in our discourse is a question of similar import: Does life itself matter?

The coverage of and reaction to these videos suggest the answer to this question may not be as obvious as it appears. Those who refuse to acknowledge the depravity of Planned Parenthood’s actions must at the very least realize that our culture has become desensitized.

Human beings have been reduced to the price of their parts. The time has come for our nation to evaluate the practice of abortion. If our “shining city upon a hill” fails to protect innocent human life, who will?

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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