By Mark DeVine
July 31, 2015
In the previous post, I intentionally violated a taboo I typically endorse—I made a comparison with the Holocaust. I suggested that the aborting of fetuses compares reasonably to the attempted extermination of the Jews by Adolph Hitler. And I suggested that the outrageous tone of the Planned Parenthood videos may properly be compared to the outrageous moral anesthetizing of the consciences and psychic numbing reported of functionaries at Auschwitz and Dachau.
Comparison to the holocaust ought, in my estimation, deliver its own psychic jolt of skepticism to targeted audiences. The illegitimacy of comparison usually emerges quickly and decisively to discerning minds. The atrocities of the holocaust raise a uniquely high, almost unreachable hurdle to clear before comparisons become appropriate. Does abortion clear that hurdle. If so how?
What, if any, continuity exists between the Holocaust and the abortion industry? Can we identify it with precision? Let’s try:
Five Crucial Elements
I believe the source of the outrage produced by the videos stems from at least five elements which, in combination, account for the horror experienced by so many viewers. First was recognition that two living creatures, not just one, were present on the operating tables obliquely referenced in the recorded conversations. Second, it seemed obvious to many that the second, smaller creature was not a part of the woman’s body but was the body of another, separate creature. Third, this second separate living creature was, indeed, and undeniably, a living human being—a living human being whose death required a crushing to accomplish—a crushing not of the woman’s living body but of the human infant’s.
By themselves, these four elements justify moral outrage. But a fifth element proved particularly incendiary. This fifth element indicates a depth of moral blindness that has overtaken the moral sensibilities of these Planned Parenthood officials. That depth of blindness shocks and produces involuntary recoil among those not yet so blind. I mean the chipper banter about price and profits and Lamborghinis and the like. I mean the casual and pleasurable musings over body part and fetal tissue markets.
This fifth element illumines the existence and flourishing of a culture profoundly desensitized because of both its moral blindness and its habituation to that blindness within a morally blind reinforcing community over time. The defining core of the blindness is the denial of the full humanity of the object of the abortion. A denial allowing, indeed welcoming, the price- and profits-fixated heart of the recorded conversations. Here, if anywhere, money merits designation as filthy lucre.
The Holocaust? And Slavery Too? Really?
Does not this form of denial and blindness replicate almost exactly Hitler’s justification for the Holocaust? And, to identify another striking historical comparison, do not these denial-of-full-humanity moral astigmatisms replicate closely rationales endemic to justification of chattel slavery and (here comes the economic element again) the slave trade?
The mere mention or thought of either the holocaust or slavery provokes reflexive global disgust. So does any related chatter about profits or benefits from research derived from either. Supposed benefits or profits derived from evil practices share in the evil as well. What accounts for the global consensus that the holocaust and the slave trade were evil? That the maltreatment and killing involved was inflicted on human beings.
As long as the objects of the “uncomfortable” practices remain less than fully human or not yet fully human, almost anything is allowed. Almost. Breezy, crude talk about such things in public and among polite company remains inappropriate and uncouth. That’s where Planned Parenthood wishes to direct and exhaust public interest in these almost daily multiplying stories. They wish to suggest that the tone of the conversation did not spring naturally (as I am suggesting) from the defining humanity-denying cultural soil of Planned Parenthood itself. They want us to believe that the tone recorded by the videos (a fifth of apparently 12 total has now emerged!) is actually alien to the culture of Planned Parenthood. Do you believe that? Don’t!
The moment acknowledgement of the full humanity of the objects of maltreatment and killing occurs, a moral outrage bursts forth that cannot be reduced to, distracted by, or hidden through focus on matters of etiquette. Likewise, once the full humanity of Jews, slaves, and fetuses is acknowledged, intolerance for and disgust for talk about profits and other potential benefits erupts with volcanic force.
This blog celebrates monetary profits as tools God has, for about two centuries now, used to lift literally hundreds of millions of people out of material poverty around the globe. It celebrates the use of profits for medical research producing benefits reflecting in their own way Jesus’ own healing acts as the Great Physician. But not these profits. And not research demanding these specimens. No. Fixation on tone cannot hide the evil substance that nurtured it. And comparison to the holocaust stands.