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Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of AmericaYoutube

September 8, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — There was always a risk in the approach taken by the Center for Medical Progress to nail Planned Parenthood to the wall: that is, to prove, using undercover video footage, that Planned Parenthood is breaking the law by illegally profiting from the sale of aborted fetal tissue. The risk was that in emphasizing the question of the legality of Planned Parenthood’s practices, attention might be distracted from the far more pressing question of whether what Planned Parenthood is doing is right.

I perfectly understand why CMP took the approach it did, and for all I know it was precisely the best thing to do. The law is (in theory) black and white, and if you can catch Planned Parenthood blatantly breaking the law the consequences are (in theory) also right there in black and white. Besides, almost everybody instinctively abhors a criminal. Even many a pro-choicer, who might otherwise have no moral qualms about harvesting fetal tissue for research, might still decry clear evidence that Planned Parenthood is illegally padding its bottom line and putting women in danger to do so.

Planned Parenthood, StemExpress, the media: none of them are claiming that the dismembered limbs in those videos aren’t real…because they know that they are real. They can repeat the “heavily edited” claims until they’re blue in the face: they can’t edit those feet, toes, hands, fingers, hearts, livers, intestines, and heads out.

And yet, again, by focusing on the legal question, the risk was always that the pro-Planned Parenthood PR juggernaut might be given the opening it needed to draw the public’s attention away from the only parts of CMP’s videos that really matter – the chilling images of human beings that have been ripped to pieces amidst cavalier discussions about the quality and pricing of “specimens,” or the coldly clinical conversations that betray both a keen awareness of the humanity of the unborn child and a callous indifference to the value of that humanity.

For a pro-choice public that has repeatedly been told, practically as a mantra, that the aborted child is merely a “blob of tissue,” the sight – to choose but one example from the videos – of tweezers fishing through a soupy tray of body parts from a dismembered 20-week aborted fetus and picking up a perfectly-formed dismembered arm or leg is certain to provoke keen discomfort – forcing the viewer to make a moral choice with grave real-world consequences.

Instead, what we have gotten in the media are endless and endlessly frustrating exercises in semantics: abstruse debates about the exact interpretation and application of various federal statutes, reports minutely analyzing the many hours of footage and casting doubt on the accuracy of this or that quotation or section amidst claims that the videos have been (as if they could be anything else) “heavily edited,” and thinly-veiled efforts at character assassination of the pro-life activists behind the videos.

All of this, of course, is entirely beside the point.

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I created a bit of a stir the other week on the Facebook page of the extreme-left group Media Matters, where they had posted an article claiming that several state investigations of Planned Parenthood had concluded that there is “still no evidence that Planned Parenthood broke the law.” I replied on the thread beneath the article:

Phew. I thought that the video footage showing clinic workers picking up the fully-formed dismembered arms and legs of a 20-week aborted baby, and talking about pricing for various body parts, or talking about how they removed the brains from a fully-formed baby with a still-beating heart, was inhuman in the extreme, and clear evidence that the “blob of tissue” canard is one of the most egregious lies perpetrated on the public. Thank goodness we have Media Matters to assure us that there's “no evidence Planned Parenthood broke the law.” Now we can rest assured knowing that the law is perfectly comfortable with abortion workers ripping apart fully formed babies and selling their bodies for profit. There's nothing to see here.

My comment was “liked” hundreds of times and became the top comment under the thread. A small victory, but I’ll take what I can get.

And then, when another commenter brought up the inevitable “heavily edited” claim, I happily rose to the occasion, responding:

How the heck do you edit dismembered arms and legs into a video? Are they arms and legs, or aren't they? CMP has also released the full, unedited footage for those who care to take a gander at facing the truth, rather than denying what's in front of their face in a bid to maintain an unsustainable worldview based upon an easily-verifiable lie.

Even Planned Parenthood isn't denying the existence of the dismembered babies. Nobody's denying that. They're just denying that they “profit” from the sale of the dismembered babies. The dismembered babies is something everybody should be able to agree on. They're there, as clear as day.

I don't give a damn whether the sale of the dismembered babies is LEGAL or not. I care that the babies are being killed and dismembered at all.

That’s entirely true, of course. Planned Parenthood, StemExpress, the media: none of them are claiming that the dismembered limbs in those videos aren’t real…because they know that they are real. They can repeat the “heavily edited” claims until they’re blue in the face: they can’t edit those feet, toes, hands, fingers, hearts, livers, intestines, and heads out. David Daleiden of CMP is not a CGI wizard. He can’t whip up bloody limbs at will. Nobody is even bothering to claim that he does. The best they can do is make sure that nobody is talking about those bloody limbs.

And by and large, they're being successful. They're making sure that we're discussing whether this or that quotation was taken out of context, whether Planned Parenthood's prices for various “specimens” do or don't adhere to the spirit of federal law banning trafficking in fetal tissue, about how much or how little the videos were edited, or whether the pro-lifers behind the videos are or aren't trustworthy. 

But in the end, David Daleiden and the other pro-life activists who created the videos could be just as dishonest and violent as Planned Parenthood’s PR hacks say they are, the videos themselves could be as deceptively edited as Planned Parenthood’s hired research firm claims they are, and the law could be as accepting of Planned Parenthood’s practices as their lawyers insist it is. They're not, of course. But even if they were, all of that would hardly matter: because the undeniable truth would remain that Planned Parenthood is still ripping apart fully-formed human beings, whilst peddling the discredited lie that they only abort “blobs of tissue.” 

This may well be legal. But it doesn’t make it right.

By all means, if Planned Parenthood is breaking the law, as they appear to be, let’s make sure they pay the price for their crimes. But let’s not get distracted from the point. If Planned Parenthood is only held accountable for illegally profiting from the sale of aborted fetal tissue, it's far too little. Because if there were any justice in the world, Planned Parenthood would be held accountable for perpetrating mass murder through the use of mass deception. 

Planned Parenthood wants us talking about anything but those dismembered arms and legs from the 20-week aborted twin, those aborted babies with beating hearts whose brains are to be harvested, those “fully intact” specimens shipped to lab techs who might “freak out” when they open the box and literally come face to face with the full reality of what – or rather “who” – their research “specimen” is. Let's not play their game. 

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John Jalsevac is Web Strategy Director of He has a bachelor's degree in philosophy with a minor in theology from Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia. He has published hundreds of articles in publications including Crisis Magazine, Catholic Insight, The Wanderer, and of course, LifeSiteNews.