Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

14 Aug 2015

Why the Arguments in Support of Planned Parenthood Fail

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Choosing Hats (an apologetics site) has a lengthy article pointing out the fallacies of four common arguments given in support of Planned Parenthood and some suggestions for how you can push back against these arguments. I thought I’d provide a brief summary of the responses given there (with a few additional thoughts sprinkled in) to give you a sense of what is being said, but would encourage you to take some time to familiarize yourself with the arguments and responses more fully as well.

It’s a Hoax

Calling it a “hoax” or “bogus” or “fraudulent” implies that the videos are forgeries. But not even Planned Parenthood has treated the videos as if they were not real people saying those things—as if it were the result of CGI. Rather, they have challenged the videos on the accusation that they were obtained illegally—which would be absurd if they were not real. They are not a “hoax.” But calling it a “hoax” is meant to intentionally mislead people into thinking the videos are not real, even when they know they are.

The Video Was Edited

The emphasis on “edited” videos is intended to make people think these videos are trying to hide the full truth and deceive those watching. But there are three problems with this argument. The full videos of the conversation have been released within minutes of the “edited” videos. Why would someone release the full videos in connection with the edited versions if they were trying to hide something? Further, almost every video used in documentaries, television, etc. is edited. So it’s not as though these videos are somehow different from every other video you watch in the news. But perhaps most importantly, the moral disgust and outrage is not a result of the editing. Jonathan Merritt notes in his article concerning the NYT editorial that the unedited versions are as bad if not worse than the edited versions:

The Times also claimed the video was unreliable because it was “edited.” They are correct that the full video was nearly three hours long while the edited version was only nine minutes. So what? These comments in the longer version do not invalidate those in the shorter version. While editorial board hopes to convince readers that The Center for Medical Progress was deliberately only telling part of the story, but they fail to mention that the full video was also posted online and available. So who is withholding information here? And, by the way, the full video is just as repulsive as the shorter version. In fact, it’s about two hours and 50 minutes more repulsive.


The Means Were Dishonest

This is an attempt to make Planned Parenthood the victim. Someone did something wrong to them, because those people lied to gain access to their staff and clinics. But are PP defenders really concerned about the morality of means? On one hand, they argue that taking organs from babies is acceptable because it furthers scientific research (i.e., the end justifies the means), while on the other hand they argue that the videos should be dismissed because someone lied in order to make them (i.e., the means matters more than the end).

But if they are really concerned about the morality of means, they must be appealing to some basis of objective morality by which we could determine whether or not particular actions are good and right. Where does that basis come from? And what does that basis of objective morality say about taking innocent life?

For a biblical and thoughtful defense of the means used to obtain the videos, see Douglas Wilson’s helpful post.

Planned Parenthood Does Good, And Only Bad People Would Try to Stop That Good

What good does Planned Parenthood actually do? Some state that they offer mammograms, but as the Washington Post pointed out years ago: “The problem here is that Planned Parenthood does not perform mammograms or even possess the necessary equipment to do so.” What they do provide (cancer screenings, birth control, pap smears) are all offered by other health care organizations that do not do abortions.

Even Slate noted a couple years ago that to claim that abortions only constitute 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services is “downright silly.” The reality is that at least 1/3 of their revenue comes from abortions, which means abortions are central to Planned Parenthood.

Even if Planned Parenthood did other good things and abortions only constituted 3% of their services, that should be enough to have a problem with them. As Rich Lowry at the National Review argues:

The 3 percent figure is an artifice and a dodge, but even taking it on its own terms, it’s not much of a defense. Only Planned Parenthood would think saying that they only kill babies 3 percent of the time is something to brag about. How much credit would we give someone for saying he only drives drunk 3 percent of the time, or only cheats on business trips 3 percent of the time, or only hits his wife during 3 percent of domestic disputes?

The choosing hats article concludes with the following takeaway:

Planned Parenthood, and their supporters, have precisely nothing in their defense right now.  Nothing whatsoever.  They have a whole lot of experience at making things look the way they want them to look – but the mask was ripped off. Keep them running, keep them on the defensive, and show their pack of lies to be precisely what it is.  This is something we all have to keep at, have to keep momentum going on.  The Big Lie only works if there is nobody to oppose it vigorously and comprehensively.  We must understand that we are dealing with an entire nation of self-deceived people.  An entire nation of people illiterate about the most basic fundamentals of the human condition. We must teach as much as we refute.  We must strongly condemn this atrocity, while speaking that truth of condemnation in love.  His grace is sufficient for us.  He will give us the words to say, when the time comes.  In the meantime, get ready, and always be ready to give a defense for the faith – and a defense for the defenseless.

You can see the full choosing hats article here.