Some matters in this world are complicated:  some deserve careful deliberation, time, and the opportunity to work through our emotions before coming to a reasonable judgment of things. I have long been an advocate of this principle and wary critic of the impassioned internet-activism that motivates many people online.  Such movements have a distorting effect, they don’t allow for more subtle responses, they often backlash when the facts are wrong, and so on. I know every reason to avoid speaking in the midst of social media uproars, and have made nearly all of them myself at one point or another.

But some things are simple. Some moments grip us with such a clarity and power that we have no choice but to respond. When I saw the video of the McKinney police officer pushing the face of a 15 year old black girl into the ground, any question about the justice or injustice of the situation fell to the ground. The appropriate response to the racist Charleston shooting was to repeat imprecatory and lament Psalms, and to allow our country the full vent of its just infuriation to well up into the removal of the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s grounds. It is the better part of wisdom to discern the moments that have complications that might temper our outrage and those in which the evil appears unmasked and naked, well-intentioned and ‘reasonable.’

Yesterday was one such day. As I sat in a Starbucks watching the video of a Planned Parenthood executive casually discuss the transfer and sale of “fetal tissue” extracted in abortions, Russell Moore’s question haunted me: “If this does not shock the conscience, what will?”  The video should disturb us to our very core, and animate us to lament and work to bring an end to the practice that I have in my most sober, dispassionate moments described as the most pressing human rights abuse of our day and the American genocide.

There is no “but” here, no extenuating factors that make the conversation any more palatable to me. Yes, I have read the transcript in full.  Yes, the Planned Parenthood executive denies repeatedly any attempt to profit off the sale of body parts. Yes, this has been going on a long time, and may be legal (or may not be). As the transcript notes, the “buyer” suggests that “we’re not selling tissue, we’re selling the possibility of what research can offer.”  To which the Planned Parenthood executive responds, “I think we would all agree with you. That’s just not the perception, sadly, for everybody.”

Only my outrage stems just from such qualifications. I had a vague awareness that the grave moral evil is a “systemic” problem within American culture, but had never seen quite how clearly until yesterday how extensive that system of exchange extends. Many evangelicals learned the language of “systemic injustice” in response to the tragedy of Ferguson, because it explains a real phenomenon:  a repeated pattern of incidents that share similar features in a wide number of contexts.

But here we have a much more defined and concrete system of exchanges in which the main “product” are human bodies—bodies whose ‘consent’ is given not by themselves, but by their mothers. Planned Parenthood may not make a single dime off of participating in such a system. But they are still in a “market” where the other people and institutions who do benefit from receiving the ‘fetal tissue’ doubtlessly reciprocally support Planned Parenthood in other ways, if only through donation and political support.  The practice of treating infant bodies as products in a transaction should itself shock us, regardless of who profits from it.

Now, I find the abortion itself to be morally wrong. But the video is so galling because it makes so obvious the kind of contorted redescriptions of human life that makes the practice possible. Abortion requires not only the dismemberment of the human body in fact, but in our speech as well:

“So then you’re just kind of cognizant of where you put your graspers, you try to intentionally go above and below the thorax, so that, you know, we’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m going to basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact. And with the calvarium, in general, some people will actually try to change the presentation so that it’s not vertex, because when it’s vertex presentation, you never have enough dilation at the beginning of the case, unless you have real, huge amount of dilation to deliver an intact calvarium. So if you do it starting from the breech presentation, there’s dilation that happens as the case goes on, and often, the last, you can evacuate an intact calvarium at the end.”

We cannot allow ourselves to see the baby as a whole, integrated, living organism.  But an ‘intact calvarium’ is in more common parlance a head, and if someone crushes a part of my body they crush me. 

The ‘scientific’ or ‘clinical’ language obscures as much as it reveals: it cannot abide the possibility that what we are discussing are living beings who are direct descendants of us. Even if such beings are not yet persons, they are at the time as we once were, and denying them their humanity means we deny our own and commit grave evils as a result. Before the “extraction procedure” ever comes to be—a neutralizing neologism if ever there was then—there are the fragmentary descriptions that inure us to the reality.

I have quoted it before, but Oliver O’Donovan has made this point best:

“I do not wish to complain that this ‘human subject’ is really all the time a person, because I think…that both such a claim and its denial are in principle undemonstrable.  It is enough to point out that the ambiguity of the status of the embryo research subject is precisely what is intended.  It is what the task of self-transcendence needs, that it should be ourselves and yet not ourselves.  If we should wish to charge our own generation with crimes against humanity because of the practice of this experimental research, I would suggest that the crime should not be the old-fashioned crime of killing babies, but the new and subtle crime of making babies to be ambiguously human, of presenting to us members of our own species who are doubtfully proper objects of compassion and love. The practice of producing embryos by IVF with the intention of exploiting their special status for use in research is the clearest possible demonstration of the principle that when we start making human beings we necessarily stop loving them; that that which is made rather than begotten becomes something that we have at our disposal, not someone with whom we can engage in brotherly fellowship.”

O’Donovan’s point is a brutally, horribly relevant one.  It is one thing to read it from the comfort of one’s own home and nod along, tsk tsking about the principalities and powers of our age. But it is quite another to see that spirit so animatedly displayed in the service of a practice that is so gravely, morally wrong.

Dr. Deborah Nucatola is not a comic book villain. I doubt she is malicious, just as I doubt that the people profiting off the transfer of ‘fetal tissue’ are malicious. She has the kind of consequentialist justification—“At the end of the day, I’m just trying to make the most people happy”—that many of us have swallowed in other realms of life, even if we do not realize it. She deserves the compassion and love that the victims of Charleston’s shooting eventually demonstrated toward their shooter.  She is deeply deceived about the good she is doing, and so needs our prayer.

But we should also work to end the systemic pressures which keep the moral evil of abortion a meaningful possibility in the American culture, the same way over the past year many people have become more aware of how the evils of racism continue to structure our society. I myself have not written on those matters for one reason: I am not qualified to, not having done the reading, listening, or living that I think is required to not merely speak about such matters of grave importance, but to speak responsibly and well.  History and my children may judge me harshly for my general silence, and they would be right to do so.

But the ‘marginalized’, the ‘vulnerable’, the ‘voiceless’:  where else but the womb are such descriptors more readily or easily applied?  The womb is a microcosm for the world:  the conditions on which we welcome the unborn will determine the atmosphere by which we welcome anyone else into our lives.  Do they look like us?  Do they allow us the status we wish for ourselves?  Do they drain our resources and inhibit our desires for our own life?  Do they make us uncomfortable?  Do they demand the sacrifice of our own bodies for their welfare and well-being?  For many women who are in danger of seeking an abortion, pregnancy feels like the end of their dreams, their hopes, and their futures. For all women, it requires a level of sacrifice and care which I, as a male, will never know and can never imagine. But so much moreso the wrong that obscures their gift to the world by reducing the humans bear to “fetal tissue.” And so much moreso our need not to spurn such women, but to welcome, support, and extend our care and concern to them. They are victims of the spirit of our age, if anyone is, and no amount of working for the ‘greater good’ can meaningfully overcome the unsettled bifurcation such a trauma must induce.

It is for that reason, then, that in this case our outrage should be directed toward the research regime that depends upon dehumanizing members of our own species in order to treat them as research products, the funding sources for Planned Parenthood, and the regulatory regime that make these evils possible. Yes, to stop such a program we would have to say no to the “possibility of what research can offer,” or at least research that uses the tissue from those who cannot consent to the process. But limits are the mother of invention, and while denying scientists access to fetal tissue may slow down their work, our country’s complicity in torture should have made us by now well aware of the kinds of moral wrongs that arise under the banner of urgency and necessity. Those are our laws that have enabled this practice: they represent us as a people. And as Ben Domenech has put it, “We must answer the obvious questions. What type of nation does this?  Are we that type of nation? And: Do we want to be?”

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.


  1. Ugh…where do I start? First, let me remove the moral assertion of “my preferred life is the best, most moral life”. I used to be pro-life until it became apparent my blind belief that the “child made in the image of God therefore should never be destroyed” argument could not be reconciled with the fact that *EVERY* pregnant person is risking their life. In short, I realized that I was not, nor ever really was, “pro-life”. Dismissing rights to autonomy when discussing pregnancy IS dismissing right to life, the issue is inseparable. I have no patience for anyone who would suggest otherwise, they simply haven’t a clue or refuse to recognize reality. And from here I have yet to hear a theologically sound argument that could satisfy this hypocrisy. Unfortunately your response leaves much to be desired. Why no real discussion of the pregnant person or even honest compassion of what they could really be going through? “Extend care and concern”? Like to the raped 10 year old girl, or victim of the sex trade, cause their life isn’t at risk, right? “There hopes and dreams”? Like the hope and dream for an alive child. How about women that had a d&e because their child was anacephalic, should they be morally required to sacrifice their bodies? Do you have the same outrage at the use of their fetal tissue? Or maybe their hope is their very lives, because preeclampsia, tubal pregnancies, diabetes, cancer, renal failure… is a “microcosm of the world”? You’re joking, right? Oh, and dismissing these concerns as illegitimate “feelings” is patronizing and patriarchal, knock it off. You’ll pray for planned parenthood but leave women dying. We should pray for you Matt, much like the murdered Charleston families are praying for their killer (and yes, I realize it’s totally inappropriate to co-opt their pain. It’s part of the point.). We should pray for you who would sentence women to death because they just aren’t cute, small or innocent enough for you, yet unborn fetuses are. We should pray for you because you require a level of sacrifice from others you will never be prepared to give yourself. We should pray for anyone who feels moral enough to lecture publically on sexual morality over and over (and on and on…zzz) yet never uses 2 words out of 10,000+ to discuss job, food, or healthcare security. We should pray for anyone who would demonize abortion providers yet never mention pro-life domestic terrorists who harasses, intimidate, or assassinate health care providers. We should pray for the pro-life movement as they are often anything but pro-“life”. Did I get the sanctimonious assholery right? You guys are the masters…

    And now to the issue at hand. I’m genuinely curious, how do you think healthcare works? If planned parenthood is evil then I’ll assume you also think cardiac surgeons, oncologists, Gift of Life are also immoral and evil since they deal extensively in the medical tissue/organ harvesting/research trade, right? No? Why? And no, it’s not different. Do you really think fetal tissue is being “sold”? If so, you must think the the cost of surgeons, biologists, medical technicians, medical equipment, facilities, storage, and transportation is free, right? You must also think that there could never be a biomedical business that could every dream of making money from the use of non-fetal tissue because a human is a human is a human, right? Beside, I’m sure banks and investors never really care about their investments so there should be no discussion of profits when talking about human tissue…this is pollyannaville, right? That is the only explanation that would necessarily mean that the fetal tissue is being “sold”. Seriously, if you can prove a felony why in the hell are you blogging and not calling the cops? Selling fetal tissue and human organs is illegal. And if you can’t prove it what business do you have spreading rumors? I’ll say it again, demonizing these health care providers raises their risk of threats, harassment, and murder immensely. You are PROMOTING this! If you don’t believe me just look at any open abortion provider on twitter and see how often they get threatened. It’s daily. How ethical is your business?

    Yeah, I’m pretty peeved today reading ignorant, self-absorbed, reactionary articles that never bother to discern proper, ethical journalism or honestly compare health care providers to health care providers. Or those who shame others from not having the same ignorant, self-absorbed response to highly suspicious, extremely biased sources using overly edited, misleading videos. Come on, there was NEVER even a discussion about “selling” tissue! If you can’t admit to anything else at least admit to that.


    1. I stand with Matt 100%. I am a woman. I have been pregnant twice. I work on a regular basis with young women in the midst of unwanted pregnancies and who have gone or plan to go through with abortions. Matt, I appreciate your writing on this. And am especially struck by how your tone is anything but hateful and demonizing. Thanks for being a voice, and for having the courage to speak up so thoughtfully and clearly.


      1. Not sure why this reply was to me? FYI-I’m a woman as well, I’ve been pregnant twice, second time a high risk pregnancy with twins. I’m also a NICU nurse and work daily with families and women following (sometimes during) extremely high risk pregnancies, and I would never dream of forcing a women to risk their life if they would not choose to for themselves. Even under similar conditions no two situations are the same. I stand with them 100%.


        1. So true that no two situations are the same, and that high risk pregnancies, preterm births, and complications that land new babies in the NICU are incredibly difficult, scary; I can’t even begin to put myself in one of these parents’ shoes in a meaningful way. My best buds from nursing school are NICU nurses; you certainly have a unique and important perspective on life and suffering. I don’t get the impression that Planned Parenthood is primarily performing abortions for mothers with pregnancy-related conditions that are causing an immediate or inevitably impending threat to the mother’s life, such as pre-eclampsia, and don’t find this to be a persuasive argument for the justification of abortion (as well as the acquisition and distribution of fetal organs and limbs for research) across the board.


          1. Your impression is wrong. Sometimes the only difference between one woman and another is a few weeks extra gestation. There is nothing more holy about a woman who made it to 24 weeks gestation then developed preeclampsia yet decided to deliver and assume the risks of extreme prematurity, and one who only made it to 20 weeks and needed an abortion. Sorry, but this response is essentially “planned parenthood is evil because they do abortions (among other things) but hospitals are okay because they do abortions (among many other things).” It seems like moralizing over intentions, and thats incorrect because ALL pregnancies place the mother’s life at risk. I don’t see an explanation for this.

          2. Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that I am OK with any kind of abortion, whether performed in hospital or clinic! I am not.

          3. So you feel abortion is wrong in all circumstances?

          4. I do, yes. I understand you disagree, as you’ve described above.

          5. This position is simply not pro-life. Thanks for the discussion

          6. If a woman is severely, critically ill with pre-eclampsia or severe lupus or pulmonary hypertension, the very LAST place she should be sent for care is to a Planned freaking Parenthood. If her life is truly in imminent danger from her pregnancy, she belongs in a hospital with an ICU and round-the-clock anesthesiology support.

            I say that as a woman on my third high risk pregnancy, fwiw.

            Your rationalizations are twisted and not based in fact.

          7. If a woman was raped she could go to planned parenthood, if a woman had a child with anacephaly she can go to planned parenthood. If a woman had 911 life threatening emergency then yeah she should go to the hospital. Am I being misleading because you think that saints go the the hospital to get abortions and the sluts go to planned parenthood? I thought we are talking about abortion? Why am I rationalizing, it’s a well known scientific fact that every woman risks her life when pregnant? Honestly, from here it seems that you are the one rationalizing. If you wish to ignore all my other questions please answer this…are you against abortion in any circumstance?

            Let’s make a deal…I won’t use my high risk pregnancy to argue for the virtues of pro-choice if you won’t use yours to argue for pro-life virtues. Neither one is really helpful to anyone but ourselves.

    2. I don’t want ghouls white-knighting for me, as a woman with high risk pregnancies and NICU babies.

      You are not helping me. You’re using me. Stop.


    3. Before I start a reply, I want to say that taking the time to elucidate your position like that is really beneficial. People of good will can disagree on this issue (though of course I think one side is mistaken), and I hope I can manifest that faith in mutual good intentions through respect in my response.

      First, I think it is disingenuous to talk about all this without talking about how women get pregnant in the first place. Angels are not descending from on-high telling these women they are pregnant. While there are absolutely horrible, tragic outliers, those exceptions should not be the focus of the debate here. We should focus on the vast majority women who have a pregnancy which is complicated by nothing other than their lack of desire for it. So, with that being said: these women are not pregnant because it “just happened.” They are pregnant because that is what nature intends to happen when sex occurs.

      Our culture is in the position it is in regarding abortion and the family because of new technologies. While infanticide and abortion have always occurred, the scale upon which we have disconnected our bodies from their natural functions is extraordinarily new. Of course sex is natural and pleasurable; so is eating. If we were to invent a pill which allowed us to eat and eat and eat without gaining weight, we’d also create a world where we would no longer think so much about the consequences of where our food was coming from. And we would thus create an unnatural situation where we would be stripping resources from the earth, killing animals, to feed our urges. Sometimes our natural limits are there as a healthy guide, not as an oppressive block to be overthrown.

      I could take the pro-choice lobby more seriously if it lobbied on behalf of families. We should stop encouraging women to spend their 20s childless. We should stop encouraging them to freeze their eggs, and further disconnect our children from natural formation. We should reshape our economy so one-income can provide for a family. We should stop demanding so many gadgets, so much rootless, consuming travel, so we can have endless fun at the price of the environment and our communities. We should stop encouraging our youth to view one another as means to an end (sexual gratification), and to see each other as ends in themselves, capable of love and pain.

      This brings me to my second point. You talk about pro-lifers not being really pro-lifers. My very close relative pursued and received an abortion at 22 weeks. Not because it wasn’t viable; her lifestyle was so out-of-control she didn’t know she was pregnant. She thought she was 8 weeks but she was actually at 21, and it took another week to get the paperwork through to go to a location that would actually perform it. It had nothing to do with the health of the fetus. The impact went far beyond what she imagined. 3 years later, she seems to be pulling herself out of the spiral she went into (attempted suicide, drug overdoses, a stint in a mental ward). Obviously her problems preceded the pregnancy. But the culture told her she could do whatever she wanted without consequences, and she was shaken to the core when that wasn’t true. Her boyfriend left her, of course, after a suitable waiting period. Because the abortion and birth control lobbies have been godsends for men who want to use women for their urges.

      During that time two other women told me about family members and friends who had undergone late-term abortions (20-24 weeks in each case). All of them were not done to save their lives. They were done because they did not want the consequence of their own actions, and because the father was irresponsible. It was around that time that I began feeling deep stirrings against our culture, but as I had always been pro-choice I just wrestled with them in the dark. As it is, while I’ve been accused of lying about this, I’m not. It has changed how I see abortion forever. Women promised the moon, lied to about their bodies, participating in a throw-away culture with their peers, and sweeping everything unpleasant under the rug. And then people pretending it somehow “just happens.” No, it doesn’t. A million small steps lead to PP. We can turn it around at any of them, rather than pretending Matthew is anti-life because he sees two individual lives tied together, one brought their by choice, the other not by choice (but who will pay the price).

      I do not think it is as simple as the utilitarian dynamic you lay out. There are consequences for these women, not only from abortion, but in the society created by these standards of worth that these women (and all of us) then have to live in. Your “truly pro-life” position ultimately creates a society in which people are measured quantitatively, in which concern for the weakest can easily be overthrown, and ends in a Survival of the Fittest which is neither Fit to live in nor anything more than bare, utilitarian Survival. It is the ultimate commodification of human life, once you start measuring who deserves to live and who is just a ‘parasite’ (not your word, but one used often enough in these debates).

      Finally, I hope you take your position, which I would define as not wanting to enslave and risk other bodies, to its logical conclusion. I hope you do not buy goods that are tainted by others who are enslaved. Since you clearly do not want another to risk her life (even if she may have neglectfully engaged in the necessary behavior to create the situation), I hope you do not do anything that entails anyone else unwillingly risk their lives. Did you type your response on a computer or smartphone? Those have coltan in them, brought out of the Congo by blood and murder, by enslaved and raped peoples. Do you wear clothing produced in sweatshops, made by people dragged from their homeland to work in industrial mega-cities serving the whims of the first world? Do you eat food grown by starving fruit-pickers whose land has been stolen and now sweat in warehouses or on mega-farms to bring you your purchases?

      There is much evil and horror and sorrow in the world. If you would not have the body of a mother risked, I hope you risk no one else’s body in your own pursuit of continued existence. Or do you extend yourself a forgiveness for existing upon the pain of others that you are simply willing to deny the weakest among us? We are all caught up in a net of pain and sin. If Matthew’s position is not pro-life, then neither is yours, unless you live on air and meditate in the woods without touching a fly or breaking a branch.

      I, for one, am less interested in pointing fingers at who is and is not pro-life, but would like to work for a world in which natural limits are respected, in which we realize our appetites are not always our friends, in which we stop treating one another as commodities in our pursuit of momentary physical pleasure, in which we realize our disconnected, disembodied, rootless crony-capitalist culture encourages us to treat each other like objects rather than ends in themselves, in which we work to strengthen our families and not our resumes, and in which we realize that sacrifice is something we both receive and bestow.


      1. Thank you, Annie. That was beautifully said.


      2. First, thanks for the thoughtful reply. I think the moralizing about sex is the most unhelpful solution to the issue of abortion. Let’s not pretend there was no abortion 50+ years ago. Abortion rates are DOWN. Access to no/low cost contraceptives clearly reduce number of abortion. The data is clear and this has been the best public policy change in some areas to reduce abortions…by far. Comprehensive sex education lowers the number of abortions and teenage pregnancy, abstinence only sex ed. is an abysmal failure. Also, I can’t help but think that shifting cultural views that doesn’t demonize and shame single parents as much also has lowered the number of abortions. That being said, it’s tough reading the slut shaming. No, we should not let our imaginations of how people got pregnant dictate public policy and their healthcare needs, no way.

        I am not oversimplifying the issue saying that all women risk their lives in pregnancy, it is fact. This is the theoretical basis of the pro-choice movement. Any argument that constantly demands shifting the focus from the pregnant person to the fetus, especially using criteria that requires a moral dismissal of the pregnant person when making judgements on their lives, is not arguing against pro-choice but simply distracting. Pro-choice supporters have engaged extensively in the pro-life questions of when life begins or does a fetus feel pain or what does viability mean, but pro-lifers have in large refused to engage the basis of the pro-choice positions. It would be very helpful if a pro-lifer could start with the acceptance of scientific fact that a pregnant person is risking their life, then explain why it is necessary to force her to assume that risk without bringing up various problematic moral judgements. It would also be helpful if we can take the pro-life position to its logical end. Please explain why we have no laws forcing people to join bone marrow donor registries and participate if they are a match, or to have civil requirements to participate in blood donation. We could do this every year on April 15th just like taxes. What do you think? Or maybe explain why is it legal for a father to refuse to donate a kidney and is a match for his dying child that desperately needs a kidney transplant? That’s relatively a low risk procedure, and he has a moral obligation to his child, why can’t we force him? I have yet to read a meaningful argument that addresses these issues. If you (or anyone) can meet me where I’m at and help me understand that would be great. Thanks.


        1. Reda Marie Hicks July 22, 2015 at 10:56 pm

          I don’t think being pro-life means focus on the fetus to the exclusion of the pregnant woman. At bottom, the decision made by every woman considering abortion boils down to two options:

          “I am going to have this baby because…” OR

          “I am not going to have this baby because…”

          I think we do women a disservice by behaving as though either choice is without physical, psychological, spiritual, and emotional consequences.

          Also, just as a personal aside: by calling myself “pro-life,” what I mean is that I believe life is sacred at conception, sacred at death, and at all points in between. And I believe that the inherent value of all life calls us to care for our fellow man, particularly the voiceless. We fail all along the way (that’s what sin is), including in our judgment of others, but that makes life no less sacred.


          1. You didn’t answer my question. If we are called to care for our fellow man and speak for the voiceless why can we force a pregnant person to gestate, labor and eventually deliver a baby against her will especially given the greater risk of death? Of course there is physical and emotional effects of pregnancy vs. abortion. One is pregnant and one is not pregnant any longer. There is much greater risk of death or injury during pregnancy vs legal abortion. Saying the two are equivalent is not true. Also, women who have abortions feel psychologically/spiritually fine and rarely regret their abortions. Pregnant women who choose to remain pregnant fortunately do not have to suffer the indignity and humiliation of others forcing them to perform a major physical task with their bodies without their permission.

            When we honestly unpack what we are doing to women by saying we would support legislation to coerce physical acts against their will what we are actually doing is legislating a form of slavery. The Bessey article you linked is more socially/economically supportive of pregnant people, true. But what she is advocating is meeting minimal biblical standards of how masters should treat their slaves. I think we can do better. It’s bizzarr reading her article and how she is using liberation theology of caring for the poor and marginalized as an argument for forcing physical acts against ones will at the possible expense of their life. It is also logically impossible to consider oneself a feminist and support such coercion. Thanks for the discussion.

          2. Reda Marie Hicks July 23, 2015 at 12:01 pm

            I understand you have very strong feeling on the subject. However, in reading through all of your comments two things concern me. (1) “You’re wrong and know nothing” seems to be your prevailing response to everyone who disagrees with you. That’s hardly respectful, or even a place to start for a well-reasoned discussion. (2) you accuse people here (and pro-life people in general) of ‘refusing to think of the mother,’ yet you are clearly refusing to think of the tiny voiceless person inside of the mother. You can feel as strongly as you want to that women should not be forced to endure the terrible horror of being an incubator for human life, but that does nothing to change the humanness of the life, or the fact that choosing abortion means choosing to extinguish it, whatever the reasons. And I struggle to believe you (or I or anyone else) have any idea what “most women” think about abortions they’ve had, and such a presumption merely minimizes the actual difficulty of the choice and its consequences. Isn’t that dehumanizing in itself?

          3. When did I say “you know nothing”? Pretty harsh words to put in my mouth. I’ll correct misinformation, but that’s worlds different of what you’re accusing me of. As far as your point in #2 there is again redirection away from my question on why it is okay to force women to go through a pregnancy against their will. Asking this question has been my prevailing response here, I have yet to read an answer that didn’t redirect the entire conversation from the mother to the fetus. Yeah, I think pro life people refuse to consider the mother’s life, and your response here proves my point.

            There has been studies about women’s emotions following abortion. It’s not my personal presumption. They spoke and I listened, how is that dehumanizing?

      3. >>”We should stop encouraging women to spend their 20s childless..”<<

        Indeed, as you and I know, there are few women (or men) who will actually "advance" financially in our dog-eat-dog system, and fewer still of those, who then will get their next life chance…. I know many women who missed their chance(s), and this is the saddest "life sentence"…

        Pls remember with these women's rights people– we are also protecting a woman's right to: MOTHERHOOD… God Bless!


    4. Fernanda Miranda July 16, 2015 at 4:40 pm

      I will like to to say to you , that my response is not intended to change your mind , because I don’t believe there is a possibility, perhaps one day you will allow God to change your heart and then your mind will change. There will always be a market for abortion and there where always be women with different reasons to abort. You can’t pick and choose a life, A life is a life and even the product of a rape deserves respect and be nurture , a women with a condition like diabetes like the one I develop while pregnant , can get medical attention for this condition , pregnancies are unpredictable and sometimes women end up with preclamsia and I assure you that many of this women , will continue their pregnancy for one simple reason , the unconditional love that a child brings. Even in the worse case scenario , e baby developing with out a brain , is a life that God will have mercy and perhaps will end soon on God terms not on human hands. For you to not see the wrong on this , just reflects the time you have not been connected with God , perhaps Science still answers more questions that faith does and trust me , it will always be easy to believe in something tangible that in everlasting Love but once you have came to terms , that there is a creator and everything you are is a creation of his wonders , you will conceder the life of others as part of God’s creation. I notice you talked about praying for the author of this article , so am easy to conclude you have some sort of believe of a higher power, well I will be praying for you my friend, so clarity may come to you. I once thought like you , but God is big and found me . He will find you too.


  2. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I worked in the pharma industry for a number of years, but I’m not really shocked by this. There’s no evidence that PP is encouraging abortions simply for the purpose of obtaining human tissue for research purposes. So, if the tissue isn’t maintained and used for research, it will simply be discarded. If we’re going to be outraged by this, then we ought also to be outraged by the thousands of beagles, mini-pigs, monkeys, etc. that are killed every day to further pharmaceutical research. Or perhaps we should be outraged by a culture that would rather pop pills than reduce portion sizes and get regular exercise.


    1. Reda Marie Hicks July 22, 2015 at 10:43 pm

      In my view, the outrage is not over the “tissue,” wasted or not. Rather, it’s over the fact that we’re talking about a culture in which the unborn child is not valued as a person, but its parts are valued as a commodity. And it’s over the fact that our discussion has taken on a sterile veneer to avoid talking about the fact that the “tissue” in question was a person in the making.


  3. […] The System Behind Abortion: Planned Parenthood’s Dehumanizing Rhetoric | Matthew Lee Anderson […]


  4. C. Quinn-Jones July 16, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    Hi Matthew,
    Thank you so much for this eloquent article. ‘The womb is a microcosm for the world: the conditions on which we welcome the unborn will determine the atmosphere by which we welcome anyone else into our lives.’ Amen. It seems to me that the concept of human beings as disposable and /or commercial commodities is endemic, and the Planned Parenthood video brings home this hideous reality in a deeply shocking way. Thank you again.


  5. […] Planned Parenthood’s Dehumanizing Rhetoric – “But we should also work to end the systemic pressures which keep the moral evil of abortion a meaningful possibility in the American culture, the same way over the past year many people have become more aware of how the evils of racism continue to structure our society.” […]


  6. […] The System Behind Abortion: Planned Parenthood’s Dehumanizing Rhetoric (Matthew Lee Anderson, Mere Orthodoxy) […]


  7. […] Many pro-choice people rightfully pointed out that in the unedited version, Dr. Nucatola said many times that they weren’t trying to profit. I’m glad they pointed this out, because it’s relevant context. As Matthew Lee Anderson said, she is not a comic book villain. […]


  8. […] On the systematic dehumanizing of the unborn: The System Behind Abortion […]


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