Executives of Planned Parenthood's federally subsidized meat markets -- your tax dollars at work -- lack the courage of their convictions. They should drop the pretense of conducting a complex moral calculus about the organs they harvest from the babies they kill.
First came the video showing a salad-nibbling, wine-sipping Planned Parenthood official explaining how "I'm going to basically crush below, I'm gonna crush above" whatever organ ("heart, lung, liver") is being harvested. Then the president of a Planned Parenthood chapter explained the happy side of harvesting: "For a lot of the women participating in the fetal tissue donation program, they're having a procedure that may be a very difficult decision for them and this is a way for them to feel that something positive is coming from a very difficult time."
"Having a procedure" -- stopping the beating of a human heart -- can indeed be a difficult decision for the woman involved. But it never is difficult for Planned Parenthood's abortionists administering the "procedure." The abortion industry's premise is: At no point in the gestation of a human infant does this living being have a trace of personhood that must be respected. Never does it have a moral standing superior to a tumor or a hamburger in the stomach.
In 1973, the Supreme Court, simultaneously frivolous and arrogant, discovered constitutional significance in the fact that the number nine is divisible by three. It decreed that the status of pre-born human life changes with pregnancy's trimesters. (What would abortion law be if the number of months of gestation were a prime number -- 7 or 11?) The court followed this preposterous assertion with faux humility, insisting it could not say when life begins. Then, swerving back to breathtaking vanity, it declared when "meaningful" life begins -- "viability," when the fetus "is potentially able" to survive outside the womb.
When life begins is a scientific not a philosophic or theological question: Life begins when the chromosomes of the sperm fuse with those of the ovum, forming a distinctive DNA complex that controls the new organism's growth. This growth process continues unless a natural accident interrupts it, or it is ended by the sort of deliberate violence Planned Parenthood sells.
Another video shows the craftsmanship of Planned Parenthood's abortionists -- tiny limbs and hands from dismembered babies. To the craftsmen, however, these fragments are considered mere organic stuff. People who proclaim themselves both pro-choice and appalled by the videos are flinching from their extremism.
Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood's president, apologizes "for the tone" of her operatives' chatter about crushing babies. But the tone flows from Planned Parenthood's premise: Why be solemn about meat?
Even partial-birth abortion is -- must be -- a sacrament in the Church of "Choice." This sect knows that its entire edifice depends on not yielding an inch on its insistence that what an abortion kills never possesses a scintilla of moral significance.
In partial-birth abortion, a near-term baby is pulled by the legs almost out of the birth canal, until the base of the skull is exposed so the abortionist can suck out its contents. During Senate debates on this procedure, three Democrats were asked: Suppose a baby's head slips out of the birth canal -- the baby is born -- before the abortionist can kill it. Does the baby then have a right to live? Two of the Democrats refused to answer. The third said the baby acquires a right to life when it leaves the hospital.
The nonnegotiable tenet in today's Democratic Party catechism is not opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline or support for a $15 minimum wage. These are evanescent fevers. As the decades roll by, the single unshakable commitment is opposition to any restriction on the right to inflict violence on pre-born babies. So today there is a limitless right to kill, and distribute fragments of, babies that intrauterine medicine can increasingly treat as patients.
We are wallowing in this moral swamp because the Supreme Court accelerated the desensitization of the nation by using words and categories about abortion the way infants use knives and forks -- with gusto, but sloppily. Because Planned Parenthood's snout is deep in the federal trough, decent taxpayers find themselves complicit in the organization's vileness. What kind of a government disdains the deepest convictions of citizens by forcing them to finance what they see in videos -- Planned Parenthood operatives chattering about bloody human fragments? "Taxes," said Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., "are what we pay for civilized society." Today they finance barbarism.
George Will, Washington Post Writers Group. 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071; firstname.lastname@example.org.