Planned Parenthood, Activism & the Ethics of Deception

This post will probably make some of you mad, question my faith and say that I’m not a Christian. But I’ve never been one to shy away from controversial topics.

Over the past few weeks, three undercover videos have been released by an pro-life group that show some of the darker details of abortion and Planned Parenthood. According to pro-life activists, these videos show doctors for Planned Parenthood discussing the sale of human organs. Supporters try to cast doubt on the videos by stating that those initially released are heavily edited and that due to their editing, the videos should be dismissed. Supporters also counter the argument that the videos are talking about recovering costs for the donation of human organs.

Before I get too involved in the discussion of the ethical implications of deception used by both sides of the argument, I want to lay out a few ground rules. This is not a discussion of the ethics of abortion! Also, this is not a discussion on whether or not Planned Parenthood is selling human organs! What I am talking about in this article is the spin both sides put on the videos and whether or not the spin is ethical.

First, I want to look at the actions of The Center for Medical Progress, the group responsible for releasing the videos. At first glance, the initial release of the first two videos do appear to a doctor discussing the sale of human organs. However, the videos that were initially released are heavily edited and are edited in a way that some information is omitted.

The big question for the activists behind the videos is, “Why do you feel the need to edit the footage to show what you want to show?” By doing so, you are creating an unnecessary bias that is hard to overcome once the unedited version is released. Basically, you’re banking on the fact that once someone has an opinion formed in your favor from the edited version, they will not change that opinion regardless of what the unedited version shows. If the unedited version of the video is as bad as you think, release just the unedited version. There’s no need to edit to fit your agenda.

To top it off, some pro-life activists have resorted to hacking Planned Parenthood, and obtained information on Planned Parenthood employees. At least a few pro-life activists are willing to break the law to take down an organization they see as breaking the law. The ends do not justify the means and the ethical stance of some pro-life activists are dubious at best and nonexistent at worst.

For those that support Planned Parenthood and discount the videos because of the amount of editing, you fail to address what is being shown on the videos and that is prices are being assigned to organs recovered from abortions. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the sale of human organs or recovering the costs from donating human organs for research. Even if the organs are being donated, there is enough evidence out there showing that Planned Parenthood is not obtaining consent prior to donating said tissue. It is one thing if proper consent is obtained from a woman obtaining abortion to have the tissue and organs donated for medical research. It is a whole other thing to do so without the woman’s consent.

And in the never ending propaganda war surrounding abortion, Planned Parenthood has gone on the attack by hiring a PR firm to deal with this latest round of videos from pro-life activists. The firm has requested that the media not show “damning videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of organs and tissue of aborted fetuses.” Sounds like an attempt of “out of sight, out of mind” to me.

Both sides are guilty of failing to address the root cause of abortion. One side sees abortions as ethically and morally wrong and will go extreme lengths to see that abortion is outlawed or that the procedure is damn near impossible to obtain. The other side seems wilfully oblivious to what is going on and is content to stay ignorant. (Yes, I’m talking in broad categories here. I do realize that not all who oppose abortion will resort to propaganda attacks and not all who support the right to chose are oblivious.) In short, both sides are guilty of ethical missteps. Actions like releasing highly edited footage, ignoring the overarching issues, and flat out breaking the law all point to a breakdown of ethics by opponents and supporters of Planned Parenthood in ongoing discourse.

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