The recently revealed videos from the Center for Medical Progress, detailing the gruesome practice of obtaining and selling the body parts of aborted babies, have been making the rounds on my social media. I’ve been sharing the videos on my own (recently resurrected) Facebook page although I haven’t really been using that platform for much else. I know plenty of people who disagree with and are horrified by what the videos portray who are hesitant to link to them and I absolutely agree that we need to be conscientious about what we shout into the void of the internet. No one may be listening. Anyone may be listening. And watching.
I want to be sensitive to post-abortive women and men who may happen upon these videos. I want them to know there is help, guidance, healing, love available in abundance. We do not judge. We do not condemn. We believe, as Ann Voskamp has said, that “Saying one person’s life matters — doesn’t mean someone else’s life doesn’t matter. Or that only their lives matter —- but their lives equally matter too.” It’s not either/or. Because we believe the humanity of the unborn child is important doesn’t mean we couldn’t care less about the woman. That we see her as a receptacle for the baby until the baby can be born. That we don’t care what happens to the baby after birth. That we are only “pro-birth” and not actually “pro-life.” Believing in human dignity and the absolute value of every human life is a way of thinking and a way of living. And that is what it means to be pro-life. I see this debate popping up again because now – thank God – I see the debate about abortion itself popping up again.
That is a tired line from the pro-choice movement. Pro-life people have shown again and again that we are pro-woman, pro-child and pro-everybody’s-life. The CMP is ostensibly opening up a debate about the illegal trafficking of fetal body parts; what’s actually happening is that America is seeing abortion under the guise of scrutinizing some undercover videos for the breaking of a law. Many mainstream news outlets are ignoring the videos or dutifully obeying Planned Parenthood’s instructions to ignore them. I feel the need to do my tiny part to increase the videos’ visibility, even though I haven’t been able to watch the most recent one myself; the press release was enough to bring me to tears.
However, these reasons have allowed me, I believed, to hesitate to share things in the past. What if my inability to selectively share hurts someone vulnerable? pushes them the other way? makes them feel judged or hopeless? Thankfully, I’ve been shaken out of this complacency because of Emmett.
In one of the videos, PP techs sort through the body parts of an aborted boy. We know it’s a boy because one of them exclaims, “another boy!” They call him eleven six, because he was killed at eleven weeks and six days gestation. Students for Life named him Emmett, because he deserves a name. He demands respect for his dignity. And he is a human. I can’t turn away at the sight of a human being picked apart like he was a mess of garbage with a few valuable pieces mixed in. Someone needs to speak for him. People are speaking for him, and all the other aborted babies he represents, but not enough. I’m desperate to hear the outcry for Emmett, the other aborted babies, the post-abortive women and men hurting in silence.
When I used to pray and counsel outside abortion clinics, I never used graphic images. I never believed that was the place for them, and I still don’t. The purpose of our presence outside clinics is first to be a peaceful, prayerful presence, and second, to offer options and support to vulnerable women and men. But I’ve always believed that each and every person who believes abortion is okay to any extent, for whatever exceptional circumstance, should see abortion; should see the aftermath. And now, now, there opportunity is there.
This practice has been legal in our country for more than 40 years. That is plenty of time for us to become complacent. It has also been plenty of time for us to examine how best to live our pro-life beliefs and change hearts and minds. This is an opportune time to show our brothers and sisters who think abortion is okay what abortion actually is and to tell them, as William Wilberforce said,
You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.