Thursday, July 16, 2015

False Witness

The New York Times Jackie Calmes reports

In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has been aggressively seeking Christian conservatives’ support in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, asked the state’s health department to investigate Planned Parenthood and “this alleged evil and illegal activity.” He also petitioned the F.B.I. to assist, given the “alleged criminal activity.”

Another Republican candidate, former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, in a statement called the video “a disturbing reminder of the organization’s penchant for profiting off the tragedy of a destroyed human life,” and said it was vindication for his signing of legislation to defund Planned Parenthood in Texas.

His successor, Greg Abbott, who is also a Republican, later wrote on Twitter that “Texas will look into these organ harvesting claims.”

Messrs. Jindal, Perry, and Abbot may want to recall the Ninth Commandment when considering this

release of a video that surreptitiously captured an official from the group explaining how it provides fetal parts to medical researchers.

The video, from a little-known activist group called the Center for Medical Progress, appeared to have been shot in a California restaurant in July 2014. It shows a doctor from Planned Parenthood, over a lunch with red wine, answering questions from two people off-camera posing as potential purchasers of tissue from aborted fetuses. The doctor discusses with them, sometimes flippantly, the body parts most in demand.

While the video, which was circulated on the Internet, alleges that Planned Parenthood is guilty of the crime of selling fetal remains, the official tells her questioners more than once that the cost, $30 to $100, is reimbursement for clinics’ expenses.

Transferring fetal tissue is clearly legal if it does not profit the seller. A disappointed communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention examines relevant law and concedes

Tissue donated after an abortion for research purposes appears to be completely legal under federal law (and) tissue and organs from aborted fetuses may be used for therapeutic purposes provided the material was freely donated by women following their decision to terminate (because of 42 U.S. Code 289g it is illegal for a clinic to ask for approval prior to the abortion).

Clearly, nothing Planned Parenthood did was illegal; almost as clearly, nothing was unethical. Nonetheless, Cecile Richards has honorably, though (strategically) foolishly, apologized (video below) for the "staff member's tone and statements." (Anti-choice activists will not be so gracious.)

As Media Matters explains, the video making the rounds is a bit under 90 minutes, while the entire video (eventually released) shot by the Center for Medical Progress is at least two-and-a-half hours.  Only in that is Dr. Deborah Nucatella, Planned Parenthood's Staff Director for Medical Services, seen emphasizing "No. Nothing, no affiliate should be doing anything that's not like, reasonable and customary. This is not- nobody should be "selling" tissue. That's just not the goal here."

Representatives of The Center for Medical Progress posed as a fetal tissue procurement company. The Center is peddling an aborted and heavily edited short video claiming Planned Parenthood is "selling aborted baby parts."   However, federal law "prohibits the purchase of human organs, including any organs derived from a fetus, for the purposes of human transplantation. Because the fetal tissue is likely to be used for research purposes rather than be transplanted into a living human, this law most likely does not apply."

The Ninth Commandment warns "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor," which

calls for sanctity of truth in all area of life, even though the vocabulary primarily reflects the legal process in Israel....

Included in the command is a call to abstain from all lying, deceit,slander, gossip, backbiting, vilification, rash depiction of one's neighbors, and the like.  Instead, one must love the truth....

The commission of the Southern Baptist Convention believes Planned Parenthood's practice is "shockingly legal."  But The Center for Medical Progress- whose website itself brazenly bears false witness- impersonates a human biologics company, secretly tapes a doctor, promotes distribution of a deceptive video, and claims that Planned Parenthood is acting illegally.  It disparages the Ninth Commandment, and the likes of Jindall, Perry, Abbot, Senator Chuck Grassley, and Speaker John Boehner happily join the crusade.

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This  is a reasonable question. If going to a predominantly Jewish neighborhood to harass and intimidate Jewish people at a synagogue is no...