May 24th, 2022


Legal and Evil

Laura Hollis

By Laura Hollis

Published July 23, 2015

 Legal and Evil

It is interesting to watch the scramble to denounce Planned Parenthood for the potentially illegal sale of body parts of unborn babies aborted in their facilities.

First, the law in question, 42 U.S. Code 289g-2, is weak, and was deliberately written that way. Notwithstanding the "haggling" of Planned Parenthood's medical directors in the offensive videotapes, arguments are already being made that Planned Parenthood is not "compensated" for the body parts, merely "reimbursed" for storage, shipping and handling, as it were.

Second, even if it became necessary to change the law, does anyone seriously think that Planned Parenthood wouldn't find ways to divert funds into the right congressional coffers to make that happen? Or that these transactions couldn't otherwise be made instantly "legal" by a stroke of Barack Obama's or Anthony Kennedy's sympathetic pens?

But, most significantly, the argument about the "legality" of selling baby body parts is vaguely deceitful. Because what those who are outraged want to say and aren't saying is that the sale of body parts of aborted children is immoral . It is immoral because the killing of innocent human children in their mothers' wombs is immoral. That is immoral because it is evil .

And yet, it is legal.

In 1973, in an incredibly poorly reasoned opinion, a handful of men on the United States Supreme Court decided in Roe v. Wade that an entire class of human beings — those not yet born — had no legal rights. So we find ourselves in the absurd position of acceding to the legality of killing unborn babies, but outraged over what is being done with their remains? Perverse. But then, this mincing legality-morality dance is one of the more absurd and perverse aspects of American society.

Perhaps because we are a country founded on the rule of law, we tend to worship law. Ergo, when we want to do things of which others disapprove, we clamor to make them legal, arguing for the separation of legality and morality; insisting that "law" is "public," while "morality" is "personal," and thus irrelevant.

As should be clear from this abortion controversy (and others — Kermit Gosnell comes to mind), that is utter nonsense. Morality has a vital place in civilized society, and among its most critical purposes is to protect humans from evil acts by others. A legal system unmoored from morality starts by protecting some, but not all. Eventually, everyone is vulnerable.

Already, the abortion justification machinery is in overdrive. This "tissue donation" is "for scientific research" and "for the betterment of society." Why should we be surprised? After Roe made it legal to kill unborn children, it was no leap to suggest that their "tissues" would be better used in service to the humanity they are no longer a part of.

What other classes of people can we anticipate this reasoning being applied to (in the name of "progress," of course)? Prisoners on death row? The elderly, disabled, or terminally ill? Perhaps those who have had their last chances at life-prolonging treatments denied by an insurance company or Obamacare's Independent Payment Advisory Board? Maybe those who are contemplating suicide for whatever reason, and can now be assured that their deaths will be for the betterment of society? After all, they're going to die anyway. And it's all so tidy and legal.

How did we get here?

We got here because a culture that exalts legality over morality becomes increasingly desensitized to the legalization of evil. We see that manifest, not only in the callous comments of Nucatola the Skull (Oops! I mean "Calvarium") Crusher, but in Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards' faux "apology" — not for the acts of dismembering unborn babies, but for the "tone" with which they were described: Be brutal, but be discreet about it. Got it.

We got here because millions of so-called "pro-choice" Americans hide behind abortion's legality, and pretend that it is possible to be praiseworthy in one's personal choices, whilst being agnostic about others'. But there is nothing praiseworthy about a viewpoint that says, in essence, "I wouldn't choose abortion (because I think it's wrong), but I have nothing to say about others who make that choice."

The widespread adoption of this perspective is what permits the growth of an industry that thrives on the deliberate killing of defenseless human babies. It permits butchers like Kermit Gosnell to operate while politicians and law enforcement look the other way. It creates opportunities for the kinds of human beings who can quaff wine while negotiating prices for body parts, or callously discuss "less (bone-) crunchy" ways of dismembering babies in utero in order to get those parts.

It isn't possible to be agnostic about this anymore and escape responsibility. If you're horrified, you should be. And if you're not, you are part of the problem.

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Laura Hirschfeld Hollis is on the faculty at the University of Notre Dame, where she teaches courses in business law and entrepreneurship. She has received numerous awards for her teaching, research, community service and contributions to entrepreneurship education.