News Articles

FIRST-PERSON: Planned Parenthood & the logic of abortion on demand

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP) — The revelation that Planned Parenthood is selling the body parts of babies may be ghoulish but it is not surprising to those of us who have been involved for many years in debates over life issues. Logic is logic and the conclusion follows from the premises.

Here is the logic of abortion on demand: Human life inside the womb is not a person, but mere tissue. The preservation of human tissue has no intrinsic or inherent value. After all, we dispose of fingernails, hair, and cancerous tissues without wincing. Therefore, the destruction and disposal of mere human tissue is not a harm, but may even be beneficial. Since these tissues only have utilitarian value, if someone can use them and that person is willing to pay for them, let’s create a market in which we can sell hair, collagen, or other human tissues.

In order to refute a logical argument, one must either challenge the premises or challenge the structure of the argument and show that the conclusion does not follow from the premises. So, if we begin with the premise that “All pigs fly,” and we agree that “Miss Piggy is a pig,” then “Miss Piggy flies.” In this case, the first premise is simply wrong. Not only do all pigs not fly, but no pig flies. It is not the nature of pigs to fly.

Now Planned Parenthood has been for the most part consistent and logical in its approach to abortion on demand. If human life inside the womb is mere tissue, and a mother asks them to dispose of tissue, then there is no clear harm in making that tissue available to those who want it. The problem is that the first premise is just false. Human life inside the womb is not mere tissue — he or she is a person. How do we know that? Well, we know that he or she is human, because it is human tissues that are being bought and sold. And we know that he or she is alive, because he or she has to be killed in order to harvest the wanted tissues. A living human being is not merely a bundle of tissues, but a person with a right to life, a right not to be harmed, especially not to be killed.

In the aftermath of Roe v. Wade (1973), our culture gave up the crucial first premise of the argument. We made it legal to treat unborn human beings as mere tissue. To give up the first premise is to give up the argument. If Planned Parenthood’s first premise is true, their argument holds. But over and over again, through logic, 3-D ultrasound technology, and good old common sense, we have seen that the premise is false. In fact, unborn human beings are persons, not mere tissue.

One of the ways we show the ultimate conclusion of an argument is to show where it leads. We call that the “reductio ad absurdum,” pushing the argument to its fullest conclusion. Buying and selling human tissue is the logical extension of Planned Parenthood’s first premise. So, we should not be surprised. We’ve seen it before. For Hitler, Jews, gypsies and homosexuals were not persons with lives worth living. That premise led to Dachau, Buchenwald, and Auschwitz. For slave traders, Africans were not persons with lives worth living. That led to a market in “human tissues” on the slave blocks in Africa and the United States. The ghoulish logic is the same.

Among other reasons, this is why we must not concede the abortionists’ first premise. Human beings, from conception to natural death, are imagers of the living God, whose lives should be respected, protected, loved, and embraced. Give that up and we’ve lost the argument. Lose the argument and lives are lost.

    About the Author

  • C. Ben Mitchell

    C. Ben Mitchell is provost and vice president for academic affairs at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., as well as research fellow with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

    Read All by C. Ben Mitchell ›