Sunday, August 9, 2015

Body Language and Parental Permission in the Wake of an Organ Harvesting Scandal

I think by now we've all seen the Planned Parenthood sting videos, or at least read about the baby tissue and organ harvesting scandal, but here's one of the first videos for good measure.

Two things stick out to me as I'm watching these.
1. Body Language
The woman in the first video refers to the lungs, heart, and liver as lungs, heart, and liver, but the head as a calvarium. When was the last time you heard any kind of person-doctor, biology teacher, guy on the street-refer to the head as such? It's showing up on my screen with a red line, for heaven's sake. She uses different terminology because, no matter which side you're on, there's something nausea inducing about crushing a head. Calvarium is a euphemism, a dehumanization. Along with that, both the Planned Parenthood executives and undercover "buyers" are careful to refer to babies as "specimens", even dodging the more politically correct term, "fetus".
I'm a writer, but sometimes I hate words. Words are just packaging for ideas. A rose by any other name and all that.
Last month my family went on vacation with my friend Ashlin's family. Her youngest sibling is eleven month old Layla. We all took turns caring for her, but she was mostly the responsibility of her family and the other girls on the boat. Towards the end of the week someone asked my brother, "Can you take Layla?" He responded, "I already held it." Since Layla is a born baby, hardly anyone calls her "it", so we found his answer hilarious. We spent the rest of the trip referring to Layla as "it' whenever he was within earshot.
In the English language, the idea of referring to a person with that pronoun is so dehumanizing, Dave Pelzar used it to title his infamous memoir about surviving childhood abuse. Yet people continue to do it with both pre and post natal babies.

2. Parental Permission
Most adults seem to believe that parental permission is the difference between right and wrong. That a young child won't have nightmares after a violent movie if a parent is curled up on the couch beside them. That a teenager drinking under parental supervision is somehow better than a teen having a kegger with friends. That those parent permission slips for everything from science fair to field trips to that Obama speech we watched in seventh grade (someone explain to me why I need my mom's permission to watch my president speak) actually mean something.
I think right and wrong is the difference between right and wrong. Whether you're pro choice or life, you can't deny that there's something wrong with scrapping a kid for body parts. Even if the mother did give the go ahead.
At the end of the day, abortion is always about putting the parent's wants and needs first while dehumanizing the unborn child.

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