Ignoring the Elephant

About Planned Parenthood.

The Senate voted 52-47 against defunding the other day, with 8 Republicans breaking rank. They aren’t going to defund it.

Americans have strong feelings in both directions of this debate. But that’s having no impact on the lawmakers. Oh, they’re talking and holding hearings. But the Senate vote tells us this is a moot point.

So why the Congressional circus?

It’s a really important question.

Back in July when this all started, a local minister published a blog post helping his congregation understand his position on this issue. My warning bells began ringing at a line (since removed) that referenced the fetal parts being sold to China, or other Eastern countries.

It felt like a hollow and racially charged dismissal of what was to me a huge piece of the puzzle: Why does anyone want fetal parts?

(Let me just state now that I know the position of Planned Parenthood is that they did not “sell” anything, since that would be against the law. They were simply charging for processing and shipping of donated parts. I have read the justifications over the high fees. I understand what is happening there and why.

But since there is an undeniable market for fetal parts, I am sticking with “sell”. Call me stubborn.)

I did some very basic research, which led me to Stem Express and this inconvenient truth: the fetal parts are sold to research universities and firms in this country. You can read the New York Times article for yourself, but you need to know that most of the top universities in this country—from which many of our top politicians graduated and some of which are tax-payer supported public schools—are doing business with Stem Express, and therefore Planned Parenthood.

While there was early chatter about Stem Express when this all broke, they have disappeared from the targeting around this issue. The sights have settled firmly on Planned Parenthood.

Why?

I don’t mean why are we targeting Planned Parenthood—I get that part. I mean why are we ONLY targeting Planned Parenthood?

Why not the laws that make this type of transaction legal? Why not the universities who sponsor this research? Why are we not defunding all of it—and yes, our tax dollars fund fetal tissue research, in some estimates to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Well, the universities are using the fetal tissue to do stem cell research. To find cures for diseases which plague us. To make the blind see and the paralyzed walk and the cancer ridden rise from their beds healthy.

To save man from that which he fears most: death.

That’s another inconvenient truth.

There’s big money in this research, biggest of all for pharmaceutical companies. Just last week we saw what a whimsical racket that can be. And while some are howling that Planned Parenthood is using their lobbying money ($856,000 in 2012) to bully politicians into supporting them, that financial leverage is small potatoes when we start to understand the powerful machine that is Big Pharma ($148 million in 2012).

And that’s when I decided that this is a faux argument.

It’s the perfect set-up, where everyone gets to flex their beliefs. The pro-life folks can picket and pray. The pro-choice folks can stand shoulder to shoulder in defense of women’s rights. The presidential candidates can fire up their stump speeches and get cheap and easy cheers from their base. Everyone walks away with a “we showed them” fist in the air.

It’s easy. Too easy. And anything that is this important should not be easy.

If I said that Big Pharma will not allow Big Abortion to be defunded because then they would lose their supply of research material, I might sound like a conspiracy theorist.

So I won’t say it. But I will say that we are having a costly and headline-generating discussion on Capitol Hill about something that sure looks like it will never happen. Babies will continue to be aborted. Their parts will be sold to researchers in the US and used to create medicines and procedures that might save lives but for sure will make everyone involved a ton of money.

It’s awful to consider that our leaders think we are that stupid.

But maybe we are, clinging so tightly to our notions of pro-life and pro-choice while the elephant in the room gets rich off our single-mindedness.

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