Last week we covered Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards’s condescending non-answers to pro-life students attending her speech at Georgetown University, but it turns out that wasn’t even the most outrageous highlight of the event. No, that would be the part of her speech when she said:
Our history with race in America is something that we all have to address, including Planned Parenthood. It’s important that we understand our collective history and the legacy that it leaves on those that are still living in an unjust system. Lack of access to healthcare and reproductive rights is a result of many factors—race, gender, sexual orientation, geography and immigration status. In order to build true equity in America we have to address it all.
Yes, that’s the president of the country’s largest killer of minority children comparing her side to the fight against racism.
That is obscene. Richards’ claim, that there cannot be “true equity” until everyone agrees that children still inside the womb are less equal than children outside of it, is self-evidently ludicrous. The essence of bigotry is using some arbitrary or superficial criteria as a pretext for elevating some humans above others and gerrymandering the supposed “non-persons.”
In racism’s case, the arbitrary and superficial criteria was skin color, which supposedly justified slavery, then denial of citizenship, then denial of voting rights, then segregation, and so on. It is nigh-impossible to look at that and not see a striking resemblance to how abortion apologists deny personhood to preborn humans, using morally-irrelevant criteria like developmental stage and dependence (sometimes even appearance) as excuses to ignore the clear and overwhelming scientific proof that they are every bit as human as you, me, or Cecile Richards.
It is also striking that that such efforts to define “human non-persons” are rarely, if ever, undertaken unless there happens to be something someone wants to excuse doing to the victims, be it enslaving blacks or killing babies. As Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft puts it:
I think no one ever conceived of this category before the abortion controversy. It looks very suspiciously like the category was invented to justify the killing, for its only members are the humans we happen to be now killing and want to keep killing and want to justify killing.
Beyond the central truth that abortion is inherently anti-equality, Richards’s posturing doesn’t square with history. First, there are scores of haunting parallels between abortion and slavery—advocates of both employed many similar arguments, claimed the mantle of modernity, rejected constitutional originalism, and more.
Second, after slavery was abolished, the Ku Klux Klan killed fewer blacks over the course of its entire history than Planned Parenthood kills in a single year. In fact, the practice Richards champions is doing more than anything else today to pick up the work institutionalized racism left behind, making abortion the number one killer of black Americans. Not that this should surprise anyone, when its employees have been known to agree to earmark donations specifically to kill black kids.
But why let facts get in the way of a good hero fantasy? Richards continued:
It is kind of interesting now to see these sepia-toned photos and from day one, there were women lined up down the block pushing baby strollers with babies on their shoulders. Ten days later, an undercover cop who was posing as a mother busted Margaret [Sanger] and threw her in jail.
That’s not exactly the best anecdote to support her thesis, for two reasons. One is that Sanger was not averse to accepting speaking gigs from the KKK and wrote at length about using birth control as a means of “race betterment,” to “discourage or cut down the rapid multiplication of the unfit and undesirable at home.”
The other is that the people of the era who really did carry the torch for equality—the original feminists, saw abortion for the grotesque affront to equality it was. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sarah Norton recognized it as “evil” and “murder,” Victoria Woodhull called resorting to abortion a “demoralized condition,” Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell accused abortionists of “gross perversion and destruction of motherhood,” Dr. Charlotte Lozier counseled against the “shameful, revolting, unnatural and unlawful purpose” of abortion, and Susan B. Anthony lumped abortion in with rape, murder, and infanticide, denouncing it as one of many “perpetual reminders of men’s incapacity to cope successfully with this monster evil of society.”
The real tragedy here is not Cecile Richards peddling outrageous self-serving lies; we’re used to that by now. No, the tragedy is that America’s oldest Catholic university should have been the perfect place to call her on it. Instead, as Georgetown student Reed Howard lamented:
I don’t think that today’s event represented a free exchange of ideas or a spirit of dialogue. Instead, Cecile Richards was given a platform to spew her beliefs unchallenged.
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