The grim realities, including the sale of fetal organs, are so disturbing as to keep too many people from acknowledging what is going on.
IN an essay in his 1976 collection, “Mortal Lessons,” the physician Richard Selzer describes a strange suburban scene. People go outside in the morning in his neighborhood, after the garbage trucks have passed, and find “a foreignness upon the pavement,” a softness underfoot.
Looking down, Selzer first thinks he sees oversize baby birds, then rubber baby dolls, until the realization comes that the street is littered with the tiny, naked, all-too-human bodies of aborted fetuses.
Later, the local hospital director speaks to Selzer, trying to impose order on the grisly scene. It was an accident, of course: The tiny corpses were accidentally “mixed up with the other debris” instead of being incinerated or interred. “It is not an everyday occurrence. Once in a lifetime, he says.”
And Selzer tries to nod along: “Now you see. It is orderly. It is sensible. The world is not mad. This is still a civilized society…
“But just this once, you know it isn’t. You saw, and you know.”
Resolute abortion rights supporters would dismiss that claim of knowledge. Death and viscera are never pretty, they would say, but something can be disgusting without being barbaric. Just because it’s awful to discover fetuses underfoot doesn’t mean the unborn have a right to life.
And it’s precisely this argument that’s been marshaled lately in response to a new reminder of the fleshly realities of abortion: The conversations, videotaped covertly by pro-life activists posing as fetal organ buyers, in which officials from Planned Parenthood cheerfully discuss the procedures for extracting those organs intact during an abortion and the prices they command.