The Human Fetus As Garbage: a Necessary Comparison to Nazism

In July 2015, the Center for Medical Progress began releasing a series of videos. In these videos, Planned Parenthood personnel discuss the abortion procedures necessary to obtain, from aborted fetuses, high-quality kidneys, hearts, skulls, arms, and legs. These fetal body parts are then sold to medical researchers. The videos also show employees dissecting human fetuses in order to harvest organs and body parts. 

The efficacy of fetuses in medical research is debated. Various news sources, depending on their editorial stance toward abortion, depict aborted fetuses as providing promising avenues for research. Other news sources downplay the value of human fetuses for medical research. This dichotomy indicates that aborted fetuses' value to medical research is not a slam dunk. If aborted fetuses were inarguably necessary for a medical breakthrough that could save millions of lives, Planned Parenthood would have said so by now.

Given that aborted fetuses' use to medical research is not beyond reasonable question, taxpayers, who help fund Planned Parenthood, are thinking long and hard about Planned Parenthood's practices. In the public debate which has ensued in the wake of the Planned Parenthood videos, an interesting rhetorical flourish has appeared. In at least two high-profile responses to the Planned Parenthood videos, pro-abortion voices have referred to aborted human fetuses as "garbage."

On July 28, 2015, Rebecca Watson, who calls herself "Skepchick" -- that is, skeptical chick -- released a video and blog post entitled "Planned Parenthood is Not Selling Baby Parts, You [deleted] Idiots." Watson's pro-abortion video twice specifically refers to human fetuses as "garbage." Planned Parenthood employees, Watson claims, "do see some pieces of fetal tissue." In fact, these employees have to see "pieces of fetal tissue." Watson's downplaying of what actually occurs in an abortion is not to her credit. Watson continues, these "pieces of fetal tissue" "are just going to be thrown away in the garbage, but the patient can instead choose to donate [them] to important medical research." In fact, "the patient" in this case is the fetus, and it cannot give or withhold consent to be donated to medical research. "Planned Parenthood allows women," Watson says, "to aid in the research and treatment of conditions like H.I.V. and Parkinson’s disease, when instead those women could just be throwing that tissue in the garbage!"

On August 4, 2015, Alternet published "6 Things to Say to Your Conservative Relatives Who Buy Into Anti-Planned Parenthood Propaganda." Author Amanda Marcotte writes, "Ask your conservative relative if he would prefer the fetal tissue to be thrown in the trash, since that is the only alternative." Of course, throwing a fetus in the trash is not the only alternative to exploiting it for medical research; gestating that fetus and allowing it to grow and be born is the alternative. 

The pro-abortion insistence that there are only two alternatives for a fetus: either to be garbage or to be "life-saving medical research," is interesting. It is interesting because it is false; again, a fetus could potentially grow into a human being, if allowed to do so. And, aborted fetuses in medical research are not sure-fire panaceas. There is another reason that this insistence is interesting. It calls to mind Nazism. 

Most Nazi comparisons are easy, cheap, and dismissible. In this case a Nazi comparison is necessary. Many people have heard of Nazis manufacturing soap from human beings. It's interesting that so many people have heard of this because the Nazi manufacture of soap from humans was very limited in time, space, the number of humans used, and the project's success. The soap was simply not very good. So many people have heard of the use of human corpses for soap not because it was widespread; it was not. The use of humans for soap -- something common and cheap -- violates the conscience of the listener. 

Given that Nazis had other, easier, cheaper, and more reliable methods for soap manufacture at their disposal, one must ask why Nazis made soap from human beings at all, even in a limited way. One answer. Nazis didn't make soap from human beings because they felt that the human beings they desecrated were inhuman. Rather, Nazis turned something sacred -- the human body -- into something common, cheap, and utilitarian in order to fully convince themselves that their victims were inhuman. 

Most Nazis did not start out as Nazis. They needed to be coaxed into being Nazis. Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda, one of the most powerful men in the Third Reich, had to labor long and hard to convince Germans that they could murder Jews, Gypsies, Poles, and others with impunity. Germans were wracked by mass murder. Einsatzgruppen, who shot their victims at close range, complained. This personal method of murder gave way to impersonal death by gas.Nazis tortured their victims for a variety of reasons, but one reason was to convince themselves that their victims were not worthy of the regard that a human being commands. Nazis did to human beings things that a decent person never does to another human being not because they saw their victims as inhuman, but to make themselves see their victims as inhuman. "I am violating all social norms with this; therefore, this is not human."

In the Planned Parenthood videos, an employee who dismembers fetal corpses, seeking marketable samples, talks about how "sickening" it is. She is inured to it now, though; she reports it has become "fun." A medical professional has been taught -- one might say brainwashed -- to regard desecration and exploitation of a human corpse as "fun." How? By telling her that it's for medical research. 

Again, pro-choice journalists report that medical research involving aborted fetuses holds out much promise. I am not a medical professional and I cannot assess that statement. I do see that it is debated by other medical professionals. One can't help but notice, though, that handling human fetuses as if they are garbage has played a role in teaching some that human fetuses are indeed garbage, and that they could never be anything else. 

Danusha Goska is the author of Save Send Delete

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