Article Aug 3, 2015

A Letter to Senator McConnell About Planned Parenthood

Today, the Senate has planned a vote on a bill to halt federal funding for Planned Parenthood. To learn more about how to contact your Senators, see this article. Matthew Lee Anderson provides an example of a letter to ​Senator McConnell, the Majority Leader of the Senate.

Senator McConnell, 

I write with gratitude for your leadership in bringing S. 1881 to the Senate floor so quickly, and with hopes of persuading you to expend every ounce of your own and the Republican Party’s capital, energy, and resources to ensure it passes. 

Our society and political order is in dire need of statesmen, men and women who are willing to face and pay an enormous political cost—even defeat—in order to defend the right and the just. We do not choose our times, or the opportunities that we are given. But Senator McConnell, you now have a chance to remind not only Republicans, but the country, of what should be our deepest conviction: that every member of our own species deserves protection, care, and welcome. Every baby deserves a home, and every mother deserves a helping hand. This principle goes beyond and outside politics, but S. 1881 is one form of its political expression. It is just the kind of principle that, when articulated with clarity, confidence, and grace, can inspire admiration and respect. Such principled stands, regardless of any political calculus about their risks and rewards, are the basis for renewing our civic life and a young generation’s belief that the gears of government do not simply grind at the behest of the highest bidder or most powerful lobby. 

The argument on behalf of S. 1881 is simple: we now know that Planned Parenthood is an organization that houses practices that, even if legal, are grossly immoral and repugnant to people of common sense. But they are almost certainly not even legal. If Planned Parenthood is not profiting from these sales, then why do its executives clearly entertain various pricing options in the videos from the Center for Medical Progress? It is possible that the various videos show only isolated, rogue individuals rather than structural features of the organization—that these are ‘abuses’, rather than commonplace. However, in this case, the ‘abuses’ are so egregious and despicable that they call the entire environment that could produce them into question.  

Additionally, the claim that these videos simply contain medicalized language obscures the true tragedy at work: in order to ‘procure’ organs from fetuses, they must first be removed as members of our own species. If we are, as a society, to allow such ‘tissue’ to become ‘products’ for research, we cannot bear to recognize them as what we ourselves are:  human beings.  This is a structural feature to Planned Parenthood’s abortion business, and itself sufficient reason to ensure our tax dollars are never given to them. Such dehumanization of members of our own species is, tragically, not unknown in American history.  South Carolina recently removed the flag of the last society to institutionalize it, an institution that the Republican party you lead in the Senate, Senator McConnell, was founded to fight against. 

Yes, it is possible that defunding Planned Parenthood will lead to a potential disruption in some health services for low-income women. However, our intolerance for any social harms does not entail that we should continue to commit evils in order to avoid them, as we have learned recently in our debates on torture. The wrong, in this case, is grave and serious enough to justify any potential disruption—and, as you know, S. 1881 seeks to avoid one by redirecting funds toward other organizations. Planned Parenthood is not ‘too big to be defunded’; no institution should be, as otherwise they would hold far too much power over the operations of the government and our society.  

The question before us, Senator McConnell, is not what kind of civilization we will be. Instead, it is a question of whether we will be a civilization at all, or if we will instead descend further into the barbaric dehumanization of our own required to make the killing, dissection, and transport of them for ‘research’ palatable to our consciences. We can no longer look away from the systemic injustices involved in this regime—and we should no longer fund it with our tax dollars, either.  It is your responsibility, Senator McConnell to ensure Republicans defend the right; it is your opportunity, for it is a rare chance to lead others in a cause that is just, true, and good. I hope you seize the hour. 

Respectfully, and hopefully yours, 

Matthew Lee Anderson