Is Planned Parenthood Abandoning Its Principles?

by Sharon Mahler
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I was shocked to read a statement from Planned Parenthood recently that sounds like they are abandoning one of their most basic principles.

For many years now Planned Parenthood has stood on the fundamental principle of choice. This has been most clearly enunciated in reference to abortion, though they have generally applied the same principle consistently to other reproductive health issues. Their guiding principle has been that individuals must be free to decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong. This is, perhaps, best summed up by the statement, "If you believe abortion is wrong, then don't have one. But don't try to impose your morality on others." When some people object that abortion violates their religious beliefs, or insists that a fetus should have legal rights, Planned Parenthood has always come back to this same principle: If abortion violates your religious beliefs, that's fine, don't have an abortion, but others do not necessarily share your religious beliefs. If you believe that a fetus should have rights, that's fine, don't have an abortion, but others may have different opinions.

But then some pro-life extremist shot an abortionist, a Mr Slepian, and surprisingly, Planned Parenthood issued a statement calling for the prosecution of the shooter. What happened to the fundamental principle of choice? If they were going to be consistent, Planned Parenthood would have said that they personally are against shooting abortionists, and they would never do such a thing, but if someone else believes it's okay, well, that's a personal decision between a man and his gun dealer. Yes, many religions forbid killing people, but we can't impose our religious beliefs on others.

According to their statement, "Planned Parenthood will deliver 200,000 petitions to Congress tomorrow demanding action against anti-choice violence." So by their own admission, they are pressuring the government to use its power to restrict some people's choices.

Instead of calling for new laws taking away the right to choose whether or not to shoot abortionists, shouldn't Planned Parenthood have called for the repeal of all such laws? Indeed, Planned Parenthood demands that the government provide tax subsidies to pay for abortions so that money will never be a factor limiting a woman's right to choose. So why aren't they demanding that the government provide anyone who says he wants to shoot an abortionist with a gun and ammunition?

Some people object that shooting an abortionist is killing a person who is innocent of any crime. But then, some people object that abortion is killing a person who is innocent of any crime. What's the difference?

Planned Parenthood says abortion must be the mother's choice. What if the abortionist's mother said that she thought he deserved to die? Then would Planned Parenthood say that it was okay to shoot him?

They say that a woman has the right to "control her own body", by destroying the unborn child who resides within her if she so chooses. So why doesn't a man have the right to "control his own body" by squeezing his finger on the trigger of a gun if he so chooses? What the difference? Indeed, in other incidents, Planned Parenthood has brought legal action against women who have engaged in sit-ins at Planned Parenthood facilities. Why doesn't her right to control her own body include the simple right to sit her body down anywhere she chooses?

Planned Parenthood likes to say that they are not "pro-abortion", they are "pro-choice". But this incident makes clear that they are not "pro-choice" on all moral issues: They are clearly not pro-choice on the moral question of whether or not it is right to shoot abortionists. Elsewhere in the same statement they called for the prosecution of people who started fires at three abortion centers, so apparently they are not pro-choice on arson either.

Could it be that Planned Parenthood thinks that some actions are simply morally wrong, harm innocent people, and therefore should be illegal? But no, that can't be it, because that's exactly what pro-lifers say about abortion, and Planned Parenthood has carefully explained that this reasoning is not valid.

So on exactly what grounds does Planned Parenthood condemn people who shoot abortionists?


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Posted 25 Nov 2002.

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