Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Vice President at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Stream on October 2, 2015.
Selma Cohen is not dead.
Who is Selma Cohen and why is this news?
Due to a computer error, Medicaid declared Mrs. Cohen deceased. Here’s what happened:
Cohen said she came to the Medicaid office in Crown Heights, Brooklyn where a clerk told her they could not help her, and she would have to go to the Social Security office to apply for a state ID to prove she is alive. The process could have taken weeks, but on Monday, (New York) Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s office got it all cleared up … her Medicaid and benefits are back online and she will even be reimbursed for the days she was considered dead.
Good news. A woman who walks among the living received the federal benefit she needs and we are amused yet again by the unpredictable confluence of technology and government. But of what relevance is this happy-ending story to Christians?
Consider the recent Planned Parenthood videos, in which a former employee of Stem Cell Express describes the death of a baby born alive after an abortion. As reported in The Hill, the employee, Holly O’Donnell, says she “witnessed her colleague perform a late-term abortion of a male fetus whose heart was still beating. ‘She just taps the heart and it starts beating,’ the former employee, Holly O’Donnell, said. ‘Since the fetus was so intact, she said, “Oh, this is a really good fetus, it looks like we can procure a lot from it. We’re going to procure brain”.’ O’Donnell then describes a procedure to remove the brain.”
Rage, pain, astonishment: What is being described is murder, without qualification. If O’Donnell’s report is accurate, and it seems consistent with the manifest heartlessness of the many comments made by Planned Parenthood personnel in the other videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, those who “harvested” the brain of this little boy should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Yet what is making news is not this sordid, horrible act but, instead, presidential candidate Carly Fiorina’s comments about it earlier this month during the latest GOP debate. There literally are tens of thousands of stories, blogs, and comments about her supposed misstatement that the footage she saw on one of the Planned Parenthood videos showed a baby with a beating heart and that she heard a voiceover discussing brain-harvesting.
She apparently is conflating two things: The O’Donnell story and video of a living, moving baby on a gurney. So, in an ad produced independently of Fiorina by a “Super PAC” supporting her, a tiny baby is shown on an operating table. The little boy moves his arm and his leg. Maybe this video doesn’t explicitly show the heart palpitating, it shows a living person, regardless. I do not know if this baby was then killed and dissected for his organs.
The larger point, one so overwhelming it should completely overshadow any technical inaccuracy on Fiorina’s part, is that fully-developed unborn children are being aborted and then dissected for their organs by Planned Parenthood — some of them, apparently, born alive. This indisputably is a correct assertion. She made this point articulately and forcefully to NBC interviewer Chuck Todd when he pressed her about the matter:
Planned Parenthood desperately wants everyone to think this isn’t going on. Because when Americans realize it is going on, whether they are pro-life or pro-choice, they are horrified. This goes to the character of our nation and it must be stopped … do you think this is not happening? Does Hillary Clinton think this is not happening? So sad that you missed the opportunity to ask Mrs. Clinton why she said, “Late-term abortions were only performed for medical purposes.” That is patently false. This is happening in America today. And taxpayers are paying for it. That is a fact. It is a reality. And no one can run away from it.
Fiorina’s message, true and frank and cogent, is having a hard time penetrating the American public mind. Why? Because the advocates of abortion-on-demand, through the ninth month of pregnancy, without any exceptions, whose hold on the secular media seems iron-like, cannot countenance honest dialog about a clear assault on a human being. As noted by Stephen J. Heaney of the University of Saint Thomas:
Abortion apologists have always been fond of directing attention to something other than the issue in front of them. Point out that they kill babies, and they will say you hate women. Point out that abortion harms women, and they will remind you that they are a nonprofit organization. Point out that sales of fetal parts are making them a lot of money, and they will note that abortion is a small part of their services. They’re the victims.
The national media represents these responses well, even if they phrase them differently. The fact that there has been virtually no coverage of the ten Planned Parenthood videos released over the summer betray the biases of the electronic and print reporters, who hold, as an unchallengeable assumption, that abortion is a woman’s right. This is axiomatic to the “mainstream” purveyors of news in our country.
The political Left, as demonstrated in recent congressional votes, takes the same view. They rationalize away the videos even as they ignore all the other evidence of abortion’s inherent evil. Their wall of resistance seems impenetrable.
Yet at least among many ordinary Americans, their inattention is less a wall of resistance than one of apathy or ignorance. It can be surmounted by logic, fact, and, to use a biblical phrase, “appeals to the conscience.” Persistence, persuasion and prayer can change minds and hearts.
Christians must make our arguments in defense of the unborn and their mothers, all of whom are potential prey for the abortion industry, with listening ears, compassionate hearts, appeals to reason, stories that vivify the realities of both abortion and decisions by moms who decide to keep their babies, and continuous petitioning of a merciful God. We must use ultrasound and photos and examples of babies born prematurely who have thrived and the assurance of care for the mother and her baby as we advance the contention that life is a divine gift from conception to natural death.
We celebrate the welcome news that Selma Cohen is alive and well and able to get medical assistance as she needs it. Followers of Jesus must work “without growing weary” (Galatians 6:9) for the day when we celebrate the conception of every child, provide her with excellent pre-natal care and a safe delivery, and do all we can for her mother’s well-being throughout her pregnancy and as long as she needs help.
And we must pray for those enmeshed in Planned Parenthood’s traffic in death. From abortionists to the marketers of baby organs to those who purchase them, let us remember that in God’s grace — the same mercy He has shown to those He now calls His own — they can find new life in Christ. What trophies of grace they might be! Let us uphold them before the Lord to that end.