President Obama became the first sitting president to address Planned Parenthood on Friday. Not surprisingly, he didn't have anything to say about Kermit Gosnell, or the wave of medical emergencies at abortion clinics, or the sex-selection abortions Live Action discovered at Planned Parenthood. Obama didn't even use the word "abortion" in his speech. Abortion is so wonderful that even the most strident abortion radical ever elected to the White House can't bring himself to say the word.
If the abortion industry didn't enjoy the nearly religious devotion of the Left, it would be Occupy Wall Street's favorite example of a big business that pays big bucks for political influence, so it can operate with ridiculously lax oversight, weak safety standards, and lavish subsidies. Kermit Gosnell preyed relentlessly upon poor black women, while treating his assistants like sweat shop labor. The excuses offered by Planned Parenthood when its staff is caught flaunting the law on undercover video are reminiscent of tobacco company executives trying to claim that smoking isn't bad for you. The Democrat Party has expressed a willingness to shut down the entire government to protect Planned Parenthood subsidies. When a prominent charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, tried to decouple from Planned Parenthood, the response was straight out of "The Sopranos." You are required to fund this organization, and you are not allowed to stop. They've got a lot of money, political clout, and media influence available to enforce that directive.
"Planned Parenthood is not going anywhere," Obama declared in his speech. "It's not going anywhere today, it's not going anywhere tomorrow." Well, of course not. It's a billion-dollar corporation with $90 million annual profits that gets over $540 million in taxpayer funding that spent $12 million on highly effective political action during the last election. And really, as long as it's a properly supervised business selling legal goods and services, there's no reason it should "go anywhere." It just shouldn't be propped up with funds extracted by the government from people who don't support its activities, especially since much of the dissenters' money is recycled into political activity against them.
The abortion industry thrives politically by associating its politics with human identity. Opposition to Planned Parenthood is caricatured as hatred of women, even when the corporation's critics are themselves women. That's a neat trick, if you can pull it off: equating dissent with hatred. It's not easy to lose a debate, if you can establish those ground rules.
And yet, the abortion lobby seems increasingly worried that they might be losing the national debate. Some of the panic is artificial, and profitable, folding neatly into the "progressive" narrative favored by the liberals who have been taking America over the edge of a cliff. "The fact is, after decades of progress, there's still those who want to turn back the clock to policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century," warned Obama. Haven't liberals lately been telling us that we should return to the tax policies of the Fifties, because they were prosperous despite the high nominal tax rates that nobody actually paid? Isn't Obama's Attorney General, Eric Holder, relentlessly determined to ensure the 21st century remains saddled with the voter identification systems of the 1950s?
But with those little spurts of nostalgia out of the way, we're back to the "progressive" ideology that insists the failed economic policies and social degeneration of the Left are inevitable and irreversible, so any attempt to change course is "turning back the clock." There is no reason to take this idea seriously. "Change" can move in many different directions, including the rediscovery of ideas we might realize were abandoned in error. The modern era could be right about some things, wrong about others, and the same can be said of previous decades. Why does anyone accept the notion that the only alternative to embracing every single "progressive" failure is hopping into a time machine and returning to the days of Ozzie and Harriet? Let's allow for the possibility that the past sixty years saw both triumphs and mistakes. We are not cursed to live with the mistakes for eternity.
There is reason for Planned Parenthood to worry about all that lovely government money drying up, as the bills come due for decades of absurd government spending. They'll soon find themselves in a bitter war with other politically-connected dependents of a tapped-out Uncle Sam, and then all of them will be crushed together under the weight of mandatory entitlement and debt spending, which on our current course will leave nothing for either Planned Parenthood or the Pentagon within a few decades. Planned Parenthood will need all of its political weapons oiled and loaded to prevail in the arena of insolvency... so this is not a good time for them to see polls that Americans are souring on abortion. They don't seem to be in any mood to outlaw the procedure entirely - perhaps they never will be - but they're growing uncomfortable with those late-term spinal-cord snips. They had no idea how bad things have gotten. That's why the media thought it was so important to keep the Gosnell trial off the front pages and nightly newscasts. The really dangerous question - the one our media gatekeepers don't want American voters asking - is: "How did this happen?" Followed inevitably by: "How often does this happen?"
Pro-lifers often wonder about the sociological damage inflicted by decades of abortion. The word "hope" gets thrown around a lot by politicians - it's a trademark of President Obama's - but what is more hopeless than the termination of a child's life? How much despair can any society be expected to swallow without growing ill?
Personally, I've never thought "hope" was a fit ingredient for the politics of a free republic, because hope is passive. Faith is active. Faith is an essential ingredient of love, which is always an act of trust, a leap from the lion's head. That's true of the love between adults, and of the love they feel for their children, who are the living vessels of our faith in the future. How often have you heard someone defend abortion by grumbling that it's pointless to bring more people into this grim, spent, overcrowded world? Well, it's certainly not going to be much of a future if nobody is around to claim it. Motherhood and fatherhood are towering rejections of despair. There are few more dramatic ways of telling despair to go pound sand.
Love is all about responsibility and sacrifice, too. It does not thrive among the irresponsible or selfish. The abortion regime has done a lot of damage to those ideals of responsibility and sacrifice. A recent poll showed that many young people have come to view marriage as something to be put off until late in life, when everything else is squared away, but they see no reason to hold off on either sex or childbirth. That's a terrible inversion of the way things work in a health society, and the results have not been liberating - on the contrary, they have eroded our independence, leading to more reliance upon government assistance.
Viewing pregnancy as a "mistake" or "punishment," the way Barack Obama once described it, leads to a dehumanizing appetite for easy surgical correction. And it is dehumanizing, because pregnancy is truly a union of at least three lives - mother, father, and child - but it's treated as a decision made entirely by one person, resulting in one less member of the human race. There is most definitely less humanity in that equation.
Why can't we keep the other advantages of modernity, while re-discovering our time-honored understanding of faith, love, and children? Consider Barack Obama's address to Planned Parenthood, compare it to speeches from the annual March for Life that our friends in the media try so hard to ignore, and ask yourself which sounds more depleted of optimism, more hopelessly mired in the past. For my part, I couldn't find a single line in Obama's speech that wasn't covered in dust and cobwebs.