Wednesday, February 09, 2011

On Live Action's sting operations against Planned Parenthood, and the sin of lying

I will make no bones about the fact that I feel within myself and others in my sphere of activity a swirling of spiritual forces gathering around the 30+ years holocaust of the unborn that is abortion in America. The chickens are coming home to roost in the revelations of Dr. Gosnell's House of Horrors and Lila Rose's undercover sting operations in Planned Parenthood clinics. The Washington Post, not likely to exaggerate the numbers, reported 27,000 young people registered for the January March for Life youth activities. I myself attended the March for Life for the very first time, and I met several other old-time pro-lifers, first-timer attendees like myself -- what brought us out this year?

I call what I am experiencing a "swirling of spiritual forces". Folks of a different bent might call it a matter of political timing, a point in a social movement when the scales begin to tip in the direction of justice and away from the accepted wisdom that certain injustices are necessary or the body politic cannot thrive. I am thinking here of slavery, segregation, women's disenfranchisement -- three social movements of our own nation which fought an uphill battle for as long as social forces existed that could not see past the claims of the ones whose difficulties in this ever-difficult experiment we call life were alleviated by the imposition of legal injustice.

But my forte is spirituality, not politics, and my wisdom and experience are in the realm of the human spirit and its relationship to the divine. And so despite the fact that spiritual pundits are far less respected than political or social ones, I will speak freely in the realm of my own experience and wisdom.

Something is happening with abortion in America. We as a nation are reaching a tipping point. Is this the subject that will tip us over into an apocalypse, with all the other issues that we have to fear - the collapse of the dollar, the acrimony of the political environment, the blood sports of gouging each other over issues of marriage, sexuality, and family?

Who knows? I'm no Delphic oracle, not even a Cassandra... she the most tragic of all Greek prophetesses.

However, I have shed tears. Many tears. Salty, streaming tears, tears that shook my body, over the past two weeks. My tears are as telling to me as my joys.

All of this is just to preface a few links that have to do with the morality of the pro-life sting operations carried out by Lila Rose's Live Action group against Planned Parenthood. Lila Rose is one of my hero's. Yet because she is not fictional, and because she is not a figure of history but of right here and now -- my time! -- I am troubled by the fact that she is my hero.

For what is a hero? That's a topic way too broad for now. But, simply put, here is the question being raised and debated in the Catholic and pro-life blogosphere:

Is it moral to lie to Planned Parenthood?

I don't have time to untangle the links, but there's a good discussion started by Mark Shea at National Catholic Register. Read the discussions AND the comments.

The pro-life world doesn't need to agree on this, I don't think. It does need to not pull itself part due to the controversy. Everyone who is involved with the laudatory goal of exposing the basic wrong of Planned Parenthood's efforts needs to educate themselves, ruminate, pray, and be prepared to act with extraordinary charity and clarity over the coming months. Something is happening.

Can You Life for a Good Cause? by Mark Shea, at National Catholic Register and on his own blog, Catholic and Enjoying It.
Commenter Dale Price:
It sits in the same range of behavior as undercover police work, investigative reporting and whistleblowing. I am extremely curious to see whether or not moral theologians have weighed in on this.blockquote.

I guess I feel about Live Action the same way I feel about Chris Hansen's "To Catch a Predator" series on NBC. Given the systemic refusal of governmental agencies to regulate abortion clinics, this is the next best thing.

Truth, Love, and Live Action by Christopher O. Tollefsen. "The pro-life cause must be advanced by truth and by love, and it must be willing to engage in self-criticism when it fails to meet its own exacting standards."

It's a sin to lie, even to Planned Parenthood, by Reginaldus, moniker for a Catholic priest with a STB in Sacred Thelogy and a STL in Dogmatic Theology, over at The New Theological Movement :

Some (even Fr. Frank Pavone, on Catholic Connection with Teresa Tameo on the morning of February 2nd ) will claim that it is morally justifiable to lie to Planned Parenthood in order to expose the illegal activities of that organization. They will claim that the lie is justifiable because we are “at war” with Planned Parenthood. Here we make a twofold response: first, even in war, it is sinful to lie; second, we are not at war with Planned Parenthood. War is a conflict not between individuals or even between various groups of individuals, but between nations. The pro-life movement, technically, is not at war with the culture of death – if we were at war, it would be justifiable for individuals to kill abortion doctors; but it is not, since we are not at war. We are in a great struggle, a struggle which is far worse and far more costly than any war which the world has yet faced.


I think Abby Johnson's book Unplanned is a game-changer. I think her story shows the basic solidity of 40 Days for Life and its approach -- "by their fruits you will know them." Another 40 Days for Life campaign begins March 9. I am again a regional facilitator.

Truth and lies. Media. Truth in media. What's it all about, Alfie? Is it just for the moment we live? What's it all about, when you sort it out, Alfie? Are we meant to take more than we give? Or are we meant to be kind? And if only fools are kind, Alfie, then I guess it is wise to be cruel. And if life belongs only to the strong, Alfie, what will you lend on an old golden rule? As sure as I believe there's a heaven above, Alfie, I know there's something much more, something even non-believers can believe in. I believe in love, Alfie. Without true love we just exist, Alfie.

Can it be that when the movie Alfie came out, in 1966, the chickens came home to roost for our hero in a shocking abortion scene? 45 years later, and we have few sensibilities left to shock.

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