The Parlous Paradox of Pluto and Planned Parenthood

| July 22, 2015

Let’s fund NASA, let’s not fund Planned Parenthood.


Nick Rudnik, Valdosta Today Opinion Contributor

In a single week we find ourselves fronted with two noteworthy, albeit contradictory, scientific headlines.

First, there was the NASA New Horizons Pluto mission. The space probe, which has been careening through the solar system since its launch in 2006, finally reached its destination after nine long years. Man has now successfully sent a probe to the outermost major celestial body in our solar system, beaming back to Earth our first close-up photos of the oft-misunderstood “dwarf planet” tucked away in the furthest reaches of our small corner of the cosmos. New Horizons has received near-universal commendation. And for space travel, the total cost of the mission came in at a bargain—only about $700 million.

The New Horizons mission demonstrates all that is best in our nation and in mankind. It shows us that humanity can use science as a tool for good; to peacefully explore the unforgiving vacuum of space with the hope that it will answer the foundational questions of who we are and where we came from. It also reminds us that government invariably has a vital role to play in funding the natural sciences. When democratic societies fund missions to explore the universe, it is an affirmation of our collective intelligence, wisdom, and most importantly, our shared belief in the nobility of our existence.

But back on Earth we find ourselves confronted with another scientific story that has received near-universal condemnation.

Conservative news website Breitbart revealed a video indicating that the family planning organization, Planned Parenthood, has engaged in serious illegal and ethical misconduct. Two pro-life activists from the Center for Medical Progress, posing as representatives from a fictitious biotech firm, captured Planned Parenthood’s chief medical officer, Deborah Nucatola, on a hidden camera as she explained that Planned Parenthood has performed partial-birth abortions to harvest and market tissue and organs from aborted fetuses—violating the 2003 law which bans such practices.

Both headlines give us a staunch contrast between the promise and conceit of modern science.

Now, I recognize that abortion is perhaps the most volatile political touchstone in America. Many Americans harbor closely-held beliefs on the topic. I personally feel that the labels “pro-life” and “pro-choice” are reductionist and superficial; they exist simply to divide. To this author, elective abortions are not isolated problems but consequences of a number of social pressures—including poor family planning and sex education, lack of access to contraceptives, poverty, fatherlessness, increasing social fragmentation, and the like.

But I also believe that we can all view the Planned Parenthood revelations in serious contempt. Partial-birth abortions are illegal—and they should be. A physician that performs the procedure should be charged with a felony, as the law prescribes.

The prospect of harvesting human biological material and marketing it is both instrumentally and intrinsically bad. This is why the practice is forbidden. All people of good conscience, conservative and liberal alike, should oppose this practice for it violates the basic sanctity of each and every human life. By validating the marketing and purchasing of human organs, there begins a slippery slope devoid traditional ethical and moral parameters. Simply, the end is even worse than the beginning.

Congress has an obligation to defund Planned Parenthood.

In 2015, to date, Planned Parenthood has received $27 million from the federal government. I say: let’s reroute this money to NASA. While $27 million is a “drop in the bucket” as far as federal appropriations are concerned, defunding Planned Parenthood and using it to prop up NASA is a symbolic measure. It shows that the United States rewards those who use science for good and castigate those who choose to use doublespeak, spin, and innuendo as a means to advance a fringe, misguided scientific agenda.

While Planned Parenthood provides a number of other essential family planning services to women, how much longer can they use the hollow guise of preventative, non-abortion services to sidestep the abortion factor? And how can they do so now after revelations have surfaced clearly showing top Planned Parenthood executives willfully and callously contravening federal law?

The Nucatola video demonstrates all that is bad in modern science. If anything, this past week shows us that while science can be used as a tool for good, as with the NASA Pluto probe, it can also be misused and abused. Above all, science should strive for the highest moral virtues to advance mankind and improve our lives.

Unbridled deceit and dishonesty are perhaps the most antithetical and hostile adversaries to science—a way of thinking committed to openness, honest questioning, and most of all, integrity. The American people should never reward conduct by scientists that runs contra to the philosophy of science and basic human decency.

Let’s fund the NASAs of the world, not the Planned Parenthoods.

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Filed in: Editorials, Opinion

3 Comments on "The Parlous Paradox of Pluto and Planned Parenthood"

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  1. phil singletary says:

    Nick: I like this article. I’ve always supported the protection of the Un-Born and Planned Parenthood has to go in my opinion. I know they do a lot of things for pregnant women but I don’t think the tax payer should give them their hard earned dollars now after this video. I saw this video on Fox and it made me sick. I like the way yoy put it here.

    Thanks for a great article.

  2. Oh Come On... says:

    Does it matter that these videos that make Planned Parenthood out to be the devil incarnate were heavily edited to remove passages that completely contradict the point the video makers wanted to get across? I guess it doesn’t. The video makers have spread their propaganda to the press and now no one will critically examine their claims because it’s all right there on (heavily edited) tape. The unedited tapes show that the Planned Parenthood executive broke no laws and did nothing unethical.

    I’d suggest we remove the tax-exempt status of dishonest political front organizations like the Center for Medical Progress if we really want to boost NASA’s budget.

  3. The Lonehorseman says:

    If organizations like PP are so great, they should be able to stand on their own merit. There is a long list of crap that our tax dollars fund that should not be. I lump CMP in that same group.