At this point, we have no idea whether the series of videos created by the Center for Medical Progress depicting horrific crimes against humanity will take hold of the American public and effect real, positive, meaningful change in the area of respecting the dignity of the human person.
The videos are gruesome. I haven’t seen them all. I have to build up the courage to watch. I’m at least three behind. The people in the videos have sold their souls. They are in the grip of the Evil One. What occurs in these houses of death is nothing less than Diabolical.
And yet, what could topple the whole effort and send the Pro-Life movement back a full generation is the very thing that generated such damning evidence in the first place: LYING.
Lying. Lying is the thing that, from a legal (and arguably moral) standpoint, renders evidence the fruit of the poisonous tree. A witness who testifies in court swears an oath, frequently with his hand upon a Bible. A witness who can be proven to have lied while under oath, is guilty of a felonious crime — perjury. A person who lies violates the Eighth Commandment of God, and (assuming the lie concerns grave matter) also commits a mortal sin, which entirely ruptures his communion with God.
In other words, lying is a BIG DEAL, such that a failure in honesty is a failure in Christian virtue. We are obliged not to lie. There are a number of good earnest discussions concerning the nuances and approaches to the Catholic framework regarding honesty, but using consequentialism (roughly, the ends justify the means) to justify lying is not a convincing justification for it. We cannot rationally claim that intending to stop one moral evil justifies the commission of another moral evil, because that is simply not Catholic teaching.
There is no greater consequence to lying than the damage it causes in connection with our communion with God, and susceptibility to evil, but lying also frequently carries the burden of serious “real world” effects, and this is where it becomes tragic for the fight against abortion.
Recently Congress sent a letter to Planned Parenthood. It requested information concerning Planned Parenthood’s activities with respect to the sale of fetal tissue. Today Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards signed Planned Parenthood’s Response, which devotes four of ten of the substantive pages of the letter to detailing the activities of David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress.
I’m not going to assume that any of Planned Parenthood’s claims about Mr. Daleiden or CMP have merit, which I do assume are distorted like the rest of the letter. But based upon what we know (from far more reliable sources than Planned Parenthood), the video footage obtained by the Center for Medical Progress was obtained by lying, which makes the moral high ground a fairly amorphous place. Because of lying, Planned Parenthood (with as straight a face as it can must) now asks Congress for sympathy, because it has been made a victim:
I respectfully ask that you put yourselves in our place. Imagine if a group of individuals tried for several years to secretly film your offices, obtaining fraudulent identification to gain access to restricted areas, creating a fictitious company to deceive your staff, and misleading the IRS in an application for nonprofit status. Imagine if they released selectively edited videos of excerpted and manipulated conversations involving your staff aimed at creating the worst impression possible. And imagine if they edited the videos so context was lost, exculpatory statements were omitted, and statements were stitched together out of sequence to create a fraudulent impression.
That’s exactly what has happened to Planned Parenthood. And in our case, four congressional committees have launched investigations into our conduct – and none are investigating the person behind this fraud.
This is a problem. Every time we share these videos or tell our friends and family about them, we tacitly excuse the fact that deceit produced them. And I’m not sure I can do that.