Producer defends ethics of Planned Parenthood videos

by Sharayah Colter/Southern Baptist TEXAN, posted Friday, January 22, 2016 (one year ago)

WASHINGTON (BP) -- The process used by the Center for Medical Progress to obtain undercover videos outing Planned Parenthood's sale of aborted baby parts was not morally wrong, CMP founder David Daleiden said at the Evangelicals for Life conference in Washington.

ERLC President Russell Moore, left, and Focus on the Family President Jim Daly, right, interview David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress which produced and released a series of videos last summer outing Planned Parenthood's sale of baby body parts and general callousness toward aborting children. Among the topics discussed were the ethics of undercover work and the formation of Daleiden's pro-life stance.
Photo by Chad Bartlett
Daleiden shared his convictions during the opening day of the Jan. 21-22 conference in an interview with Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family. Co-sponsored by the ERLC and Focus on the Family, Evangelicals for Life is being held as a pre-event to Saturday's annual March for Life in Washington.

Moore introduced Daleiden as the man who, through the videos he released last year, "pierced the conscience of the nation." Daleiden received a standing ovation from the crowd gathered at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill hotel. For a full report from the conference, click here.

Moore pointed out that many criticize CMP's ethics by contending that Daleiden had to lie while undercover in order to produce the videos, which is among Planned Parenthood's allegations in a lawsuit filed Jan. 14.

"Are you kind of making morality relative here by using lying and deception?" Moore asked.

Daleiden responded that Moore was asking a valid question.

"I think that undercover work is fundamentally different from lying," Daleiden said, "because the purpose of undercover work is to serve the truth and to bring the truth to greater clarity and to communicate the truth more strongly."

Daleiden noted, "Certainly in normal everyday life we don't always communicate the truth by a simple one-equals-one mathematical way of speaking. We often use poetry and metaphor and even pretext in order to communicate really important truth in a more clear way. Our Lord did that in the Gospels with the parables; it's often done throughout the Holy Scriptures; and so I see undercover work in that same sort of vein, as a creative way of communicating and speaking that is in service of the truth."

Moore and Daly asked Daleiden about his response to critics who contend that the videos are heavily edited, to which Daleiden replied that CMP has been "more transparent than any news agency" in showing what goes into the production of video files that wind up as the final cuts seen by the American public.

Moore, citing the extensive time and effort involved in producing the videos, asked Daleiden what shaped his own personal pro-life view.

"I myself am actually the child of a crisis pregnancy situation," Daleiden said. "My parents got pregnant with me their junior year of college. They gave birth to me their senior year and got married after graduation. I grew up in a home that was kind of nominally or culturally Catholic ... but I always grew up with the sense really strongly that sometimes people get pregnant and have kids in less than totally perfect situations or less than perfectly planned situations, and that ultimately there is nothing wrong with that, and there is nothing shameful about that because 'now' is always a good time to welcome a new little person into the world. So that was really formative to me in terms of how we treat people and how we respect people."

Daly asked Daleiden how he developed the strategy of using undercover investigative videos to address the issue of abortion in America.

"I think part of the power of the videos that CMP has put out so far, and part of the power of the whole 'baby body parts' issue, is that it speaks to really core human values and American values that a lot of people share regardless of your political persuasions or regardless of your level of political engagement or even philosophical engagement with issues like abortion or related issues," Daleiden said.

"At the heart of the whole baby parts issue," he explained, "there is this really cool paradox that I can never get over, and it's part of what drove me to do a really specific study on it for two and a half years, and it's the fact that unborn children -- the human fetus -- their humanity is not considered to be equal enough to our own in order to be completely protected by law and order, to be completely protected from being killed by abortion. But at the same time it's precisely that equal humanity that is identical to our own that makes them so valuable for scientific experimentation and makes Planned Parenthood and researchers and their allies hunt after their body parts like buried treasure. I think that contradiction throws the whole world of legalized abortion in America into a really stark light, and it highlights that contrast between some of our deepest values about human dignity and human equality as people and as Americans."

Moore and Daly discussed the millennial generation and how Daleiden, 27, looks with hope toward the young people of America -- his peers -- in seeing how they've been disturbed by the atrocities still being committed in America in 2016 and their willingness to get involved. Before leaving the stage, Daly and Moore prayed over Daleiden, asking the Lord to continue giving him wisdom and courage.

Sharayah Colter writes for the Southern Baptist TEXAN (www.texanonline.net), newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.
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