Planned Parenthood and Social Justice

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Ochuk has a very interesting post about Planned Parenthood. After acknowledging that yelling at people who have already made up their minds what they're going to do when standing outside Planned Parenthood isn't going to accomplish much, he raises the question (or rather brings it up after someone else raised it) whether Christians would be better working inside the organization and helping reform it. Then he extends the question more generally to whether a Christian should work for a company that exploits people or serves to promote social injustice in some other way.

Some may object to my describing Planned Parenthood as furthering social injustice, but these are people who earn their living by killing human organisms, whatever else you think of it. I don't know how to see this as anything but totally evil. It's not merely making money off the deaths of human organisms as a side-effect, as sometimes happens in the aftermath of a war when an economy benefits. It's killing those human organisms for the sake of earning a living off killing them. Then there's the physical and emotional harm to the women and young girls these people are regularly taking advantage of, most of whom are scared and emotionally fragile to begin with, easily manipulated by their boyfriends who want no responsibility and by counselors whose organization has a vested interest in as carrying out as many abortions as possible. They started out as a racist eugenics program that the current organization would agree was founded on immoral views. I don't think they ended up with anything better. That social justice and feminist groups, with a few exceptions, haven't jumped on board at least to try to reduce the number of abortions would be shocking if it weren't old news. So I think Planned Parenthood can reasonably be labeled a promoter of social injustice.

Along the way, Ochuk brings up two tensions, which both raise questions worth reflecting on. The first is between being in the world as salt to it and being not of it by being morally separate from the world's practices. The second is between not judging and not casting pearls before swine (which involves making the judgment that someone is like swine in not appreciating the beauty of the pearls).

I wonder what to do with this. Ochuk mentions the tensions and then thinks it shows that working for an organization that furthers social injustice is automatically wrong. I'm not sure I can accept that. Other factors must enter in. Some organizations are so bad, and there are so many other options for progress, that it's not worth working for them to further good aims. But I can imagine situations where it might be the morally right thing to work for an organization that carries out injustice with an effort to reduce that injustice. If you really take seriously what kinds of injustices go on, working for any major corporation would probably be wrong according to Ochuk's criteria. I don't think this allows us to take places where we kill humans on the basis that someone will do it anyway, just making it be a less serious evil than it otherwise would by reducing the numbers of humans killed, at least not unless it's a totalitarian regime, and even then I have my doubts. I do think some organizations guilty of social injustice (e.g. the U.S. government!) should have Christians working within them to make things better.

I found all that stuff working reflecting on. What interested me in this post, though, was a passing comment, but I'll save that for my next post.


Hey, good thoughts. I'm glad you found my blog.

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