Pro-life - Abortion

Can Christians do pro-life undercover work?

Earlier this month pro-life undercover journalist David Daleiden lost a bid to get a $195,000 fine against him overturned when the Ninth Court declined to consider his appeal. The fine was related to the 15 felony charges Daleiden and his investigative partner, Sandra Merrit, were hit with for undercover work exposing how the abortion industry was selling fetal body parts.

That work became public on July 14, 2015, when their organization, the pro-life Center for Medical Progress (CMP), released the very first of their secretly record videos. It showed Planned Parenthood’s Senior Director of Medical Services, Deborah Nucatola, calmly discussing over dinner the prices for harvesting body parts from the unborn children they were killing.

For the next three months CMP released more videos, at a rate of about one a week, with each more gruesome than the one before it. Though the mainstream media was slow to cover the videos, the regular ongoing release of new videos made them impossible to ignore. Planned Parenthood’s murderous work became such a huge public political issue that it was discussed in the presidential candidate’s debates. By any measure, the impact of these videos was phenomenal.

But some Christians criticized CMP and Daleiden, because their undercover work involved creating fake identities and pretending to be potential “fetal tissue” buyers so they could encourage Planned Parenthood employees to talk about the costs and availability of unborn children’s various body parts. In plain speak, Daleiden and Merrit lied to, and deceived Planned Parenthood. And some think that, no matter the good that resulted, Daleiden and Merrit were wrong to do what they did because it is always wrong to lie.

So can Christians, in good conscience, do undercover pro-life work like this?

In his July 20, 2015, blog post “The Ethics of the Righteous Sting Operations” Douglas Wilson argues that: “Scripture fully allows (indeed requires) deception under certain conditions, while flatly forbidding it in others.” And if we want to discern the one from the other “then we have to do some Bible study.”

Wilson takes his reader to Ex. 1:17-20 in which the Hebrew midwives lie to Pharaoh, in order to save Hebrew babies’ lives. Wilson notes there is a pretty direct parallel to the baby-saving activities of the CMP, with one difference. While the midwives were acting on behalf of their own people, the pro-lifers are acting on behalf of babies with no ties to them. “If there is a difference,” Wilson writes, “this video sting was even nobler.”

He also references Nathan’s confrontation with David about Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12) describing Nathan’s activities here as “deceiving someone in order to be able to confront them with the truth.” He writes that Nathan’s point was “to deceive and then unveil the deception in such a dramatic way was as to unmask the unrighteousness being confronted….The point is to reveal, not hide.”

The parallels to CMP’s activities are clear. We can and should thank God for the astonishing work this group has done on behalf of the unborn. And if you want to encourage CMP to continue those efforts, you can find out how to help on their website.


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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Interested Reader

    June 25, 2019 at 11:50 am

    I agree with Wilson that the saving of the unborn and that bringing evil to the light so that it can be resisted or fought against and ultimately defeated is absolutely a biblical principle. There is no one above the law of God at the end of the day. We all KNOW in our minds and conscience that killing the unborn for any reason is wrong and evil. When we push that away, we harden ourselves to the evil and eventually will compromise even ourselves and our churches. If your church has become compromised in the area of abortion, beware. People who are defying God and working openly for the devil may think they are “getting away with their evil” but they will be confronted by the Army of God, and if not in this life, then we can be sure they will be having to give some account of their evil actions at the judgement. Anything we can do out of compassion for their eternal souls and to save the unborn becomes a joint effort. Of course if a prolife person openly asked for an interview about how things go with the baby parts, it’s pretty obvious the killers would not grant them an audience. Now that it’s out in the light, don’t second guess how it got there. It does not make the evidence less true. Evil that works outside the light must always be brought to the light. Darkness will flee in the present of light. May the church at large be the first to model correct prolife behaviour in every area of its influence. The hardest things in life involve matters of life and death. Choose Life.

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