I would imagine Planned Parenthood fears names

I’d been composing this post in my head all morning, and when I sat down just now to write it, I logged into Twitter to access the link to an article I wanted to reference here, and saw that the fifth Planned Parenthood video has just been released (warning: graphic). I briefly skimmed the beginning of the article, stopping before I got to any graphic visuals, and yes, it’s truly awful, and I’m glad to join in the outrage in the way that a name blog can.

This was the article I logged into Twitter to get, which I’d retweeted the other day: The Difference a Name Makes by Molly Oshatz at First Things. An excerpt:

It’s amazing the difference a name makes. On one day this past week, nearly a hundred endangered elephants were killed and around 3,000 abortions were performed in the United States alone, and we were unfazed—but the killing of Cecil the lion broke our hearts. He wasn’t just any random lion. He was Cecil. Mere lions (along with chickens, cows, lambs, and pigs) are killed, but Cecil was murdered. We love the lion that was named Cecil. We feel as though we knew him.”

I hadn’t given one thought to the idea that Cecil had made such huge headlines because he had a name (and all that a name implies) before reading this, but it makes sense. Knowing one’s name is what makes a person — or in this case, a lion — emerge from the nameless hoards as an individual. It’s like a sea of body-shaped gray-scale shades until names become known, and then faces emerge, detailed and clear and in color. It’s an individual marker for an individual, an entity separate from the crowd.

“The abortion industry knows very well the difference a name can make … “

This was certainly the reasoning behind this article posted at StudentsforLife.org, which I’d also referenced on my Instagram last week: Call Him Emmett. An excerpt:

The little boy in the most recent undercover Planned Parenthood videos from the Center for Medical Progress has been referred to as “Eleven Six”, meaning that he was aborted at 11 weeks 6 days gestation. His tiny body parts are easily identifiable in the horrific videos as they are sorted in order to be sold.

This baby deserves a name, deserves dignity that is rightly afforded him as a member of the human race … 

His name should be Emmett, after the boy of the same name who became the catalyst for the 1950s and 60s Civil Rights Movement.

Emmett Till was a 14-year-old black boy from Chicago who dared to speak to a white woman when he was visiting relatives in Mississippi. He was subsequently beaten with one eye gouged out, and then shot through the head before being tethered to a heavy gin and thrown in the river. His body was recovered three days later and returned to his mother in Chicago … 

Rosa Parks even said she was inspired by the boy: “I thought of Emmett Till and I just couldn’t go back.”

This baby boy in the Center for Medical Progress is the Emmett Till of the pro-life movement.”

I thought Emmett seemed most appropriate for this baby. It made me think of the web site 50 Million Names, a “grassroots campaign to collect names for the now-more-than 50,000,000 children aborted in our country.” As it says,

We ask Namers to register and then add names in a way that shows reverence for the lives of the aborted babies. Each name registration is accompanied by some concrete gesture made by the Namer in honor of this particular child.

Our hope is that these names will someday be read into state congressional records one by one, once each state’s million names are given. When all the names have been collected, perhaps the entire list could be read into the national congressional record.”

Because names are that important. How different it is to say, “These are the aborted babies: Daniel, Jayden, Marisa, Benjamin, Keisha, Trey, Moses, Ava, Chloe …” than to say, “Fifty million babies have been aborted.” (It’s actually closer to 60 million. God help us.) Even I, a lifelong ardently pro-life pro-lifer, get lulled into an almost settled unhappiness when faced with the abortion statistics (all numbers, of course) instead of the devastation and horror I should always have when presented with this information. But now, when I think of Emmett? I’m going to think of that one individual baby, and the gruesome specifics of his death, and the injustice and evil of it all.

Names have power. But more than that, being named=being loved and known and wanted, and that sense doesn’t come from nowhere. God tells us, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5) and, as we’re reminded at the end of the First Things article,

“… everyone is loved and named, even those whose parents don’t want them and can’t bear to love them, and whose lives the rest of us don’t deem worth living. Even before each and every one of us emerges from the womb and gains official “baby” status, we are already known, named, and loved; as in Isaiah 43:1, God says to us, “I have called you by name, and you are mine””


15 thoughts on “I would imagine Planned Parenthood fears names

  1. What really bothers me is the complete divorce from semantics and reality. You can hear in Video #4, someone makes a comment as they are looking through the parts of the baby, one of the staff says, “it’s a baby.” And later on the doctor finds the leg and comments, “another boy!” It’s like they will say, it’s not a baby, etc. etc., but even their own staff when confronted by an aborted body gives identifies its sex and calls it a “baby.” Their own staff.

    Names do have a lot of power. Animal sanctuaries for the animals rescued from the meat industry, one of the first things they do is give their rescue animals names. When I was first in the process of transitioning to veganism I remember really struggling with a craving for a steak, and then I remembered this cow from a sanctuary I had seen that had a name and how much I had liked her and it was like, all of a sudden, I didn’t want the steak anymore because I had a name and face to put to what animal that steak could have been.

    I am not at all comparing abortion to the animal industry. I get it’s two different things. I am just pointing out that there has to be a massive amount of detachment fostered in our society that is really PC in origin, because even the abortion providers can’t look at an aborted child’s body and NOT CALL IT A BABY BECAUSE IT IS.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember when I first found this blog you had a post about names for miscarried babies. Many people shared the names of the babies, frequently gender unknown, of the babies they had lost. It was so good for me personally to be able to share the names of the two babies we’ve lost even virtually because it confirmed the humanity of these babies.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. This made me tear up. Yep, there is a lot of truth to the power of a name. The PP videos have given me a renewed urgency to end abortion. I hope more and more Americans will be convicted due to these videos.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s exactly how I feel Sarah. In high school I wore pro-life t-shirts to school on dress down days; in college I picketed at PP and co-founded a Students for Life chapter; since then though, I told myself that I’m doing my part by taking care of my own babies and teaching them well and donating to Birthright and teaching NFP etc., but I was tired of confrontation on social media and in person, so I really pulled back from any outward declaration of being pro-life. No more though — these videos have inspired me anew. And just the general sense recently of being under attack for my beliefs — whatever confrontation I thought I was avoiding by not posting certain things is happening anyway — it’s in my face, all day long, and I’m feeling a little scrappy. I’m just praying to do it well, respectfully, truthfully, kindly, courageously.


  4. Thank you so much for this post. I’m a name nerd, a pro-lifer, and follower of Christ, and this whole issue breaks my heart: thank you for combining these passions so beautifully into one post. It is very powerful. And the “50 Million Names Project”? What a wonderful idea. I am going to go check them out and see what I can do. Thanks for allowing God to use you and your passion for names in this area.

    Liked by 1 person

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