The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

It’s Tuesday, August 10, 2021.

I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

Horrifying Report Finds Millions of U.S. Government Dollars Used for the Harvest of Fetal Parts for Research

The first topic of our consideration today is quite difficult. It is extremely, immeasurably important. It has to do with the harvesting, once again, of fetal body parts, parts from babies that had died by miscarriage, or by what’s referred to here simply as elective abortion, tissues that are being targeted, identified, and are being used in human medical experimentation. And furthermore, it is experimentation with which you and I are complicit as American taxpayers because the American government is funding at least some of this research. It’s a horrifying story, it’s one to which we need to pay very direct attention.

It is directed towards the city of San Francisco where the University of California, San Francisco is involved in this kind of research, also the University of Pittsburgh on the other side of the nation. Or at least, we should say, there is documentary evidence of the fact that both of those institutions, and more importantly, maybe even other institutions, more urgently the federal government, the government of the United States is involved in this kind of research. Several years ago, it came to light that Planned Parenthood was operating basically in what can only be described as the horrifying business of distributing and handling fetal body parts for medical experimentation. But it’s not just that. There were undercover videos taken in which officials with Planned Parenthood discussed how the fetal body would be targeted for the optimal removal of certain organs and tissues that were particularly desired for medical experimentation.

The mainstream media largely gave Planned Parenthood a pass on that, believe it or not. No, you can believe it because of the media’s complicity in the abortion industry. They shifted the issue to whether or not to the videos themselves were illegal, and then they tried to shift the issue to the fact that Planned Parenthood wasn’t actually operating on a profit basis, but there was absolutely no denying the fact that Planned Parenthood officials were admitting to the fact that they were making deals for this specific targeting that would mean the destruction of unborn human life in order to obtain optimal tissue and organ body part samples. Planned Parenthood even offered something, given an apology for that, but it was an apology, basically, for the use of language not for the fundamental evil, the undeniable evil, of destroying unborn human life and then using tissues, and body parts, and organs for medical experimentation.

This sounds like something out of the Weimar Republic in Germany or Nazi Germany. It sounds like something out of the Nazi medical experiments, but no, this is in the United States of America. Now, the main attention to the story thus far has been in the press that is decidedly pro-life. That is a very, very thin slice of the American media. The mainstream media are doing their best to ignore this story and to give it absolutely no attention.

Yesterday, Baptist Press broke the story where the reporter was Scott Barkley. The article begins this way, “According to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, at least $2.7 million in the Department of Health and Human Services has gone to support a project at the University of Pittsburgh that includes the possible removal of organs and tissue from pre-born babies who are still alive.” Now, a closer look at the documentation and at the article makes clear that the use of the word possible there has more to do with the question as to whether it’s possible that some of these babies were born alive.

The question as to whether that particular macabre issue is true may come down to medical complexities, but the fact is, medical authorities involved in these experiments have indicated that it is indeed a matter of medical importance that the tissues, and organs, and body parts are harvested as soon as possible to the end of cardiac activity. What does that tell you? The Baptist Press article continues, “An August 3 press release from Judicial Watch and the Center for Medical Progress uncovered public records from the National Institutes of Health, a part of HHS, that’s the Department of Health and Human Services, related to ‘government-sponsored fetal experimentation’ that focused on minimizing the amount of time aborted fetal organs would go without blood flow.” The article continues, “The goal of the project, according to the document, is ‘to generate an inventory of genitourinary tissue throughout normal human development that will,'” again, “‘develop a pipeline for the acquisition, quality control, and distribution of human genitourinary samples.'”

Just consider what’s being conceited here, what is documented beyond any question. Our federal government, through the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health is actively seeking fetal parts, tissues, organs for medical experimentation, particularly here, what’s described as genitourinary body parts, of fetuses between six and 42 weeks of gestation. Let that settle in and all of its horror. We’re talking about unborn babies between six and 42 weeks of development. But then again, if you’re talking about 40 weeks of development, just consider, you’re talking about babies that are full-term.

But at this point, just in terms of the media sourcing, you’ll notice the mainstream media has stayed away from the story. It’s as if there’s an absolute allergy because there absolutely is. No one on the pro-abortion side wants the American people to be thinking about this for even one second, not to mention American taxpayers, understanding our own moral complicity in this research undertaken by the federal government. But the federal government, in cooperation and in complicity with those who are conducting abortions.

Part II

What is the Value of the Pre-Born Baby? In the Pro-Abortion View, Basically Nothing. The Christian Worldview, However, Is a Radical Contradiction to the Culture of Death

Now, if you wonder if there’s substantiation for that, just consider the fact that the mainstream media, even what should be described as a rather authoritative liberal media source is onto the story, but is not onto the story in order to do an expose of this moral horror, it’s onto the story to try to defend the University of California at San Francisco. And in this case, it is none other than public radio, it’s Capital Public Radio that comes out of Cal State Sacramento. Let the headline of this story from Capital Public Radio in California settle in. The headline, the headline is this, “No, University of California, San Francisco Is Not Harvesting The Genitalia Of Murdered Babies.” It’s hard to imagine that language but that’s the actual headline in the report from Capitol Public Radio there in California. The article begins, “Anti-abortion activists in San Francisco protested this week after Live Action, an anti-abortion non-profit organization released emails that they claim show researchers at University of California, San Francisco,” and then they make the quote which I can’t read here, but it comes down to harvesting the sexual and reproductive organs of “murdered babies.”

Now, what’s the response of this story by Sasha Hupka at Capital Public Radio in California? Is it to say, “No, this could never have happened. No, this is a complete misrepresentation. No, there is no involvement by the University of California, San Francisco on human fetal tissue experimentation,” but that’s not what the report says. Instead, the report says, “It’s not murder.” Reading from the portions of this Public Radio report that I can read on The Briefing, the report continues, “UCSF does conduct biomedical research using fetal tissue and has done so for decades, but the claim that they obtain it for murdered babies greatly distorts the truth and is not correct.” Again, notice the word they have centered on as if that’s the crucial issue. “In a statement to PolitiFact, UCSF officials said the tissue used for research comes from donations, which can happen after a woman miscarries, chooses to terminate a pregnancy for medical reasons or chooses to have an elective abortion. The officials asked not to be named because of safety concerns.”

One of the officials said, “Only tissue that has been donated may be used in research. Many women who choose to terminate or experience the loss of a pregnancy specifically ask whether they can make these donations.” Well, something we have to note is the fact that undeniably, not only do we have the human fetal tissue experimentation here and what can only be described as a market in those tissues and body parts, the specific identification of body parts and tissues that are desired for medical experimentation, in this case, genitourinary, but we also have the acknowledgement that at least some of these body parts and tissues are coming from babies who are killed in the process of what’s medically defined here darkly enough as an elective abortion. That means there’s not even a pretense of a medical reason for the abortion, it’s simply an abortion because the mother has decided to end the life within her.

The main point in this article from Capital Public Radio is to say that the word murder is really not appropriate here. The argument is that it is extremely unlikely that a baby would be born alive. But the point is, there is not only no denial of the basic experimentation of the receiving, and targeting, and identification, and documenting of these particular body parts from human fetuses, but also the fact that at least some of the fetuses involved are available because of elective abortion. And just looking at the statistics, you know that those numbers have to be a very great percentage of the fetal tissues that are available. That’s just a matter of math. Here, we face one of the gravest moral crises of our day. What are the most urgent moral issues? What is the moral status of the unborn human being? Sometimes described as a preborn human being because one of the facts about every single human being is that there was a period when we existed but we’re not yet born.

The reality is that the status of the unborn human being in the United States, according to Roe v. Wade, is basically almost nothing. The argument or the pro-abortion movement is that it is absolutely nothing unless that baby is desired by the mother. This is where Christians must think very carefully. Intentionally, we must think theologically. Carefully, we must think biblically. Let’s just think in these terms. There are limited options as to the identity and moral character of the inhabitant of the womb, the unborn human being. Either that unborn human being is a person of infinite value whose life is sacred simply because that human being is created by God and made in God’s image, or you could also argue horrifyingly enough with at least a logical consistency of a form that the unborn human being means absolutely nothing, so long as the unborn human being is in the womb. There is absolute dignity and sanctity of life, once born, there is no moral significance until born.

But you’ll notice that almost no defender of abortion wants to say that out loud, almost no one arguing for the pro-abortion logic is willing to say that categorically. And that is because it is virtually impossible to deny that the inhabitant of the womb is a person, is a baby, is a human being when there is the perception of movement and you have the images on the ultrasound, you have a recognition that this is indeed a baby. But, of course, that’s the way it starts. That’s the moral intuition that God has woven into creation. As soon as a woman finds that she’s pregnant, the declaration is, “I’m going to have a baby.” The couple says, “We’re going to have a baby.” The mother doesn’t say, “I have a product of conception in my womb.” The mother doesn’t say, “I have some developing human tissue in my womb.” The mother doesn’t speak of a zygote and an embryo, the mother speaks instead of a baby. That’s the moral intuition and it’s right.

But let’s go back to the argument. Either the unborn or preborn human being holds absolute sanctity and dignity because that baby is made in God’s image or the baby is morally just non-significant until born, that’s a horrifying thought, but at least it’s an argument. But the third alternative is that at some point during gestation or during development, a fetus becomes a baby, a baby becomes a person. There is all of a sudden now moral significance to this unborn yet human individual. But the reality is that if you’re going to say it’s at some point between say week one and week 40, well, how are you going to make the argument about where that is? This is where there is no moral consensus because it is an immoral question. But as I said, we need to think, not only carefully and theologically, we need to think biblically and just think in these terms, wherever the Bible speaks of a person not yet born but in the mother’s womb, it speaks of human dignity and sanctity of personhood, sometimes even of name, and in one case, even of Messianic identity.

When Gabriel appears to Mary, he doesn’t speak of a product of conception, he speaks of the fact that she will give birth to a baby who will be Christ the Lord. David speaks of God knowing Him in His mother’s womb before His mother knew Him. The fact is that the Bible comprehensively gives us a picture of the human person that begins in sanctity and dignity. When God says, “Let there be life,” and that means at the point of fertilization. We also need to recognize a biblical and theological logic here. If personhood is something that a human fetus develops, then it is something that a human fetus or a human person can lose. If it is a capacity that can be gained, it is a capacity or functionality that can be lost, which is why abortion and feticide, euthanasia, and assisted suicide are all part of one great horrifying moral equation.

This is a shocking and indeed horrifying story that has to do, not only with this kind of experimentation taking place, but it taking place in esteemed institutions of higher education in the United States of America that tells us a great deal about our culture. But not just that, we’re talking about the fact that at least some of this funding is being underwritten, paid for by agencies, commissions, entities, and institutes of the United States government. That means that every single American taxpayer is thus complicit in this activity. Now, what does that mean? What does that moral complicity mean? Well, it means at least this, that every American Christian taxpayer must use every means at our disposal of public influence and changes in public policy in order to end this horrifying reality and make certain that the federal government of the United States of America is neither approving of facilitating nor certainly paying for this kind of research when it comes to tissues taken from human fetuses, from unborn human babies.

As we bring this consideration to a conclusion for today, just consider this. After World War II, when the horrors of the Nazi medical experiments were known, the question was asked then, how could any civilization have put up with this? How could any regime, how could any civilized people have endured, facilitated, and allowed this? And, of course, the question then came, what can we do to make certain that this kind of medical experimentation never happens again? But here we are in 2021, and it’s happening again.

Part III

Recall the Governor? September 14th Might Bring Big Changes in California—And Every Governor Had Better Pay Attention

Next, we’ll turn to another story from California and this one will also have to do with San Francisco and Sacramento, but it’s a very different story. The date that’s most crucial for this story is September the 14th, just over a month away, and that is when California voters will decide whether they will recall California Governor Gavin Newsom, and if they do vote to recall him, who should continue to serve out the rest of the term as California’s governor? Now, behind all of this is a rather unique and bizarre system of citizen recall of elected officials in the state of California. Behind that’s another interesting story going back to the Progressivist Era in the United States. That has to do with the period in the late 19th and early 20th century, when many political reforms, or what were called political reforms, were put in place. In the state of California, one of those reforms was the ability of citizens to remove an elected governor for malfeasance in office.

But in truth, it doesn’t even require malfeasance, it just requires that a requisite number of California voters have decided they don’t want this individual as governor anymore. The recall provision in the California Constitution is more than a century old. It goes back to Governor Hiram Johnson. He pushed through a series of reforms that he identified as political progress for the State of California that would have allowed, for example, their reform that takes the shape of this recall election. What it requires is a certain percentage of Californians to sign a petition that they want to recall the governor, then if a requisite number of those petitions by population is reached, and it was in this case, then the question goes to the California people but in a most unusual balloting process. How unusual? Well, consider this. It actually has two questions.

The first question, if answered for the recall of the governor triggers the second question. If the governor is not recalled, then the second question doesn’t even apply. The first question is simply, do voters in California recall the governor? That means remove him from office, in this case, Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, more about him in a moment. But if the governor is not recalled, then the second question becomes irrelevant. But if the governor is recalled, the second question comes down to the ballot where a list of candidates, without respect to party at least in theory, California voters decide who they would like to serve up the rest of the term. But you’ll notice that the winner there is simply a plurality, which one of those individuals on the second part of the ballot or the second question of the ballot gets the most votes?

Just to get to the bottom line here, it doesn’t take all that much for a California governor to be recalled once a petition is put in place. If the governor is recalled, then someone receiving a relatively small fraction of the statewide vote can all of the sudden become the state’s governor for at least the end of that term. That’s what happened with Governor Gray Davis, a Democrat, was removed from office, and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger was voted in the last time this provision went into effect. But now, we’re looking at Gavin Newsom, and Gavin Newsom is a very Liberal Democrat. How liberal? Well, as one of the youngest mayors in the history of San Francisco, he sought to prove a moral point by conducting same-sex marriages in that city famed for its LGBTQ population before same-sex marriage was legal.

He set up indeed a legal and constitutional crisis there in the state of California which was his point. In San Francisco, that just made him more popular. He was so popular that he catapulted his service as the mayor of San Francisco and did two terms as the lieutenant governor of California. But no one believed that he intended to remain as lieutenant governor, and so, after serving those two terms, in 2018, he was elected California governor. And just keep in mind, by the way, if you win the democratic nomination in a normal election cycle in California, then you are elected. It has been a very long time since a Republican has been elected to statewide office in California, basically, it is a one-party state. But with this recall mechanism, according to the California Constitution, well, that might be no longer the case or at least in this opportunity, it might be that a Republican would have a real chance.

For instance, Republican Larry Elder, known for his radio program, is actually in a very good position to win the recall election if the California voters vote on question one to remove Gavin Newsom. That would be quite a shock. A shift from a very liberal Democratic governor to a more Conservative or at least a Libertarian Republican governor of the State of California. Larry Elder wouldn’t stand a chance. I think even his best friends would say that. Larry Elder wouldn’t stand a chance in a general election, but this isn’t a election. This is a recall election, and that’s a very different thing. Larry Elder is rather conservative on economic positions, rather liberal on social positions, it is unclear how that would go with many Republican voters in California, except for this. This is an opportunity to remove Gavin Newsom from office, who by the way, has had a very Rocky road even amongst many Democrats in the state because of his high-handedness.

It’s not so much that he’s too liberal for California. Given many of the Democratic leaders there, it’s hard to imagine who might be. He was a known quantity, no surprise there, but it is COVID-19 and his strong arm tactics as governor in the state, in the context of the pandemic that have won him so much outrage within the state, and deservedly so. He has trampled on religious liberty and many other major constitutional freedoms under the guise of the pandemic. Now, California voters get an opportunity on September the 14th to say whether or not they will put up with that kind of gubernatorial activity. And if California voters do remove him, the question is, who then will be elected to serve out the rest of his term? It could be someone who simply receives just a handful of votes more than the person with the next largest number of votes.

It could be a very, very thin slice of the California electorate. Thus, the Los Angeles Times’ editorial board has run a recent editorial with this headline, “Newsom could be replaced by someone with a tiny fraction of the vote. That’s nuts.” Well, indeed I think both conservatives, and liberals, Democrats, and Republicans taking a long view of history might say that, actually, the very strange way that California recall provision has put in place might actually be nuts. But it’s a little late to say it’s nuts when the nut you put in office is now the one who is facing the potential recall. One of the thing to keep in mind, the voters more likely to come out on September the 14th are the voters who are motivated by a desire to remove the governor.

If the governor survives, it’s going to require his supporters to come out and vote again just to keep him in office, just in terms of electoral motivation, that’s uneven and that’s to Gavin Newsom’s disadvantage. It’s also a fact that someone with the name recognition of Larry Elder has an advantage simply because of that prominence of name that gives California voters the idea that there really is an alternative to Gavin Newsom. There are other Republicans on the ballot and some others who aren’t even Republicans. The Republicans include businessman, John Cox, who has run before for California governor and a transgender candidate, it goes by the name of Caitlyn Jenner.

So, by now, you’ve figured out that September the 14th in California is going to be a day to watch. And trust me, there are a lot of governors in the United States deservedly. There are a lot of governors who had better see the recall election in California as a very real threat to their own very personal political future.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

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I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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