Church leaders in shock over trade in baby body parts trade

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US Archbishop Robert Carlson of St Louis, left, and the Rev Matthew Harrison, president of the US Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The religious leaders issued a statement on 5 October raising concern about the scandal which broke in July when it was revealed US Planned Parenthood has long engaged in selling body parts of aborted babies. Photo: Erik Lunsford, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
US Archbishop Robert Carlson of St Louis, left, and the Rev Matthew Harrison, president of the US Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The religious leaders issued a statement on 5 October raising concern about the scandal which broke in July when it was revealed US Planned Parenthood has long engaged in selling body parts of aborted babies. Photo: Erik Lunsford, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

Archbishop Robert Carlson of St Louis, Missouri, and the Rev Matthew Harrison, president of the US Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, say they are shaken and shocked by reports that the body parts of babies are being harvested.

In an 5 October statement, the religious leaders cited the undercover videos released in recent weeks by the Centre for Medical Progress showing Planned Parenthood officials and others discussing the transfer of body parts from aborted babies for research as cause for great concern.

“Like millions of Americans, including those in the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, we have been shaken to the core by what we have witnessed: intact babies, at times still alive, having their body parts harvested as a commodity,” the statement said.

“We are shocked at the image of tiny hands and feet seen in a glass pie plate. We are horrified at what we have seen and heard. Such actions and attitudes have no place in our society.”

The release of 11 edited videos since July by the California-based Centre for Medical Progress has prompted state and federal investigations into Planned Parenthood’s activities across the US.

The statement described the videos as “offensive” but pointed out that they have dealt only with aspects of abortion, not abortion itself, which became a constitutional right after the 1973 US Supreme Court Roe vs Wade decision.

“Over 57 million unborn children have been lost to abortion in our nation since 1973,” the statement said. “The toll of these lives lost is enormous. We are missing sons and daughters, siblings, spouses, coaches, scholars, mentors and friends. This loss is symptomatic of a loss of respect for human life in our society today. In so many ways, our culture seeks to deny the humanity of the unborn, of the elderly or of someone with a disability.”

Archbishop Carlson and the Rev Harrison also affirmed their continued commitment to offer resources to help parents, regardless of faith background, who need medical, financial or social service assistance during pregnancy and afterward. Both churches are prepared to assist parents who make an adoption plan for their child.

In the St Louis archdiocese, Cardinal John Carberry formed the Respect Life Apostolate in 1973 in response to the Roe vs Wade decision. It was the first agency of its kind in a US Catholic diocese and became recognised as a model for Respect Life offices in other US dioceses. The apostolate promotes the Catholic Church’s teachings on respect for human life from conception until natural death, based on the four pillars of spiritual support, pastoral care, education and public policy.

Karen Nolkemper, apostolate executive director, described working with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod as “exciting and uplifting … as together we witness to the deepest truth of our convictions and our common commitment to life”.

“I am confident that working together to create a culture of life will inspire more people of faith and goodwill to unite and end abortion,” she said.

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, founded in 1847, is headquartered in St Louis and has more than 2.2 million members in about 6100 congregations and more than 9000 pastors nationwide.