Serious opponents of abortion should be lined up to support birth control clinics. They should sponsor sex education programs. They should help mothers find work so they can feed and educate their children.
They shouldn't be using hidden cameras to obtain secret video of doctors who work for Planned Parenthood discussing the distribution of fetal tissue and body parts with people who have misrepresented themselves.
Those tactics are more about gotcha politics and about defunding a nonprofit organization that provides services to women and poor people than they are about helping women prevent unwanted pregnancies.
As the late Dr. Alan Guttmacher, former president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, wrote after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, "those who oppose and those who favor legalization of abortion share a common goal — the elimination of all abortion," through better, safer, cheaper contraception.
"Each abortion bespeaks medical or social failure."
There is no dispute that two videos released recently by the Center for Medical Progress, which describes itself as "a group of citizen journalists dedicated to monitoring and reporting on medical ethics and advances," are disturbing.
One shows Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services for Planned Parenthood, at lunch discussing medical procedures used to obtain fetal tissue and body parts, which is legal unless there is a profit made from it. Nucatola is using blunt language to casually describe procedures that most of us don't talk about anywhere, let alone over mixed greens.
A second video shows Dr. Mary Gatter, president of Planned Parenthood's Medical Directors' Council, again over lunch, discussing the cost of harvesting fetal body parts and ways to keep them intact. Again, it is disturbing to hear someone talking so casually about medical procedures.
But that's how doctors talk.
It is clear from watching the videos that the doctors do not know they are being videotaped and are talking frankly with people who claimed to be fetal tissue buyers.
David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, is a well-known anti-abortion activist who has previously used undercover sting operations and heavily edited videotape to try to discredit Planned Parenthood.
His group says the first video shows the organization's plan to "sell baby parts," and the second shows the doctor "haggling over baby-part pricing."
Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the videos are part of a "smear" campaign and were heavily edited to distort and take out of context the talks that were underway.
Misinformation doesn't stop with doctored videos. In 2011, then-Senate Republican whip Jon Kyl of Arizona said on the floor of the Senate that abortion constitutes "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does."
When Planned Parenthood countered that abortions make up less than 3 percent of its services, a Kyl staff member said the comment "was not intended to be a factual statement."
Well, sure. You wouldn't want factual statements on the Senate floor.
The videos have achieved their intended purpose. They have stirred debate and created a political uproar.
Donating fetal tissue is a life-saving effort and the women who choose to do so should be commended, not treated like they are participating in a criminal undertaking. Fetal tissue is used in medical research on treatments and cures for diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Taking politics out of abortion would go a long way toward prevention. That's where the nation should be headed.