Through profiling and identifying hundreds of victims of violent crimes for more than 30 years, I have come to truly appreciate the gift of life we humans take for granted. Working with the grieving families of many of these victims has influenced my moral compass, the affirmation of the difference between right and wrong.

Whether one believes that human life begins at conception or later, by the fifth week of gestation, a human embryo has a beating heart. A beating heart … the lack thereof that typically signals medical doctors that a human being is no longer alive. By the eighth week of gestation, the fetus’ organs and limbs have formed and are growing and developing. Extinguishing that life and subsequently harvesting its body parts are just plain wrong.

Because of the graphic videos shot with hidden cameras, now we all know what occurs at Planned Parenthood, a tax-funded, government-sanctioned program. As a society that so visibly mourns the loss of members of our glorious nonhuman animal species, does our own not deserve the same concern? If we Americans accept the mass murder and subsequent dismemberment of these innocent babies as part of the price we pay for a “free society,” I believe our collective moral compass is lost.

Mary H. Manhein

retired forensic anthropologist

Baton Rouge