The author is a former political speechwriter and press secretary with much experience in politics and the reading and analysis of legislation, and also operated a political correspondence office at the Capitol where he read every letter addressed to the Governor for a number of years -- a very helpful education in learning how people think and why...
For many years now, I have warned against “compromised incrementalism” – the mistaken belief that we “move the ball forward” or “save some babies now so that others may be saved later” by pushing for compromise legislation.
This legislation may be framed as great legislation by well-meaning Christian legislators, but it may have unintended consequences of devastating proportions!
I first spoke out publicly about this in December of 2006, with a column published in WorldNetDaily.com – A Growing Split in the Pro-Life Community (which, coincidentally, was the starting point and first post of this blog). In short, I pointed out that the idea of a law requiring abortionists to administer anesthesia so an aborted baby would not feel pain is heinously perverted in its implications.
Since then, the anti-compromise faction of the pro-life movement (now recognized largely as the Personhood Movement, with proposals for Personhood Amendments now active in 40 states) has persevered, educated, and brought a growing number of pro-lifers to recognize a shift in our perceived mission – a return to emphasis on the Right to Life, rather than merely trying to place curbs and cautions on the institution of legalized abortion.
Are they a majority of pro-lifers now? It wouldn’t surprise me. I've met and spoken with dozens of recent converts -- people who once supported compromised regulations (as did I) but have forever changed their minds, and will refuse to ever support one again. I know of several legislators (from other states than my own, sadly) who have made this conversion themselves. Alabama's Judge Roy Moore has, also, and who better to understand the legal argument from a Christian perspective?!
But pro-life leadership and pro-life legislators are slow to recognize the sea change. Many of them either fully support, or give lip service to, the Personhood movement, and to Personhood Amendments, while their hearts and minds still believe Personhood is too forward-thinking, and they want to remain in their comfortable world of political compromise legislation.
They fail to realize that by supporting compromise legislation, they do two things:
1) They undermine the public perception of a Right to Life – they instead build a perception that there are “good” abortions and “bad” abortions and that proper regulation will end the abuses and socially-negative consequences of more gruesome abortion procedures while “compassionately” leaving those forms of abortion which our society finds necessary and useful.
Average Americans, being average Americans, are always seeking the middle ground, and this political debate allows them to participate in a process of finding it, while no one who’s not an activist on one side or the other of the issue realizes that this is fundamentally a question of principle – one side is right, the other is wrong, and it’s the public duty to find it!
Constantly pushing for compromise legislation prevents the general public from ever having to really deal with the principle in question, and keeps most from realizing the argument is about principle at all!
2) According to Dr. Charles Rice, a legal professor at Notre Dame University, laws such as parental notification laws, “abortion-ultrasound” laws, late-term abortion bans, etc. actually build a legal framework to protect the institution of abortion. They establish a legal status, by implication, for abortion – a judge looks at a law which puts legal limits on abortion, and the obvious legal/logical implication is that unless the specified limits apply in a situation, then abortion is clearly legal!
Dr. Rice believes that if Roe v. Wade were overturned, many of these “pro-life” laws on the books today would become the enabling language for pro-aborts and judges to prove that abortion is legal in those states.
Imagine that – pro-abortion liberals refusing to repeal a “pro-life” parental notification law because it establishes in law that abortion is legal so long as a parent agrees to the minor child’s abortion!
Any time you argue in law that “…abortion is illegal unless you do this…” you are simultaneously leaving the assumption that “…if you do this, then abortion IS legal…” These types of law are called “and then you can kill the baby” laws. “If the mother views an ultrasound of her unborn baby, and signs a release stating she’s seen it, then she can kill her baby.” “If a minor child has the approval or her parent, guardian, or a judge, then she can kill her baby.”
Laws such as abortion-ultrasound laws automatically imply that a woman has a right to decide to kill her own living, moving, growing unborn child if she so chooses!!!
The more of these laws that exist on the books – “pro-life” laws which end with “and then you can kill the baby” - the stronger the case for legal abortion is. You cannot regulate something that’s not legal – that’s a legal truism. If it’s not legal, there’s no reason to regulate it, therefore if it’s regulated under the law it is by definition legal.
Pro-life legislators are unwittingly writing the death sentences for millions of babies by writing legislation intended to "save some babies" because they don't think we can realistically save the rest!
Plus, all this time, while we argue about where to draw the line between legal abortions and illegal abortions, we’re failing to teach the general public that all abortions kill an innocent child, and therefore abortion is always wrong.
Recognition of the Personhood of the unborn child is not just our best option, and not just our final goal. It is the ONLY answer, and must be our ONLY goal. Supporting compromised legislation, at best, is one step forward, two steps back -- it undermines a public belief in the Right to Life. It makes our job so much harder when we try to convince society that our Right to Life is God-given and inalienable.
Why don't these laws automatically shock us? Why do we fail to recognize the unintended consequences?
Our problem is this. We have become so comfortable with abortion – just as one generation of Germans was comfortable with “solving” the Jewish “problem” and many generations of Americans were comfortable with the “peculiar institution” of slavery – we’ve ceased to think of abortion as comparable to the Holocaust or slavery.
Yes, our intellectual mind makes the comparison, but our emotional reactions are different, because we’re so “close” to the problem. We know it's legal, so we feel powerless to say it's murder (just as Christians in Germany failed to recognize that legalized extermination was murder).
We fail to be properly "shocked" at how bad legal language is. It seems to us that "of course we must acknowledge it's legal, because it IS!" By writing ANYTHING into law which states or leaves a legal implication that abortion is legal only builds the foundations of legalized abortion.
To show ourselves what's really going on -- in order to feel properly "shocked" -- it’s necessary to compare abortion to other evils of history, or else we won’t realize how wicked our “pro-life” laws may actually be. Replace unborn child, in the language, with Jew, or replace abortion with extermination by gassing. Replace the regulation of abortion with the regulation of anything else which we know in our hearts is wrong, wrong, WRONG! Then we will see...
Do we want pro-life legislators signing their names and reputations to bills which say you can only perform an abortion in the first trimester? This is the moral equivalent of passing a law saying slavery is prohibited in Maine, but slavery is a legally protected institution in Texas. Congressmen, in the 1850s, actually passed compromised laws like this – what do we think of those legislators today? Do we consider them anti-slavery, or does history judge them as having perpetuated the institution of slavery? In case you’re wondering, the judgment of history upon these men is not favorable.
So, as an exercise, I’ve substituted the language of an actual proposed Colorado law – one strongly backed by Colorado’s pro-life legislators – with language which purports to “protect” Jews in Nazi Germany. See what you think. Would you sign your name to this law? Would you vote for it? Would you really be willing to “save some Jews” by affirmatively underscoring a legal status for killing others???
A Modest Proposal…
Please note before reading: This “proposed law” is a work of political satire, and is meant to be read as a warning to Christian and pro-life legislators and their supporters that they may be playing into the hands of the enemy because of the wording they use in their proposed legislation.
No ill will toward Jews or "well-meaning but compromised" legislators is meant by this – certainly, just the opposite.
The majority of the text is unimportant, or has irrelevant scope, and so is not included here.
A Bill for an Act
Concerning the Protection of Jews from Unreasonable Death
Making an appropriation in connection therewith
The bill creates a new statutory part that addresses the fatal consequences of persecution upon Jewish residents in the state and includes the following crimes:
- Murder of an adult Jew
- Voluntary manslaughter of an adult Jew
An adult Jew is defined as 16 years or older. The bill describes acts that do not constitute crimes under the new part.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the Third Reich
Part 5 – Protection of Jews Act
Acts not an offense [this is where the law specifies its scope, and what it does NOT prohibit]: This part 5 shall not apply to:
a) Acts that cause the death of an adult Jew if those acts are committed during a legal extermination procedure to which a Nazi magistrate has signed a notice of intent, or a person authorized by law to exterminate Jews;
b) Acts committed by one Jew against another Jew;
c) Acts that are committed pursuant to usual and customary standards of extermination in an authorized, controlled facility designed for that purpose;
Definitions. As used in this Part 5, unless the context otherwise requires, “Adult Jew” means a Jew whose stage of development has reached or surpassed sixteen years since birth, such that he or she may contribute, voluntarily or involuntarily, to the State.
Murder of an Adult Jew. A person who causes the death of an adult Jew, without lawful justification, is guilty of Murder of an Adult Jew if he or she: …
Voluntary manslaughter of an Adult Jew. A person who causes the death of an adult Jew, without lawful justification, is guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter of an Adult Jew if he or she…
Etc. etc. etc.
(there! you've "saved some Jews!")
Note: This “proposed legislation” is very closely modeled on an actual “pro-life” bill proposed as law in Colorado – HB 10-1261 – by well-meaning (but misled) pro-life legislators.
I have highlighted passages that should shock any moral person – examples of how this law acknowledges and supports the legality of other forms of evil, even while stopping others. Every highlighted passage above – the ones meant to shock a reasonable, moral human being – has its equivalent in the proposed “pro-life” bill, which was meant to enact a “fetal homicide” provision into state law (note that not all fetal homicide or other incremental legislation is compromised - it depends how it's worded).
Please note, specifically, that the part under "definitions" in this law sets an age limit to the law, meaning that even though the law prohibits the murder of Jews above age 16, it specifically does not prohibit murder of Jews of less than 16 years. The actual proposed law in Colorado has equivalent language, basically saying the fetal homicide is not considered fetal homicide before 16 weeks of development, which inherently places less value (i.e. less humanity) upon an unborn child of 15 weeks than is acknowledged for older children. Placing relative value upon one life versus another is inherently wicked -- these lives are seen as equal in God's eyes, and government has no right to determine relative value in contradiction to God's law.