Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tom Tancredo for Governor

Tom Tancredo is clearly the best candidate for Governor of Colorado, but some of my very conservative, less conservative, and generally Republican friends have gotten stuck on some misinformation which keeps them locked into supporting Republican candidate Dan Maes.

I've expressed my view on voting for principles over party before, in The Folly of the "Big Tent." Basically, political parties give your principles voice and strength only so long as your party actually follows those principles. If they've stopped following your principles, then voting third party is the ONLY way to make your voice heard, even if it means "losing" the election cycle by causing your preferred party to lose. Next time around, the party will be smarter about what positions they take, and considering how humdrum support for the GOP was from its own "base" in 2006 and 2008, contrasted against how strong many of the GOP candidates are this time around, this pretty much proves my point. I.e. by not voting GOP, conservatives "fixed" the GOP (to an extent).

The fact that Tom Tancredo is a "third party" candidate (nevermind that he's polling three times higher than the Republican candidate for governor) should not scare people off. The American Constitution Party is a party that has always stood for values the GOP has always said it stood for (during election time anyway). The fact is, none of us really know what Dan Maes believes, because we know for a fact he's lied (if you doubt this, see below), and so we're never sure if what he says he believes is really what he believes. This is especially clear since his statements on abortion, gun control, immigration policy, etc. have changed over time.

There are two major sticking points keeping Dan Maes supporters from giving up on him and turning to Tom Tancredo, despite the fact that Maes is unlikely to get more than 10% of the vote, in the final tally. Those are 1) partisan/factional investment in the candidate you supported from the beginning, and 2) distrust of Tom Tancredo. I'm going to try to defuse both of these reasons.

Many Republican voters believe in a principle of "always vote Republican." Talk-show host Mike Rosen is the biggest pusher of this concept, which of course I disagree with. Compounding this is this year's Tea Party movement, and its many passionate supporters (who I generally agree with), who believe the Tea Party "made" Dan Maes, and so if Maes loses, so does the Tea Party. The problem with this is that the candidate who the GOP nominated, and who the Tea Party pushed, is NOT the same candidate we thought he was when we supported him. This can be seen by comparing his contradictory statements on the issues, examining his squirrelly campaign spending and hidden books, and understanding his falsified or exaggerated resume. It can be further illustrated by the fact that most of Maes' most vehement critics are his former supporters, including some who volunteered for him (particularly campaign treasurers!), or worked on his staff.

Whether his side or the police chief's side is correct, with regard to his brief record as a police officer in Kansas, it's clear that Maes was not the "Serpico" law-enforcing star he made himself out to be. At best, he worked undercover in a non-dangerous relationship with small time crooks. At worst, he was collaborating with organized crime and tipped them off to a police investigation. I've read the relevant documents on Talking Points Memo and I can establish no "proof" one way or another. Maes also claimed to be a successful businessman, which also appears to have been an exaggeration or falsification. He had good years and he had bad years. And no one is quite sure how he's paying for his house in Evergreen, which brings us to Freda Poundstone...

Freda Poundstone says she gave Dan Maes $300+/- cash because he asked her to help him pay his mortgage, which was behind. Many Maes supporters suggest that Freda Poundstone is a longtime politician, and a Tancredo supporter (though she was earlier a strong Maes supporter), and therefore her word cannot be trusted. Here's my refutation: No one has to believe Freda's account in order to know that Maes lied to all of us. Dan Maes himself admitted he received a substantial sum of money in cash (around $300) from Freda. Whether you believe Freda is telling the truth or not, Maes acknowledged she gave him money, which means either he was lying to us about being a successful businessman, and instead he needed help with his mortgage, or he accepted an illegal cash donation and then didn't report it on his campaign finance filings -- a double illegality. Take your pick -- Maes is either a liar, or a crook. Ironically, he looks better if Freda is telling the truth!

I, personally, was a Dan Maes supporter until after the primary. I voted for him, and I didn't switch automatically when Tom Tancredo entered the race. Once I concluded Dan Maes had lied to me (and especially once he appointed Tambor Williams as his running mate -- someone who I like personally, but whose position on abortion differs from mine), I could only start to believe at least some of the many other charges of resume falsification and financial irregularity were true also. I know Dan Maes lied to me, so I don't trust him, and I don't understand how anyone else still can!

The other objection is some people don't trust Tom Tancredo, and think he's a closet liberal. I laughed the first time I heard this. I got concerned when I saw some of the charges made by Maes supporters about Tancredo, and I looked into them. Some of these charges didn't make me happy. But overall, Tom Tancredo's record is consistently -- even stunningly! -- conservative. I have no worries that Tancredo is a "tax and spend" liberal, as some of these people charge. I was right the first time -- the charge is laughable.

Everyone who's been around Colorado politics for long knows that Tom Tancredo and Bob Schaffer were our most conservative representatives in Washington DC for many years -- they generally voted the same -- and until Doug Lamborn got to Congress Tancredo probably had Colorado's most conservative voting record ever! The National Taxpayer's Union measures fiscally conservative votes in Congress, and rates Congressmen on their votes. Tancredo's worst rating ever was in 2008, when he got 77% from NTU (which still ranked him as the 51st most conservative member of Congress!). In his 10 years in DC, Tancredo was ranked for 5 years as one of the top 5 MOST conservative Congressmen in the whole House of Representatives (i.e. in 2001 he was ranked 3rd out of 435!). Colorado's local affiliate of the NTU is the Colorado Union of Taxpayers (CUT). In 1977-78, when Tancredo was in the legislature, he rated 100% with CUT. He was always in the top 15 most fiscally conservative legislators, and many of those other legislators who have earned top rankings from CUT over the years are supporters of Tom Tancredo. At least 2 members of CUT's board of directors are listed on Tom's endorsement page. I can find no CUT board members on Dan Maes' endorsement list. The charge that Tancredo isn't conservative enough is silly. A few bad choices (which only dropped him to 77% with the NTU) cannot outweigh his years of fiscally conservative leadership.

Lastly, some question Tancredo's ethics for having presented us with a confusing range of political choices this year. First he was in, then he was out, then he was in again... Many fault him for not winning through the Republican primary, but I believe I understand what happened. He was not being "underhanded" as many charge. He was doing what he felt was the best choice at each moment. I'm no close friend of Tom's, though I did get to spend some very revealing personal time with him in Philadelphia in 2000, which made me really like and trust him. But I've had occasion to speak with him in private at different times, and it's only reinforced my feelings of trust in him. With that insight as a guide, here is what I believe happened, to explain his seemingly odd behavior:

Tancredo didn't want either Scott McInnis or Maes as Governor (he apparently picked up things about Maes early on that others like me didn't recognize -- either that he wasn't qualified or had serious problems in his background). Tancredo figured he and Josh Penry would split the conservative vote (Penry was the conservative "golden child" back then, though his luster has been tarnished by his own behavior during the 2010 campaign), so Tancredo dropped out to avoid being a spoiler. Shortly afterward (to my memory), Penry was also talked into leaving. Having no better choices, Tancredo backed a qualified but not-so-conservative McInnis after getting certain promises from him, because he figured he was better than an unqualified Maes. McInnis pressured him to attack third parties to prevent defections (i.e. a well-publicized article where Tancredo said the Tea Party shouldn't mount a third-party challenger), and Tancredo went along because he hadn't considered third parties viable. Then the plagiarism scandal hit McInnis hard, and it looked like Maes might pull off the nomination. Tancredo offered to rejoin the Republican primary, but since most of us still trusted Maes, no one listened. And so Tancredo went to the Constitution Party. In the end, Tancredo may have been the only one who saw all this coming, and I believe he decided unselfishly at every point.

Tancredo helped found the Independence Institute -- one of the nation's foremost watchdogs on fiscal and civil liberties issues -- and served as its president. Tom Tancredo is a reliable fiscal conservative, and has been his whole career in politics. One reason GOP insiders don't like him is he often refused to "play ball" when the President or GOP leadership asked him to vote for Republican-sponsored spending packages. Tancredo is also more trustworthy than Maes on issues protecting a Right to Life for the unborn, because both Tancredo and his running mate have endorsed Amendment 62, the Personhood Amendment.

We need Tom Tancredo's kind of leadership at the State Capitol. I urge all conservatives and all Republicans to vote for him, and not Dan Maes.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Don't Be That Guy!

When pro-life candidates who support the Personhood of the unborn child are pressed by the media or their own constituents to defend their beliefs, there's a temptation to go deer-in-the-headlights and back away from solid, principled positions.


When you take a principled position on any controversial issue, your political opponents and media gossiphounds are going to make it sound like an extreme position. "Why would you hold such an extreme position?!" they ask. There are two reactions, of course.

You could back away and say I don't hold that position -- distance yourself from the issue. And this is typical candidate behavior, isn't it? But what it does is leave the media and the general public with the conclusion that it WAS an extreme position (or you wouldn't have backed away, right?) and YOU once held it!


What's worse, many of your supporters probably support you because you once held that position. What are they to think when you back away? You've not only compromised on the principle which was their reason for supporting you, but you've also, by implication, called THEM extreme for holding the position you've backed away from!


The best reaction is to calmly and reasonably explain to the voter, or the media, why it's NOT an extreme position.

Ronald Reagan didn't back away or "run to the center" when challenged with tough questions about dearly held principles. He stuck to his guns, explained why the position was mainstream common sense, rather than extreme. And more often than not the public came to view his position as mainstream!

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund has recently illustrated this, in a fundraising letter. Referring to Tea Party nominees for the U.S. Senate, they charge, "They want to outlaw all abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. Friend, their position was considered fringe and their candidates ludicrous just a few months ago. Now, they're mainstream." (ht Jill Stanek)

Planned Parenthood is simply recognizing the changing playing field. Five years ago, only a few pro-life activists knew what Personhood meant, and a majority of Americans supported a "right to choose." Two years ago, more than 50% of Americans (including women) identified themselves in polls as pro-life. Today, a broad range of voters and mainstream political candidates around the country are saying "I support the Personhood of the unborn child, and I believe abortion should be banned!" Pro-Life Personhood is now a mainstream political movement.

Because it's such a new concept, candidates who aren't carefully educated in how to respond to tough questions about rape/incest exceptions or birth control are tempted to run away from the issue, even if they once espoused it.


Colorado's U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck made this mistake recently. I'm still not 100% convinced he's changed his mind about anything (his campaign spokesman correctly explained his position to recently, saying, "Buck believes life 'begins at conception,' so birth control methods that don't impact that (i.e. condoms, some forms of the pill) are fine with him. Others that would keep a fertilized egg from implanting like hormone-based birth control methods, some other forms of the pill, IUDs, RU-486 and what's known as the morning-after pill, are not supported by him." (Source: E-mail from Buck spokesman Owen Loftus to 9NEWS, Aug. 26)).

But the press said he'd changed his mind about supporting Colorado's Amendment 62 (the Personhood Amendment) and the best he could do was clarify that he supports Personhood in concept but hasn't taken a position on any state ballot initiatives. By not jumping on the accusation full-force, Buck allowed some voters to believe he's changed his mind, whether he really did or not. It's not helping with supporters, and it's not helping with moderates or independents, either, because whether or not he still holds that supposedly "extreme" position, everybody knows he once did.

Buck (or his campaign) blinked when he should have stood firm.


Simple talking points on Personhood:
1) Arguing for the Personhood of the unborn child is not extreme. Arguing for the continued deaths of 4,000 unborn children every day is extreme!

2) If abortion is murder (i.e. kills an unborn human individual with his/her own unique DNA), as I believe it is, then why would I support an exception just because that child was conceived as part of a rape? You can't punish an innocent Person for a crime committed against somebody else. The inalienable Right to Life for an innocent Person, as guaranteed in the Constitution (the 5th and 14th Amendments, and the Declaration of Independence too) applies, no matter the circumstances.

3) Only 1% of abortions are for rape or incest -- it's extremely rare. Almost every mom who has an abortion is traumatized or depressed by the experience. Adding an abortion to the crime of rape doesn't "comfort" the victim -- it only adds another trauma on top of the first. In cases of incest or date rape, the abortion often serves to shield the criminal from prosecution by covering up the crime. This allows the rapist (the child's father or relative) to continue an incestuous relationship instead of exposing the criminal.

4) No form of birth control would be affected unless it actually has the potential to kill a developing child after conception. If a candidate (or even a voter) believes that life begins at conception, and that all human life should be protected, then they should not have a problem with this. The amendment deals only with living human Persons, not with sperm or eggs before fertilization. Therefore, it cannot logically or legally affect anything other than an abortifacient form of birth control, whether that drug acts as an abortifacient as its primary purpose or has that effect as a secondary side effect. This would affect some forms of birth control, but if a form of birth control is properly called a "contraceptive" (i.e. meaning it acts by preventing conception) then it would not be affected.

5) In Vitro Fertilization would not be banned, but "surplus" embryos (developing human children) could not be "disposed of" -- they would have to be cared for and adopted out through programs such as the Snowflake Children.

I know this isn't something your typical candidate training prepared you for. I even know this may not be the "focus of your campaign." I know politicians have a gut instinct to run away when a voter or reporter accuses you of being extreme because you're 100% pro-life.


Being 100% pro-life, supporting Personhood, opposing abortion even in cases of rape or incest or for health** reasons is NOT extreme! It has become a mainstream position, and it is the position increasingly held by voters across the United States! Every month that passes and every year that passes, more Americans are coming to hold this very same principle as their own.

I work as a part-time political consultant and campaign consultant on a contract basis. I am happy to offer my time for 20 minutes free to any pro-Personhood candidate in any state who needs help on messaging for these issues. I'd also be glad to contract my time for $35/hr to anyone who needs more assistance in running or preparing a pro-life campaign (I'll work with anybody who pledges to support Personhood in their campaign). If you want to meet in person, or would like for me to speak at an event or engagement, let me know and we can make arrangements for time/travel, etc. Contact me via e-mail with your contact information: Coloconservative (at) (please put "Personhood Question" in the subject line).

Please also consider donating money to support candidates who hold a principled pro-life position (i.e. pro-Personhood), through my political website:

Ed Hanks is a former speechwriter for the Governor of Colorado, a former Press Secretary in the Colorado House of Representatives, and has also served as a campaign consultant and constituent contact director.

**A note on "life of the mother exceptions": Many pro-lifers get stuck on the “life of the mother” exception, because it’s the most compelling of the “hard cases” exceptions some regulations are meant to address (how many times have we heard politicians recite the line, "I oppose abortion except for rape, incest, and the life of the mother"?). But we need not fall victim even to the life of the mother objection. The Personhood movement cares deeply about the lives of both, mother and child, especially since if the mother dies before the baby comes to term, the child will obviously die too. However, that doesn’t mean we need a “life of the mother exception” in law. Instead, the anti-abortion statute should be absolute. The life of the mother is saved by a doctor trying to save both lives (and thereby “do no harm”), not by a doctor trying to kill one patient in order to save the other. It’s the same concept as separating cojoined twins. The goal should always be to preserve both lives. This is not always possible, because of relative viability, and so sometimes one of the patients dies. The measure of crime or not is intent. If ever the doctor attempts to kill one patient, rather than save him/her, that’s where it becomes homicide. -- Ed Hanks

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Analysis of GOP Primary Results

With the final results for the GOP August 10 Primary mostly totaled, we can look back and see how the election went in terms of pro-life, pro-Personhood candidates.

Overall, I see it as a big win for Personhood, despite a few unfortunate setbacks.

In two key primary races the pro-Personhood candidate lost. In the 3rd Congressional District Bob McConnell was one of the first candidates to return the Colorado Right to Life survey, and he affirmed support for Personhood. His opponent didn’t, hasn’t endorsed Personhood, and seems embarrassed by the whole “pro-life” aspect of the campaign, though he claims to be pro-life. But Scott Tipton won, and pro-lifers need to reach out to him and insist that he publicly support Personhood. Tipton’s already lost a race to Democrat John Salazar once, and he will need the support of the pro-life community to win. He’s got work to do, and he can start by publicly endorsing Amendment 62.

In the 6th State Senate District, in southwestern Colorado, there was an important race for State Senate between pro-Personhood Dean Boehler and pro-abortion Ellen Roberts. It looked like Boehler was going to win, but then liberal special interests spent more than $40,000 in 527 money attacking him and promoting his opponent. Plus his opponent outspent him with her own funds. These special interests included groups connected with the pro-Obamacare, pro-abortion Colorado Medical Society. Ellen Roberts is the most pro-abortion Republican in the Legislature today, and so the pro-abortion medical interests will win no matter who wins this race. It’s best if the pro-abort winner is “their pro-abort” (i.e. a Democrat) not “our pro-abort” (a Republican), because that will make it easier to put a pro-lifer into that seat in 4 years.

Also, in Denver’s moderate southwest State Senate district, pro-Personhood CJ Garbo lost to a moderate Republican whose views we don’t know.

But everywhere else, pro-Personhood candidates prevailed over their opponents in hotly contested primaries.

The biggest victory for Personhood today was Ken Buck, for U.S. Senate. Opponent Jane Norton had endorsed Personhood, and generally had a pro-life record, but on her website she endorsed abortion in cases of rape and incest, which is a stand entirely opposed to the concept of Personhood. Ken Buck endorsed Personhood early on, and has been a reliable voice in favor of protecting all life at the beginning of its biological development.

Americans United for Life – a pro-compromise, establishment pro-life group – had endorsed Jane Norton. That was the first endorsement of any candidate that organization had made in four decades. Why did they endorse her? Because of Colorado Right to Life and the Personhood movement! AUL realized that if the winner of the primary for the U.S. Senate was a candidate who supported the Personhood strategy, instead of their compromised regulation strategy, it would be the beginning of the end for their control over the regulatory process. Why would they make this their first endorsement ever, in any state in all of history? Why prefer a candidate with exceptions over a candidate who would protect the life of the unborn from conception forward -- NO exceptions? Ironically, Americans United for Life endorsed Jane Norton specifically because she wasn't 100% pro-life! This was a key race for them – for all the marbles – and they lost. Personhood won.

Another key victory was in the Governor’s race, where we now know there will be two candidates on the November ballot who support Personhood – Dan Maes and Tom Tancredo. Scott McInnis had endorsed Personhood, and even told me in person that if a Personhood bill crossed his desk he would sign it, but there were always doubts on our side if he was serious, or just putting us on. Now we don’t have to worry about it. I’ve spoken with Dan Maes about Personhood myself, after some comments he made that caused us to doubt, and I came away assured that he was serious – he will support Personhood.

As for Tom Tancredo, who I’m betting will stay in the race until the end, his best chance for victory was Dan Maes winning. If McInnis had won, he would probably have been forced out and replaced by a “safe” Republican with lots of money or name recognition, or both. Such a candidate could be relied upon to get a large percentage of the vote. As it is, there are a lot of Republicans who don’t think Dan Maes can win (I disagree), and so those voters will go to Tancredo. Ever since Tancredo first entered the race I have encouraged a “40% solution.” It’s possible Tancredo could get as little as 10% of the vote, and that could allow Dan Maes to win the Governor’s race with only 46% of the vote (split 46-44). But I don’t think that’s realistic. Dan Maes is either going to prove himself and be a strong candidate, or he’ll slip up and be a weak one. Either way, I believe Tancredo will get at least 15-20% of the vote. This means the path to victory is getting 40% or more of the vote. The winner would get 41%, holding Hickenlooper to 40%, with the spoiler getting 19%. It remains to be seen whether the winner might be Tancredo or Maes, but the requirement for either to win must be to hold Hickenlooper to 40%. That’s possible ONLY if both Maes and Tancredo spend their time talking about conservative principles and beating up on Hickenlooper, not on each other. If they fight each other, they’re just trading conservative votes with each other – the winner will have to expand the number of conservative voters by talking about principles and common sense.

Despite his claims, Ryan Frazier, the winner of the 7th Congressional District primary, is not pro-life. He says he’s personally pro-life, but the government should stay out. It’s worth extending an offer to talk, and see if he’s willing to make a solid commitment for Personhood, but it will be difficult to trust any such commitment.

Nevertheless, three of the seven candidates for districts in Congress are on record as supporting Personhood – Cory Gardner, Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman – and there’s a chance either Tipton or Frazier may join with us later.

In the State House, a critical primary in a three way race was won by pro-Personhood Chris Holbert, who just barely beat a pro-abortion opponent with lots of money. He’s in a safe district, and his election in November is pretty much assured.

Another State House primary was won by pro-Personhood Ray Scott over his opponent who was widely believed to be pretending to be conservative, and who refused to sign on with Personhood.

In the State Senate, two Personhood candidates defeated their opponents. Kevin Grantham in Pueblo and Canon City won against a pro-abortion opponent. And in Pueblo itself Vera Ortegon won easily against her opponent who supported Personhood but who also had rape & incest exceptions.

Overall, 11 out of 19 Republicans running for the State Senate this year are pro-Personhood, and there may be more we don’t know about, or who will sign on later.

And in the House 17 out of 65 candidates are on record as supporting Personhood, but probably twice that actually do, and just haven’t gone on record.

Compared to just 2 years ago, there are probably twice as many candidates for the Legislature who are supporting Personhood and most of the Republicans at the top of the ticket (Senate, Governor, Congress) are supporting Personhood now whereas very few did so just 2 years ago.

The whole game has changed with regard to Personhood. With these key Republican figures supporting Personhood, it’s likely Amendment 62 will also do much better at the ballot box in November.

As a final note, as of Wednesday morning, please say a prayer for Georgia. The runoff for Governor of Georgia remains too close to call. Georgia Right to Life is a pro-Personhood ally, and they endorsed four of the five candidates for Governor in Georgia as pro-life, which to them means pro-Personhood. Karen Handel was the only Republican candidate who didn’t support Personhood, and she was one of two candidates in the August 10 Runoff. Handel also gave $1.2 million to Planned Parenthood as a county commissioner, and now claims she “had to” because they were supposedly the only vendor for womens’ health care. Her opponent, Nathan Deal, is pro-Personhood, and he has some ethics issues dogging him, but he remains the only candidate in the runoff who is pro-life.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Folly of the "Big Tent"

Here's my response to a blogger who was pushing for the "Big Tent" for the Republican Party. It was the typical argument -- we can't win without the support of whole bunches of people who don't normally vote for the GOP, we can make more progress by building coalitions than by dividing into little groups, etc. It made alot of sense, of course, but also missed a critical dynamic in party and election politics.

I was discussing abortion politics, but the same argument could be made in favor of fiscally conservative politics, etc. But fiscally conservative politics cannot make up for offending and getting rid of moral conservatives. Bob Schaffer tried that in 2008 (stupidly, since he lost many Christian supporters while liberals remembered he had always been pro-life - he lost votes from his base without picking up any on the other side, which is the same problem the GOP in general faces), and Schaffer fell on his face.

My response:

I used to believe in a "big tent," but I've since learned its folly. Without principles, we get nowhere. Reagan didn't offer us a big tent -- he offered us principles, which were broadly appealing and which inspired those who might not otherwise agree with him to vote for him.

There was once a "big tent" party -- the Whigs -- which tried to appeal to northerners and southerners alike by not taking strong stands on controversial issues like slavery. Do you know what happened to them? Probably not, because unless you study the history of the period no one even remembers who they were. In actuality, they split into two parties.

Did both parties lose? Did both of these "third parties" devastate themselves by shedding the big tent, leaving their major party behind, and dividing over matters of misguided principles?

No. One of those parties -- the Republican Party -- came to dominate the politics of the next several decades. For 70 years, in fact, and for a great portion of the century afterward, too.

They stood on a major principle -- opposition to slavery -- which held such a broad appeal that they succeeded where the wishy-washy "big tent" party failed.

The Republican Party today has the opportunity to stand on another major, unifying principle which could inspire them to victory. They could pledge to ban abortion and recognize the Personhood of the unborn child so he or she is not considered property like the slaves.

The Republican Party will succeed or die on this principle. Any attempts to remove the pro-life principle from the platform (which is what "big tent" means, in almost all cases), will destroy the party so that a half-century from today the Republican Party will be as well known as the Whigs are today.

Those "divisive" Christian Conservatives are the base of the Republican Party (and, from what I've found, the base of the Tea Party conservatives too) -- they've handed victory to the GOP in 5 of the last 8 presidential elections, but they're feeling ignored and betrayed. The Republicans can take them or leave them. If they leave them, they will energize another party and make them victorious instead.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Personhood Works, Regulations Don't

This is a more coherent recap & expansion on my earlier blog post on regulations, and why they undermine the Personhood of the unborn child -- "How We Compromise Ourselves."

I do not question the well-meaning intentions of those legislators who support, or even write, compromise legislation which tries to put limits on abortion in circumstances where a total abortion ban is not realistically possible. We can argue later about which is more "politically realistic" (I think Personhood is, still). But the fact that I believe in the good intentions of the pro-life regulators does not mean that I don't care whether they stop pushing regulations -- I do! -- or that I approve of what they're doing -- I don't! -- or that I will always continue to support regulation-minded legislators if they continue to ignore warnings about the unintended consequences of what they do.

I think the main thing “pro-life regulators” need to understand is that, whether or not Personhood is "practical" in a legal sense (which is the main objection of those pro-lifers who oppose the Personhood strategy, including Archbishop Charles Chaput and Clarke Forsythe of AUL), our primary problem as pro-lifers is that we've been making the wrong argument -- one which won't "change peoples' hearts" (which everybody agrees is the goal).

The regulations may teach some people about the Right to Life, but more often (esp. for wishy-washy or "moderate" citizens, who are the ones we need to convince in order to succeed in passing legislation or electing legislators) regulations only suggest a "moderate" solution exists for what they are led to believe is a policy question -- where do you draw the line?

Let me restate that.

Regulations clearly “suggest” to a citizen observer that there’s a policy question, to which there are “extreme” solutions (to right or left) and “moderate” solutions. Typical American citizens being who they are, almost all of the people in this category (i.e. the moderate, middle-of-the-road people who don’t often think about policy issues, but when they do they try to find a middle ground, striving never to seem “extreme”) will seek the middle ground – the moderate way – and won’t see the larger implications of the issue at hand.

The argument pro-lifers need to make -- and Personhood makes this argument 100% of the time, while regulations may succeed in making it only 30% of the time -- is that there is an actual Right to Life which is inalienable as a principle, and may not be violated for any reason. That message comes through with Personhood, and it's making progress.

I’ll restate that too.

Personhood “suggests” to a citizen observer that abortion is most certainly NOT a policy question with a spectrum of possible solutions, but is rather a question of principles. Two principles, as it happens – either pro-life or pro-abortion. When the abortion “question” is posed as a principle, and not as a policy question, Americans are actually more likely to choose life instead of death.

Polls show something like 80-90% of Americans believe “there is a God,” even if most of them may not call themselves Christian or correctly follow the teachings of the true God. Believing in God suggests an absolute moral standard, and when the abortion question is measured against an absolute moral standard, very few Americans want to be caught on the wrong, or immoral, side. Since they’re forced to choose between a principle of “abortion is right and moral” versus “abortion is always wrong” one option stands out as more correct and more moral than the other.

That’s the “practical” reason why pro-lifers must reject regulations and embrace the Personhood strategy. The Personhood strategy accomplishes what we want to accomplish – a changing of hearts and minds in society – whereas regulations are far less effective in accomplishing the change we want.

Our message always gets muddled when we're talking about regulations, because every regulation inherently denies there is a Right to Life (if there were an inalienable, inviolable Right to Life, then there's nothing to regulate!).

Consider this line from the text of Roe v. Wade: "Endnote 54: When Texas urges that a fetus is entitled to Fourteenth Amendment protection as a person, it faces a dilemma. Neither in Texas nor in any other State are all abortions prohibited. Despite broad proscription, an exception always exists. The exception contained in Art. 1196, for an abortion procured or attempted by medical advice for the purpose of saving the life of the mother, is typical. But if the fetus is a person who is not to be deprived of life without due process of law, and if the mother's condition is the sole determinant, does not the Texas exception appear to be out of line with the Amendment's command?"

The US Supreme Court in 1972/73 didn't simply lay a roadmap for pro-lifers by noting that if you establish Personhood in law, you can protect the unborn as Persons. They also highlighted the logical error in the "pro-life with exceptions" mentality.

The key point is this: The Supreme Court logically concluded that because Texas had an exception to their anti-abortion statute*, Texas could not simultaneously argue that an unborn child was a Person under their law, because the two concepts – a regulation vs. a principle – are contradictory. The regulation always denies the principle, so if there exists a regulation, then the principle must not be the law of the land. It’s simple logic.

Ed Hanks

* A note on "life of the mother exceptions": Many pro-lifers get stuck on the “life of the mother” exception, because it’s the most compelling of the “hard cases” exceptions some regulations are meant to address (how many times have we heard politicians recite the line, "I oppose abortion except for rape, incest, and the life of the mother"?). But we need not fall victim even to the life of the mother objection. The Personhood movement cares deeply about the lives of both, mother and child, especially since if the mother dies before the baby comes to term, the child will obviously die too. However, that doesn’t mean we need a “life of the mother exception” in law. Instead, the anti-abortion statute should be absolute. The life of the mother is saved by a doctor trying to save both lives (and thereby “do no harm”), not by a doctor trying to kill one patient in order to save the other. It’s the same concept as separating cojoined twins. The goal should always be to preserve both lives. This is not always possible, because of relative viability, and so sometimes one of the patients dies. The measure of crime or not is intent. If ever the doctor attempts to kill one patient, rather than save him/her, that’s where it becomes homicide.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

My Reply to Westword's "Screw the Abortion Debate"

Westword commentator J. David McSwane wrote a humor piece meant to mock the Personhood movement. I had to throw in my comments, which are below his comments and the link to his article.

It's interesting to note that I actually agree with him on one thing -- Personhood folk scouring the streets for your signature are working to set forth a series of events that will alter the course of human history!

"Screw the abortion debate: Here's why a personhood amendment could mean armageddon"
(briefly excerpted, then linked, to Westword - Denver's hyper-liberal alternative paper)
by J. David McSwane

Personhood USA, a national pro-life group, is gathering signatures in Colorado (again) to secure a spot on the ballot for a voter initiative to redefine the start of a person's life as the first point of biological development.

Weird, right? You have no idea.

Most people think abortion rights established by Roe v. Wade is the greatest thing at stake if the amendment makes the grade. But this effort jeopardizes far more than that: It actually threatens to alter time and space as we think we know it. We could very well be spiraling toward the apocalypse.

What the religious folk scouring the streets for your signature don't realize is they're toying with a force far greater than any divisive abortion debate. They are, in fact, working to set forth a series of events that will alter the course of human history.

To read the rest of his story, go here:

My Comment:

You know, David, at my church our pastor actually teaches this -- that we're really 9 months older than we thought we were. And it's had some mind-blowing, conception-changing (excuse the pun!) effects. We start thinking of the living, moving, developing baby inside as something more -- something, well... something living, moving and developing!

We start thinking of our unborn children as our grandfathers and forefathers thought of them -- as a cherished member of the family, just one we can't talk to yet (except through the womb membranes -- you know scientists say unborn children learn, don't you, in relation to the degree their mothers read to them or play music for them in the womb?).

What's more, we KNOW the world won't blow up when we suddenly realize there are more people among us than we thought. Why? Because it's happened before. When the Census circulators in 1860 took their survey, they undercounted black people as only 3/5 of a person, because that's what the law said they were (and the Supreme Court affirmed this, just like Roe v. Wade) -- it wasn't until the Constitutional Amendments of 1865 that black people were granted Personhood under the law.

So there's precedent! Not only do we know that the world won't blow up, but we know that human and civil rights movements eventually prevail if people stop thinking just about what the law says, and more about right and wrong and what the law SHOULD say in order to conform to what's right!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How We Compromise Ourselves:
A Warning To Pro-Lifers

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 – 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

Bill Summary

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.