Saturday, February 3, 2007

A, B, C, or D? (AKA SK’s can of worms) [Jay]

As a member of a 501(c)(3) I will change the names on this hypothetical to protect the job of this writer. Boris is the man, Doris is the junior Senator from New York. (Oops, did I give something away?)

The first problem I have with this scenario(RE: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO VOTE PRO-LIFE? [SK]) is that if Boris and Doris are facing each other in the next general election we are in terrible trouble. Let me explain my concern. Conventional wisdom in primary elections is to energize the voting base and secure the support of the true believers. For the Republicans, this means you do not get out of the primary without some support from the pro-life evangelicals. But Boris did? Boris secured the party nomination without promising to protect the lives of the unborn. That means that the political strength of the pro-life movement is exposed as insufficient to sway a primary.

The general election is about running to the middle to secure the small percentage of votes that are actually up for grabs. If Boris got through without the support of pro-life voters, we do not represent a “voting block” threat to him in the general election. So the idea that we could punish him and the Republican party is out the window. Doris is a nightmare across the board on issues I care about so it will be a frosty one in Gehenna before this chap taps the computer screen for her. The live options are vote Boris, vote third party, or do not vote.

I could attempt to secure some measure of assurances from him about what he would do in given scenarios, but the truth is Boris thinks that it is moral to terminate the lives of innocent human beings for elective reasons. He can not represent me. This is a personal decision, not a moral judgement on how my brothers and sisters in the pro-life movement may or may not tactically maneuver. Scott was dead right in stressing that we all have the same goal. Zero abortions and full protection of the unborn. I know that Scott is pouring his life out in service to our nation and the humanity of the unborn, so it is wrong headed for tactical differences to result in one side impugning the passion or dedication of the other.

I am reminded of Frederick Douglass and Lincoln again. Douglass knew that in order for slavery to end the abolitionists (no compromise, moralist) would have to form broad coalitions with anyone and everyone who was working to undermine the institution of slavery including anti-slavery Republicans. Lincoln hated slavery, but he was not the ideological zealot that Douglass was. Anti-slavery forces saw the spread of slavery as a threat to the Union and a source of power for the increasingly demanding Southern sates. I read where many historians were confused by Douglass pulling his support on the eve of the victory of the first true anti-slavery president of the United States after speaking in support of Lincoln and working within the broad coalition. His statement was simple. “I can not vote for Mr. Lincoln.”

History proved Lincoln to be the man that our country needed to expel the evil of slavery, but Douglass did not have that vantage point. Neither do I. I do not claim to know what Mr. Douglass felt. All I know is that in the midst of all of this I can only vote my conscience and pray. I can not vote for Boris. Not because I care more than anyone else about abortion or because abortion bothers me more than anyone else. I just can’t.

I believe the incremental approach is our only choice. I believe in broad coalitions of all who hate abortion and seek to end its tyranny in the United States and all over the world. Inside the voting booth, however, I am just Jay trying to figure out what I am supposed to do. I can not vote for Boris and I will not vote for Doris. I guess that I am sitting this one out, because writing it in is the same thing. For the record, I think Scott and Dr. Beckwith are right.


  1. Jay,

    After my no-compromises anti-incrementalism column was posted at WorldNetDaily (reprinted as the first post in my blog --, the no-compromise folks at Colorado Right to Life had a discussion about what's right and wrong about incrementalism.

    Our position modified somewhat from 100% no incrementalism. An incremental law that makes some abortions illegal, but not all, is fine so long as it does not defend, support, excuse, or enshrine in law ANY abortions of any kind at any time.

    The problem is that 90%+ of incremental laws don't meet that standard. The South Dakota law doesn't meet it -- it enshrines a right into law to abort a child whose father is a rapist. It attempts to define nuances in the "right to life" which don't exist. Second-class citizens. Some are more equal than others.

    If we accept laws like these which support abortion in some circumstances, we confuse our supporters, confuse the swayable "unaffiliated" thinkers, confound our attempts to use principled arguments to support the right to life, and allow our enemies to correctly point to hypocrisy in our ranks, and the "fact" that we did, at one point, support a law which defined a "right to an abortion," no matter our well-intended pragmatism in doing so.

    I used to believe in compromise and pragmatism. I've seen its results. I won't do it again. We need to go on the offensive with a clear & unambiguous principle -- every person has a right to life with no exceptions from fertilization to natural death.

    And I think we could make significant progress in that direction if we could all agree to focus on that principle in all of our arguments.

    Ed Hanks

  2. Ed,

    My argument is that all elective abortion is immoral. My goal is to see it all eliminated. The execution of that goal is my job.

    "Will you, Jay, support a law that makes it illegal to perform 95% or so of abortions in Georgia, but continues to protect the rights of women to abort in the hard cases?" If asked that question I must first ask two questions of myself, (1) does supporting the legislation that acknowledges that 95% or so of all abortions are illegal and immoral compromise my moral stance? It does not appear to do so to me. My approval of the incremental, or in this case massive movement of the government in the direction of my moral stance does not qualify as a defeat for my moral stance or principle. Question 2, have we done the work to convince the people necessary to move legislation that completely agrees with my moral stance that "the hard cases" are not moral exceptions? If the answer to the second question is no, then the solution appears to me to renew my efforts to more effectively sway them to embrace my complete moral argument.

    It is not clear to me that this is compromising my moral stance.

    I think that there are two seperate components that we are addressing. Our message is consistent. I have never heard Scott, Greg Koukl, Frank Beckwith or any other who favors the incremental approach compromise on the complete humanity of the unborn or immorality of killing human beings in hard cases as a part of their message. What they suggest is that we accept legisaltion that represents a compromise from the other side for the purposes of saving lives. The law is compromising, not us. The law is 100% on the side of the pro-abort postion right now. Movement in the direction of my moral stance represents compromise on its part, not mine. The government of the United States will be admitting that it was not right about the humanity of the unborn and the legality of killing them, while I will continue to stay on message. Only now, Georgie will not allow 95% or so of abortions that they did previously endorse by law.

    So I say yes. I will support that legisaltion while maintaining my moral stance and clarity of message. If a pro-abort wants argue whether this is hypocritical of me, bring them on. I am prepared to defend this position and keep the message on the unborn that remain unprotected by law.

    God Bless you Ed,

  3. Obviously, I meant the government of Gerogia and not Georgie.


  4. Jay, Georgie is compromised, too! :)

    If there existed a law (or proposed legislation) that made 95% of abortion illegal without affirming a "right" to abortin 5% of the time, I would be for it -- that is an uncompromising win for us.

    But those examples are hard to find.

    What we do see -- compromised incrementalism -- is a bill that makes 95% of abortions illegal while also explicitly defending 5% of abortions. In these cases, I think pro-lifers do ourselves no favors by supporting it. Why?

    Because any bill that favors or otherwise upholds a "right" to 5% of abortions is arguing against the principle of a right to life.

    Principle doesn't use percentages. Any departure from 0% or 100% is compromise, and it reduces our arguments to 100% pragmatism, 0% principle.

    Arguing on the terms of our opponents -- as if there is some line to be drawn, some abstract judgment of when it's okay to kill a baby and when it's not -- is detrimental to our overall cause of getting rid of all abortions, because we're admitting there ARE lines to be drawn. Pragmatism wholly rejects the principle -- they are fundamentally inconsistent strategies. In order to regain the principle, we actually have to convince the voters and citizens we've been talking to that we were wrong when we supported a bill that favored 5% of abortions. We would be rightly accused of hypocrisy.

    Would you support a law which said slavery should be legal in New Jersey, but in no other state of the union? If you're a pragmatist, you'll ask "that depends -- is this 1800 or 2000? -- does this increase or reduce slavery?" The response would dictate your answer.

    But if you are relying upon moral authority -- principle -- then you would consider the law absurd. Slavery should be legal nowhere under any circumstances, no matter where it is or is not already legal.

    I strongly believe that the more we rely on pragmatism to "curtail" abortions when and where we can, we postpone the day when we can achieve our goal and implement the principle of no abortions anytime anywhere, because we then have to undo the damage we did when we talked someone into voting for the 95% solution by saying "it's okay, because it allows for an exception in 5% of the cases."

    Ed Hanks

  5. Ed,

    Ah yes, even Georgie has sold out.

    You and I agree on so much. I think our fundamental difference here is on how we view (1) my accepting their compromise and (2)my compromise of message by accepting their compromise.

    If I say all elective abortion is morally wrong, and they say all elective abortion is morally acceptable we have two clear perspectives that are equally uncompromised. They then say to me that 95% or so of abortions are not morally acceptable and ask if I will support measures to make that statement a matter of public policy. I say all elective abortion is morally wrong, but I support your move toward my moral position.

    Here we disagree. You assert that my moral position is compromised by a pragmatic decision to support the end of 95% of legalized abortions. That because I would not demand that they propose legislation that could not pass that fully agreed with my moral message I have failed to uphold the moral purity of our cause. That compromise will undermine our ability to fight the moral battle for the remaining 5% because I have confused the issue by "agreeing" that women have a right to kill babies that are a result of hard cases. If I have mistated your opinion please correct me.

    What I am saying is that legally they now have the right to kill 100% of the unborn children that they wish to for whatever reason they wish to give. I am not asserting that they have a natural or moral right to do so, but I recognize that they have a legal right to do so. You and I know that this is unjust, but it is the law of the land none the less. When they say we will protect only the rights of women on the hard cases, they mean the legal right which is already in existence. I am not compromising our moral purity by ageeing to measures that will save lives. They, on the other hand, now have a morally compromised message that differentiates on semantics only. The pro-aborts know this full well which is why they are reduced to fighting all legislation tooth and nail to prevent someone, for example, being punished additionally for causing the death of an unborn child while assaulting a woman or to protect partial birth abortion. The legal message becomes fractured and inconsistent. My message and moral stance never changes and we have enacted legislation that saves lives.

    In fact, this is what we do, and by we I mean all of us in the pro-life movement, every day. Sidewalk counselors, pregnancy centers, apologists, activists, and ministers. Every women that we are able to convince not to go through with it, every victory that we can get on a local level, every bill or law that we can propose to stop the abortion machine is based on one principle. We save as many as we can as often as we can. Not one of them is given their just protection under the law and so we use every means at our disposal to change that.

    This incrementalism is only an extension of that principle. I can not see how it represents a moral failing on my part. And I know that you want every child protected just as I do. The message is uncompromised. The tactic is every child we can save we will save until the killing stops.


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