Saturday, February 3, 2007

Links: Moral Ideals and Political Realities [SK]

Our opponents understand that incrementalism works. Having first established a right to doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, Switzerland will now allow it for mentally ill patients.

Meanwhile, Troy Newman of Operation Rescue makes good sense of the South Dakota defeat. Here's the question he tackles: Pro-lifers tried to enact a total ban on abortion and lost. So what's next? Do we do nothing legislatively (since we cannot get everything we want) or should we support a less than perfect ban that saves some lives but not all? Troy nails it: We should strive to save as many lives as possible given current political realities. He's worth quoting at length:

The theory (and utmost desire) of the pro-life movement is to save 100% of all abortion-bound babies. This was soundly defeated. But realistically, we could save 99% of the babies who are “headed for the slaughter” by passing an “imperfect” ban bill. While we can’t save them all, we can save the vast majority. If it is within our ability to save even ONE innocent life unjustly scheduled for death, we are morally obligated to do it.

Some pundits wronging hypothesize that what I am endorsing is akin to lining up ten uncondemned people, and then choosing which ones I will murder. This is, as my friend Randy says, “Stinkin’ thinkin’” and turns logic and reality on its ear.

A better analogy that is closer to the reality of the situation is that we have a hypothetical ten people who are all condemned to an unjust death, and I do everything I can do to save as many as possible.

To put it in WWII lingo, if I were Oscar Schindler, rescuing 100 Jews from Auschwitz, I would not be responsible for condemning the millions of Jews I didn’t save. They had already been condemned by the Nazis.

If circumstances remain unchanged, there will be about 1.3 million babies murdered this year by abortion. The US Supreme Court decisions of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton have already condemned them. Yet the pro-life movement will attempt to save some of them through education, counseling, and legislation. But just because we can’t save them all, it doesn’t mean we killed the ones we couldn’t save.

If the [modified]South Dakota legislation passes and is enacted without legal challenge, it would statistically save about 870 babies a year, while failing to protect one baby every four years. I view this as a win, a victory, and certainly a life-affirming law for the 870 babies who will be protected from the butcher’s knife year after year after year.

Therefore, when well-intentioned pro-lifers oppose an imperfect piece of legislation, they need to be careful on what side of the aisle they stand. Planned Parenthood and the abortion cartel, (no matter what their November rhetoric was), will strictly oppose a limited ban on abortions. Will good-hearted pro-lifers side with the abortionist because their “perfect bill” can’t be passed?

Again, our philosophical position is to save every baby. But as a realist, we know that is impossible under the current circumstances. If those we can save, we should. As our mission statement says, “We are here to rescue the baby sentenced to die today.” That baby does not have time to wait for perfect legislation.
Finally, Frank Beckwith has a nice piece on balancing moral concerns with political realities. Summary: Pro-lifers need to be politically smart or risk losing any hope for legally protecting the unborn.


  1. Mr. Klusendorf, what do you think of Colorado Right to Life's pledge?

  2. aethril,
    I would not sign it. See my remarks in the comments section of this post:


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