Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Incremental vs ...What? [Jay]

The problem for those who oppose the incremental approach is that their position has the appearance of lacking compromise and the air of spiritual superiority while it is, in actual fact, unworkable. To illustrate, there are two positions that I have heard expressed by those who are critical of Gonzales v. Carhart. (1) That any legislation that ends with “and then it is okay to kill the baby” is compromised and in fact works to further entrench laws that protect the practice of elective abortion in the United States. (2) That some factions of the non-incrementalists would accept a law that recognized all abortions performed after the first trimester as murder, but the PBA ban is insignificant and accomplishes no real limitation. (See comments under this post)

If you take the first position then you are rather like the pacifist that decries the necessity of any war while living under the protection of those who disagree with you. By virtue of your position, you are not compelled to actively participate in the actual measures that establish peace. By the sacrifices of those who are willing to fight for just reasons, you are free to celebrate the eventual victory and pat yourself on the back for not violating your principles. The truth is that the incremental assault on elective abortion in the United States is in the process of creating limits on abortion, putting the arguments in the public forum, and influencing our culture toward being more respectful of unborn life. (see here, here) I have never heard anyone on the opposing side (Pro-Choice) claim that the PBA debate and subsequent ban on the procedure HELPED the pro-abort position. I have heard many people from both sides express the opinion that focusing the argument on the specifics of the PBA procedure was productive for the pro-life side. The Born Alive Act, the PBA ban, the parental consent laws, and other incremental measures continue to keep abortion in the public eye. As these measure progress and the movement advances, anti-incrementalists can continue to NOT help advance smaller limitations on elective abortion while accusing others of compromise and evil tactics. When the dust has settled and we are, God willing, victorious, they can then say how all along they never compromised and abortion was ultimately made illegal, as they always knew it would be.

Position 2 assumes that some form of incremental advancement is acceptable, but bickers over the starting point. Nearly 90% of all surgical abortions are performed in the first 12 weeks as reported by Guttmacher. I fail to see how the acceptance of 9 out of 10 abortions as legal makes one position inherently more Godly than those who would take smaller steps that are currently available. Keep in mind, the ultimate goal of the incremental approach is the same as position 2. Both the incremental approach and position 2 accept that an immediate overturning of Roe v. Wade and a Constitutional amendment banning all abortions is not going to happen without some previously taken measures. Position 2 is an incremental position with a strong opinion about the starting point. Position 1 is a different kind of position because the holder of that belief can not accept ANY incremental move toward the ultimate goal. Position 2 appears to be a difference of degree of increment acceptable and so the powerful rhetoric and accusations of betraying biblical teaching from this group are just confusing.

So ultimately both positions appear unworkable. One prevents any movement but total movement and so can not be a part of the process of changing the law on the issue of abortion. The other can not be differentiated enough in type to proclaim a clear distinction from every other incremental view. It expresses no refusal to move incrementally, they merely disagree on the particular issue that ought to be championed first.


  1. Jay,
    So far, I am not aware of any assertions from the purist camp that they have a better strategy. All they seem to be able to do is find fault with incrementalism. I HAVE heard them say anything less than a pure law is a comprimise with Satan. Surley, they do not want us to do nothing until we can do it all at once. With all the years of protests from the pro-aborts, I'd say we did nothing to futher thier cause, quite the contrary. Since our legal system is based on case law and precedent, every time we pass a law recognizing the humanity of the unborn, we gain a little more ground. For example, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. If a fetus is a victim, how can he or she not be a person and a member of the human family? They are big on finding fault and making slanderous remarks, but so far, the only thing the purists group has accomplished is disunity. This, you can be certain, is not going to further the movement, it is also, not Christ-like, therefore it does give Satan a foothold he should not have in a Christian movement. Lori

  2. Purists actually would accept an unborn victim of violence act depending on how it's worded. The key is not to make an exception for abortion or for any other type of killing. Something along this line perhaps:

    When in the commission of a crime, any human being (including preborn humans) is harmed or killed, an additional crime has been committed, either assault or murder, respectively.

    This would protect unborn babies from acts of violence except the horrible human rights violation of abortion because that particular human rights attrocity isn't yet a "crime".

    I'm sure others could come up with better wording...

  3. Drew,

    I appreciate your trying to move the discussion forward. I really mean that. Thank you.

    God bless,


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