Friday, June 21, 2013

"And Then You Can Kill the Baby"

I'll start by giving you Josh Brahm's splendiferous response to a listener mail about whether or not incremental absolutism (chipping away until you get all babies protected) is an endorsement of killing the babies a law does not protect.

For those who don't want to listen to the whole thing at the moment, I'll take a juicy chunk from Josh's blog post on the topic:
Here’s the question: do you think it’s more important to make an impact or to make a statement? I’d rather make an impact, and I reject the notion that passing a bill with a rape exception tacked onto it at the last minute sends a message to pro-choice people that we don’t care about the babies conceived in rape that are sometimes killed in abortions. They know we want to make all abortions illegal, and that makes them furious. But passing a bill that bans abortions after 20-weeks because CLEARLY those babies can feel pain would be the most significant legal pro-life victory since the Supreme Court passed the Gonzales vs. Carhart decision, upholding a ban on partial-birth abortions.

When I say I’d rather make an impact than a statement, some absolutists accuse me of following the wisdom of man instead of the heart of God. My response: the midwives in Exodus 1 made an impact by saving as many babies as they could, and they are praised for it, even though they didn’t make a statement. When the Pharaoh confronted them, they didn’t make a pro-life argument or statement; they lied about it so that they could continue saving some! It could be argued that they were implicitly telling the leader of the land that it’s okay to kill infants. They never to his face say, “You shouldn’t do that.” They lied, and saved as many as they could, and are praised and blessed by God.
 As you can probably tell from my blog, my own approach is neither incrementalism (nickle and diming abortion to death) nor absolutism (just get it banned in one fell swoop). This does not mean that I do not support incrementalists or absolutists. I think that both are necessary. 

Imagine the abortion monolith as a building. Both the incrementalists and the absolutists want that building DOWN. Incrementalists are doing things that undermine the structural integrity of the building. Absolutists are planting demolition charges. It would take ages for the incrementalists to bring that building down. But this building is so solidly built, so heavily reinforced with steel, that the amount of dynamite the absolutists have would only rattle the building and make chunks fall off. The building itself will still be standing. I think that God shows His wisdom in that he set people to both tasks -- undermining the structural integrity and planting the demolition charges. And I think it's not just stupid but sinful for those one one work crew, incrementalist or absolutist, to bear false witness against the other work crew, claiming that they don't really want the building to come down.

Of course, the whole image has to be abandoned as just that -- an image. Abortion is not a building that we can demolish. It is a manifestation of Evil. Capital-E Evil. There is an intelligence behind it, a diabolical intelligence that has been around for a very, very long time and is very, very good at what it does. We are guilty of a hubris that puts White Star Line to shame if we think we can defeat that Evil by passing laws of any sort.

Which is what I'm back to. A Wisdom far greater than ours is directing this effort. We need to work at the tasks that are set before each of us. Some of us are set to directly helping women. Some of us are set to work in the legal arena. Some of us are set to educational tasks. Some of us are set to incrementalist tasks and some to absolutist tasks, because both are necessary.

But not a one of us has the task of attacking others who are set to different tasks.


Josh Brahm said...

Great comments here, Christina, and of course I love how often you comment and repost my stuff. :)

One thought to keep the discussion going: I really like your building analogy, but I wonder if there's one way that it's flawed. It's been my opinion that it's great for everybody to do their thing unless it's harmful to the greater cause.

To be fair to both sides, the absolutists would say that the fetal pain bill is harmful to the greater cause because it sends a message that we don't really think all life is sacred. I think I've responded to that pretty clearly in my piece.

Meanwhile, I think passing state personhood amendments right now, daring the Supreme Court that is currently overwhelmingly against us to pass even more case law against us, is harmful.

IF I'm right, then perhaps instead of both teams working at the same time, we need the people working on the structural integrity first, and then when it's the right time, (i.e. when there's even a chance of victory, bring in the people with the dynamite.

What do you think?

Christina Dunigan said...

I don't think they have a snowball's chance in Hell of actually getting anything passed. And I think they're breathtakingly naïve.

My decades of work have taught me that it's far more the attitudes than the law that determine when and how and how often abortions happen. Law is a part of that, but it's much smaller than we think.

This is because abortion is, at its core, diabolical.

If we got a law passed tomorrow banning all abortions, and the Supreme Court upheld it, I doubt that much would really change. Those in authority do not have the will to enforce those laws. Think of all the anti fornication and anti sodomy laws that are still on the books. There aren't even flutters of eyelids in the direction of looking toward where they are gathering dust on the shelves, much less at enforcing them.

That's about how much power an abortion ban would have right now.

We can say that therefore, whether the SCOTUS upheld or struck down any absolutist ban, it would really accomplish squat.

But then, most of what the incrementalists manage to do accomplishes exactly squat. Abortionists are breaking laws all over the place right now.

It's WILL. Nobody in Kansas who had the wherewithal to stop Tiller wanted to, just as nobody in Pennsylvania who had the wherewithal to stop Gosnell wanted to. They just don't care about the women or the babies. Abortion is a religion to them.

THAT is our problem. All the bickering about whether we should pass a born-alive act (which is not enforced) or a pain-capable infant protection act (which would not be enforced) is pointless. ALL of what we do is purely educational in actual practice.

I need to chew on this more. I wish we could sit down in meatspace over a pizza and bat ideas around.

Kathy said...

I think of how the slavery abolitionists in England were successful in getting their bills passed. Every attempt to outlaw slavery was met with harsh resistance from those Members of Parliament who were backed by slave owners (who were also wealthy and had a lot of money to spend to make sure that slavery was kept legal); finally, the abolitionists were successful in sneaking in language into a bill which basically knee-capped or hamstrung the slave trade. Once the slave trade was hobbling, the abolitionists then moved in for the kill -- the slavers were then so weak and though perhaps not poor, were not wealthy enough to launch much of a counter-attack -- and then they reached full abolition.

But as Christina pointed out, they also changed the hearts and minds of the citizenry. I think I've heard it said that we don't need to *just* make abortion illegal; what we mostly need is to make abortion *unthinkable*.