Why Now? -- Position Paper
Personhood: A Vision for Victory in the Pro Life Movement
Bank Robbers, Incrementalism, and Social Change
by Les Riley, Founder and President of Personhood Mississippi
Imagine you walked into your bank one afternoon and saw the place strewn with dead bodies. Customers, employees, guards had all been indiscriminately mowed down. There were bullet holes and blood stains everywhere. You would learn that what had happened was a group of thugs had come in during the busiest time of day; opened fire on the place with machine guns; and then taken all of the bank’s money as well as the wallets, jewelry, and anything of value from the dead customers and employees and leaving a scene that looked like something after a war.
If you came upon this scene – you would be shocked and horrified. And you would rightfully want justice against the perpetrators: guilty of murder and theft.
However, let’s say you worked at a bank an had a customer who was 90 years old and suffered from Alzheimer’s or cancer. And, this customer’s savings was being eaten up on a monthly basis by the high cost of their medical bills. You learned that one of this elderly customer’s relatives – who had been entrusted with her care – transferred all of her accounts into the caregiver’s name, and slipped something into the 90 year old’s supper to “put her out of her misery”. Rather than a bloody mess or a prolonged, painful death, your elderly bank customer had drifted off to sleep, never to wake again.
What would her caregiver be? Obviously, the exact same thing as the thugs: a murder and a theif.
We do not stand for life or oppose abortion or euthansia because it is “gross”.
We stand for the legal and cultural recognition of the personhood rights of all human beings from the tiniest to the oldest because it is right. We oppose the taking of any innocent human life – uniquely created in God’s image – because murder is against God’s Law, and therefore His perfect nature and revealed will for mankind. We speak for those who cannot speak for themselves because it is the fulfillment of the most basic of Christ’s calls upon us, His creatures and particularly those who are His redeemed, adopted family members – namely, the second command “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“How can you say you love God whom you have not seen, when you do not love your neighbor whom you have?”
The Theological and Religious Nature of the of the Personhood Question and Why it is the Right Strategy Culturally and Politically
“Ideas have consequences” – Richard Weaver
“All ideas are inherently religious” – RJ Rushdoony
In other words, what you believe about the “ultimate” questions that keep men awake at night :
Where did we come from and why? Is there a God? Who/ what is He? What is man? What is the relationship (if any) between creature and Creator? Is there such a thing as good and evil and if so, what is evil and why does it happen?
will determine what you believe about everything else. These ultimate questions and how we respond to them and live out our answers do not just impact whether we go to heaven or our personal spiritual and emotional state here. The answer to these questions touch every part of our lives and all of creation, economics, culture, politics, family, etc on both a macro and micro level
The ultimate of these ultimate questions is, obviously, “Who is God?”. If we get that wrong, then we won’t get anything else right, and nothing else really matters.
One particular aspect of “who is God?” has been played out within Christendom for at least five centuries and it has had an impact on the lives, cultures, economies, and governments of literally billions of people across the globe through this time. Namely, “Who is sovereign? Who is the ultimate source of authority the final grantor and judge of its use?”
It is obvious to most how this question impacts eternal issues; issues of personal salvation; issues of personal Christian living; and issues within the church. However, the answers to this question also have had a tremendous, far reaching impact on government and on political/ economic liberty in the United States and therefore the world.
Is mankind the Sovereign; the source and judge of authority; the source and therefore the judge of the limitations of our rights? If evolution is correct then man is the highest and most evolved creature. This makes him the highest source and final judge. (Of course, that also makes man ultimately disposable).
But you can be religious and still see man as the ultimate Sovereign in matters like this.
If you do, the only two options are that mankind as a group of individuals is the Sovereign. This political philosophy is known as secular libertarianism. Every man does what is right in his own eyes. The free market and personal choice is god. No one has a right to tell you what to do unless (theoretically) it is harming someone else. The only logical end of this, sadly, is anarchy. And anarchy eventually ends with tyranny (democratic or dictatorship)
Which leads to the other option flowing from “mankind is Sovereign”. If you do not take the secular libertarian perspective that mankind as individuals are the source of authority and rights, then the only other option is that the State or some other elite, powerful institution is Sovereign and the source of authority. In its ugliest form, this view has given us Marxism and Nazism. But in a milder version, to some degree, both the Democratic and Republican parties in the US as well as the vast majority of the media, the education establishment, and even most churches & non christian religious groups practice this worldview to some degree even if they do not acknowledge it consciously.
However, the end of this view of authority ends with Messianic Statism – it produces economic bankruptcy for the nation and individual as government spending is seen as the solution to every problem from poverty to education to jobs to healthcare to inequality and bigotry; internationally it produces a state of perpetual war; eventually, as support wanes, an increasingly brutal and totalitarian police state grows. Which produces a distrust, hatred, and rebellion towards this illegitimate, misused authority. Then, at last this is thrown off by revolution and anarchy – only to repeat the process and replace one group of messianic statists with another.
One example of the first (mankind as Sovreign producing moral anarchy then totalitarianism) look to the bloody French Revolution. For evidence of the other (the results & cycle of Messianic Statism) simply study the history of the 20th Century – the most advanced, educated, wealthy, technologicaly advanced age we have on record – which produced police states of every stripe and saw hundreds of millions killed by their own governments; remarkable genocidal programs carried out with frightening brutality and efficiency; the rise and fall of economies and regimes; a state of nearly perpetual war and revolution in some regions.
The only other option is that God is Sovereign. He is – as the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer of mankind the source & grantor of authority and therefore sets limits upon it. He is righteous by nature so He tells us what is right and therefore what rights and responsibilities we have as His creatures.
When this view has prevailed – even among people who were not all individually regenerated, justified, born again Christians headed for heaven – peace, prosperity, and liberty has grown..
What does all this have to do with the question of personhood and the battle for life? Plenty. It is foundational because the same questions of: “Who is God?” and “Who is Sovereign?” that are played out in the political realm are seen even more clearly and played out more practically in one of them most crucial battles of the 20th and 21st Century: the question of life and personhood.
Does human life have value and deserve respect, dignity and protection equally in law and culture because each human being is created uniquely in God’s image?
Does human (and animal) life have some level of value – but how much value, how (if) human beings are treated with dignity and respect and if their lives are protected under law based on some arbitrary outside factor based determined by a larger, stronger, more elite human being or institution.
In the first scenario, our law system and our culture protects the weak, the small, the helpless, the voiceless. Justice and mercy are in harmony. The innocent have a voice and do not have to live in fear from the bloodthirsty and guilty. When we embrace the Biblical and scientific fact that each and every innocent individual has value because when a new DNA molecule comes into being an unique human individual exists that has never existed before and will never exist again, children are protected; the elderly honored; and the weak & few given some guarantee that they will not be abused by the strong & many.
The other option is seen in the fiction of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World; the vicious racist genocide of the Nazis; the philosophy of men like Peter Singer (the Ivy League “bio ethicist” who argued that killing infants should be morally acceptable); and the future insane dreams of the transhumanist movement.
However, it is not merely in fiction or history or science fiction that we see the brutal end of a rejection of mankind created in God’s image:
- 60 million chilren killed by surgical abortion in the US alone
- the destruction of the family and the rise of sexual deviancy (which ultimately will produce the death of civilization)
- sterilization, involuntary population control, and genocide in places like Rawanda, Sudan, and Eastern Europe
- “selective reduction” or selling of human beings for medical experimentation, cosmetics or even junk food after IVF
- Euthanasia, mercy killings, and LEGAL “assisted suicide” on the rise (which will eventually lead from the “right to die” to the “duty to die” when healthcare rationing comes via socialized medicine)
- the extraordinary percentage of down syndrome children that are killed in the womb if it is discovered they have down syndrome
- parents actually suing doctors over “wrongful birth” if their children have costly handicaps “we would have aborted if we had known”
- Forced abortions in China and court ordered abortion and sterilization in the US
- Child trafficking for prostitution and slave labor/ soldiers
- And so on. It has reached the point where no one wants to dare think that we have hit bottom, because we are frightened to see something else surpass what we believe to be unthinkable.
EITHER HUMAN BEINGS HAVE EQUAL VALUE AS CREATED IN GOD’S IMAGE OR THEY HAVE NO VALUE.
EITHER THE RIGHT TO LIFE IS PROTECTED OR NO RIGHT/ LIFE IS SECURE
Just as the thief and murderer that killed one old lady for her bank account is just as guilty as those who mowed down a bank full of people in the scenario above because the issue is not how gross something is but the principle of righteousness, we must understand what Howard Phillips once said:
“If you sacrifice the principle, you always lose the arguments on the details.”
Yes, but WHY personhood and why now? The people have defeated this, and some pro-lifers think another strategy might be in order.
The rant above is all well and good, you say, but what does any of this have to do with continuing the fight for Personhood when the “people have clearly spoken”? Don’t ALL pro-lifer people agree with this, and it is just a matter of timing and strategy?
“Roe is settled law,” the media and political leaders say. They claim the majority of Americans support a “woman’s right to choose”; several states have voted to legalize “assisted suicide”. These issues are divisive and distracting when we have real problems. And the “war on women” hurts the conservative cause/ Republican efforts to defeat Obama. Let’s win some elections; fix the court; fix the economy; fix education and immigration and social security and healthcare and win the wars; etc – THEN we’ll deal with these issues.
On a more local/ personal level: we apprciate the effort and sacrifice that went into getting Mississippi Amendment 26 (the “Personhood Amendment”) on the ballot and trying to pass it. BUT, the people have spoken. A strong majority voted against amendment 26. This effort may have been well intentioned, but it hurt the pro-life cause in Mississippi and beyond. Efforts to pass personhood at the state level have failed and pro-life/ Constitutional legal experts are divided on whether it would work if passed.
The Christian and pro-life communities are not in full support of this – some even oppose. Around the capitol and in some areas of the state, the very term personhood has become a “hot potato” and a negative for our cause.
WHY, then would continue? WHY now?
I’ll come back to that, but I believe first laying a groundwork with a reminder of the history of the philosophy & strategy that got us here:
A History Lesson of Defeats & A Hope for the Future: Winning the “Lost Cause” of the 20th Century and Stopping the Onslaught of the Death Culture in the 21st
In 19th century Europe and America there was a huge rise of theologial liberalism in the church, and a host of dangerous philosophies in the larger culture that produced bitter fruit in the 20th century. Among the worst was the eugenics movement and the sexual revolution. The eugenics movement, Darwinism and Nietzsche’s worldview produced Nazism in Germany which was unspeakably violent & tyrannical, but thankfully short lived. However, these philosophies took root in the US & spread to the world in a way that has had much longer lasting impact. Through Margret Sanger and her organization which eventually became Planned Parenthood and infused with materialism, individualism and the hedonistic moral anarchy of the sexual revolution, an initially subtle assault was launched that has turned the culture and the world upside down in ways that are even more bloody (60 million dead in the US alone, through surgical abortion; along with the tens of millions of mothers, fathers, & families damaged physically, emotionally, & Spiritually); have had a more lasting impact; and a more thorough victory – impacting almost every individual, family, church, and community in some way, shape or form. Every other “issue” in politics, law, economics, and culture is impacted in some way by the triumph of this worldview.
The culture of death has scored what seemed to be an irreversible, complete victory.
Abortion, in many minds, is the ultimate “lost cause”. But it is only one major battlefront; one major watershed issue. (more later on this).
From the 1920′s through the 1950′s Planned Parenthood along with other pro-abortion, eugenicist, population control, elitist, and anti-family/ anti-life/ anti-child/ anti-Christ organizations and individual waged an unrelenting, complete war – in the political/ legal/ judicial realm; through education; through the media; through their allies in the entertainment industry. Acting on a clear, lived out worldview (based on hatred of Christ, and the resulting hatred of life/ family) and a long range, strategic vision for victory that did not allow temporary setbacks or vilification by the majority to deter them, they slowly but steadily impacted culture and legislation.
* This is not trying to make a case for some “conspiracy theory” – other than the one that began in heaven with the hope of Lucifer: “I will be like the Most High”; spread to humanity through the serpent in the garden asking “Hath God truly said”; explained in Psalm 2; and attempted through genocidal programs from Pharoh to Herrod up through Germany, Rawanda, and the abortion industry/ population control industries spreading their cancer from the US & Europe to the developing world.
Then, in the mid 1950′s through the mid 1970′s these efforts really began to take hold and have destructive, deadly consequences. Sterilization laws and openly eugenicist policies were on the books in many states. Some states passed laws calling for castration. And, then in 1966 several states – beginning with Mississippi and Colorado began to liberalize their laws against abortion.
(Mississippi passed a House Bill – sponsored by a segregationist who also supported eugenics based castration and sterilization – that legalized abortion in cases of rape without the rap being reported)
By Jan 1973 a total of thirteen states had legalized elective abortion in some cases beyond the traditional “life of the mother”/ medical emergency case.
Then, as everyone knows, in 1973 the US Supreme Court spewed a deadly, unprecedented, usurpation decision known as Roe v Wade and the companion Doe v Bolton.
The need for Personhood to be the next phase of the pro-life movement legally and culturally is found within the Roe decision itself and demonstrated in the fruit of Roe/ the political efforts to confront it over four decades.
However, before dealing with that. We need to look at incrementalism as a political and cultural strategy from both a principled and a practical standpoint.
First, let me say that this is an “in house debate”. As I recently told the head of another pro-life organization:
All the groups need to spend this time working out our different ideas and strategies between us — but when we fight, we need to continue to aim our fire at the other side (publicly and privately) and not attack each others’ efforts. I believe we have started something in Mississippi through the years of working together to close the clinics and particularly through the first Personhood campaign that we can grow to victory and that can be a model of how to be victorious co-belligerents for the pro-life movement nationwide
We have to understand our opposition. Their theological and moral presuppositons. Their short and long term strategies. Their Spiritual needs and the fact that they too are human beings created in God’s image that need to hear the Gospel, be treated with respect and shown the love of Christ, and oppossed in a Christ like, but vigorous fashion.
But we likewise need to know and respect those on “our side”. Knowing the who, why, and how of your allies and co-belligerents is a key to winning any fight. Loving and respecting them is also a crucial. I mention this because I think humility, respect and willinginess to work together is a key element missing from the pro-life movement.
Those who are anti-personhood cannot continue to attack personhood as a concept or the organizations/ individuals involved as either naïve or worse. When groups who have not embraced the personhood strategy say things like “you are willing to let babies keep dying, while we are trying to save the ones we can” is not only untrue, it is flat out wrong. Almost everyone who is involved in Personhood has been on the front lines, has sacrificed, has done things that have saved babies and helped mothers, and has been involved in some way, shape or form in the traditional pro-life movement (and honestly come to the conclusion that a new approach needs to be attempted). Besides, if a pro-lifer who takes a more incremental view argues/ works against Personhood, he/ she has undermined and discredited their own best arguments.
On the other hand, we in the personhood movement must be very careful to disagree with a strategy as failed without attacking the people or motives behind that strategy. When we say “we are for principles, not pragmatism” or something similar we are slandering the character of allies/ co-belligerents who almost certainly agree with us on not only the end goal, but the principle that innocent life should be protected from biological beginning to natural death. Pro-lifers who have not (yet) embraced Personhood as a strategy are not “compromisers” or sell outs lacking principle. They simply are trying to advance their principles via a different means and protect “all the life that they can”.
When we go to the abortion clinic, if there are fifty mothers in a day that ignore us and kill their babies, but one that changes her mind, we rejoice that one life has been saved – while grieving over those who have been lost.
As Dan Becker (author of the book on Personhood) it is never immoral to save a life and we can work to protect all of one class of human beings without devaluing the lives of others or saying we approve of their lives being threatened/ taken. This is not the approach that Personhood has taken/ will take, but it does not mean that those who take this approach are our enemies.
All that being said, in the remainder of this paper/ article, I will make the case that Personhood is the right thing to do from both a principled and strategic perspective – and that the pragmatic, incrementalist approach will not succeed and needs to be forsaken.
What does the Bible say about Incrementalism & Pragmatism; Faith vs Fear
“The Bible is divinely authoritative about everything to which it speaks. And it speaks to everything” – Rev Joe Morecraft
I am open to correction on this, but I cannot find one example in the Bible where God says He is pleased with or blesses syncretism or pragmatism. On the other hand, there are far too many examples of God saying He opposed and judged His people when they tried to proceed in their own (worldly) wisdom; mingled their own strategies and carnal weapons with His; proceeded based on the fear of man and lack of faith. God, in the Old and New Testaments tell us what we are to believe, how we are to live, what we are to fight for, what the right and wrong ways to think of things is, what we are to fight for, and how we are to fight.
Isaiah 31:1 warns:
“Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!”
In modern parlance, that would be don’t trust the political “experts” or media/ mrketing/ polling gurus without first checking with God’s Word, seeking His blessing & His Spirit/ guidance through prayer, and operating in faith (without which it is impossible to please Him).
When we pray, and cry out to God for our nation/ state/ the unborn, we need to be very careful that we are not mingling idol worship or trusting in the arm of the flesh or walking by sight or not only will He not bless us, but the Bible says things like God considers such prayers/ worship a “stench in His nostrils”; a “trampling of His courts”; an “abomination” and something He “hates” (Isaiah 1).
God says that such prayers and lacking faith make Him chastise us with the awful accusation that God would have the doors of the church closed (Malachi 1:10).
He tells us that we must operate in humility and trust and not compromise, seek the aid/ wisdom of the world, lean on our own understanding, or act in the fear of man (which brings a snare). He calls us to trust Him (alone) to do what we know to be right even in the face of impossible odds or the faith destroying whispers of naysayers (like in Nehemiah’s time). God often calls us to work for what we know to be right without compromise in the face of overwhelming “odds”/ circumstances/ cultural norms/ or even the entire establishment of church, government, academia and the “press” against us (scribes and teachers in biblical times).
Oftentimes, He even orchestrates these overwhelming odds against us Himself or place us in impossible situations Himself – precisely so we can show our faith to the world and He can gain glory and show that He is trustworthy and able to give the victory in any circumstance.
(see the stories of Gideon; Daniel & the three Hebrew children; King Asa; and the raising of Lazarus from the dead by Jesus for just a few examples).
But He will not share His glory. He will not take our plans & schemes; our sycretism & pragmatism and bless it.
The first and best reason to do personhood now is because it is the right and Biblical thing to do.
Practical Considerations and History: Examples of no compromise vs pragmatic approaches in the history of social change.
Social change (for good or for ill) has generally followed a predictable pattern. So much so that it can be drawn on a graph. This pattern is normally followed whether it is for a cause we agree with and a move towards a more God honoring culture or if it is something evil and moving towards something that we would find abhorent.
Phase I. A small core of visionary people recognize what they see as a problem or injustice that needs to be righted. Sometime it is even as few as one or two who really get burdened or zealous about it.
The propose a no-compromise solution that is based on the black-and-white way they see the issue; they are offended that everyone does not see things as clearly as they do; they understand the implications and are willing to push for change, regardless of the cost to them or to society.
Generally, they introduce a no compromise position to the debate and if they have the ability into the political process. Almost always, they are initially rebuffed. Their efforts are seen as extreme and they are seen as radicals.
Some of these early visionaries become cynical and disillusioned and just disappear. Others become more radical and extreme and end up setting the cause they are fighting for back. Others dig in and stay in the fight for the long haul.
Phase II. A more incremental and moderate approach is taken. This comes from both the orignial visionaries who decide to take what they can get and also by new “converts” who are not quite as far along the path in understanding the cause or who might not see things as “black-and-white” as the pioneers and visionaries.
There will be years or often decades of small victories. Slow, methodical change. Cultural attitudes shifting. Incremental gains in legislation.
During this phase, the initial visionaries receive the grudging respect or admiration of some – but they are also vilified and attacked. They are seen by the mainstream as extremist, radical, dangerous. Even their allies are made uncomfortable by their hard core stances. From the other end, these original visionaries and pioneers are attacked by their early friends and compatriots in the movement who see them as sell outs and compromisers (or worse). It is a very lonely, costly road. But it is one on which some of the pioneers must “stay the course” if short or long term victory is to be achieved.
At the same time, a more moderate version becomes increasingly more mainstream and some aspect of the cause might even reach the point where the majority has adopted the position.
Phase III. At some point, however, the incremental approach “hits a wall” and if there is not a tipping point, things begin to go back the other way.
Once the cause in question reaches “critical mass” neutrality is no longer an option.
At this point, despite all the gains, the incremental, pragmatist efforts have done all they can. Either something or some one pushes the cause over the top. Normally by creating an environment where not only is neutrality not an option, but taking any position except the that of the proponents of change becomes morally repugnant and socially unacceptable. When this tipping point comes or this opportunity to seize victory comes, the original visionaries and pioneers (or someone who will catch the vision and take a similar winner take all/ we must have change without compromise NOW approach) must then step to the forefront and lead. The “no compromise” position must be pushed to give the people something to rally around and the cause must be pushed “over the top”.
Or, things start going the other way fast and the cause is lost for decades or generations or perhaps forever.
(I believe this third phase is where the pro-life movement is now. We are facing what I call our Elijah moment on this issue).
Two examples of this pattern of social change should illustrate well – one I agree with, the other I find repulsive and dangerous, but both make the case. First, William Wilberforce and the efforts of Christians in Great Britan in the late 1700′s through early 1800′s to abolish the slave trade in the Brisith Empire. The second is the modern day “gay” rights movement.
Because this is already longer than intended, I will not detail these two examples, but end with a defense of how this applies directly to the pro-life movement and the question of Personhood.
Personhood – the right thing to do; Now – the right time
As mentioned above, Roe v Wade was a watershed decision that changed things as radically and as broadly as any event in the last 500 years. But it was hardly the end of the battle for life and it was hardly a stand alone event.
Roe v Wade was a dangerous and wrong decision on so many fronts. I will not go into all of that here, but I will point out, yet again that within the Roe ruling, the means of undoing it was given to us. As has been pointed out many times, the oral arguments and majority opinion in the Roe v Wade case tell us that personhood is the lynch pin upon which the whole case swings. The justices (for and against) agree that this is the central question – and even the pro-abortion lawyer for Roe agreed that “if the legal personhood of the unborn child could be established the case for legal abortion crumbles.”
However, we cannot see this as merely a challenge to Roe. Roe v Wade was wrongly decided. It should not be treated as valid, correct, binding or constitutional. Courts don’t make law, so when people say “the Roe decision that legalized abortion in all 50 states” and other such nonsense they are either showing their ignorance or being intentionally dishonest.
Personhood does not “challenge” Roe v Wade. It ANSWERS Roe v Wade. No one that I know of in the pro-life movement disagrees with the premise of Roe: that is, that people have a fundamental right to privacy and to make their own medical decisions. The problem with attacking Roe specifically or the abortion issue from any standpoint besides recognizing that there is another human being, another “person”, involved is that these efforts fail to juxtapose another fundamental right against the established and recognized fundamental right that Roe stands upon.
Personhood, and particularly a state constitutional amendment sets forth two fundamental and constitutional rights/ principles that the “right to privacy” will run headlong into. You have a fundamental right to drive your car wherever you like – until you get to my living room. You have a right to free speech, but not to yell fire in a crowded movie theater. The sheriff of your county has the right to write tickets in his jurisdiction, but not in another county.
Regulations do not do this. Incrementalism or banning abortion except in cases of rape likewise does not answer this fundamental question. Banning abortion after a certain stage of development (say detection of a fetal heartbeat) arguably could challenge Roe, but this presents an entirely different problem.
First, this is seeking God’s blessing and trying to win a battle based on something that we know is not true. If a unborn child is a “legal person” or human being at some arbitrary point (Implantation? Heartbeat detection? “Viability”?) after when their biological beginning – when a new unique human being who has never existed before and will never exist again – then what exactly is this before the point? A “non-person”? A “pre-person”? A “clump of cells”? A “product of conception”?
Again, “once you sacrifice the principle, you always lose the arguments on the details”.
Yes. It would be hard to argue against ending “90% of the abortions” and save “90% of the children” and then keep fighting for the lives of the remaining 10%. However, if we do not establish what we know to be true, there is no reason to assume that technology and the free market will not find a way to make it increasingly easy to kill a child prior to this arbitrary point. We CANNOT base our laws, our morality, or our strategy on what we can see or what our finite minds can believe to be possible, but rather on the truth and what we know to be right if we hope for God’s blessing.
*Kind of like “lets make it a crime to go into a bank in broad daylight and mow down people, but not a crime to give fatal drugs to a 90 year old invalid”
Beyond this, however, is the fact that the battle at hand is not merely about abortion. Personhood is the right way to win this “lost cause” both in terms of taking the cultural high ground and changing the culture and from a strategic political and legal standpoint. But the question is not merely about stopping surgical abortion and allowing the death culture to flourish otherwise. We want to reintroduce a life ethic that is objective, compassionate, just, true, merciful, and ensures equal protection in law to all the helpless “un persons”.
The battle for life in the 21st century is, again, over the question of not only “when does life begin?” – frankly even pro-abortion people are starting to admit the undeniable logical and scientific truth here – but the bigger issue of what, when, why, to what degree does life have value and deserve protection. What makes us human? What makes innocent human life unique and valuable?
Personhood gives a solid, timeless, Biblical answer to the emerging technologies and thorny bioethical dilemmas of the 21st century. Whether the question is abortion or euthanasia; stem cell research or assisted suicide; human trafficking or genocide; rationed healthcare or selective reduction; birth control or the horrors of eugenics and transhumanism – situational ethics, incrementalism, and pragmatism cannot provide a rock-solid answer; personhood can and does.
Lastly, why now?
Don’t we get that this is counter productive? Don’t we get that this could backfire? Don’t we know that we lost and could lose again, thus setting the pro-life movement back?
Why don’t we focus on “saving the ones we can”?
As I mentioned above, every movement for social change goes through a cycle and at some point reaches a time when we must step up and push through courageously on principle or face losing what we have gained. I believe the pro-life movement is at that point.
Over the years there can be no doubt that regulations and “doing what is possible” to “save the ones we can” has saved many lives. It has hurt the abortion industry and we have made some gains in public opinion. Through the years the number of abortion clinics and doctors has been dwindling steadily. The industry was contracting and the number of people willing to call themselves “pro-life” vs “pro-choice” has been steadily growing in raw numbers, in percentage of the population, and in terms of intensity and depth of belief.
However, I think that it is demonstratable that this approach has done all it can and in fact is starting to lose ground again:
– Contrary to the belief that we can save “most of the babies” through regulations I think we have seen the limit of the impact regulations have had on abortion. Numbers of reported, surgical abortions in abortion clinics steadily went down for years, but things have leveled and numbers have begun to go back up. And, this does not even factor in the rise in chemical abortion through RU 486 and other abortifacient drugs.
– Some reports have said that there have been as many as 5000 regulations on abortion passed since 1973. These have not saved 90% of the children. On the contrary, they have institutionalized and normalized this evil. Murder of children should not be regulated it should be ended.
– Another bit of short term good news that is not a sign that this atrocity is ending: as many as 2/3rds of the abortion clinics in American have closed never to re-open. However, what we see this leading towards is the “Wal Martization” of the abortion industry. Multi State chains have replaced free standing murder mills. And the billion dollar giant, Planned Parenthood is building mega clinics as well as going into more and more states with referral clinics that can and will become surgical abortion centers if other clinics close. PP is not as easily brought down by one local or state regulation that a single clinic cannot withstand. This means that rooting them out will become more difficult.
– On another front, there is a move afoot by abortion advocates to get abortion out of abortion clinics and into regular hospitals and clinics that will make child killing one among many other legitimate medical services they offer. If they succeed in this – in an increasingly anti-life political/ media/ academic/ regulatory culture – to decentralize and destigmatize abortion, saving some lives (much less ending the killing) via traditional pro-life means will become more difficult if not impossible.
– And lastly, there is the argument that passing one or more personhood amendments could backfire. We could lose in court and through this decision the alleged “right” to abortion could become even stronger and more difficult to ever overturn. We should, the argument goes, continue to work for the srongest less than full personhood laws and regulations we can pass and wait until we get the “right” court before we challenge. The risk is too great.
This ignores the fact that there have been two US Supreme Court decisions that have affirmed Roe and at least thirteen state Supreme Court rulings that either affirmed or even surpassed Roe.
IN EVERYONE OF THESE CASES, IT WAS IN RESPONSE TO INCREMTAL AND PRAGMATIC LAWS AND REGULATIONS. THUS PROVING THAT THESE REGULATIONS DID NOT LEAD TO REDUCING “ABORTION RIGHTS” BUT RATHER STRENGTHENING THEM”