No abortions. No exceptions.by Paul deParrie
It is especially true when big political races heat up that the anti-abortion movement goes into Dissent Mode. The issue is: No Exceptions v. Incrementalism.
To define the two, the “no exceptions” crowd demand that candidates have an absolutist stand on abortion, while the “incrementalist” allows for candidates who do not in hopes that some progress can be made in stopping some abortions.
The usual result is that one group labels candidates like George Bush (W. or otherwise) as “pro-aborts” along with Bill Clinton, while the other group defends Bush. Similarly, legislative attempts that make exceptions for some or most abortions are tagged as “pro-abort” and debated between the two.
The difference between the positions leads to a vast gulf between the actors – and the results.
Just so there are no surprises, I’m a “no exceptions” guy, but I was not always so.
The Root of the Split
At the root, the difference appears to spring from what the people involved view as their objective: 1) Stop Abortion, or 2) Stop Abortions.
The Stop Abortion group sees it as their mission to end the practice of abortion. This, they say, entails a long and winding road to that hoped-for future date when abortion will be completely illegal. They also tell us that this victory cannot be won in one blow and that we must find incremental ways to pass laws that protect a few babies hear and there.
They do the math. Saving half a million a year out of 1.5 million is better than saving none at all. For the sake of those as-yet-unconceived children who will be in their mother’s wombs in 20??, we have to sacrifice the others today.
The No Abortions folks, smaller in numbers, want to stop abortions that are happening today. They say that the child dying today at the clinic is more important than the children who may or may not be conceived in the future. Since, as they say, the child who exists today has equal rights with all other human beings alive today, that protecting them is the higher duty.
These say, “There is no math! Human life is not a numbers game.”
They point to the commands of Jesus to “feed the hungry” and note that it is an immediate command. Jesus does not say in the abstract, “Start an organization that will feed the world’s hungry by the year 2050” – as laudable as such a goal might be.
You cannot overestimate the results of such a difference. In fact, this difference is often the defining line between abortion street activists and the general, political “pro-life” community. While tactics for the best way to save today’s babies is a topic of debate among the No Abortions clan (a topic for another writing), the No Abortion group makes very few, if any, demands on a person other than the proclamation, “I’m pro-life.” There is an urgency required if one’s goal is to save babies today, where there is no urgency if the goal is in the uncertainty of an unnamed future date.
The difference ultimately revolves around principle. If the principle of the anti-abortion movement is truly that the unborn – from conception on – is fully vested with the right to life, then there can be no dispute that creating “exceptions” for killing some of them is the wrong thing to do.
Because “life” is an ultimate issue, it is different from all other issues. One can seek to incrementally decrease taxes, for instance, and not be compromising an ultimate moral principle. However, the right to life for innocent people is indivisible. Once you compromise it anywhere (by race, color, nationality, medical condition, etc.), the floodgates are open and it can and will be compromised elsewhere.
Nor can you expect the politician or the media to understand your willingness that some people some innocent people die that others may live.
Actually, that is not so. They will understand that – for that is precisely what the pro-aborts practice, selective value for life.
What the politicians won’t understand is how you could propose a piece of anti-abortion legislation that allows those conceived by rape or incest to be killed, while claiming that all the unborn have a right to life. This will be especially true if you are dealing with the typical, pragmatic, “pro-life” politician who decided to back your “exceptions” law now finds you back on his doorstep trying to explain how rape and incest babies are people too.
What you have done is undercut your argument from the outset. You have surrendered your principle for some notion that you have gained something. However, it is the babies who die in the trade.
What has happened is that what you formerly called a “principle” now becomes a “preference.” You prefer that all babies are protected, but you will sacrifice the lives of some in order to save the lives of others. You prefer saving babies not conceived through rape or incest to those who were.
This is not to say that the Stop Abortion people do not believe the principle, it is just that they often have not thought through the implications of what that belief demands.
Would they allow “exceptions” for adultery? Probably not, but they artificially complicate the issue of abortion (which is simply murder) in ways that they would not do with adultery.
Whenever one surrenders one ultimate principle, others automatically follow. The rape/incest exceptions are a good example. If you allow for these exceptions, you allow a de facto death penalty for the “crime” of having a father who is a rapist. The principle that innocent parties not are punished for the crimes of others evaporates.
In several recent political races, I have become aware of a number of candidates whom the “mainstream pro-life” groups supported with money and endorsements whose only “pro-life” qualification was that they opposed the “partial-birth” abortion. often these candidates had a whole laundry list of exceptions to other types of abortions – or were pro-abort on them altogether.
Considering that relatively few partial-birth abortions occur and that other types of abortions are far more cruel in their procedure, one can only assume that the opposition to the partial-birth abortion was solely based on how horrifying it looked rather than any principled opposition to killing babies.
I consider this to be the proof that the political incremental approach has failed. The “pro-life movement” went from a high point of electing Ronald Reagan in 1980 – whose record on abortion turned out to be abysmal in the end – to the point where we are endorsing candidates as “pro-life” because they oppose just one abortion!
This is pitiful, but the “pro-life movement” set the pace on the decline. They were the ones who were willing to surrender more and more of the principle for less and less of the gain. Now both parties know that we are willing to prostitute our votes to any “pro-life” candidate they hand us – even if he is a solid pro-abort. The Republicans have openly stated that they know pro-life votes will go to their candidates because they “have nowhere else to go.”
At this rate, in 20 years we will be voting for abortion doctors who decide to become politicians just because they quit killing long enough to go to the legislative session.
The Final Consideration
While I have demonstrated that the pragmatism of the “pro-life movement” has not “worked,” this is not the most important consideration.
Some day I hope to stand before my Creator and hear Him say, “Well done good and faithful servant.” I do not want this moment marred with Him asking me why I voted for a baby killer for president. I don’t want to explain temporal pragmatic considerations to the Eternal One.
A principle – an ultimate principle – should be something you will die for. A preference is something you may go to great lengths for, but ultimately you will accept less.
Those who truly act on principle are always against the flow and sometimes it is long after their deaths from despair that others come to understand that they were right. I can only hope to aspire to that kind of principled living.
No Christian should settle for less.