There was a comment in the Argus Leader
, a South Dakota newspaper, that deeply troubles me. In the article we are told
, "South Dakota is joined by other states trying to either rein in abortion with stringent requirements or to creatively outflank it."
The article discusses various ways of wording a proposed law or ballot measure that will permit abortion in a limited number of cases. For example, in Missouri the goal is to limit abortion to instances where "the procedure is necessary to prevent imminent death or serious medical risks."
My first reaction to such mumbo-jumbo is to ask: "How do you think an abortionist will interpret these efforts?" My answer: "He will see them as a license to continue killing as many babies as he likes."
And that is why proposals like these are flawed—they permit what they claim to oppose and cause me nightmares.
This sort of thing has been going on for more than 35 years. Many pro-life leaders and organizations have been strong proponents of exceptions for a wide variety of reasons. In some cases it is deemed to be politically advantageous. In others it is described as the prudent thing to do. And in still others we are told that the public is not ready for a no-exceptions proposal or that the timing is not right for banning all abortion!
But such arguments are inane and the proposals that come out of such thinking are fraught with problems—not for pro-lifers but for preborn children. If we state that we know that a preborn child is a human being, then it does not follow that we would, in the next breath, defend proposals that permit the killing of some of these children.
Professor Charles Rice argues that
, "every time a pro-lifer proposes a law that would tolerate the execution of some unborn children, his pro-life rhetoric is drowned out by the loud and clear message of his action, that he concedes that the law can validly tolerate the intentional killing of innocent human beings."
Political science Professor Christopher Wolf’s opinion
on this is as follows: “The simple fact of the law is itself profoundly important. No matter how carefully the law is framed in words that respect the ideal of the sanctity of human life, compromise legislation still has as its bottom line the toleration of some abortions. And people being the way they are, some, perhaps many, will conclude from the fact that an act is not illegal that it is not immoral."
A very dear friend of mine, Marie Dietz, who has gone to her eternal reward, once wrote a marvelous brochure for us entitled "When it Comes to Abortion Bans: Exceptions Break the Rule
." In that little tract, she wisely instructs:
These exceptions are being sold to the pro-life movement as "smart politics" which will save some babies, arguments which appeal both to the politicians among us and to those in the movement who feel the death of these babies in the very depths of our souls.
But William Buckley, writing about the abortion debate in National Review (11122189), injects a dose of reality: "The positions of such as Mario Cuomo, Patrick Moynihan, and Edward Kennedy remind us that the temptation to be guided by political considerations not only shapes our public declarations, but tends to calcify our consciences." (Emphasis added.)
And in The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis tells us that if we throw away the yardstick we no longer have anything by which to measure. If the pro-life movement throws away its moral yardstick by admitting, however tacitly, a "right" to abortion, by what standard will we measure the right to life of anyone?
I submit that ours is not a political movement. It is a moral movement brought into the political arena through no fault of our own. But if we are not a political movement, then politics cannot save us-or the babies.
I think it’s high time we thought about this with a little more contemplation and paid a lot less attention to polls, politics and pragmatism.