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Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Last week, the Supreme Court decided to uphold the partial-birth abortion ban that President Bush had signed into federal law in 2003. Basically, it bans the abortion procedure that involved delivering a late-term baby from the womb until only the head remained in utero, at which time (pardon the expression) the doctor inserted surgical scissors into the baby's skull and removed the brain. In a word, infanticide. So on the face, it would appear that this decision is a huge triumph for the pro-life movement. However, not to be pessimistic, but in reality this is a very small step. This ban does NOT eliminate in utero late-term abortions, just a method of carrying them out. So, while it is fantastic that finally SCOTUS stood up to the pro-abortion lobby, we have a very long way to go. So along those lines, here is an article by Dinesh D'Souza proposing how pro-lifers continue that fight in the mode of Abraham Lincoln and his fight against slavery.
I am not an expert on the abortion issue, but I have learned a great deal about it, strangely enough, by studying the Lincoln-Douglas debates. These debates were about slavery. But look at how closely the arguments parallel the abortion debate.

Douglas, the Democrat, took the pro-choice position. He said that each state should decide for itself whether or not it wanted slavery. Douglas denied that he was pro-slavery. In fact, at one time he professed to be "personally opposed" to it. At the same time, Douglas was reluctant to impose his moral views on the new territories. Douglas affirmed the right of each state to choose. He invoked the great principle of freedom of choice.

Lincoln, the Republican, disagreed. Lincoln argued that choice cannot be exercised without reference to the content of the choice. How can it make sense to permit a person to choose to enslave another human being? How can self-determination be invoked to deny others self-determination? How can choice be used to negate choice?
The argument between Douglas and Lincoln is very similar in content, and very nearly in form, to the argument between the pro-choice and the pro-life movements. Pro-choice advocates don't like to be considered pro-abortion. Many of them say they are "personally opposed." One question to put to them is, "Why are you personally opposed?" The only reason for one to be personally opposed to abortion is that one is deeply convinced that the fetus is more than a mere collection of cells, that it is a developing human being.
What, then, is the challenge facing the pro-life movement? It is the same challenge that Lincoln faced: to build popular consent for the restriction and ultimately the ending of abortions. Right now the pro-life movement does not enjoy the support of the American people to do this. Neither, by the way, did Lincoln have a national mandate to end slavery. It is highly significant that Lincoln was not an abolitionist. He was resolutely anti-slavery in principle, but his political campaign focused on the issue of curtailing the spread of slavery to the territories.

In my view the pro-life movement at this point should focus on seeking to reduce the number of abortions. At times this will require political and legal fights, at times it will require education and the establishment of alternatives to abortion, such as adoption centers. Unfortunately such measures are sometimes opposed by so-called hardliners in the pro-life movement. These hardliners are fools. They want to outlaw all abortions, and so they refuse to settle for stopping some abortions, with the consequence that they end up preventing no abortions. These folks should learn some lessons from Abraham Lincoln.
Where I think D'Souza slips a bit in his conclusion is where he mentions pro-life "hardliners." While I am sure there are some people who can't see the forest for the trees in the pro-life movement, almost everyone I have met understand that you must be able to chew gum while walking, so to speak. If we are ever going to see abortion eliminated in this country, we will have to do all the small things along with the big ones. We aren't likely to wake up one morning and find that abortion was completely banned; rather, slowly, conservatives will have to chip away at the laws and policies currently on the books.


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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

Darius Teichroew's favorite books »