Pro-life, pro-choice, or other? There was a time when I thought the first two were the only major camps. Sure, there were always variations of people within each camp but, by and large, most people fell into one of the two. However, there is another camp that falls somewhere else entirely. This particular camp shares similarities with the religious zealots of biblical times. For those who may be unaware, the zealots were those who were religious fanatics to the point where they would murder the opposing government officials. One could consider them religious assassins. While this third category isn’t necessarily out bombing abortion clinics (nor would they advocate such tactics), their extremism is performed in a very different, yet equally as dangerous, manner. So who is this mystery category? It contains those deemed as abolitionists. The most prominent group in this category is known as Abolish Human Abortion (AHA).
AHA members come in a variety of shapes and sizes but they all have one thing in common: abolishing abortion.
On this particular point, I have no disagreement. As Christians, the complete eradication of evil should always be strived for. However, we must also understand we live in a fallen world with unregenerate sinners. Thus, it should also be understood that, this side of heaven, we’ll never achieve that end goal. AHA is an interesting group as it neither falls under pro-life nor pro-choice. In fact, they will openly proclaim that both movements entertain evil and are wicked. Not so long ago, I would’ve been scratching my head asking myself what else is left. Now, it’s not quite as confusing. My end conclusion? AHA is both misguided as well as dangerous.
When I first heard of AHA, I decided to follow them on Facebook and even shared some of their posts. Imagine my surprise when I heard they were picketing churches and protesting bills that directly attacked abortion. While it’s easy to mischaracterize groups with whom you disagree, I want to ensure I accurately portray their stance in this blog post. Essentially, AHA members are abolitionists. Anything short of the complete eradication of abortion is considered unsatisfactory. To this end, I agree. Where we part ways is in the methods used to achieve such a goal. While the pro-life camp is typically accepting of incremental laws that whittle away at abortion little by little, AHA is diametrically opposed to such bills. The main reason for this is because they feel it’s showing partiality toward some babies while showing acceptance and compromise toward others. A perfect example would be the “heartbeat bill” that multiple states either recently passed or are currently looking at. The pro-life movement is generally in favor of bills such as these because we’re willing to accept baby steps. At no point are they deemed satisfactory but they are accepted as first steps toward a more comprehensive goal. However, as stated, AHA believes them to be wicked bills that dehumanize and promote the murder of babies without detectable heartbeats. While being a noble cause, it’s misguided at best and deadly at worst.
Before we go any further, I find it important to remind us all that God is sovereign in all He does. In His infinite wisdom, He has allowed abortion is be legal in our country. Regardless what happens from here, He’s over all. That fact doesn’t negate our responsibility to care for the little ones and to be a voice for the voiceless (Proverbs 31:8-10). After all, that’s the entire position of the pro-life movement. Yet, AHA will openly declare this to be a foolish approach. If one were to say the end goal is to save lives, they’ll openly deny such a charge. In fact, they openly criticize pro-lifers as being willing to save lives at all costs. By “all costs,” they mean being willing to accept incremental bills. While we declare incremental bills to be more palatable and more likely to be passed (which, in turn, saves some lives in the process), they believe, by promoting these bills, we’re accepting evil and promoting the deaths of other babies so long as we save some. With this outlook, it’s not hard to see why they believe us to be wrong. It sounds monstrous! Sadly, it’s a strawman. Allow me to explain.
Abortion is currently legal in our country. We don’t have to pass any laws to legalize the murder of prenatal babies as it already exists. If a law is passed that prohibits the murder of prenatal babies of whom a heartbeat is detected, while allowing the murder of those of whom there is no heartbeat detected, it isn’t synonymous with newly creating a law that legalizes their murder. Again, this is because that law is already on the books (whether one wants to acknowledge it as a valid law is irrelevant as the legal precedent has already been set). It simply means we’ve now saved countless babies in the first pass and are coming back to save the rest in the next pass (or however many passes it may take to achieve the end goal of abolition). It’s whittling away at existing law and removing its power little by little when taking it head on would prove to be too much. A lumberjack doesn’t go into the woods and demand an oak tree be felled. No, he swings his axe and, with each connection, removes a part of the tree. He continues to do this until the tree is too weak to stand and, finally, falls under its own weight. Just as an oak is brought down by incremental swings, so the path to abolition will be through incrementally removing the authority of existing abortion laws. By opposing such measures and tactics, while AHA may be able to feel upright, just, self-righteous, and treating everyone equally, all they really accomplish is equally leading all babies to the slaughter. This isn’t noble. It’s illogical and wicked. It has more to do with the Pharisee in Luke 18:10-11 who, in his self-righteousness, was thankful that he wasn’t “unjust” as the tax collector next to him. While maintaining a feeling of righteousness and pure justice, real human lives are being lost because they refuse to allow any law to pass that doesn’t include all babies from being rescued in a single pass. Again, in their stubbornness, it only results in no babies being saved while they’re afforded the opportunity to snub their nose in the air and mock those who are making every attempt to at least save one. Yes, if only even one is saved, it’s all worth it as we continue making progress toward abolition.
Sadly, it appears the abolitionist movement is expanding into other groups and is no longer limited to the likes of AHA. While many of these new groups oppose the fanatical approach and tactics used by AHA, they’ve begun to adopt the view that incremental bills are wretched. In many of these groups, it’s less of a sense of self-righteousness and more of a belief that incremental bills won’t work and that we’ll lose precious time that could’ve been spent working on abolition bills. While we disagree on the likelihood of such “totality” bills passing, I can at least appreciate where they’re coming from. Unfortunately, it still tends to be illogical and dangerous. For instance, one common objection to the heartbeat bill is that, since it’s the abortionist performing the heartbeat ultrasound, he/she will be more likely to either skip the ultrasound altogether or purposely miss the heartbeat by performing the ultrasound in the wrong place. Essentially, the view is that the abortionist can’t be trusted. Therefore, the heartbeat bill is pointless and babies with a heartbeat will be aborted anyway. Is there any credibility to this argument? I dare so there’s not. Let me explain why.
I can understand the skepticism which would lead one to assume the abortionist will purposely miss the heartbeat or perform the abortion anyway. It’s a healthy sort of skepticism. However, it’s also pure speculation rooted in their presuppositions. Think of it another way. People are always trying to find mechanic shops who are willing to fudge numbers to help a modified car pass a smog test. As much as mechanics are generally automotive enthusiasts and don’t particularly like smog laws, finding a shop that will do it is extremely difficult. This is because most mechanics aren’t willing to risk losing their livelihood and being unable to put food on their table over a random customer. Another example is gun shows. We’ve all heard the “gun show loophole” but it’s also a myth. I’ve bought a gun from a gun show and, even as active duty military, I had to provide certain paperwork in order to get one. They were adamant that they couldn’t sell me one without the paperwork being provided first to prove my residency in the city. Most licensed gun vendors aren’t willing to risk losing their license and affect putting food on their table all for a stranger. Will there be those who will do it anyway? Of course! However, they’ll be criminals and, if they get caught (be it by audit or by investigation after probable cause comes to light), they’ll face the consequences. I’m very convinced most abortionists will play by the rules out of fear of losing their livelihood should they get caught. To add to this thought, if we’re going to enter the realm of speculation, imagine how many pro-life pregnant women will receive a positive heartbeat ultrasound by a credible healthcare provider only to go to a mill and feign wanting an abortion in order to “catch” an abortionist telling her there’s no heartbeat. They’d be too easy to catch and prosecute. Again, most aren’t willing to lose their careers and negatively impact their family’s way of life over a stranger. As it stands, most of the remaining abolitionist objections are rooted in the same flawed sense of logic.
As I draw to a close, I want to reaffirm the fact that total abolition should absolutely be the end goal. If an abolition bill were to go up today, I’d be in full support of it. However, I wouldn’t stop there, rest on my laurels, and consider my job complete. What if it fails? What if it fails repeatedly? Do we continue to play the same song on repeat or do we strategize and make a more effective plan? To be honest, I wish the pro-choice camp had the same mentality as AHA and other abolitionists back in 1973. If that were the case, they would’ve demanded legalizing medical professionals to leave babies to die on a table simply because they’re unwanted. Unfortunately, the pro-choice movement was rooted in incrementalism. What began as a divide within the church over feminism then shifted into a right to privacy and doctor/patient confidentiality in cases of abortion. This then paved the way for late term and partial birth abortions. Today, babies are left to die if they survive a botched abortion. Don’t be fooled. It was incrementalism that led us to the horrific place we’re at today. They knew it would work and they stood united in the cause. I say it’s about time we steal their playbook and use incrementalism against them until they no longer have any power to stand. Instead of fighting the pro-life crowd at the expense of human lives, instead, stand united and take down the oak tree known as abortion, one swing at a time!
~Travis W. Rogers