Archive for the ‘Abortion’ Category


Pro-choice supporters protest in front of the Alabama State House in Montgomery on May 14, 2019.
REUTERS/Chris Aluka Berry

“What angers me about the GOP’s attempts to turn the United States into a far-right Christian theocracy is how dishonest they are about it. At least be forthright about your desire to subvert and dismantle our democracy into a creepy theological order led by a mad king.”

    – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, (D) New York, Twitter, 5/17/19

It seems as if America is on course for an abortion show down. A sort of Roe v. Wade version of pistols at noon.

In January of this year, the first shot in the latest iteration of the ongoing abortion war fired by the New York State Legislature when it passed the Reproductive Health Act (RHA). If ever a bill was fast tracked, this one certainly was. According to Wikipedia, the bill was introduced into the New York State Legislature on January 9, 2019, passed by both houses on January 22, and signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo that same evening.

The RHA, widely considered the nation’s most liberal abortion law, changed New York’s abortion laws in the following ways:

  • Removed abortion from the state’s criminal code
  • Allows medical professionals who are not doctors to perform abortions
  • To the states statue allowing abortion in the third trimester if the mother’s health is threatened, the bill adds language permitting abortion in the third trimester if the fetus in not viable

In Virginia, a bill was introduced earlier this year that would have greatly liberalized abortion in that state. When asked in a radio interview about the whether the bill would allow a fetus surviving abortion to be killed, Governor Ralph Northam created a major controversy with his answer that lent support to allowing such an infant to die.

In sharp contrast to New York and Governor Northam, just this week the Alabama State Legislature passed, and the governor signed, what is viewed as the nation’s most restrictive abortion law. The Alabama law makes it a felony offense for doctors to perform or attempt to perform an abortion, allows no exceptions for rape of incest, but does permit abortions in the event the mother’s life is at risk.

But while Alabama’s law is the most restrictive state-level abortion statute, other states have recently enacted legislation that will have the effect of significantly reducing abortions. In 2019 five states – Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio – have passed heartbeat bills, legislation designed to prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Utah and Arkansas voted to limit abortions to the middle of the second trimester. Together with Alabama, this makes eight states in 2019 that have taken legislative action to restrict abortion.

Very clearly, when it comes to abortion America is a deeply divided nation.

With a majority conservative Supreme Court, it may well be, as several legal commentators have suggested, that state-level Republican legislators and governors have passed and signed into law these bills with an eye to challenging Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion in all fifty states.

If these laws are challenged in court, as they surely will be, it is entirely possible that the challenges could begin working their way through the federal court system just as the 2020 presidential election is coming to a head. If that happens, abortion could become the lightening rod of the 2020 presidential election.

Below are a few of my observations on brewing conflict.


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The past week saw US presidential candidate Donald Trump at the center of another controversy, this time related to the issue of abortion. In an exchange with MSNBC host Chris Matthews during a Town Hall in Wisconsin, Trump responded to Matthews’ question, “Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no as a principle?,” by saying, “The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.” Matthews asked a clarifying question, “For the woman?” To which Trump answered, “Yes, there has to be some form.”

As a result of his remarks, Trump has come under fire from both pro-choice and pro-life advocates. On the pro-choice side, critics have been quick to seize on Trump’s statement as a correct logical inference of the pro-life position and, therefore, a good reason to reject pro-life arguments in favor of continuing support for Roe v. Wade. As pro-choice writer Jill Filipovic put it, “If abortion is murder, then women who have them are criminals – right?,” and further, “When you make something illegal, it comes with penalties – this is how criminal law works.”

Many pro-life advocates have moved to distance themselves from Trump’s comments, with one abortion opponent stating categorically, “No pro-lifer would ever want to punish a woman who has chosen abortion.” Marjorie Dannenfelser, another pro-life supporter, responding to Trump’s remarks said, “But let us be clear: punishment is solely for the abortionist who profits off the destruction of one life and the grave wounding of another.”

Matthews’ question should be of interest to anyone involved in the abortion debate, especially to Christians, whose faith implies respect for both life, law and logic. With that in mind, what should Trump have said in response to Matthews’ question? The best option open to Trump, and he would have been entirely within his right to do this, would have been for him to punt. Why is this? Because Matthews asked the question of Trump as one, “running for president of the United States [who] will be chief executive of the United States.” But the Federal government has no constitutional role in the abortion debate. As Ron Paul observed,

[T]he Constitution says nothing about abortion, murder, manslaughter, or any other acts of violence. There are only four crimes listed in the Constitution: counterfeiting, piracy, treason, and slavery. Criminal and civil laws were deliberately left to the states (Liberty Defined, 2).

But underlying both Matthews’ question and Trump’s response appears to be the assumption that abortion does, in fact, properly fall within the jurisdiction of the federal courts. But if there is no mention of abortion in the Constitution itself, it is hard to see any reason for the federal courts to have jurisdiction on the matter of abortion.

Instead of allowing himself to be dragged into Matthews’ trap, Trump could have sidestepped the issue by stating he would like to see jurisdiction concerning abortion returned to the states. This can be done, “with a majority vote in Congress and the signature of the President” (Liberty Defined, 7). This approach would have allowed Trump honestly to position himself both as an opponent of Rove v. Wade and an advocate of limited, constitutional government. It would also have saved him a good deal of embarrassment and backtracking.

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Cultural reform efforts are not primarily about religious doctrine but social justice. – Scott Klusendorf, The Case for Life.

Over sixty years of neo-evangelical leaven has had its effect on American Christianity, and nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the pro-life movement. Today it is difficult, if not impossible, to find pro-life authors and organizations that take seriously the Bible’s commands not to yoke in ministry with unbelievers. On the contrary, ecumenism is the default position of the pro-life community, and woe to any pro-life advocate who fails to toe the ecumenical party line.

Scott Klusendorf is one prominent pro-lifer who attempts to defend the ecumenical position, and his arguments are worth examining. In his book The Case for Life, Klusendorf includes a chapter titled “Here We Stand: Co-Belligerence Without Theological Compromise,” in which Klusendorf sets forth the reasons why, in his view, the pro-life movement, “must be broad-based and inclusive,” rather than narrowly evangelical. There are several problems with Klusendorf’s thinking in this chapter, the first of which is the deliberately misleading language of the chapter title. “Here We Stand” is obviously a reference to the brave words spoken by Martin Luther before the Diet of Worms, and by quoting them Klusendorf is attempting to cloak himself in Luther’s mantel. But his use of these words is simply doublespeak, for Luther uttered these words in the context of distinguishing the truth of the Gospel from the errors of Rome, while Klusendorf, on the other hand, perversely parodies the language of Luther, not for the purpose of distinguishing truth from error, but instead to blur the line between them.

Klusendorf starts off the chapter writing,

Evangelical Christians [as opposed to what, Romanist or Orthodox Christians?] committed to sound doctrine must distinguish themselves theologically from people who reject fundamental truths of the Protestant Reformation. These truths must never be discarded so as to achieve greater unity with non-evangelicals.

That raises an important question: Do evangelicals forsake their core beliefs when they unite with Catholics, Jews and other religious groups to address cultural issues?

For Klusendorf the answer is no. But what does Klusendorf think are the core beliefs of evangelicals? The historic meaning of ‘evangelical’ is someone who believes in the authority of the Bible alone and salvation by faith alone. Romanists, Jews and other religious groups deny these tenants. If the answer to Amos’ rhetorical question, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?,” is no, and it is, then there is no basis for evangelical co-belligerence with these groups.

Klusendorf continues,

Let me begin with an observation. Cultural reform efforts are not primarily about religious doctrine but social justice. To work they must be broad and inclusive.

Here, Klusendorf shows a shocking ignorance of what pro-life work actually is. For unlike what he and many other confused evangelicals believe, pro-life ministry is not a work of cultural reform, but an extension of the Great Commission, a command given to Christians only. For in addition to his injunctions to make disciples and baptize, Jesus also ordered his disciples to teach, “all things that I have commanded you,” one of which was God’s prohibition of murder.

There are other fallacious arguments in this short chapter, some of which I hope to address later, but for now it is enough to say in short that Klusendorf’s error is that he separates what he should unite, in order that he may unite what he should separate. He separates pro-life work from the command of the Great Commission, seeing it as something that can be pursued with equal effectiveness by both Baptists and Buddhists, so that he can unite Christians and unbelievers the common cause of pursuing “social justice,” a term frequently used by Marxists and Romanists alike when attempting to justify their long-running war on private property.


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Abortion: Problem or Symptom?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, during 2006 there were 846,181 reported abortions in the US. This worked out to 236 abortions per 1,000 live births among aged 15-44. Or to put it another way, an American child had a 1 in 5 chance of being murdered in his mother’s womb. Now consider this: according to FBI statistics New Orleans had the highest murder rate in the nation in 2009 with 0.52 murders per 1,000 people, meaning that an American mother’s womb is over 45,000% more dangerous than the than the most violent American city.

Now it’s tempting to look at a this statistic and say, “this is a terrible problem, we have to do something,” and proceed to devise a solution without ever asking the more profound question, Why is this happening? What philosophy, what ideas, what worldview has allowed this state of affairs to obtain? In other words, do we treat abortion as an isolated problem, or is it a symptom of something larger?

Here’s how Gordon Clark answered this question. He wrote,

    “A few paragraphs back I made mention of morality. Let us ask, why do so many women murder their own babies, or at least pay a hired     assassin to kill or half-kill the child and throw his quivering body into a garbage can? Why does the cruel vixen kill her own child?     Few people give the basic answer. She kills her baby because she rejects the doctrine of the Trinity. The Ten Commandments forbid the     crime of murder. But why should anyone pay attention to the Ten Commandments? The answer to this why is found in the introduction:     “I am the Lord thy God.” If that statement is not true, then abortion, child abuse, torture, drug addiction, theft, and anything else are     matters only of personal preference. The basic question is not what is right or wrong, though this question has a derivative status.     But the basic question is, What is true?” – Gordon Clark, “The Logos,” The Trinity Review, 2008.

Now that’s insight. Abortion is first a symptom. Having rejected God, we’ve become a nation of Pilates who cynically ask, “what is truth?,” as we calmly go about the business of murdering children. The only solution to this problem is to reconcile God and man, and the only hope of effecting this reconciliation is the widespread preaching of and belief in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Of course, this immediately rules out the ecumenical approach so loved by American Neo-Evangelicals: co-belligerence with Rome. Rome has no Gospel, it has no good news. Therefore, it has nothing to offer those who seek to stop abortion. Preaching the Gospel comes first, stopping abortion second. When Christians protest abortion and fail to observe this order, they waste their time and insult Christ.

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The old metaphor a frog slowly boiling in water is an apt description of people becoming inured over time to ideas that would have seemed monstrous to an earlier generation. The American Medical Association is a good case in point. In the 1871 the AMA had this to say about abortion,

     “We shall discover an enemy in the camp … we shall witness as hideous a view of moral deformity as the evil spirit could present …. It is false brethren we have to fear; men who are false to their professions, false to principle, false to honor, false to humanity, false to God….” They went on to describe physician-abortionists as “these modern Herods,” “educated assassins,” “Monsters of iniquity,” and “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” The physicians were clear on their moral authority and did not hesitate to impose their beliefs. They wrote: ” ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ This commandment is given to all, and applies to all without exception.” They warned of “the uplifted hand of an avenging God [that] will suddenly fall on [the] guilty head [of an abortionist].” – John W. Robbins, “Abortion Christianity and the State,” The Trinity Review, (January, February 1985).

By 1977 the AMA had adopted a slightly different principles and had this to say about abortion,

    “The Principles of Medical Ethics of the AMA do not prohibit a physician from performing an abortion in accordance with good medical     practice and under circumstances that do not violate the law.” – AMA Code of Medical Ethics, 1977

It seems that many modern doctors make good frogs indeed.

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