There have always been debates within the pro-life movement on how to proceed with abolishing abortion. I was surprised to find out when I became active in the 1990’s that some groups would openly oppose legislation to restrict abortion if it did not explicitly ban all abortion, on the grounds that we should not support legislation that allows for murder. In the state of Indiana, we see this in reverse: Two wings of the pro-life movement are fighting about the immediate abolition of baby-murder.
What prompted this post is that a friend said on Facebook that Indiana Right to Life is “doing everything they can to prevent the abolition of abortion” and that donations to them are used to “lobby against abolishing Roe vs. Wade.” That is an unfair characterization.
The backstory is that State Rep. Curt Nisly has repeatedly introduced a bill to outright ban abortion in the state. IRTL opposed this bill because they feared it would be struck down and further enshrine Roe v. Wade in judicial precedent. They thought it would be counterproductive in the effort to save lives. I disagree with Indiana Right to Life’s strategy. It would be better to refuse to support than outright oppose a ban on abortion. But to characterize them as opposed to the abolition of abortion is not accurate or fair.
I have met Mike Fichter several times and I know others in IRTL and affiliates. There are lots of good people associated with IRTL. They are committed to ending abortion. The fact that we may disagree on strategy does not mean they are on the other side. There is way too much “you are with us or against us” in politics, and this is one of those times. We can disagree on strategy while acknowledging that we are on the same side.
And we should be clear: Incrementalism works. Look at where smoking was just thirty years ago. It may seem impossible now, but many hospitals allowed smoking as recently as 1990. For the last fifteen years, you have been unable to even smoke in a bar in many places, and many more have even banned use of electronic cigarettes, which burn nothing and are far less harmful than smoked tobacco.
Incrementalism has worked in abortion too. In fact, it seems the anti-abortion movement is the only segment of the broader conservative movement that understands incrementalism, while Leftists have always understood that taking a little bit at a time will eventually get them where they want to be. In the early 1990’s, we saw 1,600,000 babies murdered by surgical abortion annually. Now, according to the Guttmacher Institute, less than one million per year. The percentage of teenage girls and women between 15 and 44 who get abortions is also at a historic low. There are factors beyond legislation in this good news, of course, but legislation that has incrementally made abortion more difficult has certainly played a role in this decline.
It saddens me that I have to write this post. Yes, abortion is an emotionally charged issue. We are talking about millions of innocent, defenseless babies brutally murdered in a place where they should be most safe – their mother’s wombs. We understand from Jeremiah 32:35 that people killing their own babies was something so evil that did not even enter into the mind of God. But at least the pagans practicing child sacrifice were honest about what they were doing, while “abortion rights” is shrouded behind weasel worlds like “reproductive health care” – as if ripping a human being limb from limb is “health care.” But we should not condemn those who are on our side as moral reprobates because we disagree on strategy.