Related, please read my Prologue, and also Part III: There’s only one way to cut down a tree?
The most disturbing aspect of the “immediatist” anti-abortion movement is that which is hardest to get its followers to acknowledge.
That is, by opposing incremental legislation they are condemning babies to die, some in excruciating ways, who would otherwise be saved.
For instance, Abolish Human Abortion opposes legislation that would save babies slated for abortion who are 20 weeks and older because, AHA says, it excludes younger babies.
Never mind there’s no chance of such an all-encompassing dream law making it past Round 1 in the courts.
In other words, even though we can’t save all babies NOW, we will oppose a law that could save 20-week-old babies NOW, because the latter would be morally wrong?
So, as the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform’s Gregg Cunningham pointed out in the “Immediatist vs. Incrementalism” debate against AHA’s T. Russell Hunter on April 25 (1:08:03 on the time stamp, also in video clip below):
The inescapable conclusion of T. Russell Hunter’s argument is that until we can save that baby [pointing to a 6-day-old embryo, see screen shot above right] – until we can outlaw the abortion of that baby – we should be utterly indifferent to the slaughter of that baby, and that baby [pointing to an 8-wk-old aborted baby, then a 10-wk-old aborted baby], and older babies….
“Utterly indifferent” is exactly right. We witnessed this indifference during the debate, wherein Hunter acknowledged incremental legislation “might be able to help somebody” and “may save some babies,” BUT is nevertheless wrong, he claimed, because “you leave this wicked tree (of abortion) growing.”
So saving some babies is wrong because the wrong we saved them from still exists?
Hunter further contradicted his position by first acknowledging, “Every child who is aborted? Image bearer, neighbor.” EVERY CHILD. Every child aborted is Hunter’s neighbor, but not really….
There is absolutely no historical foundation for Hunter’s absolutist philosophy. As Cunningham stated in so many words during the debate and followed up in an email:
In the entire history of social reform, no activists have ever outlawed a major injustice “immediately.” Reform has only ever been achieved step-by-step. AHA activists are willing to allow savable babies to perish in reliance on an absurd strategy that amounts to saving no babies until we have the votes to outlaw birth control pills….
Getting immediatists to focus on the very babies they are condemning to death by their all-or-nothing strategy is understandably difficult. They’d prefer these babies remain in the abstract, inexplicably dismissing them while simultaneously claiming moral superiority on the abortion issue.
Cunningham tried three times during the debate to get Hunter to focus on the babies he is casting aside on his quest. The most telling exchange can be seen below (beginning at 1:33:30 on the full debate video), where Hunter repeatedly dodged the question but ultimately referred to legislation that saves babies as “empty, illusory victories,” i.e., babies saved by incremental legislation are “empty, illusory victories,” then went completely into left field by likening such laws to killing abortionists, and finally mocked incrementalists who celebrate saved lives.
In my opinion, these were the most condemning moments in the debate…
Here is a transcript of that exchange:
GC: I’d like to return to the question with which I began, which Russ hasn’t answered. Should we allow these babies to die rather than enact incremental legislation?
GC: I’m sorry?
TR: Like, should we allow – should we allow babies to die?
GC: Should we allow these – because…
TR: The charade is – the charade is not even what we’re talking about – the incrementalism/immediatism debate. Focusing the ax at the tree, getting all the people who follow incrementalism to become immediatists and help put that ax to the branch – to the root…
GC: Would you answer this question?
Moderator: That was the last question. Russ, go ahead and answer that, and then we’re gonna end this.
GC: Just for the record, Russ didn’t answer the question: Should we have allowed these babies to die, which this university professor says would have died had that legislation not been enacted. Should we have allowed them to die rather than enact the incremental legislation?
Moderator: Ok, Russ, answer that question, then we’ll change.
TR: Um, well, I firmly believe that abortion is evil, and it is one of these things that the powers and principalities of darkness and high places are very in to. It’s the crown jewel of darkness, and I actually believe that if they can keep abortion going by deceiving people into becoming gradualists, they will do it. And if to deceive them they have to give them empty, illusory victories, and law professors may claim that babies were saved, they’ll do it. But I – if someone goes to an abortion mill and shoots a doctor, a baby might be saved that day, but that’s not going towards abolishing abortion. It’s not establishing justice that day [unintelligible] a baby that day.
GC: May I ask for clarification for your answer? You’re saying this guy’s making this up?
TR: Uh, no, I have to read it. But I’m just saying that convincing people to be gradualists by saying, “Hey look, we saved some,” while they’re still being – I’m pretty sure that you can convince people to be gradualists for the next 40 years…
GC: Hey Russell, let’s do both. Let’s do both. Let’s do both.
Stay tuned for Part II: “There’s only one way to cut down a tree?”
Also read Jonathon Van Maren’s, “Four observations from the Cunningham vs. Hunter debate.”