“Immediatist v Incrementalist” debate analysis: Prologue

aha-debate-e1430057755276He asked for it, he got it.

Several months ago Abolish Human Abortion’s T. Russell Hunter issued an open challenge to anyone from the pro-life community to debate him on the topic of “immediatism,” which he supports, versus “incrementalism,” which the so-called “establishment” generally supports. His description of the debate frame:

I would argue for the abolitionist position – that all people who are opposed to abortion ought to unify around abolishing all forms of intentional prenatal destruction regardless of the age of the human being in question – and my opponent could argue for the pro life establishment’s position that we should focus our time and energy on regulating abortion while it remains legal and seek incremental gains against it.

Gregg Cunningham of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform eventually accepted Hunter’s challenge, and the debate was held this past Friday, April 25.

(Cunningham also rejected Hunter’s premise that incrementalism is an “either/or” thing, a concept it is actually immediatists who espouse. I find it inexplicable that they not only ignore opportunities but block attempts to save children from abortion now, thinking it is only principled to work to stop all abortions at one time in the future. But as Cunningham stated more than once, “We don’t do one or the other, we do both.”)

You can view video of the debate here. It totals almost three hours, but I think the last hour of Q&A could be skipped without missing much. Otherwise, it’s an interesting thing to watch.

14abA bunch of us around the country and Canada viewed it “together,” so to speak, via live stream, and the consensus was Cunningham won the debate hands down. How hands down? Nixon’s stunning debate defeat to Kennedy comes to mind. Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform’s Jonathon Van Maren called it an “out-and-out mauling.”

Hunter came ill-prepared to support his actual premise, that pro-life incrementalism hasn’t and doesn’t work, and Cunningham quickly disproved Hunter’s claim that immediatism is buttressed by historical figures like William Wilberforce, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr. None of the aforementioned were immediatists in practice. They were incrementalists.

Which is where Hunter’s thesis fell apart. He quoted their writings, which expressed an absolutist view against slavery and segregation, but ignored their work, which demonstrated an incremental approach.

By example, someone looking back at my writings some day will readily conclude I abhor all abortions, oppose the rape/incest exception, and think abortion clinics come from the pits of hell.

Yet in practice I support a 20-week abortion ban, some legislation with rape/incest exceptions, and abortion clinic regulations. These are means to get to the end: stopping all abortions. Again, incrementalists work to stop all abortions while at the same time working to save the babies we can along the way.

The reason I’m taking the time to dissect this debate here, and in another post or two or three, is because I believe AHA and Hunter’s immediatist view is not only wrong, it’s dangerous and deadly, resulting in the senseless deaths of children.

So if you consider this mere internecine bickering, I don’t. In my opinion, lives hang in the balance.

This was exemplified clearly in the debate, which I’ll get to in my next post.

But we weren’t the only ones who thought Hunter fared poorly. He thought so, too. Some of his initial Facebook comments:

  • Wish I did better in last nights debate and kept the focus on immediatism instead of letting it run all over the place and of course, there were a lot of things I wanted to say or shoulda woulda could have said….
  • Definitely my first [debate]….
  • I was getting pretty rilled up at times and actually holding a lot back.
  • I was dead tired and dealing with all sorts of strange spiritual warfare issues and family difficulties so I was not anywhere as sharp as I needed to be.
  • Because it is quite difficult to explain the difference between immediatism and incrementalism while someone is constantly calling you a pharisee, accusing you of hating babies and repeatedly telling you that they regulate abortion better than you do, I have decided to finish this powerpoint presentation and put it up in its entirety for people to evaluate and assess.
  • I’m a better drawer than debater….
  • I didn’t get to half of [my arguments] and was to rushed and distracted to nail Gregg where I should have.
  • Then Gregg got up, said that he and his organization were awesome and uncompromising and that I was a meanie head on Facebook…. Greg then said that I was stupid and that he was awesome…. He held up that paper again and said that I completely disregarded the lives of all children ever saved from abortion and that I was a monster (but that he loved me and respected my work etc etc).

buttercupAs an aside, even a cursory viewing of the debate will show Gregg was strong but behaved like a gentleman. Apparently, for all the verbal bombs he throws online, Hunter can’t handle hand-to-hand combat.

But as someone wrote to NYC Mayor de Blasio, who recently complained people are mean to him at baseball games, “Toughen up, buttercup.”

At any rate, by last night Hunter had recovered his mojo, writing, “I’m starting to realize that the debate went far better than I realized,” this, he said, because he’d heard people like me were ‘totally freaking out and making promises to write articles.”

I’m totally freaking out, all right, for the babies Hunter and his followers fight to leave in the hands of abortionists.

Stay tuned for “Part I: Let babies die today, we can save the rest later.”

And meanwhile, watch the debate and tell me what you think.

[HT for research help: Tom H.]

Also read:

Part II: There’s only one way to cut down a tree?

55 thoughts on ““Immediatist v Incrementalist” debate analysis: Prologue”


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    Sydney M. says:

    The problem with AHA and the immediatists is that their whole premise is hypocritical. As already pointed out on this site once before–if you ban abortion in 1 state but allow it in 49 other states is that incrementalism? YES IT IS. But the AHA folks would say that is okay. Only abolishing abortion throughout the world at the exact same moment would be true immediatism. Otherwise every other ban on abortion whether from a certain gestational age or in a certain geographical location –it is all incrementalism!

    I haven’t watched the debate yet but some of my AHA supporting friends were talking of it. Sigh. I love them as my friends but I will never understand their mindset. Trying to chip away at abortion wherever you can does not mean you in any way support it. And while they whine and complain abortion is still legal. They themselves have done nothing to overturn Roe but don’t tell them that. They’re too busy attacking incrementalists.

       8 likes


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    FrebusMaxwell says:

    I *so* want to tell the Immediatists, “Enough with the debating! GO – wield your ax, and GO! Stop arguing, trying to prove your position and GO! Babies are being slaughtered!”

    If the immediatists believe the incrementalists are evil, I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 13:30 — Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles for burning, but bring the wheat into my barn.”

    It’s just like the enemy to encourage infighting in this war of life and death.

    When I watch the videos of AHA in action, I cringe at times seeing how rude they are — interrupting, showing such lack of respect to their audience of “image-bearers.”

    I understand the call to repentance; however, it can be done in love for those who are heading to hell. Romans 2:4 – God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.

       5 likes


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    Steve says:

    Why do we assume incrementalism is a monolithic approach? There can be both principled and unprincipled incremental approaches.

       4 likes


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    JDC says:

    I have watched the entire debate (in increments, as it is very long) and a few main observations stand out:

    1) This debate was unlikely to change the position of anyone already committed to one side or the other, given that the arguments made were pretty much the same ones that have been made when arguments about this occur online. Nevertheless, this may be of interest to somebody who’s new to the debate and wants to see the arguments for both sides laid out.

    2) It was clear that Gregg Cunningham was much better debater. While T Russell Hunter appears to be a fairly competent public speaker, he was clearly unprepared for the specific challenges of a debate format.

    3)Acknowledging that, I do believe that Cunningham did win on quality of arguments. Of course I have a major bias on this as I was already a committed incrementalist going into this. See point #1.

    4) Lastly, and least importantly, the audio quality was not very good and at times it was hard to hear.

       2 likes


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    FrebusMaxwell says:

    For all the hype and prep time that could have been used for a dry run (or three), the audio and video were seriously inferior to what could have been. It came off as amateurish. I was sorely disappointed.

       3 likes


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    Del says:

    The “moderate middle” of the pro-life movement has always had to deal with extremists.

    – The AHA types are the most organized and willing to put forth an agenda. They are annoying, but at least the medium is conversation — and that means that people are talking. AHA actually does a service…. When PP and NARAL accuse pro-lifers of being “extreme,” we can say, “No, THAT’S what extreme looks like.”

    – The lone rogues who used to shoot guns, place bombs, and start fires were much more damaging to cause of pro-lifers. A crazy guy would appear out of nowhere every couple of years, unknown to the pro-life movement, and do some violence. This was enough to let pro-borts perpetrate the myth that all pro-lifers are potential terrorists. Fortunately, the pro-borts are fooled by their own rhetoric, and maintain an unsettling amount of paranoia in their midst.

    – At the other end, there are lukewarm pro-life organizations which seem to have no purpose but to give endorsements to milquetoast Republicans who have never done a thing for pro-life. They oppose legislation that might challenge the Republican establish, saying that it “too extreme” and “not incremental enough.”

    I suppose that this is natural to every organic coalition of grass-roots organizations in any social movement.

       4 likes


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    T. Russell Hunter says:

    Wow! You are selectively quote mining my Facebook posts to transform humility into concession.

    SORRY! I think Gregg Cunningham mauled himself and I gave people a choice to stand on the Truth of God and unify and work together to abolish abortion instead of focusing on regulating and pruning abortion methods. I exhorted people to stop doing what they’ve been doing for the past 40 years and come together under Christ and call the culture to repent of Child Sacrifice and Gregg recommended that we compromise with abortion so that we can hold up a paper that says that over the past 40 years the number of babies who are being murdered by abortion has decreased a little (though it is still in the millions and now we have no way of counting the early abortions that are so widely available in this country).

    Gregg didn’t just lose. Jill Stanek and all the pros who are invested in treating image bearers of the living God as “increments” lost.

    And that is why she has written this article. YES! Do watch the debate!

    Russell

       9 likes


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    Marianna Trzeciak says:

    I watched all but the last half hour. T. Russell Hunter won the debate. He did not use the personal invectives used by the other side, and he re-introduced God’s view of abortion into the debate by a scholarly approach to religious and civil history on two sides of the Atlantic. Kudos to Hunter.

    This whole debate is a surprise to me. Gregg Cunningham is a kind man who has put himself out–at great personal risk– in a very monumental way to show the world the evil of abortion. Why does he (of all people) support incrementalism? Meanwhile, it was my liberal live-and-let-live beliefs that informed my 100% pro-life position since childhood, and yet I am so thrilled by Hunter’s references to God. (In fact, being pro-life was the basis for my own return to the Catholic Church.)

    This was a good debate, but let us have it as the first and last of such a drawn-out brawl amongst friends. God needs good to unify. Divided (by Satan) we fall. Let us do what God calls each one of us to do and look to our friends in the pro-life movement with only the thought, “And how may I help you?”

       1 likes


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    FrebusMaxwell says:

    No matter who “won” or “lost,” let’s move on and wield whatever instrument we have in hand. A house divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:25). There’s precious little time to spend in debating, posting and defending stances, etc. when the issue is as urgent as we know it to be!

       4 likes


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    Chase Reader says:

    Russ Hunter isn’t just wrong, he’s LOUD wrong.

       9 likes


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    Kate Robinson says:

    You could skip the Q&A without missing much… except Gregg admitting that he makes people sign a waiver not to preach the Gospel unless it’s requested, and Gregg conceding the entire debate without meaning to by saying he wouldn’t take a deal to abolish abortion entirely if it meant sacrificing one child.

       4 likes


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    Scott Johnston says:

    The basic, underlying principle at stake here is rather simple, and can be made clear with a straightforward thought experiment. . .

    There is a group of children in a field. Opposite them, is a group of evil men with spears, intent on killing the children, ready to throw. I am a bystander to this, observing what is about to happen.

    Two things are a given: 1) I cannot stop all of the children from being killed, since I cannot single-handedly stop the entire group of men from launching their spears. Impossible, since I don’t have twenty hands nor the physical strength of Samson. And, if all the spears are thrown, some children (perhaps all) will certainly be killed. What am I obligated to do?

    One thing is clearly NOT an option: standing by and doing nothing at all, letting every child be killed, if it is possible to at least try to do something.

    My obligation: to intervene in whatever way seems most potentially successful at that moment, to save even one child’s life who otherwise would have been killed. If I can save more than one, even better. So, I might try to run into the group of men and physically stop one or two; maybe try to take a spear and then use it to stop one or two additional attackers. Or, perhaps the only option might be to put myself in front of the children, hoping to stop the onslaught. But if the onslaught still comes, I may be killed, but at least one child’s life would have been saved. Or, I might try yelling something to create some distraction to change their focus, giving some of the kids a chance to run. Etc.

    The one thing that would actually be immoral in this scenario, would be to consciously think in the following way: well, I can’t save all of them right now, so, right now, I’ll sit tight and do nothing to try to save even one, (even though there is a chance I could save one or more if I tried). But, soon after I’ll release a statement full of outrage about how bad this was and about how all violent spear-men must stop and put down their weapons now.

       9 likes


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    Scott Johnston says:

    But, actually, such debates are really a moot point. Real lives of real unborn babies are being saved every year by increasingly restrictive laws being passed in states all over the country. Abortion rates are going down in various states, in part, because of incremental laws. It’s just a fact. Just last year, abortion mills were closed in Texas because of regulations passed in the state requiring them to adhere to regulations similar to those required of any other ambulatory surgical clinic. A closed clinic can’t do any abortions. There are babies alive right now, who would have been aborted last year in Texas, had not this (incremental) law been passed to increase the regulatory scrutiny on abortion clinics in Texas.

       5 likes


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    T. Russell Hunter says:

    Abolitionists are going into the fields to save as many as we can and change as many minds as we can while we call for the total and immediate abolition of human abortion. We go out to the killing fields to rescue children because we are not just sitting at home and supporting the incremental schemes of politicians and lobbyists who write laws specifying which of the children in the field must be protected now and which in the field must be protected later.

    As I said in the debate, Immediatism has to do with what we are calling for and focusing on, it does not have to do with what we do on a daily basis or how long it takes for us to achieve abolition.

    Does that make sense Scott Johnston?

    Let me know if I need to try and explain it further.

    Russ

       2 likes


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    Navi says:

    There are babies alive right now, who would have been aborted last year in Texas, had not this (incremental) law been passed to increase the regulatory scrutiny on abortion clinics in Texas.

    That makes sense to rational people, but the problem is that AHA is on the record saying that the number of babies saved doesn’t matter to them and that whether or not lives are saved is irrelevant to whether a strategy is justified.

       6 likes


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    FrebusMaxwell says:

    “Immediatism has to do with what we are calling for and focusing on, it does not have to do with what we do on a daily basis or how long it takes …”

    The second half of that sentence sounds like incrementalism — what is being done on a daily basis — over a period of time, one baby at a time.

       4 likes


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    T. Russell Hunter says:

    It only sounds like that if you think that immediatism has something to do with not “working while the day lasts.” Working while the day lasts is included in the Oxford English Dictionary definition of the the term “Immediatist.”

    Perhaps you do not understand what immediatism is and entails?

    Jill and others have done an excellent job misrepresenting abolitionism and indoctrinating their followers. Yuck!

    PS: You should watch the opening statement of the debate again.

       2 likes


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    T. Russell Hunter says:

    Navi,

    Show me the record of any abolitionist saying what you say “we” (AHA) are on the record of saying.

    Lying is not good and does not help your “side.”

       0 likes


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    FrebusMaxwell says:

    http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/91843?redirectedFrom=immediatist#eid

    The phrase “work while the day lasts” isn’t in the definition. It is an example of the word’s usage, in this case, by F.H. Stoddard.

    We do work “while the day lasts” – John 9:4, while it is day; while the day of life lasts, for in the grave there is no work nor device….

       3 likes


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    T. Russell Hunter says:

    Yes! That is how the word immediatist was used then and how we use it now.

    We are not advocates of waiting around and sitting and doing nothing. We say go and rescue right now! Do all that you can! Call for total and immediate abolition but help the helpless all around you and everywhere else that you can.

    That is why the majority of the Underground Railroad workers were considered Immediatists and anti-incrementalists.

    There is no contradiction between immediatism and working daily to save lives all along the way to abolition. This is just the basic stuff of this debate that most folks on pages like this one don’t seem to get.

    Russ

       1 likes


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    Toby Harmon says:

    Greg Cunningham: “Russ has even quoted from Genesis 9:6 that women who are post-abortive should recieve the death penalty. That just does not sound like the love of Christ to me AND CERTAINLY not the love of Abraham Lincoln.”

    Wait, so does Gregg think the Trinity is divided? Does Gregg think that Christ had nothing to do with writing the OT?

    Not to mention Gregg entirely misrepresented us by implying we call for retroactive death penalty for post-abortive women.

       0 likes


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    Sydney M. says:

    So T Russell Hunter–if you say save all the children you can in the field–that is incrementalism my friend. No one here is saying “Hey…its okay if some babies are aborted.” We are ALSO working to completely ban abortion. But unless you AHA folks can snap your fingers and ban abortion throughout the entire world in a single moment–anything less is indeed incrementalism.

    Oh–and you need to apologize for calling Navi a liar. Humility–you AHA folks don’t know the meaning of the word.

       9 likes


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    Jill Stanek says:

    T. Russell,

    Per your request of Navi to “Show me the record of any abolitionist saying what you say ‘we’ (AHA) are on the record of saying,” which is (quoting Navi), “the problem is that AHA is on the record saying that the number of babies saved doesn’t matter to them and that whether or not lives are saved is irrelevant to whether a strategy is justified,” please see yourself in the debate… several times demonstrating that very point: http://www.jillstanek.com/2015/04/immediatist-incrementalist-debate-analysis-part-letting-babies-die/

       5 likes


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    T. Russell Hunter says:

    Sorry Jill, I never say that the numbers saved “don’t matter,” I only say that you guys are being deceived (and deceiving others) into believing that reducing the numbers leads to abolition or that you can reduce numbers by banning procedures. Planned Parenthood promises to reduce numbers by increasing their services and the studies they cite on their behalf claim to reduce them more than your measures.

    Come on Jill. You are smart enough to follow this.

    Maybe that is why you work so hard to obscure the point and misrepresent our position. You know we are right!

    Let’s be right together and work together and focus on abolishing abortion and not just abortion methods.

       1 likes


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    Jill Stanek says:

    TR, in the debate you clearly admit more than once babies “might” and “may” be saved by incremental legislation, which is actually a no-brainer, but then you gloss over them. You hem and haw to Gregg’s direct question on whether we should let them die. Watch yourself. Read what you said. What do you say to the babies you’re readily leaving to die now? Face them. I have. Talk to them. Tell them. This isn’t a game, they aren’t abstract.

       5 likes


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    Doug says:

    Is there any real logic and/or historical precedent that says that incrementalism is destined to fail here?

       4 likes


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    Amy1 says:

    T. Russell Hunter –

    I have to say, sir, that any clarity of truth in your statements are lost through the glaze of snark and sarcasm you bathe them in. You are defeating your own arguments with your lack of humility. Lucifer and his hoards would love to divide the prolife army and he will do it through preening pride. Let’s all learn to walk humbly while we do justice.

       7 likes


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    Jill Stanek says:

    Doug, as I write in my post, there’s no historical precedent for immediatism. Only incrementalism has ever worked.

       5 likes


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    T. Russell Hunter says:

    Making an exception to murder children because their fathers were rapists does not save babies. Even if you say it does. It only specifies which babies will not be saved.

    I think we are supposed to write laws which protect the fatherless and not write laws which sell them out to destruction.

    We need to seek the abolition of abortion not the banning of abortion methods. That is the distinction. Stop accusing me of not caring about these babies. I am trying to be a voice for those who cannot speak up for themselves.

    Doug and Amy, Please watch the debate and just consider the point I am making about the lessons of history. Also, if you would truly like to know more about what we think and why and the arguments we make on behalf of abolitionism, add me on Facebook. I have been asked to present a longer explanation of the historical arguments and will be doing so soon.

    Gregg Cunningham has even offered to help set the record straight on Wilberforce in the event that he does present himself as an immediatist and in opposition to regulation and incrementalism at the end of his campaign to abolish the slave trade.

    I do truly want people to understand what we are saying and not just assess us through the representation that Jill is seeking to cover us with. Our argument is not “ignore babies and let them die.” That is just how Jill and Gregg and others want to frame the debate. There is more to it.

    Again. Please watch the debate and pay close attention to what is being said by both debaters, not about the debaters.

    Grace and Peace,

    Russell

       1 likes


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    Jill Stanek says:

    TR,

    You speak utter nonsense as your half-baked theories crumble around you.

    “Making an exception to murder children because their fathers were rapists does not save babies. Even if you say it does. It only specifies which babies will not be saved.”

    This is absolute crazy talk. I don’t even know whether to bother to reply. Does anyone really believe your crackpot rhetoric any more?

    Do I have to spell out that abortion bans save 99 of 100 babies who live within the sphere of the ban, such as 20 weeks and older – this even despite a vile rape/incest exception? But you say a law saving 99 babies of 100 from certain death in actuality “does not save babies”? Can you specifically explain that?

    I do agree with you on one point, recommending that people watch the debate, and see you fall flat on your face.

       5 likes


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    scragsma says:

    Russell, in your comments here you are talking out of both sides of your face. You describe your position as calling for the complete abolition of abortion, while acting as the days go by to save every baby it’s possible to save. That’s EXACTLY the same position held by those you call incrementalists, those who call for a “both/and” approach rather than an “either/or” approach — yet you hold up the latter and condemn the former. I did watch the debate, and you just don’t seem to get it, no matter how plainly Gregg explained it. Your ranting helps no one and creates a false division that ultimately works AGAINST the abolition of abortion in the near term. Please stop opposing your allies.

       5 likes


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    T. Russell Hunter says:

    “within the sphere of the ban”

    I am saying that the sphere of the ban ought to be all abortions. That we should be calling for the abolition of abortion, not the banning of this or that procedure. As you argue elsewhere, the abortion industry just changes the procedure.

    Please think about this.

       1 likes


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    T. Russell Hunter says:

    Scragsma,

    Thanks for the comment. I see where you are confused.

    Immediatists work daily to try and rescue children and change the culture and call for the abolition of human abortion and campaign for any laws that fight abortion as murder and undermine it in and of itself. Incrementalists are advocating calling for bans of abortion methods or passing laws to protect specific babies who meet certain criteria, such as being big enough that dismemberment is necessary to kill them, or the ability to feel pain. Incrementalists also tend to argue that it is better to focus on regulating where abortions are done and by whom instead of calling on the abolition of abortion because it is murder and bringing all human beings under the protection of law.

    Do you see the difference?

    It is crucial to the discussion.

       1 likes


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    Chase Reader says:

    AHA is a wax nose ideology. Find a problem or contradiction with it? No worries, Russ will soon twist it to whatever shape suits him.

       6 likes


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    Jill Stanek says:

    TR,

    You repeat the same tired arguments that have been refuted countless times, most recently in your failed debate against Gregg Cunningham. Fortunately, this was captured on video, saving me the trouble of embarking on a Groundhog’s Day scenario with you. See Gregg’s excellent response to your worn claims in these two clips:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-aYhJSJ9nQ

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-DUjsZxoBQ

    I am surprised at your willingness to so readily expose the fact you and AHA are unable to walk and chew gum at the same time.

    I also note you side-stepped my response to your first utterly ridiculous claim:

    “Making an exception to murder children because their fathers were rapists does not save babies. Even if you say it does. It only specifies which babies will not be saved.”

    … wherein you disagreed with yourself, as caught on video here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-DUjsZxoBQ

       6 likes


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    T. Russell Hunter says:

    Wow Jill. You are totally freaked out!

    Calm down and take a few days. You don’t have to try and cover up the whole thing in the first week.

       0 likes


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    Praxedes says:

    “I am saying that the sphere of the ban ought to be all abortions.”

    I am saying that I should lose all 50 of the pounds that I am overweight.

    I wish I could lose all 50 pounds overnight. But that’s not how they got put on.

       5 likes


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    FrebusMaxwell says:

    Jill, please don’t waste any more time, energy or breath on this! Keep your focus where it was and needs to be.

    Shake the dust off your feet and give it no more of your attention.

    We need you around a long, long time!! Keep your main focus and do your best to ignore this distraction. Don’t write any more, don’t respond any more, get back on track. There’s no argument if only one side participates!

       3 likes


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    Doug says:

    T. Russell Hunter: Wow Jill. You are totally freaked out!

    Calm down and take a few days. You don’t have to try and cover up the whole thing in the first week.

    Translation: “I lost.”

       11 likes


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    Doug says:

    Sydney M: I haven’t watched the debate yet but some of my AHA supporting friends were talking of it. Sigh. I love them as my friends but I will never understand their mindset. Trying to chip away at abortion wherever you can does not mean you in any way support it. And while they whine and complain abortion is still legal. They themselves have done nothing to overturn Roe but don’t tell them that. They’re too busy attacking incrementalists.

    I am wondering about the mindset, and what, really, is the objection to incrementalism.

    Just thinking here – is there a feeling that there’s only a certain amount of “pro-life capital,” so to speak, and that it would be used up on incremental changes, preventing an all-out ban on abortion?

    Said another way, it’d be like a baseball team – does hitting a bunch of singles reduce the chance of a later home run, or prevent it?

       9 likes


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    Jill Stanek says:

    Well, wow, Doug, profound: “Said another way, it’d be like a baseball team – does hitting a bunch of singles reduce the chance of a later home run, or prevent it?”

       5 likes


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    T. Russell Hunter says:

    The point of baseball is not to kill or put an end to the other team, just to get more points than them. The analogy is actually quite revealing. Are you guys really just wanting to score more points than the other team and keep on playing the game?

    Profound indeed. :(

       0 likes

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    Doug says:

    The point of baseball is not to kill or put an end to the other team, just to get more points than them. The analogy is actually quite revealing. Are you guys really just wanting to score more points than the other team and keep on playing the game?

    Profound indeed. :(

    TR, I don’t think it really matters “what the point of baseball is,” here. Surely you can see how I would think the incrementalist approach could be akin to hitting singles (or whatever) while the immediatists are more like waiting to hit a home run.

    Truly – I do not have a dime in this disagreement between pro-life factions, being a pro-choicer. However, it’s interesting to me, and it’s made for a whole bunch of blog activity.

    With some humor – it reminds me days past when my dad was going to a Methodist church, and there was squabbling between the Methodists and the Presbyterians. This played out in the community on a variety of levels, but probably found it’s fullest expression in the summer softball games which were played in a local “church league.”

    I’ll tell you what – when it was the Presbyterians playing the Methodists, it was just about for live-or-die.

    Anyway, in thinking about the topic of this thread, I can easily see why many pro-lifers would object to the immediatist approach. It’s also been said very clearly by several incrementalists. What I don’t see is why there would be objection to the incrementalist way, nor why there would even be the immediatist faction, really.

    Is there a sensible and logical way to explain why “your way” is better than “their way”?

       7 likes


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    Doug says:

    After thinking about it some more, seems to me it would have to be, “The incrementalist approach delays the time when abortion will be abolished.”

    Jill says that there’s no historical precedent for immediatism. Only incrementalism has ever worked.

    That makes a gut-basic sense to me. I am no expert, but if anything I would think incrementalism would work toward that goal, not delay it.

    Even if incrementalism was not the only thing that’s ever worked, that wouldn’t automatically vindicate the immediatists. As long as there’s no necessary logic that says incrementalism would take longer to abolish abortion than immediatism, then what case would immediatism really have? My opinion….

       3 likes


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    Nathan says:

    Doug, I can’t speak for Russ, but abolitionists like myself primarily oppose **legal** incrementalism. Obviously AHA folks are all in favor of saving one child at a time by persuading people at abortion mills and schools and anywhere in public to love their children instead of killing them. For anyone to say that Russ or AHA folks are not willing to save a single child unless they can save all children is simply ignorance at best.

    The reason I oppose many forms of legal incrementalism is because laws that attempt to protect some from abortion almost always implicitly (many time explicitly) deny the right to life in the excepted cases. For example, with laws that ban abortion except in the cases of rape, pro-lifers are creating a law that may protect certain classes of unborn children, but that at the same time give legal permission to kill another class. It’s not morally acceptable to create a law that undermines the right to life of any innocent person. It’s not acceptable even if it will do some good.

    An example of an incremental law that is perfectly legitimate is one we have in Ohio. It actually doesn’t even mention abortion. It requires all surgical clinics to have a transfer agreement with a local hospital in order to stay in operation. This gives power to hospitals, many of them Christian-based to put abortion mills out of business by refusing to supply them with such an agreement. Some may argue with how affective this strategy might be, but you can’t oppose it on moral grounds.

       0 likes


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    Doug says:

    Hi Nathan. (Lived most of my life in Ohio, by the way.)

    The reason I oppose many forms of legal incrementalism is because laws that attempt to protect some from abortion almost always implicitly (many time explicitly) deny the right to life in the excepted cases. For example, with laws that ban abortion except in the cases of rape, pro-lifers are creating a law that may protect certain classes of unborn children, but that at the same time give legal permission to kill another class.

    I think this is “standing on principle” in defiance of the facts. The right to life is not now attributed to the unborn. I realize that different people, including you and me, certainly, disagree about rights, their source, their interpretation, etc., but it is fact that society does not now accord the right to life to the unborn, entirely so earlier in gestation (to avoid confusion and getting bogged down with late in gestation – where I think a limited form of rights and personhood can be said to be attributed).

    So, the way things are now, whether or not rape is a factor, it’s not that “legal permission would be given to kill in cases of rape,” as if that would be a change, because as of now it’s legal to kill in all cases.

    Rape is involved in about 1% of abortions. Were abortion outlawed except in cases of rape, then 99% of abortions would be outlawed. You have zero percent right now. Hard for me to see how it wouldn’t be a net gain, a huge one, in fact, for any pro-lifer.

    It’s not morally acceptable to create a law that undermines the right to life of any innocent person. It’s not acceptable even if it will do some good.

    It would not be a law that undermines anything – there is nothing there now. You’d being going from zero to 99%, when the alternate situation – rejecting the 99% solution – leaves you with no assurance of anything, certainly no guarantee of getting to 100% any faster, if ever.

       6 likes

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