Judie Brown rebuts Clarke Forsythe on personhood initiatives

I wrote yesterday that smart pro-lifers differ on whether state personhood statutes or constitutional amendments would lead to the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

I linked to a recent column by Americans United for Life's Clarke Forsythe. Clarke made the case that they wouldn't.

judie and clarke.jpgNow American Life League's Judie Brown has rebutted Clarke in a column this afternoon. Be sure to read it.

I think the world of both Judie and Clarke. I, therefore, appreciate Judie's tone in her albeit firm response. This is the way for colleagues to debate...

... To be honest, Mr. Forsythe is a well-known attorney of some note and he has done great work on state and federal legislation. In other words, he is no slouch! Yours truly is a pro-life leader without a legal background who has spent 40 years of her life studying, learning, sharing and struggling to restore legal personhood to preborn children....

I invite Forsythe to at least think about this, and to know that, even if he continues to take issue with human personhood efforts at the state level or elsewhere, we admire him, we praise him for all the good he has done and we look forward to working with him when possible, without ever surrendering our goal of equal rights for all, born and preborn.

[HT: AmerLifeLeague at Twitter]


I don't get Judie Brown. Is she now praising Forsythe, who is an expert on incremental legislation, the same legislation she blasts as immoral on a regular basis?

Posted by: Andrew at September 29, 2009 5:09 PM

I really don't like Judie Brown. Everytime she opens her mouth, she is either self-righteously condemning a fellow pro-lifer or praising herself.

Posted by: Jacqueline at September 29, 2009 5:14 PM

Those attacks against Judie Brown's person are thoughtless. She is trying to get to the bottom of the issue, and we should all do that with her and Mr. Forsythe, instead of mindless attacks against their perceived characters.

Pro-lifers need to have this great debate without stooping to any ad-hominem attacks. Neither Mrs. Brown nor Mr. Forsythe did that, and neither should we.

Posted by: Concerned Prolifer at September 29, 2009 5:33 PM

Absent Forsythe's clear articulation on the harm of pursuing personhood legislation and/or litigation, where is the moral justification for not attempting to assert this into our judicial code? Given the fact that millions have died and continue to die is there not a certain urgency that demands all legal avenues be pursued? Yes, it may be a long shot, but then as we have seen time and again court rulings often reflect current attitudes and advancements in technology. Can we say with certainty at this time what the future holds or how the facts and arguments about a particular case will weigh upon the individual justices' thinking?

As pro-lifers we hold to the sacredness of human life and to the right of each individual, no matter his or her circumstance, to the legal protections that we all enjoy. Actually, more than any single argument, I believe "personhood" is feared most by choice advocates because of the sweeping implications should a ruling go in that direction.

If we want to talk about wasted time and resources, overturning Roe may be it. As we know the battle would merely shift to the states, and would go on forever. With personhood, a high court decision in our favor would be as sweeping and dramatic as was Roe for the pro-abortion side. I say go for it!

Posted by: Jerry at September 29, 2009 5:40 PM

Jerry, I think I may second what you just wrote.

Posted by: Concerned Prolifer at September 29, 2009 5:46 PM

Actually, Concerned Prolifer, Judie stoops to that very level on a regular basis, which makes this article all the more harder to swallow.

If she was just honest and consistent, I would not have an issue with this.

Posted by: Andrew at September 29, 2009 6:05 PM

Andrew, Jac: Did you read Judie's entire piece? She made her points strongly but fairly, just as Clarke did. I thought she debated magnanimously.

Posted by: Jill Stanek Author Profile Page at September 29, 2009 6:10 PM

This just in today:

B.O. administration deliberately delays the release of news of the continuing expansion of the Iranian nuclear program.

Seems B.O. did not wanted to avoid anything that would distract from his self promoting moment in the spot light addressing the U.N. Security Council about preventing nuclear proliferation.

So B.O. gives Iranian President Ahm-in-a-damn-jihad, an uncontested opoportunity to pontificate about the decadence of the West and the magnificense of the muslim utopia known as Iran.

(These Jew hating mass murderers and serial killers sound just like the old beating the shoe on the table marxist humanists of the Cold War days. This is not a conincidence.)

President Sarkozy of France was pressured into going along with this little facade, and to demonstrate his displeasure with B.O., Sarkozy disses B.O.'s valueless rhetoric about 'dreaming' of a nuclear free world.

But as we all know Benjamin Neatanyahu did the heavy lifting for all the free world and identified correctly, not only the dangers of the fantatisim of the militant muslims, but also the folly and quisling cowardice of the leaders of the third world countries who indulged the lunatic rants of Ghadafi and Amadinejad.

Meanwhile the lame scream lap dog media and obsequious servile sycophant devotees of B.O. continue to 'carry the water' (Think chamber pots and bed pans.) for their Ken doll president who is never at a loss for more words, but seldom a source of decisive action.

yor bro ken

Posted by: kbhvac at September 29, 2009 6:21 PM

I love Judie Brown, she is a straight shooter who doesn't tolerate nonsense.

Posted by: Jasper at September 29, 2009 6:29 PM

No Jill, I did not read Judie's whole article and I probably will not.

To say that Judie is now the one to start a dialogue which we should all follow is laughable. She has spent her entire life attacking those who support incremental legislation and has questioned whether or not they are pro-life.

If she has had some kind of miraculous conversion, then praise God. But call me unconvinced.

Other than that I agree with you in principle about the personhood amendments. Even though I personally don't feel like they will amount to much, I will refrain from insulting and questioning the motives of those who support them and welcome their efforts.

Posted by: Andrew at September 29, 2009 6:38 PM

"B.O. administration deliberately delays the release of news of the continuing expansion of the Iranian nuclear program.

Seems B.O. did not wanted to avoid anything that would distract from his self promoting moment in the spot light addressing the U.N. Security Council about preventing nuclear proliferation."

I heard that Ken. What a disgrace.

Posted by: Jasper at September 29, 2009 6:51 PM

Clarke Forsythe (Americans United for Life), Richard Doerflinger (USCCB, Pro-life secretariat) and James Bopp (National Right to Life), are working actively to derail state personhood initiatives. Forsythe (a non-Catholic using Catholic lingo regarding the "virtue of prudence") is an advisor to the bishops and in Colorado, met with the Jennifer Kraska of the Catholic Conference there and Focus on the Family to make sure that they wouldn't endorse Amendment 48. He probably just derailed an endorsement from the Florida Catholic Conference. Everywhere personhood initiatives are being proposed, he is getting in there to make sure the Catholic church doesn't support them. This is not a polite debate he is engaged in.

Richard Doerflinger just gave a speech to the Catholic Conference execs urging them to not endorse personhood efforts. Bopp asked the platform committe at last year's Republican convention to make an exception for "therapeutic" cloning (or was it ESR). Bopp also has written against personhood. These guys are up to something and it doesn't smell good to me.

I asked Clarke if he would keep on opposing personhood amendments if Obama won (anticipating FOCA and abortion being further embedded under him) and he said to get back to him if that happened. Well, it happened, Clarke.

I think what's at the bottom of this is that by not addressing the personhood issue for the last 35 years, these pro-life leaders have allowed the spawn of Roe (IVF, ESR and soon cloning) to become embedded in our culture. Now, they don't want to go after the whole megilla. Their own people support creating people in petri dishes and using birth control that has a high probablility of being abortifacient.

North Dakota personhood had a chance of winning but for Clarke and his buddies' lobbying. Archbishop Chaput in Colorado listened to him, too. I think its a scandal what's going on - with the Bishops being influenced by the likes of these guys. What are their motivations?

If a state personhood amendment makes it to the Supreme Court and is upheld under the 14th amendment, the issue won't go back to the states. the states can no longer treat Blacks as not fully persons. Likewise, the states won't be able to treat the unborn as blobs anymore.

Posted by: Michaela at September 29, 2009 7:28 PM

Roe vs Wade and the entire premise of legal "personhood" plays within the bounds constructed by the abortion lobby. It's an intellectual gymnastic exercise.

Arguments around this premise amount to a legal Gordian Knot that requires a swift cutting blow of moral clarity.

The issue of the inalienable right to Life is not one that the Supreme Court ever had a moral or ethical right to override. Period. Why continue to given them false credence?

The Roe/Doe, Casey et al. rulings are about a prohibition - not "rights". It prohibits the obstruction of a privacy. It conveniently ignores the violation of the inalienable right of Life for the human being at the center of the issue. That humanity and growing life were always scientifically inarguable, even in 1973.

While slavery rulings were about equal legal recognition under the law, the issue with the "pre-born/unborn/yet to be born/embryonic human being" etc. is consistently about denial of their existence, their very life. These are not the same issues.

Legalities that ignore morality are simply immoral. Let the states directly outlaw abortion, and see if the US government uses force to demand abortion access.

Abortion is completely irrational and is completely about "might making right".

Let that "might" be seen for what it is: evil.

Posted by: Chris Arsenault at September 29, 2009 10:30 PM

It would be BETTER if Forsythe just stopped doing all legal work RATHER THAN promoting pro-abortion laws and legislation that keeps abortion legal in the USA for a long long time.

That is the ultimate result of his work. He will look back on defending pro-abortion laws with great shame.

Its never OK, according to God, to support any law that ends with "and then you can kill the baby".

Posted by: Ezek1319 at September 29, 2009 11:39 PM

Regarding Chris Arsenault's comments:

"The Roe/Doe, Casey et al. rulings are about a prohibition - not "rights". It prohibits the obstruction of a privacy. It conveniently ignores the violation of the inalienable right of Life for the human being at the center of the issue. That humanity and growing life were always scientifically inarguable, even in 1973."

I agree. Those cases had exceptions for rape, etc. You don't have exceptions if you are promoting the idea that all humans are persons. Those exceptions were noted by the court and were the achilles heel of those cases.

"While slavery rulings were about equal legal recognition under the law, the issue with the "pre-born/unborn/yet to be born/embryonic human being" etc. is consistently about denial of their existence, their very life. These are not the same issues."

I disagree. The humanity of the unborn has not been denied but their personhood has. Their existence, their life has not been ignored. They use the word fetus. They even use the word child or baby, I believe in the partial birth abortion ruling. That's not denying a life. It's not a legal game to put the obvious into law - that all human beings (including those not yet born) are persons. It's forcing the issue that has brought madness to our world. The issue that no one wants to look at - that we are killing people in the womb. Even when they don't look like babies - when they are one minute old and their cells haven't divided yet.

Whenever there's a law that allows the killing after looking at the child with an ultrasound, or after getting the grandparents permission - it cements the madness. Normalizes it. That's the kind of law that's playing into the "privacy rights" game. The States defining personhood is not. It's forcing the issue that the Supreme Court has been able to side step for 35 years because of the exceptions in the cases brought to them. That's been avoided when incrementalist laws are promoted. It is recognizing that the "human rights" of two people are involved in abortion, not just the mother's "right to privacy".

If one of these states manages to pass a personhood amendment, the local opposition won't let it stand. It will be appealed. How can the Supreme Court refuse to hear such a case? And if it does refuse, then - voila - we'll have one state where the eugenic nightmare has been halted. How beautiful.

Why are the big shots in the pro-life movement trying to stop this? They are afraid that if the Supreme Court finds against personhood, then all their incrementalist laws will be abolished. Their incrementalist laws will never outlaw abortion and they haven't even slowed our reliance on it (IVF's prenatal genetic diagnosis and fetal reduction - the morning after pill etc.) The tidal wave of eugenics is about the drown us all and it's not a gordian knot - it's a simple matter of telling the childish scientist or mother - "no you cannot squish that human embryo, it's a person, even though you don't think it looks like one".

Posted by: Michaela at September 30, 2009 6:51 AM

This whole debate I feel is rather beside the point. I think both sides are missing the boat.

Personhood is a great idea. The problem is in trying to secure personhood for the unborn through state ballot initiatives. This is the hardest possible way to do it and is doomed to failure, as we saw in Colorado last year where personhood got only 27% of the vote. It is almost mathematically impossible to get over 50% in the foreseeable future. It is even worse in Florida where I understand a constitutional amendment must receive 60% (and will probably receive around 30%). We can try this tactic for years, even decades and likely never succeed anywhere and the unborn will continue to die by the millions.

I am in favor of passing and then enforcing state statutes against the killing of unborn children. I know this has its difficulties since Barack Obama will then move aggressively to protect the child killing industry. It does however have the advantage of fighting back and aggressively challenging the crimes committed by the abortionists rather than accepting them with resignation and enduring this awful situation we face.

Ultimately, the only solution is to organize effectively and elect a pro-life, pro-human majority to the House and Senate and a pro-life, pro-human President (we have none of these right now). Then we would be in a position to appoint pro-life, pro-human people to the Supreme Court, people who recognize that the Constitution guarantees unborn human rights and that those basic human rights are protected under the 14th Amendment.

Our movement has committed a series of fatal strategic blunders in the last 40 years which have cost tens of millions of human beings their lives. This includes failing time and time again to let "pro-life" Republican Presidents know exactly what type of person we needed on the Supreme Court, including not providing them with lists of constitutional lawyers, judges and law professors whom we knew supported protecting unborn children under the 14th Amendment. But for these blunders, we would have won a long time ago.

We must stop making strategic mistakes and start doing what will actually stop the killing of our children as rapidly as possible. Let me repeat that: as rapidly as possible. Stop putting resources into ballot initiatives which can almost never win anywhere. Stop putting resources into making incremental changes such as consent and notification which save a few lives but maintain and possibly even strengthen the evil.

We must organize to defeat all abortionist politicians in 2010 and 2012. We must challenge the abortionist movement and industry aggressively and in every way imaginable along the lines of what I have suggested above. We must take back our government so we do not have to tolerate this evil any longer.

Posted by: Joe at September 30, 2009 8:09 AM

I agree with Jill and Judie.

And I disagree with Clarke,and all the character assassins who are attacking Jill and Judie here.

Shame on anyone who would pretend to be prolife and attack a dedicated prolifer personally. You're just disgusting. And you know who you are!!

Posted by: Doyle Chadwick at September 30, 2009 8:21 AM

Thank you Doyle (8:21 am) and Ezek1319 (11:39 pm) for proving my point much more eloquently than I ever could.

Posted by: Andrew at September 30, 2009 8:38 AM

Joe, with only about a quarter of the population wanting abortion to be illegal in all cases, how do you propose to get such a House and Senate majority and President elected?

Posted by: Vivian at September 30, 2009 11:05 AM

Andrew, you're more than welcome. Not let's get on with the business of speaking out for the unborn, rather than attacking others who speak out for them in their own voice (just because they don't sound like us). We can make our points and even point out weaknesses in other people's approaches, without getting personal. Deal?

Posted by: Doyle Chadwick at September 30, 2009 11:19 AM

typo correction: "Now" instead of "Not"

Posted by: Doyle Chadwick at September 30, 2009 11:25 AM

Posted by: Michaela at September 30, 2009 6:51 AM said:

I disagree. The humanity of the unborn has not been denied but their personhood has. Their existence, their life has not been ignored. They use the word fetus. They even use the word child or baby, I believe in the partial birth abortion ruling. That's not denying a life. It's not a legal game to put the obvious into law - that all human beings (including those not yet born) are persons.

Michaela - I believe we are both in agreement as to the full intrinsic humanity of human beings from the moment of conception until natural death.

Still, I suggest you seriously look at your sentence: The humanity of the unborn has not been denied but their personhood has.

Which one is it? Can you see the contradiction you're stating?

You are treating personhood as though it is distinctly separate from each human's existence. This is the very point I am making.

As long as we, as a cause, keep agreeing there is a distinction between what is a human being and what is a human person, there will be room for sinful exploitation by those who benefit from such a stance. This just shows legal confusion on our part.

The point of my comment above is that abortion is not a legal issue, but a moral one. They are not the same.

The legal foundation of the Roe ruling and it's derivatives is actually based on admitted faulty testimony from Norma McCorvey. In any normal legal case, such evidence would be grounds for overturning. Additionally, Blackmun's logic in Roe is circular: "We need not resolve the difficult question when life begins...." then they went ahead and resolved the question based on their own social agenda. This is a deception of the heart, and deeply intellectually dishonest.

The conditions of the states in 1973 was such SCOTUS believed they could release such a ruling without fearing for their lives from sheer moral outrage. The US suffers through this turpitude.

Let's take the current Polanski child-rape furor as an example.

Suppose Polanski, upon return, argues his right to privacy was violated, and that within private residences, forced sex (rape) with young girls doesn't require their consent.

The case makes it way to the Supreme Court and then to everyone's surprise, SCOTUS rules in Polanski's favor. All statutory rape laws are stricken from the books and it's wide open for child rape across the entire country, provided it's done in private.

Would there be moral outrage? What would such outrage look like? Or would men prey upon young girls while mothers argued that they shouldn't be doing that?

We've grown so used to the abortion debate being intellectual, we're numb to the clear, compelling moral compunction.

As Roe was never rational in the first place, I don't expect continued arguments with abortion-choicers to be successful if we play by their rules.

Time spent arguing personhood may have benefits for exposure, but unless you're able to stir a righteous moral outrage - one human being killed, one human being wounded, and tie that suffering to the auto-genocide it truly is, you won't have true success.

Wickedness must be banished from the land.

Posted by: Chris Arsenault at September 30, 2009 11:31 AM

On another thread I intimated to Doyle, that pro-lifers take a dedicated educational stance and away from an decided interest in the combatitive nature of American-politics ... ie Do we really need/want/think a law/vote will end abortion? [as if Ron Reagan's 'war on cancer' actually reduced cancer occurrence]

Shouldn't we try education rather than forcing people. I strongly suspect that if people feel they are being forced to stop some activity, then just like smoking cigarettes, it will prove endlessly futile.

In the 'eductional' mode: there seems to be a very common states of depression within pregnancy itself (+ another swiftly following birth). The timing of these occurrences suggest that there is a deficit of zinc. [The pattern of high-zinc usage by humans is unequally suited to specifically these periods and also puberty. So a pregnant-teen is a shoe-in for these 'depressions'.]

There are multiple non-abortion effects to this that MAY also play a role in several difficulties commonly experienced: birth-defects (including child cancer, DNA diseases, etc.); perhaps the initial onset of homosexuality and the proclivity towards criminality.

If this theory does have merit, then failing to meet proper nutrient levels condemn future generations of YOUR children to the very same difficulties with this society you now oppose. Perhaps, a few preventative steps (costing mere pennies) toward health and nutrition is much more effective than 'forcing' a person to do as they wish.

Posted by: John McDonell at September 30, 2009 11:34 AM

Yes Doyle, I agree with what you say. I just wish you and Judie followed your own advice.

Posted by: Andrew at September 30, 2009 2:34 PM

Guys, if it wasn't for Judie Brown, we wouldn't have ever heard of Judie Brown! And where would we be then?

Plus we would never have heard of... did I mention how great Judie Brown is? I mean without her... oh yeah, I already said that.

But it's worth repeating! Judie Brown is the best thing since before we had Judie Brown. And she's got articles and books and newsletters to PROVE it.

Posted by: Tim at September 30, 2009 8:44 PM

Guys, just to remind you- Judie Brown has openly, repeatedly and maliciously slandered and detracted from the good work of Fr. Frank Pavone, Dr. John Wilke and David Bereit.

But she only slanders them *after* writing about their work as if it were her own.

What has she *actually* done besides ask people to give her money so that she can take credit for people she later tries to discredit?

Posted by: Tim at September 30, 2009 8:49 PM

Let me stipulate that all of my personal sympathies are with Clark Forsyth and AUL; unlike the NRLC, they are actually cooperative and productive, and unlike the ALL realistic. Besides the obvious way that non-lawyer Mrs. Brown is out of her depth in challenging Mr. Forsyth's legal opinions (and, very likely, unintentionally mischaracterizing them) -- as non-lawyer myself, I get into the same trouble trying to communicate with pro-life attorneys -- far worse, and why I no longer support her organization, are the irreconcilable contradictions in ALL's own claims.

Two simple illustrations: (1) As with all of ALL's dictums, Mrs. Brown's rebuttal claims that her organization is purely dedicated to establishing the "equal" right to life of the pre-born, as she claims the 14th Amendment guaranteed until ROE (which certainly was a constitutional travesty). I wish this WERE the case, but tragically, the historical record is that, while elective abortion was illegal in every state until 1967, I haven't found one case where it was defined as homicide. (If anyone knows of one, by all means let me know.) All of the state statutes I have read about were either separately defined crimes, leading at most to the loss of license (if the particular state was even regulating them) and short-term incarceration of the convicted "doctor" or "mid-wife." (The undeniable fact that the police and courts generally looked the other way reiterates society's attitude at the time.) Similarly, I can't find where even the early defenders of nascent life within the medical community, properly describing the full human status of pre-birth babies, ever advocated the full legal personhood that we all wish. But even more inconsistent on ALL's part, constitutionally guaranteeing "equal" tights for pre-birth babies actually would not result in ALL's "NO EXCEPTIONS!" ideal. I don't even know whether they even pay lip service to the "life of the mother" case, which an HLA may or may not allow (depending on circumstance, as in self-protection), but, logically, the rape exception (at least forcible), which ALL despises (no doubt, on solid humanitarian grounds) would, ironically, be permitted by its language. This is because one person's guaranteed protection against loss of life without due process absolutely prohibits the involuntary sacrifice of even body parts, much less his entire life.

The clearest example would be forcing an innocent party to donate his/her organ(s) to another, even if this would not necessarily result in the donor's death. And a proven rape victim has an even stronger case the parallel of being forced to carry her attacker's baby to term (although by no means does this provide some ABSOLUTE right to abortion throughout the entire gestation period). And, of course, in a sane and life-affirming culture, this extreme rarity would be addressed in such a humane way as to render the problem only theoretical. But unfortunately, in its "purity" ALL insists, whether they understand it or not, on a vision thus requiring a GREATER right to life for pre-birth children than for their mothers. And this then eliminates the life-of-the-mother exception. (In another twist, ALL's twice-unsuccessful ballot initiative in South Dakota, recklessly hurting the entire right-to-life movement, contained language that would have provided a loophole around this anyway.)

(2) The other destructive inconsistency is related to the first, but simpler: there is absolutely no way that any society other than a theocracy would ever accept the absolutism that Mrs. Brown and All advocate. Like it or not, all western democracies really are pluralistic, and only by appealing to common notions of the rights of all citizens and the requirements for a decent society will the vision of ending the abortion holocaust ever be achieved. ALL's "all or nothing" rejection of the very idea of incrementalism that AUL represents only serves to retard progress toward this goal. The frequently cited paradigm about whether to attempt to save some victims of an accident or attack, when this necessitates that some others will perish, certainly applies. Personally, I don’t see where anyone even has the right to oppose positive action of any scope, PROVIDED that it does not somehow prevent additional later progress. (Side point: The idiotic attempt in 1981/82 to pass a states' rights amendment WOULD have done just that, permanently establishing legal abortion in much of the country and undeniably dooming millions of future children. Does anyone have any idea why in the hell this was even seriously considered?)

Needless to say, nearly all of this internal debate is only hypothetical, and should not dissuade anyone from his/her RTL advocacy, nor respect for others’ views and motives. And Jill Stanek correctly characterizes Mrs. Brown's response to Mr. Forsythe in the positive terms it deserves. Above, false dichotomies, pitting one aspect of the RTL movement against another, if they are not really in conflict, have been very hurtful and must be rejected by people of good will on the pro-life side.

Best wishes to everyone.

Posted by: John K. Walker at October 1, 2009 2:19 AM

I know you Christians aren't big on it, but geez...CLEAN HOUSE! If three men (Forsythe, Doerflinger and Bopp) are actively derailing personhood on the belief that "now is not the time" (or whatever excuse they've decided to go with now...), then do something to stop them! You're supposed to be one big family, right?

Catholics, if you're bishops aren't doing the right thing, do you have any recourse? Maybe have a pro-life atheist picket a service or two? We can't get in trouble for that ;)

Joe, you keep harping on it being easier to get legislatures to enact personhood statutes than actually educating people on this and having them vote. While yeah, it might be easier to do that, how would that relatively totalitarian approach change minds? Its a sad fact that many mothers will still abort their children after abortion is made illegal; educational campaigns that change their minds will reduce that someday to (hopefully) nothing. Going right through the politicians leaves the "I'm OK with abortion" mentality untouched.

And one last thing....good on Judie for attacking Father Pavone; he's done more to turn off pro-life Democrats/liberals than probably any other pro-lifer.

Posted by: Pro-life atheist at October 1, 2009 6:40 AM

John: "Shouldn't we try education rather than forcing people."

No. We've been trying to "educate" people since 1973, and it hasn't worked. As one of my personal heroes once said:

“Morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless”.
-Dr. Martin Luther King

Posted by: Doyle Chadwick at October 1, 2009 8:40 AM

Andrew: "Yes Doyle, I agree with what you say. I just wish you and Judie followed your own advice."

Andrew, my offer of a "deal" still stands. I will do my best to "follow my own advice" if you will.


Posted by: Doyle Chadwick at October 1, 2009 8:41 AM

Pro-Life Atheist: "I know you Christians aren't big on it, but geez...CLEAN HOUSE!"

If only it was that simple, PLA. I'm agnostic myself, but I work with Christians (mostly Catholics) all the time in my Pro-Life activism. And I can tell you there is no way to "clean house" for the PL movement in general, or Christianity in general. The best we can do is to counter their "arguments" as often as we see them, and hope others will see what we see.

Posted by: Doyle Chadwick at October 1, 2009 8:47 AM

No Doyle, no deal. You have to prove yourself. I don't believe what you say because you directly contradict yourself in these posts.

You can't have it both ways. Get it straight, man.

Posted by: Andrew at October 1, 2009 10:39 AM


I'm certainly glad you got back to me re. education. It's true that a certain type of education has been present for some years eg. 4D ultrasound imaging. But this form of educating is somewhat like confronting an alcoholic with video-taped evidence of his behavior. After the 'shock' has worn off; he resumes his self-destruct behavior, saying "So what?"

The kind of 'education' envisioned, attempts to meet the problem on a level so fundamental that meeting this challenge issues-in a distinctly different approach to what it means to be a human being. At the same time, it offers a way to eliminate the abortion phenomenon permanently.

There is an added 'humility' where many Americans (Canadians too) admit that they are (at base) faulty. And there is yet a way-yet-to-go! Failure (by you) to meet this challenge, means that your yet-to-be-born children ie. your protegie will suffer the same impairments; they will want/need abortion like so many of our generation does. This is NOT-GOOD. And it bodes for a societal repetition of our morass. [It also guarantees the Hugh Heffner/PP outlook.]

If I am indeed right: (I very much disagree with Chris here) any 'moral issue' is at the very same time a political and an education one ... too! I can change only those things within my power. IMO it is far easier and within my control too take steps to improve my health, than it is to alter another's moral-stance [though this has been done by Wilberforce. It only took 300 years to condemn slavery!!]

Posted by: John McDonell at October 1, 2009 10:39 AM

Personhood is what we're ALL striving for. As for me, I find myself firmly in the camp of the largest and most effective pro-life group in the country: NRLC.

Coming from Oregon, I can tell you that I'm somewhat horrified to know that a personhood initiative could be started there. This is a state that refused to pass a parental NOTIFICATION law. This is a state that actively elects pro-abortion leaders. Resources that SHOULD be going for educational purposes and for PAC efforts to get pro-lifers elected will instead be wasted on a fruitless effort. Is it a good effort, and one that we all, in principle, agree with? Absolutely. But how many children will we allow die while we stand on "principle" and do nothing that is effective?

Incremental legislation(which Judie Brown has railed against time and again, questioning the pro-life ideals of those who would dare stand behind such laws) WORKS. Is it what we want? Absolutely not. Is it changing hearts. Absolutely. Will we get anywhere until our country has changed their hearts toward life? No.

Posted by: chchick at October 1, 2009 11:47 AM

If you look at personhood initiatives as educational efforts, then they are far more effective at converting actual pro-lifers (just anti-PBA isn't pro-life).

On the reverse, think of how many tens of millions were wasted on the partial birth abortion bans that have only succeeded in getting in getting the Supreme Court to say "hey, kill them this way instead."

Also, see the post today about the AZ judge striking down incremental laws...

Posted by: Pro-life atheist at October 1, 2009 12:15 PM

The abolitonist movement in England, which is the foundational movement for all modern day social justice movements, was certainly incremental.

It took them over 20 years to simply ban the slave trade, which allowed slavery to continue unabated, and then another 30+ years to legislate emancipation, which actually freed the slaves in the British Empire.

Wilberforce and his fellow abolitionists knew that emancipation would not happen right away. They had to build up to it.

This precedent in history is overwhelming for anyone who cares to research it.

Posted by: Andrew at October 1, 2009 3:53 PM

Here is the major concern: urgency. In the three days length of this post some 9000 babies have been aborted.

We live in a system of laws, and so it behooves us to unite and engage in reasonable and very aggressive legal attempts to reduce the number of abortions and ultimately defeat the abortion mentality.

Personhood is a legal construct that resonates with reasonable people. One does not have to be pro-life to understand the concept. It is not that far-fetched to make the leap from statutes which recognize the humanity of the unborn child that is killed during the commission of a crime, to a recognition that just maybe that same baby would deserve protection on the basis of his or her personhood.

Like generals who disagree on which tactic is the best to defeat the enemy, we have various pro-life leaders who have their own opinions on this strategy. Perhaps what is needed is a national meeting of the "bigs" and hopefully arrive at consensus and direction setting instead of sniping and pulling in opposite directions.

Posted by: Jerry at October 1, 2009 5:18 PM

Posted by: John McDonell at October 1, 2009 10:39 AM

If I am indeed right: (I very much disagree with Chris here) any 'moral issue' is at the very same time a political and an education one ... too!

I agree with the educational aspect, and eventually such issues do become political, but it really must change in the heart. If the idea is so repulsive as to be unthinkable, there is no need for a law. Yet, if doubt of righteousness enters, then where it leads is utter wickedness. The existence of a SCOTUS ruling lead many to a moral doubt, and eventually into the doors of the abortuary.

That doesn't change the moral basis - only the depth of depravity.

Posted by: Chris Arsenault at October 1, 2009 6:14 PM

Andrew, what they didn't wasn't comparable to the incrementalism in the pro-life movement. A closer comparison would be children slaves banned first, then no beating slaves without proper anesthesia, then allow beating with only certain instruments, then maybe female slaves could be banned, etc.....

Posted by: Pro-life atheist at October 2, 2009 10:16 AM

Re: "personhood" vs. "incremental"...

First step, IMHO: check the facts. Does the unborn child (even immediately upon conception) have a soul? Is he/she a human person? If the answer is "yes", then any affirmation of personhood is not only good and obligatory, but it's simply a refusal to tolerate *insanity*! Besides: pragmatism (as all arguments for "incrementalism" necessarily are) can never trump truth, or else it loses its own power in the process. (If you surrender the truth for the sake of pragmatism, you'll lose any foothold by which you shoot for the goal which motivated your pragmatism in the first place!)

Beyond that: there's a *huge* difference between "positively assenting to a compromise on a morally grave issue" (which is morally evil) and "taking half a loaf, while not giving even the appearance of complicity with your opposition" (which is permissible, for proportionate reasons). If an "incremental" step can be done without wavering in our 100% defense of every life (i.e. not simply "throwing a few fetuses under the bus, for the good of the many"), then fine: do it. It may even be morally *obligatory* to do it. But if any so-called "incremental method" handicaps any efforts to establish the personhood of every person (fancy that!), then throw it away as pernicious rubbish.

Besides: if we, perhaps in the name of "getting some tactical advantages", manipulate abortion-tolerant people into thinking that "we're coming over to their view on at least some things", then we're being dishonest and dishonourable. Even the most vile-acting opponent deserves honesty from us... and God requires no less.

Moral of the story: walk, and chew gum at the same time. Work without ceasing for recognition of the person (no matter how many times you fail), and grab any morally licit "partial loaves" you can get, in the meantime (without resorting to dishonesty, tainting your commitment to truth, etc.). If done logically and truthfully (forgive the redundancy), there's no reason on earth we can't do both.

Posted by: Paladin at October 2, 2009 12:27 PM

Abortion is NOT legal. We are allowing people to act as if it is. Abortion is the taking of innocent life. Or in other words, murder. No one can EVER legalize murder. We do not need to overturn Roe. 200, even 100, years ago, Americans understood this. Roe v. Wade is a court OPINION. It is not law. We can just ignore it. What we need is Godly men in office who understand this. It's called the Doctrine of Interposition. A governor, a state's attorney, a SHERIFF, the President. Any of these can just start prosecuting abortion - TODAY! See www.ignoreroe.com. For more info on interposition, please see www.theamericanview.com, www.iotconline.com. Michael Peroutka gave an outstanding talk about interposition. You can see it live by going to either of these websites and following the links.
We are spending time and millions of dollars on the wrong battle!!! Read what the States did with the Dred Scott decision. The Kentucky and Virginia Resolves. We need to educate ourselves and take right action. A great CURRENT example of what I'm talking about is Georgia House Bill 1 introduced by Rep. Bobby Franklin. I highly recommend that you download the text and read the whole thing - including the footnotes. THIS is the strategy we need to understand and act upon. Voting on whether a person is a person could backfire. First of all, we can't vote on what God has designed. Second, we are not a democracy. Do we really want to leave the definition of personhood up to a majority vote? What about chimpanzees? We could then ask to vote on whether chimps are people. Please, go to www.ignoreroe.com or the other sites. Read the info. Look at Bobby Franklin's bill. Support him. We need him, and we need others like him.

Posted by: Vickie at October 2, 2009 2:44 PM

If I didn't have a family to worry about and a husband who would probably disown me...I think a citizen's arrest of an abortionist directly after a procedure complete with handcuffs would be in order. I think that's actually a very good idea, Vickie.

Posted by: xalisae at October 2, 2009 3:04 PM

Andrew, this is 5 pages, and the author is noticeably upset at Clark Forsythe (because Forsythe has been fighting the personhood efforts during the past 3-4 years), but he does specifically go over Wilberforce's fighting the slave trade. http://personhoodeducation.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/prudence-education.pdf
I have to agree with Pro-Life Atheist on this...and even if supporting "less-evil" measures when no others are available is morally justifiable (as John Paul II indicated that it is in Evangelium Vitae), it just doesn't make a lot of sense to tell people "Abortion is murder", and then say, "And that's why a parent needs to be notified first...unless you're murdering a product of rape, or incest, or if you ask a judge to say you don't have to notify anybody." By spending most of our resources on merely regulating abortion since the mid-80's, it looks like we've just been trying to make it safe, legal and rare.
I don't want to fight anyone who uses the incremental method (as Judie Brown has in the past), and I would certainly vote for incremental legislation, but personhood initiatives are the best educational opportunity we have right now. It is really changing hearts and minds every day in all the states where it's happening!
Regardless, Clark Forsythe can keep working to change hearts and minds by concentrating on why abortion is bad for women, for the economy, and for society...I want to change hearts and minds by concentrating on the rights of the unborn (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2270).
Paladin, I agree. There's no reason we can't do both.

Posted by: Joe Woodard at October 4, 2009 1:00 AM