This past weekend a debate between pro-life advocate Gregg Cunningham vs. Abolish Human Abortion advocate T. Russell Hunter took place in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The purpose was for each one to defend their view on abortion strategy: Incrementalism vs. Immediatism.
I am not going to address the entire debate in this blog post.
For those interested, pro-life blogger, Jill Stanek has analyzed the debate in a series of blog posts here which I recommend.
The purpose of this blog post is to address two statements made by Hunter.
During the debate, Hunter makes claims that pro-life strategy of working towards complete abolition of abortion and accepting gradual or incremental methods to save every baby possible along the way is sin.
Then Hunter implies that pro-life people do not call the sinner to repent for abortion. This is one of the statement’s I wish to address here.
Hunter says, “You notice the difference between an immediatist and an incrementalist, in that an immediatists says abortion is sin turn to God and goes out daily and to that work.” (Note: The last three words of Hunter’s statement are hard to make out from the audio, but I think I caught them correctly, please notify me if I am incorrect.)
Hunter ran through his points so quickly that I believe that they are worth reviewing. Let’s pause there for a moment and analyze what Hunter is implying.
The comments begin at 58:29 of the debate video – here if you want to hear them.
First the statement, “an immediatists says abortion is sin turn to God” is intentionally designed to imply that anyone who claims the name “pro-life” and supports “incremental” strategies does not believe that abortion is sin or proclaim that society needs to turn to God.
This is an utterly ignorant and rather insulting statement.
The pro-life movement is made up of a large number of Bible believing Christian people. I would be in that group.
I understand the ignorance of a person who only recently joined the fight to end abortion while claiming to be a Christian for many years. But, just because Hunter and many of his followers have decided to responded to the Biblical mandate to “rescue those being led to the slaughter” does not mean history on this movement began with them.
As much as Hunter would like to re-write the history of the pro-life movement he did not live it as many many pro-lifers did and can now testify as first hand witnesses.
But to the point at hand, there is ample evidence past and present that the call to repentance was and is given within the pro-life community.
This 2001 letter to the editor is just one example:
The 1980’s rescues were also public calls for not only the church to repent from abortion apathy, but also for society to do the same. No AHA meme, statement, or fancy design can erase that history.
The second part of Hunter’s statement which I’d like to address is as follows:
“Incrementalists say things like abortion hurts women. It does. But the focus is on, it hurts women not abortion kills babies, even though they recognize that abortion kills babies.”
Again- that is a preposterous statement.
The very images collected by the pro-life community, which Hunter now uses in all his effective social media memes, is proof that the focus is on the fact that abortion kills babies.
In addition, I have also documented that pure legislation to defend the preborn and outlaw all abortions was put forth via Human Life Amendments during the early days. That documentation can be found here.
Having said that, there is nothing wrong with saying that abortion hurts women. Hunter, for all his protesting, admits it in fact does. Is not truth- truth?
I will give Hunter the benefit of the doubt on this topic because again, the AHA leader chose to get into this fierce fight after abortion had been legal for a number of years, so he is rather ignorant of historical battles, ideas, and lies that the pro-life community has had to dismantle for the past 42 years.
Those who are new to the abortion battle may not realize that the abortion lobby made major inroads by painting illegal abortion as “unsafe” causing women to die.
It is simple logic to counter the lie that helped legalize abortion with the truth, which is that women still die from abortion and legalization does not necessarily make abortions safe.
Millions of women died from illegal abortions.
If you make abortions illegal, women will die.
Case in point, during the debate to liberalize abortion in New York, the issue of unsafe abortions swayed one representative to change his vote on the floor, opening the door to abortion on demand in that state.
Assemblywoman Constance E. Cook stood to the floor during that 1970 debate to push the lie of unsafe abortion, stating, “I submit that we have abortion on demand in the state of New York right now. Any woman that wants an abortion can get one–if she has $25, she has it done here, under the most abominable circumstances,” and that prohibition only drives abortion underground.”
This clip from the film “Choice at Risk” gives a historical glimpse :
Repealing Abortion Laws (4:18) from Dorothy Fadiman on Vimeo.
The deciding vote was cast by Democrat Assemblyman, George Michaels, who told the LA Times that for years he had been told by local party leaders not to vote for the repeal of the abortion ban, and he pledged not to. For two years he had followed the party line.
“I would vote no, hoping the bill would pass,” he said. “I was not doing the right thing.”
In April, 1970, the night before he left for Albany, Michaels spent an evening with his daughter-in-law, Sarah.
Sarah asked him what would happen when the abortion bill came up for a vote again. There was a chance it would pass, he told her.
“What if it doesn’t?” she asked.
“Maybe next year,” he said.
Michaels says he has never been able to forget what his son’s young wife told him next:
“In the meantime, thousands of women will be mutilated and die because of that stupid Legislature.”
“Boy, that rocked me,” Michaels says. “That rocked me.”
The National Abortion Rights Action League, NARAL, also lied about women dying from illegal abortions. One of their early founders, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, who later repented of his pro-abortion actions and views, described what they did early on:
“We persuaded the media that the cause of permissive abortion was a liberal, enlightened, sophisticated one,” recalls the movement’s co-founder. “Knowing that if a true poll were taken, we would be soundly defeated, we simply fabricated the results of fictional polls. We announced to the media that we had taken polls and that 60 percent of Americans were in favor of permissive abortion. This is the tactic of the self-fulfilling lie. Few people care to be in the minority. We aroused enough sympathy to sell our program of permissive abortion by fabricating the number of illegal abortions done annually in the U.S. The actual figure was approaching 100,000, but the figure we gave to the media repeatedly was 1,000,000.”
McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Robert P. George breaks it down further when he writes this about the NARAL founder:
Nathanson and his friends lied—relentlessly and spectacularly—about the number of women who died each year from illegal abortions. Their pitch to voters, lawmakers, and judges was that women are going to seek abortion in roughly equal numbers whether it is lawful or not. The only effect of outlawing it, they claimed, is to limit pregnant women to unqualified and often uncaring practitioners, “back alley butchers.” So, Nathanson and others insisted, laws against abortion are worse than futile: they do not save fetal lives; they only cost women’s lives.
For clarification, stats show that, in the year prior to Roe, the CDC disputed the lie that thousands of women died from illegal abortion as shown in this table from their surveillance report on abortion.
So, to summarize, just because Hunter says that the pro-life movement does not focus on “abortion kills babies” does not make it so.
When the pro-life community documents that abortion is not safe for women it does not automatically mean they do not focus on the fact that abortion kills babies. For many of us, we are able to articulate multiple facts.
In addition, because AHA leaders claim that pro-lifers do not call abortion sin, does not make the claim true either as I stated above.
However, in my personal study of scripture, I do not see every effort to dialogue or convey truth being preceded by the command “repent.”
King Solomon, himself was conflicted when he was forced to determine who the mother of a baby brought before him was. He did not tell the two women squabbling to repent of their actions. Instead the wise King appealed to the heart of the true mother:
The NIV version of the events in I Kings is detailed below:
The king said, “This one says, ‘My son is alive and your son is dead,’ while that one says, ‘No! Your son is dead and mine is alive.’”
Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword for the king. 25 He then gave an order: “Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.”
The woman whose son was alive was deeply moved out of love for her son and said to the king, “Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!”
But the other said, “Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!”
Then the king gave his ruling: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother.”
In the story above, the true mother, the one who cared for and loved the baby, was willing to compromise to save her child’s life.
Think about that for a while, as you ponder the debate !