Pro-life e-book analyzes recent debate with AHA
It began with a debate between the strategy of immediatism vs. incrementalism in ending abortion.
It was held this past April in Tulsa between pro-lifer Gregg Cunningham of the Center for Bioethical Reform and T. Russell Hunter a founder of the abolitionist group Abolish Human Abortion (AHA).
After a series of articles about the debate a group of pro-life leaders have decided to publish an e-book detailing their thoughts addressing issues brought up during the debate.
“Abolition of Reason: Pro-life apologists deconstruct ‘Immediatist’ ideology” was written by pro-life blogger Jill Stanek, Steve Hays of Triablogue, Scott Klusendorf of Life Training Institute, Dr. Michael New of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, Jonathon Van Maren of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, and Clinton Wilcox also of LTI.
Pro-lifers are in their rights to analyze the debate and they are not alone.
Russell Hunter has vowed that Abolitionists will produce their own response, calling the various posts “misinformation and distractions“:
Jill Stanek opens the e-book by writing the prologue, where she analyzes Hunter’s readiness for the debate, “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.”
Klusendorf addresses the tone of the aftermath and the way that AHA supporters launched personal attacks following the debate, writing:
an AHA supporter named Toby immediately attributed to her [Jill Stanek] the worst possible motives and all-but damned her to Hell. “Instead of dealing with incrementalism or immediatism on Biblical terms, she chooses to make an idol out of the abortion fight. Her career is more important to her than her soul…“
Adding, “That’s not the language of someone eager to engage his critics with thoughtful responses.
It’s the rhetoric of a spiritual weirdo with a severe prophet complex. What he can’t secure with a syllogism, he’ll pick up with a spiritual power play. Indeed, one high-up AHA rep requested that I publicly repent for not posting his link announcing the pending debate. That my Facebook page is mine to post or not post as I please apparently never crossed his mind. The arrogance of such a request is mind-blowing.”
Van Maren summarized Hunter’s actions after the debate this way, “Hunter took to Facebook immediately to first half-apologize for his performance, but then quickly become snarky and sarcastic again as his supporters assured him that he was, of course, the visionary they all knew him to be.”
Adding, “The most mind-boggling post surely goes to the “International Coalition of Abolitionist Societies,” who actually posted a fake apology for Gregg Cunningham being “a jerk” and for his so-called “ad hominem attacks.” I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a stunning display of immaturity and sour grapes, with the exception of the out-and-out character assassination that the “abolitionists” across social media, in a series of adolescent temper tantrums, have launched against Cunningham, all the while accusing any and all respondents of “slander.”
(Note, as pictured above, the ICAS was eventually edited and an apology was issued after pro-lifers criticized the poor sportsmanship of the post.)
But, I also noticed the poor way that AHA responded – addressing it privately with many of their members. After all, it was AHA who repeatedly requested the debate to begin with.
After repeated criticism of the pro-life movement, I noticed how quickly Russell retreated to a martyr complex when the criticism was directed at him:
Back to the e-book.
Hayes addresses the difference between what he describes as the “right message” vs. the “cost of innocent lives.”
“With respect to AHA,” Hayes states.
“nothing is easier than to take an “uncompromising” stand when it has no chance of happening. In that respect, AHA is like Republicans who are rhetorically pro-life, rhetorically uncompromising. There’s no price to pay. No real-world consequences. It’s just self-congratulatory talk.”
Adding this observation, “On the one hand they set the bar very high. On the other hand, they slide under the bar. The measure of progress isn’t consciousness-raising, but the abolition of abortion. By their own oft-repeated sloganeering, that’s the only “fruit” that counts. The total abolition of abortion. AHA confuses leaves with fruit. Thus far, AHA is a leafy, but fruitless tree. Lots of leaves, no fruit.”
Stanek fires back at Hunter for his relentless accusations that that all pro-lifers wish to do is to “regulate” not end abortion, writing, “It is slander of the worst kind for Hunter to claim the end game for pro-lifers is that abortion be “safe, early, and painless.” He knows perfectly well why we pursue incremental efforts.”
Wilcox agrees, “Pro-life people want the immediate end to abortion. Incremental legislation is our strategic method for getting there. Planned Parenthood knows this. Pro-choice writers like Katha Pollitt know this (it plays a major theme in her recent book Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights ). The only people who don’t seem to get that are the self-proclaimed “abolitionists.”
Klusendorf piles on, “Hunter never once said how his policy of immediatism plays out in the real world. How, exactly, does it work to insist on the immediate abolition of abortion? Got the votes for that? Here is where Hunter’s argument is truly self-sealing. He states that if only all incrementalists would become immediatists, we could take the ax to the root and win.
“So there you have it. When you can’t explain how your strategy actually works in the real world, you just fault your opponents for your failure to execute. This reminds me of faith healers who blame the victim for “not having enough faith” when he doesn’t immediately recover from a systemic illness….”
Stanek fires back again, “Hunter knew when he launched AHA in 2011 immediatism would take “a long time,” and there would be “a long period in which it was impracticable.” But he had no safety net prepared for the children from whom he would go on to rashly attempt to remove protections. He had no immediate and workable plan in place to save the children he was pulling the rug out from under.
“To this day, four years later, AHA has no cohesive, wide-ranging plan to save these kids.”
Wilcox points out the hypocrisy of AHA’s criticism of the pro-life movement writing, “Hunter, while decrying the fact that pro-life organizations fundraise, hypocritically uses the fruits of those organizations’ labor.”
Case in point….Wilcox states that, “AHA uses images of abortion victims that Cunningham’s group has spent millions of dollars to acquire over the years. CBR was the first pro-life organization to compile an archive of broadcast quality video and still photographs.”
And then Wilcox addresses accusations by AHA that somehow the pro-life movement fundraising is bad by pointing out that AHA leader, “Don Cooper who holds himself out as AHA’s Executive Director, also fundraises. Cooper’s organization, named Abolitionists Northwest, made $101,159 in 2013 – $96,645 of which came from “[c]ontributions, gifts, grants, and similar.” A point I detail here.
Van Maren questions Hunter’s recollection of history, “Although I was well aware of Abolish Human Abortion’s selective historical cherry picking and theologically immature underpinnings, I thought Hunter would put up a better fight,” he states.
“An honest analysis of history shows us that there are no social reform movements that have ever managed to do away with an injustice in one fell swoop. Hunter’s so-called “strategy,” to play it fast and loose with the word, has no basis in historical fact and is, for the most part, based on his misunderstanding and in many places misrepresentation of the historical record.”
Perhaps the most compelling point in the e-book is the chapter written by Dr. Michael New who details how incrementalism does, in fact, save lives, documentation Hunter was completely ignorant of during the debate.
New’s summary reads, “one of the most important reasons why pro-lifers should continue to support incremental pro-life laws is that these laws are effective. Academic research has been published in an impressive range of political science journals, economics journals, and public health journals. These studies have analyzed different types of incremental pro-life laws. They have analyzed data from different states and different time periods. There is a very strong consensus among scholars that incremental pro-life laws have stopped abortions and saved literally thousands of innocent human lives.”
You can read and download the e-book here.