Burning Buildings and Half a Loaf
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Abortion Purists vs. Consenting to the Killing of Some
Clickable Contents: Because there are so many clichés used trying to justify abortion regulations, we provide a clickable table of contents so you don't need to read this whole article. We recommend the Introduction and Hostage Takers sections, and then the clichés you yourself have used or heard.
- Hostage Takers
- Burning Buildings
- Sinking Buses & SBC's Richard Land
- Half a Loaf is Better than None
- Perfect as the Enemy of the Good
- Can't Save Everyone on the Titanic, So...
- The Problem with Purists
- But It's Already Legal: Prevailing Authority
- Success in Politics takes Compromise
What if you can only save one of a hundred dying children?
Some pro-family groups actually oppose advocating for the God-given right to life and personhood of the unborn. These organizations have collectively taken in hundreds of millions of dollars from abortion politics. They try to discredit those advocating for personhood by calling them "purists" and they claim that "purists" would not try to save a child from a burning building if they could not save all the children threatened. And they say that half a loaf is better than none and that we should never make the perfect the enemy of the good. What of these things?
What if you can only save one of a hundred children? Of course you save the one, or as many as you can, if you can't save them all. American RTL below directly addresses the burning buildings, sinking buses, and Titanic analogies of the pro-life industry. These all describe accidents though. So if we are trying to understand the morality and dynamics behind pro-life strategies, we should use a better analogy to abortion. A more valid parallel is a terrorist threatening to kill children in a school. So first we'll consider the hostage analogy, and then the buildings, buses, Titanic, and common clichés.
In this American RTL can speak for the entire personhood movement: we all unequivocally support saving as many children as possible: whether all, most, a few, or even just one. What is immoral, and regardless of the reason, what we all must oppose, is consenting to the intentional killing of a single innocent child.
The best analogy for pro-life strategy is of hostage takers, especially of kids in a school. In Russia, Islamic and other terrorists took 777 school kids and more than 300 adults hostage at the Beslan school. More than 300 were killed including 156 innocent children.
The hostage taker is a better analogy because most fires and collisions with icebergs are accidents. Rushing in to save anyone who may die by fire involves legal matters such as affirmative defense, trespass, and necessity defense. Anti-abortion legislation on the other hand involves fundamentally different legal principles, including human rights and especially, the right to life.
As demonstrated below, using poor analogies makes it easy to confuse yourself and to mislead others. Proper analogies are powerful but never perfect. When the terrorist is threatening to kill hostages and your goal is to save as many as you can, what kind of behavior on your part would be justifiable? What kind of behavior, even if you were desperate to save your own child, would be immoral?
All the laws that regulate child killing including waiting periods, parental involvement, and informed consent concur that the abortionist can legally kill the child as long as he follows some rules. Regulatory laws authorize. And they re-authorize. Regulatory laws give permission. That is what they do.
At School Number One (SNO) in Beslan, it would have been wicked for the government to negotiate with the terrorists and agree that the child killers could not shoot the children in the head, but only in the chest, which is a parallel to the partial-birth abortion ban. If terrorists controlled every school and the murder of millions seemed inevitable, it would have been evil for the government to consent that for each hostage a terrorist releases, he could kill one child. This fictitious yet immoral response parallels real-world regulations that would end the racial inequality among abortion victims. Bluntly, an abortionist won't be questioned if for each black child he aborts, he kills one white.
(Consider America's crime against humanity in our forced sterilization of over 60,000 people. In 1942 the U.S. Supreme Court absurdly ruled in Skinner v. Oklahoma that the equal protection clause of the constitution would not be violated as long as forced sterilization of prisoners included white-collar criminals. This more-distant historical example should help activists better recognize the immorality of various current "pro-life" legal maneuvers.)
Even regarding saving the lives of threatened children, the ends do not justify the means. Pro-lifers must recognize that it is evil to advocate laws that consent to the killing of one child to try to save others. As an extreme illustration, it would be wicked, even with the righteous goal of deterring a terrorist, to consent to an assault of the terrorist's child. Because abortion regulations are immoral, they've backfired now for thirty years and such legislation robs pro-lifers of the moral high ground from which we could win the fight. Regardless of the desperation or intention, such propositions offered at SNO, Auschwitz, or an Atlanta abortion clinic, would be wrong.
After the American RTL founders began publishing their first full-page open letters in newspapers around the country Dr. James Dobson admitted that, "Ending partial-birth abortion… does not save a single human life." Sadly, that wasn't acknowledged until after the 15-years of PBA fundraising that gained the pro-life industry a quarter of a billion dollars. In decades of regulating child killing, all the pro-life industry has done is to install preconditions that an abortionist must comply with before he can "legally" kill any child. America has paid a price for this strategy. For as moral relativism engulfs our congregations, countless churchgoers and clergy defend even Barack Obama as being sufficiently pro-life. After all, moral relativism cannot be controlled.
What "conservative" attorneys and politicians have done is to pass laws that say, "Okay, you can kill the child:"
- if you wait a day
- if you notify a parent
- if a court agrees (they always do, see the Supreme Judicial Court of Mass., search for: virtually)
- if you sign this piece of paper (consent)
- if there is a four-inch variation from the standard partial-birth abortion
And then you can kill the baby. Even Dr. Dobson's initially-celebrated partial-birth abortion ban and ruling say that if you pull the baby out to the navel, instead of to the neck, then you can kill him. That Gonzales v. Carhart ruling, itself a virtual late-term abortion manual, also describes various other ways to "legally" kill the same late-term child.
So, the hostage taker analogy is the best, because it is not an accident, and it involves human actors who are willing to kill the innocent, and it should be obvious to all that you don't negotiate and try to save one child's life by agreeing to the killing of another.
We must never again relegate child murder to a second-tier negotiable issue. We have no right from God to do so, and we undermine the nation's understanding of who that child is, created in God's image, with a right to life, a right that not even our own side has the authority to negotiate with. As Ambassador Alan Keyes has said: "It's the devil's game – Satan would be happy to end all abortion if only he could get all of us to consent to killing one child."
God hates child sacrifice, and we must not be willing to agree to the killing of a single child, especially as a sacrifice for the presumed benefit of our nation. God warns those who disobey Him that there are no good reasons for doing so, only self-deceit.
BUILDINGS & BUSES
We may compare America's holocaust of 53 million dead children to a conflagration, but only to show the horror. It is misleading if you use a burning building analogy when determining whether a legal strategy is moral or immoral. Rushing into a burning building will risk your own life, whereas devising pre-conditions for the abortionist risks the child's life, even though you believe it inevitable that these kids "will be killed anyway." Of course in America the unborn child's life is already at risk. But that does not justify consenting to the killing of some in hopes of saving others, as the pro-life industry does with abortion regulations that say, "abortion shall be illegal unless..."
Rushing into a burning building to save a child is heroic. Apart from an arsonist, not a firefighter alive would affirmatively consent to allow one child to be burned to death in order to save another. Nor, as with AUL's informed consent, should anyone agree to 99 children being burned to death in exchange for the small possibility that one might get to live if a mom won't sign the form. That violates God's enduring command, Do not murder, which is the prevailing legal authority on this matter, and it's similar to negotiating with terrorists, which predictably backfires. That's immoral.
Being burned to death is very much like the saline abortions that Planned Parenthood's abortion industry made so popular. Using the pro-life regulator's own analogy, no first responder would ever give permission to a fire, so to speak, to kill a single child just as no hostage negotiator would ever agree to the killing of one to save another. And yet, as with informed consent which is advocated by Americans United for Life, various regulations effectively agree to the killing of 99 to save one. The U.S. Army does not leave a man behind. Whatever happened to all for one and one for all? Jesus said He would leave the 99 to go after the one (Mat. 18:12-14), but not that He would agree to the killing of 99 in hopes of saving one.
Jason Troyer of Colorado RTL said it best, "Child-killing regulations merely prune the abortion weed, and strengthen its root." Regulations make abortion look more reasonable and even humane to millions of women, and voters, and to countless politicians and judges, and even to those many "pro-life" Christians who voted for pro-abortion Barack Obama, and the many Christians who are moving beyond abortion apathy, including for example in the Billy Graham Christian Workers Handbook, to actual sympathy for abortion in various circumstances. This is as absurd as looking with some understanding on the perpetrators of the Holocaust.
Many pro-life groups, like National RTL, have lost their way. The following typical "pro-life" law will keep abortion legal if Roe v. Wade was ever merely overturned:
Informed Consent: Indiana Code: Title 16: Chapter 2. Requirements for Performance of Abortion… 16-34-2-1 Required circumstances of legal abortion Sec. 1. Abortion shall in all instances be a criminal act, except when performed under the following circumstances: … the woman submitting to the abortion has filed her consent with her physician.
Child killing regulations backfire in the worst of ways. If Roe v. Wade is ever merely overturned, such regulations, including for example the Informed Consent laws promoted by AUL, will keep abortion legal, perhaps long enough to kill millions. Notre Dame Law School's professor emeritus Dr. Charles Rice stated on Mark Crutcher's Life Talk TV program that, "the pro-life movement... made a tragic error... in 1980 and '81 toward seeking a states' rights solution, actually promoting exceptions, and so on. What they're then saying is that an innocent human being can be legally executed, whenever a legislature so desires... and that makes that innocent human being a non-person."
Denver attorney John Archibold, founding board member of three organizations, National RTL, Americans United for Life, and of the nation's first-ever right-to-life group, Colorado Right To Life, says that Dr. Rice's statement above is, "absolutely correct. And because these two venerable organizations, National Right To Life and Americans United for Life, on whose boards I served, because they adopted this so-called incremental strategy, which is not only immoral, but strategically wrong, I resigned from both of them." See Dr. Rice and John Archibold in the award-winning documentary Focus on the Strategy II.
Sinking Buses, Utilitarianism, & Richard Land
On the number one radio show in Iowa, Richard Land, the Southern Baptist Convention's expert on ethics, used an analogy of saving a child from a sinking bus. Talk show host Steve Deace challenged Dr. Land's arguments. Supporting "pro-life" efforts with exceptions, for example that it would be legal to kill the unborn child of a rapist, Dr. Land said, "If I came around a bend, and saw a school bus that had just gone into the river, would I save none of the children because I couldn't save all of them?" Dr. Land criticized what he called a "pursuit of purity" and wrongly implied that "purists" would not try to save one if they could not save them all. All "purists" known by ARTL say of course they would save one, or as many as possible, if we could not save them all. But we would never consent to the killing of some, nor would we make excuses for politicians, like John McCain in this conversation, who actually advocate killing countless babies. In McCain's case while he has been in the U.S. Senate, not counting the children killed by laws and court opinions and politicians whose views he opposes, but those aborted by his own current policies and approval, John McCain has supported killing 15,469,147 children.
Regarding that sinking bus (of all things), then Iowa's number one talk host Steve Deace (now syndicated), said, "Your analogy is a little flawed Dr. Land. You're giving whoever is responsible for all of those deaths permission to kill most of them, so you could save some of them. … When I read my Bible, I read about the God who left 99 behind to save one." Legislation from the pro-life industry spans the range of mathematical ratios, like informed consent, wrongly assenting to and reaffirming the killing of the 99 in the hope of saving one, to the heartbeat bills which is designed to save 99 but can easily end up killing twice that number. Deace asked whether or not, "God calls us… to do the right thing, regardless of the circumstances? Is there an example in all of Scripture, Dr. Land, of the lesser of two evils being approved of by God? Anywhere in the Scriptures, is there an example of that?" The Southern Baptist's Dr. Land replied, "I'm an ethicist, and a Christian ethicist. And I try to apply my ethical principles, in doing the greatest good for the greatest number."
Tragically, today's Southern Baptist's ethical principle, as argued by Richard Land, is a humanistic concept called Utilitarianism. To understand the disagreement between Deace and Land, we look to their underlying philosophical commitments. Deace is calling upon biblical principles. Land admits to a secular humanist ethic. Utilitarian philosophy judges moral validity by a very arbitrary evaluation of determining the greatest good for the greatest number of people. So what would Dr. Land do if a criminal said, "Kill your youngest daughter or we'll kill your whole family." There's a perfect opportunity to test the alternative moral codes. God says, Do not kill the innocent, moral relativists say you can consent to kill one if that might save others. God does not ask His people to make such impossible calculations in order to determine right from wrong. Rather, He insists that we do not consent to sin; that we not agree to the intentional killing of the innocent; and that we not sacrifice some children for the greater good. Such a trade-off is only a deception. In trying to justify himself and explain his disagreement with Deace, Richard Land takes a quote straight out of the secular humanist philosophy of John Stuart Mills and Utilitarianism, all of which operate expressly by moral relativism. The biblical ethical position is to obey God and to risk the consequences. God never asks us to consent to a Pharaoh or a Herod who plan to kill some innocent children, even if they're going to be killed anyway, regardless of whether such political support might lead to greater political stability or religious influence within the halls of power. God calls upon us, and even for the sake of the eternal souls of such evil leaders, to rebuke and warn them; not to agree to their killing of some children to achieve some supposed benefit.
Land goes on to claim that "exceptions" (each of which is a dead child) and regulations are an example of "compromising legally, not morally," when Deace asked rhetorically, "How do you do that? Explain that dichotomy. I don't understand that distinction." And then Deace, long-time host of a secular talk radio program on Iowa's largest radio station, switches roles with the Land, who becomes the secularist and Deace the Christian leader. "I don't think that there is a single example anywhere in the Scriptures of the sort of pragmatic approach that you're talking about," said Steve Deace. "God loves every one of those babies, and that may be the reason He hasn't given us the grace to finally end this plague on our land, because we're only willing to give Him 80 or 90 percent of our obedience and our faith. Maybe if we just sat down and said: 'God you said we're to give You all that we are, all that we have, give it all to You, even our own lives, to lose them for You; and we will get back more than we could ever possibly have imagined.' Do you think if we took that kind of principled stance, that God would reward that?" Then like a politician instead of like a teacher, Dr. Land refused to answer, quoting Barack Obama from a similar context: "I think that's a hypothetical that I'm not prepared to answer. It's above my pay grade."
HALF A LOAF
Unless of course it is poison, half a loaf is better than none. But you don't commit adultery or consent to murder to get that half a loaf. For if you did, it would become poison. If you can only get half a loaf, then you take half a loaf. Of course. But you don't agree to poison the other half. If your own children are starving, and you want even half a loaf to save them, you don't say that if you can have half a loaf, then you will agree to other children being starved to death, or being fed poisoned bread, so that you can have half a loaf. No matter how you look at the false teaching of child killing regulators, it all comes down to a violation of the biblical principal in Romans 3:8, that we must never do evil that good may come of it.
THE ENEMY OF THE GOOD
Echoing Daniel Webster's criticism of those trying to abolish slavery, while on the air with Steve Deace, the Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land used the cliché, "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Intentionally killing any child cannot be considered a "good." Nor should that killing be overlooked for some supposed "limited good," as abortion regulations are described by Priests for Life's Frank Pavone who falsely claims that those who oppose child-killing candidates are actually "looking for the non-existent perfect candidate." Children affirmatively killed, by the thousands and even by the millions, with the approval of the regulations and exceptions of the compromised "pro-life industry," is a great evil. This cliché, whatever wisdom it may contain, of course should never be used to set aside God's enduring commands. Anything sinful is still sinful, even if done during a political campaign or legislative effort. The good is always the enemy of the wrong.
Only moral relativists, of course, argue that the ends justify the means. If we are to obey God, we will never consent to the sacrifice of a single child. What Dr. Land calls an exception, God calls a murdered child. What does God think of exceptions? God didn't care about all the fruit Eve did not eat; nor did He mention all the women David did not violate; nor list the children whom Herod did not kill. God looks at the exceptions. You would have to despise Republican politicians who have exceptions to give them such a false sense of security as to honor them as pro-life heroes who should sleep well at night. Jesus said that, "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones" (Luke 17:2) and "whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me" (Mat. 25:45). Yet child killing regulators behave toward "pro-lifers with exceptions" as though they have no eternal soul, for their sin is nothing less than the affirmation of the mass murder of the innocent children whom God loves.
On JillStanek.com Christina asked, "When the Titanic was sinking, should they just have jettisoned the lifeboats empty, since they couldn't save everybody on board?"
As another example of child-killing regulations being counterproductive, realize that Republican presidential nominees have been increasingly pro-choice as the moral foundation of the party crumbles, such that George W. Bush refused to support South Dakota's 2006 and 2008 abortion bans, with and without his "exceptions." That's how compromised incrementalism works in practice. We don't save 99% and go back for the 1%. Our very own efforts re-enforce the anti-personhood beliefs of our very own leaders, and then we make excuses for them and even call them great pro-life heroes.
Because the Titanic, like a typical burning building, is an accident and not intentional, it is a bad analogy to the morality and effectiveness of anti-abortion strategy. However, applying the proper principles to that bad analogy:
- Save as many as possible: When a ship is sinking good men do not agree, for any conceivable reason, to consent to the drowning of some children in hopes of saving others. They simply save as many as they can.
- Women and children to the lifeboats: An American RTL spokesman on air on Denver's AM 710 KNUS once asked a male homosexual who dresses like a woman, "Would you board if you were on the Titanic and the men said, 'Women and children first on the lifeboats!'" The homosexual became angered and refused to answer. (This same person spilled a drink on the studio table and being embarrassed quickly put his purse to the edge of the table and scooped the pop into his purse, to which our ARTL spokesman said, "Man, you're a man. No woman in the world would ever scoop pop into her purse.") Even society requires that we send women and children, the weaker vessels and the especially beloved by God, to the lifeboats first (1 Peter 3:7; Mat. 18:6).
- If there's Not Enough Room: Even though many are "going to die anyway," you don't agree with someone who's going to drown some kids in hopes of making room to save others. (Claims that regulations have reduced abortions are based on a misuse of statistics in flawed Heritage Foundation studies.) Rather than consenting to the drowning of some, you die yourself if need be, trying to save them all.
THE PROBLEM WITH PURISTS
This same Christina also asked "the purists: should Oskar Schindler simply have turned the Jews who worked in his factory over to the Nazis to be gassed, since he couldn't save all the Jews?"
Martin Small, one of the Jews who survived the Mauthausen concentration camp, lived long enough to sign Colorado's 2008 personhood petition. Martin illustrated the harm of perverting the meaning of words when he wrote of Polish people who described Jews by using "the word 'clever' as if it was evil." By saying the word only with a sneer, Hollywood tries to turn the word "Puritan" into a insult, as though virtuous men and women are a curse. Trying to win an argument by ruining the meaning of important scriptural words is unwise. The Bible speaks of that which is "pure" as praiseworthy. Sadly, some pro-lifers would turn a beautiful word into a pejorative in their attempt to convince Christians to consent to the killing of some. (Even Barack Obama has picked up 1 on using the term "purist" as an insult.)
The question above shows a misunderstanding of the purist position. All "purists" known to American RTL unequivocally support saving only those you can, like through sidewalk counseling, through uncompromised incrementalism, etc. But we all oppose "consenting" to the killing of some innocents because doing so is immoral, not to mention that it is not even "pragmatic," because pragmatism is what works, whereas exceptions and regulations backfire.
BUT ABORTION IS ALREADY LEGAL! AND, WHAT IS THE PREVAILING LEGAL AUTHORITY?
"But abortion is already legal," some protest. Pro-lifers who advocate child killing regulations (heartbeat bills, fetal pain, etc.) try to defend their strategy by pointing out that abortion is already legal. Therefore, they claim it is justified to advocate laws that would otherwise be consider crimes against humanity. In Ireland, or America before Roe, or anywhere for that matter, passing a "law" that said that it is against the law to kill an innocent child unless you first sign a form to indicate that you are giving your informed consent, would itself be a crime against humanity and a legislative violation and contradiction of God's enduring command, "Do not murder."
Defending child killing regulations because "abortion is already legal" is called situational ethics and moral relativism. God does not approve of, nor authorize us to, support or consent to the killing of certain children in order to save others. When pro-lifers write a bill with their own hands that says it is legal to kill certain children after complying with particular a regulation, regardless of their intentions, they become responsible for that bill and the children killed as a result. It's not a valid excuse to say that they were going to be killed anyway. Further, there is no way to know that those particular children were going to be killed anyway. Regulations backfire, and end up killing more, even millions more, children.
Some claim that abortion regulations (and-then-you-can-kill-the-baby laws) are the best thing we can do right now for the unborn child. But if abortion was not already legal, they would claim that these exact same regulations were the most evil thing we could do to the unborn child. This kind of strategy turns Christians into moral relativists. Morality is not determined by what a particular government claims is right or wrong.
Consider the parallel with many typical pro-aborts. When we tell them that they are wrong to consent to abortion, they look at us and say, "But abortion is legal." That response is a form of moral relativism. It doesn't matter what the law is, it matters what your actions are.
Regarding what people call, the "prevailing legal authority", the actual controlling authority that either justifies or condemns pro-life efforts comes from the scriptural principles of right and wrong embued in these enduring biblical commands:
- "We must obey God rather than men" Acts 5:29
- You save those you can save Proverbs 24:11 "Rescue those drawn toward death"
- You never "kill the innocent" Exodus 23:7
- You "put away the guilt of innocent blood when you do what is right" Deut. 21:9
- You never defend, consent to, or re-authorize killing the innocent Ex. 23:7; Acts 5:29; Dt. 21:9
- You do not "do evil that good may come of it" Romans 3:8 as claimed the slander against the Apostle Paul.
- And God's warning in Romans 1:32 (which we can apply to politicans like George W. Bush and Mitt Romney who have blood on their hands for advocating the killing of innocent children) goes beyond those who practice crimes like murder, and extends also to those who "approve of those who practice them."
SUCCESS TAKES COMPROMISE
To illustrate the matter consider George W. Bush, the consummate compromiser.
- He himself admitted that he violated the very principles of the free market which he claimed to support.
- He opposed terrorists but gave hundreds of millions to Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority.
- He initiated his own wealth redistribution program, taking from those with less money (struggling young families) to give to those with more money (senior citizens, who happen also to vote more often) in his trillion-dollar government health care reform entitlement prescription drug social program.
- His "faith-based initiatives" sold Christian groups on supporting more government social spending by making them the middle man and giving them a cut of the action.
So with all his compromise, one would think George W. Bush could find it in his heart to help save South Dakota children but when he realized that the state's abortion ban had no exceptions, he told ABC News that he would not support the ban because his own position was that some unborn children did not deserve to be protected by law. To put it bluntly, George W. Bush's position is this: "I won't compromise. If we can't kill some unborn children, then I'd rather keep things as they are and let the abortionist kill as many as he can." If that's too blunt for the pro-life industry to acknowledge, then they can read Bush's uncompromising stand this way: "If we can't kill some unborn children who in my opinion don't deserve to be protected by law, then my position is that I'd rather leave the status quo that kills them all." Actually, that's simply an application of the lesser of two evils. But two years later George Bush still gave no public support even after South Dakota immorally added his "exceptions" to another bill. Exceptions are a window to the soul. And with that window open anyone with eyes to see can recognize the former president George W. Bush as apathetic about child killing, except as a political tool. Politicians with exceptions use abortion to raise funds and for throwing a bone now and then to the Republican base, by supporting the occasional law that does nothing to threaten the ongoing dismembering and chemical destruction of millions of American children.
A final question to the abortion regulators at Americans United for Life and elsewhere. Do your principles hold if we plug in the actual names of specific children? Are you still comfortable acknowledging that you would negotiate, specifically, with your granddaughter's life, to try to win an election or pass legislation that would save millions? Of course not. The right to life is inalienable. That means it is non-transferable and non-negotiable. God does not grant us the latitude to negotiate with an innocent child's right to life in order to save another child's life, nor to save the whole world.