Outlawing Abortion: Making the Case for an Incremental Approach

Opinion   Gerard Nadal, Ph.D.   May 23, 2011   |   12:00PM    Washington, DC

There is a discussion on FB about Texas passing a sonogram bill that does not protect certain groups of preborn babies, such as those conceived in rape, incest, or those with fetal anomalies. My friend Juda Myers is a pro-life warrior who was conceived in rape, and is understandably let down by these exceptions. This has reignited the ongoing debate within the pro-life community regarding incrementalism vs. unconditional surrender. I believe that we can all get to the finish line together. What follows are modified comments I left on FB this morning:

One abortion is one too many. On this all pro-lifers agree. I’ve been party to this discussion with several pro-lifers from around the country, so let me explain the incrementalist’s position and its internal logic.

First, the proaborts do the two-step, one-step. They push their agenda forward two steps, and when we raise hell, they retreat one step (remaining a step ahead. When things calm down, they repeat the cycle again, and again; always advancing one step with each cycle. It’s a brilliant and effective strategy. With every round, they establish a new norm from which they operate.

The pro-life incrementalist’s position does much the same thing. Nobody is saying that they value some babies more or less than others. This tactic is the proabort’s own strategy turned on them. It allows society to begin to value humans in the embryonic and fetal stages of development by giving them the protection of the law. In a word: PERSONHOOD.

Being successful in re-calibrating societal attitudes about the rights and dignity of most babies allows the pro-life movement to bridge the gap for society to accept the dignity of those conceived in rape, incest, or with fetal anomalies. The argument in favor of abortion began with rape and incest, then generalized outward to claim scores of millions not conceived in rape or incest. In regaining lost ground, we’ll win it back in reverse order.

As things stand, holding out for the whole enchilada has not worked, and has consigned millions to their deaths, where they might otherwise have been saved.

No war has ever been won in one giant stroke. It is won a battle at a time, with the conquered ground then used as the staging area for the next battle. Think of MacArthur’s Island-Hopping Campaign across the Pacific in WWII.

For almost forty years the camp demanding all-or-nothing has held sway, and little has changed. Incrementalism can make huge immediate inroads, saving hundreds of thousands of babies per year, and in the process build a pro-life ethic where it never before existed. This can then make it easier to argue that certain classes of the preborn are the victims of discrimination.

I’m with Juda all the way, but the logic of incrementalism seems to save far more babies’ lives than all of the sidewalk counseling ever has. It sucks the huge profits out of the abortion industry, forcing many to close, and allows us to focus and marshall our resources against an ever-diminishing enemy until we completely obliterate their deadly industry by using their own weapon against them: Government.

To not accept this is to play high-stakes, winner-take-all poker with the lives of millions of babies who would otherwise have been saved. Thoughts?