Exceptions: What Does It All Mean?


Everyone in the pro-life movement agrees the ultimate goal is ending abortion.

The debate—which is intensifying—centers on how to get there. Should we make progress in stages, or strive for complete victory immediately?  Or is there a way to pursue both?

Some claim the only course is to accept political realities and take what politicians are willing to offer.  These so-called pro-lifers agree to passing legislation that violates God’s command that all life—not just some—is sacred.

In many cases, their stance even goes against what their organizations claim to stand for.

This is “unprincipled” incrementalism.

On the other hand, “principled” incrementalism treats all innocent life equally—no distinctions, differences, or exceptions.

This approach keeps its focus on the ultimate victory of ending all elective abortions, but until that goal is reached will work to place as many limits on the horrific practice as possible, so long as it does not discriminate against any group or class of pre-born children.

Georgia Right to Life (GRTL) supports principled incrementalism. We’ve proven in the harsh world of Georgia politics that treating all human life equally is a winning strategy.

We’ve made significant progress without yielding to political arguments that attempt to justify accepting the life-compromising middle ground.

Looking ahead, GRTL believes the ultimate victory can only be achieved by adopting a “Personhood” amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Such an amendment, currently before the Georgia Legislature for consideration, would grant legal protection to all innocent life at any stage of development, from the pre-born to the elderly and infirm.

Such an amendment is also the best defense against legal challenges.

The key question becomes what separates principled from unprincipled incrementalism?

The difference between both approaches became crystal clear when the U.S. Congress began debating a meaningless fetal pain bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks fetal age .

The effort is meaningless because everyone knows it will never pass the Senate and even if it does, President Obama has said he would veto it.  The whole effort is political pandering designed to let some members of Congress go back home and claim they voted for a pro-life bill.

GRTL took the brunt of criticism when we stopped supporting the measure after a rape and incest and fetal anomaly exceptions were added at the last minute.

We have been accused of sabotaging an attempt to save at least some lives.

Our position is in direct opposition to a recently-released flyer by a prominent pro-life group that claims the measure will: “provide nationwide protection for unborn children capable of feeling pain, beginning at 20 weeks fetal age (equivalent to “22 weeks of pregnancy”), the beginning of the sixth month.”

Protection for unborn children? Really?  

The ad omits the fact that the measure includes specific language which will condemn thousands of children conceived by rape or incest to a death sentence, simply based on their manner of conception.

“I don’t see how anyone who claims to be pro-life, who says they respect the sanctity of all life, can agree with a rape and incest exception,” said GRTL Dan Becker. “You’re not standing on principle: you’re stuck in the quicksand of political expediency.”

Becker added that GRTL has the deepest sympathy for victims of such crimes and strongly urges that perpetrators be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

However, to allow abortion in such instances is an example of unprincipled incrementalism because it says that those children are somehow less deserving of life.

Becker added that he agrees with what pro-life advocate Jill Stanek recently posted on her blog: “To be clear, a person professing to be pro-life who holds a rape/incest exception is actually pro-abortion with exceptions.”

In other words, unprincipled incrementalism in effect echoes Planned Parenthood’s position that only “wanted” children are worthy of life.  It says we should be able to decide which children are acceptable and which aren’t.

And since a child conceived by rape or incest may act as a constant reminder of the crime, we should allow the mother the freedom to be spared that grief.

But if we say such emotions or feelings are justifications for abortion, where does that logic end?  It’s a slippery slope that can easily lead to aborting children who might depress us because they are the wrong sex, or are shorter than was hoped.

Many cultures already target girl babies for abortion because boys are considered more valuable.

Even worse, such discrimination could ultimately lead to Nazi style eugenics where whole races of people or religions are targeted for elimination.

On the other hand, principled incrementalism makes no such distinctions.  It does not abandon the belief that all human life is sacred and created in the image of God.

Before it was amended, the federal fetal pain bill was principled because it protected all children after 20 weeks—there were no distinctions of some children after 20 weeks who are worthy of life and some who are not. It did not set a precedent of creating unequal categories of children after 20 weeks fetal age.

While such measures fall short of the ultimate goal, they do advance the cause without discrimination. And they don’t violate the Biblical command that a child should not be put to death for the crimes of its father (Deut. 24:16).

So what’s the conclusion? What’s the difference between principled and unprincipled incremenetalism?

Until all elective abortions are constitutionally banned, principled incrementalism supports a partial victory as long as the language of the bill does not clearly discriminate against specific groups of pre-born children, such as those conceived in rape or incest, or those with fetal anomalies.

Because achieving constitutional protection for all innocent life is a long-term goal, failure to support principled incrementalism is in effect a “save the none” approach.

On the other hand, unprincipled incrementalism is willing to accept legislation that does create and discriminate against categories of pre-born children, thereby condemning them to death. It’s unprincipled because  the legislation specifically says some children are less worthy of life and can be sacrificed in a shameless attempt to look pro-life.

”With your unwavering support and God’s guidance, we will succeed in ultimately ending the tragedy of abortion, while making principled progress along the way,” Becker said.

Sources: steavedeace.com; lifesitenews.com.

by Wayne DuBois
GRTL Media Relations Advisor