Incrementalism and Regulation

By Steve Deace - I believe some types of incremental steps to end child killing in America are good, some are well-intentioned but won’t accomplish what they hope to, and some are fraudulent.

Good incrementalism—I believe legislation that is compliant with the “laws of nature and nature’s God” in clearly asserting the right to life, but is intended to stop a new or eliminate a previously accepted procedure for shedding innocent blood is good incrementalism. For example, wanting to shut down new innovations into killing children like “telemed abortions,” or stopping someone like a Gosnell from continuing to operate a baby butcher factory in your community, is good incrementalism. It is good because it asserts the sanctity of life, is compliant with the Constitution, and therefore will actually advance the cause of life by proving to end a mechanism used to take life. Incrementalism is moving steadily, if slower than you would like, towards the right goal. Moving towards the wrong goal but slower by accepting the premise of your opponent’s argument isn’t incrementalism. That is defeatism.

Well-intentioned but likely unsuccessful incrementalism—Former California Congressman Bob Dornan once famously stated “any bill that ends with the phrase ‘and then you can kill the baby’ really isn’t a pro-life bill.” The truth of the matter is even Dr. James Dobson admitted the “partial birth abortion ban” signed into law by President George W. Bush didn’t save any babies. Butchers like Gosnell violated several laws banning abortions after a specified time when the baby feels pain or has a heartbeat to satisfy their blood lust.

The reason why these well-intentioned attempts at incrementalism often fail is because they attack the practice of child killing and not the premise of child killing.

Lila Rose and Live Action have shown us on tape many times over the years that those whose conscience have no problem with making money off the killing of children lie, and do so regularly and shamelessly. Since we don’t have a regulatory agency that monitors pre-natal activity, we are often leaving it up to the very people killing children to report when a heart-beat is detected, or how far along the pregnancy is. That’s like asking the rooster to guard the hen house, or Eric Holder to investigate the IRS. Newsflash: those who kill children also lie, as the Gosnell case proves.

Furthermore, such as in the case of the partial-birth abortion ban, they only ban a method of killing children but not the mechanism for killing them. In Gonzales v. Carhart, for example, partial-birth abortion wasn’t actually banned but rather just one particular method of conducting them. In its ruling the U.S. Supreme Court actually provides a “how-to” guide for the child killing industry by providing alternative means. It’s analogous to banning only one type of gas the Nazis used at their Concentration Camps to exterminate people, rather than banning the entire gas chamber itself.

At best these well-intentioned but largely unsuccessful means of ending the plague of child killing only serve to raise awareness of the issue itself, which of course there is value to. And I’m sure these tactics have saved some babies, and anything done to preserve innocent life that doesn’t violate the natural law itself has merit. On the other hand, a generation of this tactic has also proven it gets us no closer to ultimately ending infanticide then we were the day after Roe v. Wade happened. It is merely a stop-gap measure, but not a strategy for ultimate victory.

Fraudulent Incrementalism—These are attempts to compromise on the life issue to find bills that will “get Democrat votes” or “will pass judicial review” by disregarding the moral principle at stake. In other words, this is just cynical realpolitik at its worst where innocent children are treated as political footballs, not lives we have an obligation to protect. That’s because in order to get those profiting off of and/or protecting the child killing industry to sign on in the first place, these bills require the premise of the right to life argument to be sacrificed at the altar of political expedience.

These types of efforts argue the quality of life and not the sanctity of life, which means they’re actually arguing the child killing industry’s main point for them. For the child killing industry bases all of its arguments for killing children on the quality of life (i.e. is the child wanted, will it traumatize the mother to have the child, will the child be born with a disability or abnormality, will it be orphaned or destitute, etc.). Those are pagan utilitarian arguments, and that’s the same argument fraudulent incrementalism perpetuates in the name of pragmatism (which is just another name for utilitarianism).

The idea of looking for pro-life bills those who show no regard for life will sign onto is analogous to the early church altering the Gospel so that it didn’t offend a Caesar who thought he was god. You do not want to appease the enemies of your cause, you either want to convert them or defeat them.