People were shocked by Jeff Durbin’s interview with Tony Lauinger. They were shocked to hear someone so high in the pro-life movement as the VP of National Right to Life himself vacillate for a span of about 38 minutes, finding every escape route possible to avoid calling abortion what it is: “murder.” You would think that the leadership of the pro-life movement would be rather clear on that point, wouldn’t you? Think again.
As Jeff put it in a recent post, “Our interview with the Vice-president of National Right to Life revealed that 1) He was unwilling to call it murder, 2) He has no plans on fighting for legislation that would call it murder, 3) He explicitly said that we should not use distinctly Christian language nor should we say ‘repent and believe’ in the fight, and 4) He is unwilling to agree with legislation that would end the slaughter of babies today if there is a risk that the higher courts will have a different opinion and attempt to strike it down.”
If you find this shocking, then you will really be shocked to learn that this is pretty much the culture of the entire pro-life movement. Mr. Lauinger is not a rare case. In every office, in every level of every organization (with a few exceptions), there are a thousand Mr. Lauingers.
The reason for this simple: evangelicals are mush. They are ruled largely by fears and emotions. This prevents them from thinking judicially and applying God’s law to all of life. When they do think ethically, they do not do so consistently, and in the end, emotion has enough influence to override what judicial thinking and application there is. “Being nice” is the apex of evangelical virtues.
I have been trying to make this point in regard to the pro-life movement for some time now:
- When I argued that Kermit Gosnell’s conviction was not a great victory for the pro-life movement, as many hailed it.
- When I reviewed Marcus Pittman’s and Jon Speed’s documentary Babies are Murdered Here.
- When I commented on the startling ignorance of one senior legal counsel for a major pro-life organization in regard to the nature of the Roe v. Wade opinion.
- When I was the first to warn people about the sad truth about the Planned Parenthood videos.
- When I called out large mainstream Christian ministries for tragic compromises that aid-and-abet abortion.
These articles could be put together to make a small book. What has been sad has been said; I will not repeat it here, other than to say abortion is only legal in this country because Christians allow it to be. This sad fact is true because average Christians leave this work largely to pro-life leadership, and the leadership of the pro-life movement has been compromised and ineffective for decades. At the root of this compromise lies the refusal to call abortion murder, and to demonstrate this truth to the public.
Now, all of this just came to the fore this past week because a group of people who are truly serious about ending abortion by calling it what it is spearheaded a piece of legislation in the Oklahoma Legislature. This legislation, if passed, would define abortion as murder, and thus make abortionists liable for murder. The bill met stiff opposition—the most active of which came from Mr. Lauinger himself, and those Christian Republicans who get their pro-life bona fides from endorsements by the compromised pro-life organizations.
Here’s the perennial tactic when faced with hard core, no-nonsense bills like this one: stall. You tie up the bill in committee, buying time for the compromisers to get their story straight as to why such a bill is not pragmatic, etc. You then stall some more. You leave the bill on the speaker’s desk, in que, not priority, while the weightier matters of the law such as tax rates on jams and jellies are considered. When time runs out for this year’s legislative session, it will be “aw shucks, we didn’t have time to get to that. Sorry!”
If they are successful in stalling until the session is over, these same legislators will run their campaign circuits wielding their pro-life credentials, and if confronted on the bill will give it lip-service while calling for more sustainable and pragmatic approaches. Abortion will be called “heinous” and “gruesome” but not “murder.” “Heinous” and “gruesome” are very good for pro-life fundraising. They’re a gold mine. “Murder” sounds too much like there will be serious consequences and real hard changes in society.
In the end, the abortion-pro-life-industrial complex is not so much about ending abortion. It is about creating a front to help elect compromised Republicans by garnering the votes of evangelical Christians. This is done with rhetoric and a nice smile, not legislation to end abortion. That would also end the effectiveness of the vote-gathering and fundraising.
And the truth is, this problem exists not only in the pro-life movement, but in various organizations that propose centralized, national-level solutions to conservative Christian angst. This includes gun rights, religious liberty, homeschooling, property rights, right to work, and more.
The main argument of these compromised pro-life forces is that if such a radical bill ever passed, it would only be struck down by the Supreme Court, and this would undo all the progress that has been achieved heretofore and even set back the pro-life movement by decades. Eek!
Except, that’s not necessarily true. Aside from committing the speculative fallacy, there is a clear argument to the contrary. In Restoring America I argue for the primacy of state-level activism in advancing the pro-life movement. The lecture by Herb Titus, “Restoring the Sanctity of Human Life State by State,” given at an American Vision conference a few years back, provides a blueprint for how it can be accomplished.
Even here, however, we are going to face opposition and pushback—largely from fellow evangelicals. I can think of only one remedy for this problem, and it has to start in the pulpits. Absent this initiative, it falls to parachurch ministries and individual Christians to state the truth. This is where we’re at.