posted by Life Report, June 20, 2013 @ 11:21 am

LISTENER MAIL: What Do You Think of Pro-Life Bills that Could Be Ended with “and Then You Can Kill the Baby?”

Download Audio MP3 | 00:22:32

Update 6/22: Upon request, I’ve written most of these points up as an article and published them at

Here’s an outline of my main points in response to this question from Bobby: “Some pro-life people oppose ‘incrementalist’ pro-life laws because they always end with ‘… and then you can kill the baby.’ What are your thoughts?”

Note: Many of my arguments and thinking on these issues comes from conversations I had with Scott Klusendorf and Dr. Francis Beckwith, who both graciously spent time with me while I was working through these issues in 2007. I’m not sure now who said what and how many of these arguments are really my own, nor would I want to source any of these arguments directly to Scott or Frank without their permission. (These were all private conversations.) It’s probably a fair assumption that the really smart talking points came from one of them though.

This was supposed to be a video but we had technical difficulties with the recorded video, so I’m posting the audio only.

  • Night view of Capitol Building, Washington D.C., USACommon ground: I agree that we don’t want to communicate to people that we only care about babies that feel pain, are a certain age, not conceived in rape, etc.
  • I disagree that most forms of incremental legislation send that message. I think most people know how politics works.
  • My argument is not that we should do evil that good may come. My argument is that when we pass incremental bills that will have a positive impact for the unborn, we are not actually doing evil. We are doing a good thing.
  • What’s implicit in these bills is that we want to save all, but we know we can’t, so we’re going to save the most we can, and go from there.
  • William Wilberforce helped pass a bill, the Foreign Slave Trade Bill of 1806) that you could have ended with, “and then you can sell the slave.”
  • Do you think it’s more important to make an impact or to make a statement? I don’t believe that passing a bill with a rape exception tacked onto it at the last minute sends a message to pro-choice people that we don’t care about the babies conceived in rape that are sometimes killed in abortions.

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  • BabyDefender

    Absolute perfect explanation. Of course we want to save all babies, but sometimes you have to transfer multiple flights to get to your ultimate destination

  • Guest

    Well said. I always like to point out that incremental pro-life bills actually end with “then you CAN’T kill the baby” (if they’re more than 20 weeks old, the mother can’t get parental consent, the clinic can’t afford to operate without taxpayer funds, etc), at least in America where abortion is legal in virtually all cases. It’s of course an entirely different story in a country like Ireland, where it’s true that the new abortion bill (which adds exceptions for suicide) does essentially end with “and then you can kill the baby” (thus should be vehemently opposed).

    One question though. I recently read an objection to this strategy on Abby Johnson’s Facebook page that I had never seen before. She proposed a new law that would make it illegal to abort only white babies, and asked whether incrementalist pro-lifers would support it. This is very similar to Nazi Germany’s abortion policy. The point is that if pro-lifers are unwilling to accept one form of unjust discrimination (race), then we should also be unwilling to support a bill that leaves another form of unjust discrimination (age, pain capacity, and circumstances of conception) legal. I think that she is correct on this point but that, in a hypothetical political climate where we can successfully pass a racist abortion ban, we would nevertheless bite the bullet and do it. This is a rather unpleasant conclusion, but I really don’t see any other way (and it’s certainly worth it if it saves lives). Do you have any thoughts on this?

  • BabyDefender


    I see how that could be a tough statement to refute, but when you break it down, it isn’t so hard. When other abortions become banned incrementally, it is not discriminating at all. Rather it saves all babies after a certain point in an attempt to keep taking that point further back. Both black and white babies get the same chance. Whereas all babies can get past 20 weeks, a black baby can never be white and vice versa