This year’s legislative season in South Carolina is once again demonstrating a significant fissure in the “pro-life” community over the political strategy of ending abortion through the tactic of incrementalism versus immediatism. This is no better revealed than by watching the debate between a House Bill (H3548) labeled “Dismemberment” and a Senate Bill (S217) labeled “Personhood”. There could be no more stark difference presented illustrating the internal debate of the pro-life community than these two bills. However, before jumping into the direct debate on the merit of each Bill, let me define the tug-of-war that exists between the two competing philosophies.
Incrementalism is a political strategy which seeks to regulate abortion through various legal means with (supposed) ever increasing restrictions in order that someday in the nebulous future abortion services will have no more air to exist. In theory, increasing regulation will slowly strangle the business of abortion out of existence. It is a slow, methodical, legislative tactic of whittling away at easy services and making them harder to perform in order to reach the (again, supposed) goal of abolishing abortion. Incrementalists see immediatists as too idealistic and politically unsophisticated to understand the legislative and judicial concerns to take them seriously.
Immediatism, on the other hand, (which is a recently created word) is a political call to stop the killing now. The historical label for this group is “abolitionist”. Most immediatists see incrementalism as an abject failure after 45 years of legalized abortion. Any business strategy that had failed to accomplish it’s said goals in that length of time would fire it’s leadership and go a different direction. The immediatist believes that incrementalism has failed and it is time for a new political strategy. Immediatists see incrementalists as fearful of man (especially the Supreme Court) and too entrenched in the pragmatic philosophy of politics rather than demonstrating a fear of God and obedience to His Word which demands faith in His precepts.
It’s hard to find a middle ground between these two political strategies because their roots are squarely planted in two different fields. The incrementalists are convinced the lawyers and judges hold the future of this issue. The immediatists are convinced God holds the future of this issue. Every year in the South Carolina legislature we see Bills offered representing each of these views. The pro-life establishment groups (South Carolina Citizen’s for Life, The Palmetto Family Council, etc.) are almost uniformly incrementalists. The grass roots of anti-abortion work which includes most theologically conservative churches and pastors are quickly embracing immediatism. This division is occurring because of two reasons. First, the traditional organizational activist organizations (incrementalists) are not achieving the goal of abolition. Second, there is a growing awareness of the biblical mandate which calls for justice for the pre-born now.
That now brings us to the two pieces of legislation. Let me attempt to synopsize the House Bill (Dismemberment) which is incremental in its strategy and the Senate Bill (Personhood) which is immediatist in its approach. The two bills could not be more different. Personhood defines the pre-born baby a person from conception, which provides it legal protection as a human being. It would directly abolish abortion in South Carolina. Would it be litigated by pro-abortion lawyers and groups? Undoubtedly, but we have an Attorney General who is willing to defend the law and argue the case before both State and Federal Supreme Courts. For Roe v. Wade to be reversed, some state must make the attempt to make the argument. Dismemberment, on the other hand, simply removes one method of abortion of which there are at least a dozen according to online research. The Bill doesn’t stop abortion. In fact, one “pro-life” House member admitted on their Facebook page that this would not impede any woman from getting an abortion AND the baby would have to be euthanized first (anesthetized?) and then dismembered. So the question arises, exactly how many babies would this Bill even save? The sad tragedy is that Planned Parenthood has already started to use the phrase, “soft suction abortion” to circumvent the Dismemberment Bill. This, in my opinion, is insane. Yet, our “pro-life” leadership keeps using a strategy which to the most simple of minds knows…is an abject failure. This is not pro-life, but rather pro-death regulation.
It is time to abort the Dismemberment Bill.
There…I said it.
It will accomplish nothing.
It is a placebo to the incrementalist’s conscience who thinks that this provides some important victory, when in fact all it does is cause the abortionist to become more creative in their killing. I can no longer stomach the strategy. I can no longer attend the pep rallies of incrementalism that seeks to fool the troops into thinking they are making progress. It is time for a bold change. It is time to support what we all know is true and what nature and God’s Word clearly attest. The pre-born baby is a PERSON. It is time to follow the leadership of pastors who carry the prophetic torch of God’s justice in this social evil. We can appreciate the sincere hearts of people who really believed incrementalism was effective in the past, but we recognize that it’s effectiveness no longer exists (if it ever did). My call and genuine hope is that the professional pro-life/family organizations and para-church ministries of this state will jump on board and support S-217 (Personhood). This is as close as we have ever come to actually voting a bill through both houses with a promise from a Governor to sign legislation that would effectively abolish abortion. Let’s unite and do what we all know is right.
Let’s stop the killing.