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Pro-Life Conversion - On Love and Incrementalism

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J. David Franks, Ph.D is a Catholic theologian who is speaking on "Pro-Life Conversion: Cultivating Serious and Intelligent Solidarity with the Most Powerless".

Part 1: Love and our Duty

Franks states that libertarianism cares only about "my choice" and puts it above everything else. This is patently incorrect, as libertarianism limits the choice of the individual with the freedom and choices of every other individual. He states, "Libertarianism is a pro-choice ideology," and then speaking about love, "We resent love because it means we can't remain in our libertarian cocoon." Libertarians for Life would disagree with this claim.

"The weaker the person, the greater their claim on us"

This is a very good point, and a brilliant principle to help us prioritise our campaigns for social justice. Perhaps his quote could be rephrased, "The weaker the person, and the greater the crime being committed against them, the greater their claim on us." Abortion fits this definition perfectly.

"Abortion, infanticide and euthanasia are intrinsically evil and are linked by the same objective - the killing of an innocent person. Whereas the death penalty, war and climate change are issues which it is acceptable to disagree on."

"We can't outlaw every crime. We don't outlaw a crime if it would create greater social disorder... but we can't apply this to abortion."

This is a confusing and unprincipled approach to the reasoning for legislation on abortion. Abortion should be outlawed because it takes away the life of an innocent and helpless human-being - let alone the fact that this takes place without their consent.

Franks stated that if given the choice of voting for one of two pro-abortion candidates, an individual should vote for the one which will be either best for the pro-life side, or most detrimental for the pro-abortion side. In choosing between a pro-life and a pro-abortion candidate, he stated that it is only very rarely that it would be acceptable to vote for the pro-abortion candidate - for instance if such a vote would give a more pro-life party the majority in parliament.

Franks holds that refraining to vote is not an acceptable option, stating that citizens have a duty to vote for the best of the options presented to them. He backs this up with the idea that man is a social creature, and that it is therefore his responsibility to participate in society. I disagree, because if society is unappealing to an individual, they should not be under any obligation to participate in it - let alone express their support for something they do not believe in.

Part 2: Pro-Life Incrementalism

Pro-life purists refuse to support any law or politician that seeks to reduce the number of abortions taking place, and will only support a policy that will ban 100% of abortions. Pro-life incrimentalists on the other hand are prepared to support a great number of small advances in the cause of defending the pre-born. Pro-life incrementalists are achieving results:
  • Parental involvement laws correlated with a 16% decline in the minor abortion rate.
  • Partial-birth abortion ban
  • Legislating against abortions in which foetuses feel pain. Pro-abortion advocates may think that we want for foetueses to be anesthetised before they are aborted... In Arkansas, Kansas, a foetal pain awareness act was passed requiring that women seeking an abortion on a foetus at 20 weeks and over should be asked if they wished for their child to be injected with pain killers. In the year following the passing of this act, 600 women were offered the pain relief for the murder of their pre-born children. Upon hearing of this option, 300 of the women decided not to go ahead with their abortion.
We're putting abortion "in the course of ultimate extinction". However the American Life League for instance, claims that incrementalist groups such as National Right to Life or Prolife NZ are for regulating child-killing because we don't really want it to stop. Franks stated that ALL and the pro-life purists have rebranded themselves as the Personhood Movement, but has retained much of its revolutionary fervour - something by which young people are easily deceived.

To get the votes we need to protect the unborn will require a seismic shift in public sentiment. This can be achieved through ongoing incrementalist legislation which keeps the debate alive and grants increasing rights to pre-born people.

"I want to use as many bridges as I can"

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