Sunday, April 03, 2011

Heart Beat Bills or Personhood ??

This past week, a number of pro-life activists received a request from good friend Janet Folger to be signatories to a Heart Beat bill, which would ban abortion for babies with a detectable heartbeat. To say quite the firestorm has ignited, is an understatement. That said, some of the responses have been incredibly thoughtful and have added to the public discourse some excellent analysis about why many feel like the Heart Beat bill should not be supported.

I told Janet, who I revere greatly after spending many hours fighting for Terri by her side, that her bill would directly violate the Colorado RTL mission which states, "defending human life, from the beginning of biological development."

One of the most phenomenal replies the request inspired was by my presidential choice in 2008, Dr. Alan Keyes!

Enjoy . . .

Dear Janet:

Like others I cannot add my name to the list of those supporting this bill.

I understand why good hearted people might accept a perilous moral calculus that I also once accepted. I too made mistakes re matters like this in the past. But here is the gist of the points that convicted me of my error:

a) Christ said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." The bill draws a line. On one side of the line are those whose unalienable right to life will be respected. On the other, are the less developed humans whose unalienable right to life will not be respected. In His mother's womb, Christ was in their same condition. Do His words therefore not apply to them?

b) Whether we acknowledge it or not, the law informs the moral sensibility of those it governs. This law informs the governed that it is lawful and therefore permitted to murder human beings with no detectable heartbeat. Since America's founding principle is that we are all created equal, from what ground of principle do we derive the justification for this fatally invidious distinction? But if we acknowledge that the principle is violated, then the bill achieves the stated objective (saving some lives) by surrendering the principle that requires respect for life. But that surrender of principle corrupts the understanding of right and wrong of those subject to the law. On account of this misunderstanding they are more likely to do that which God abhors. Thus the bill literally poses an obstacle to their salvation, but also to the salvation of all those who knowingly join in supporting the act that misinforms them. It is scandalous, in the literal sense of the term.

c) Given this spiritual harm, you inaccurately portray the objective the bill aims to achieve. The bill saves the physical lives of some people, but it risks the lives (in the truer, spiritual sense of the term) of all those subject to and responsible for it. If we support this act are we not like those the Apostle speaks of (Romans 3:8) who "(as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say), 'Let us do evil, that good may come?' whose damnation is just.'"

d) By the same token, the bill risks the moral and political life of the American people. The principle that all human beings are created equal is the bedrock foundation of the idea of right on which the preservation of that life depends. Unless the pro-life movement defends and preserves that principle the whole basis of its activity in politics is called into question. Our opponents will then claim, with some semblance of justice, that we seek to use the law to impose a strictly sectarian discipline.

Of course, child sacrifice is forbidden under the law in the United States. That prohibition reflects the explicit premise of justice from which the government and laws of the United States derive their claim to legitimacy. That premise asserts that the Creator endows every human being with a right to life that is inseparable from their claim to humanity (unalienable). Except we deny the humanity of the child once conceived, we cannot deny his or her unalienable right to life.

e) The Constitution of the United States requires that a republican form of government be guaranteed in each and every State of the Union. Is that guarantee respected if and when the states are allowed to abandon the republican form of government in principle, through the passage of laws that contradict its fundamental premise? Yet the Ohio law you advocate does just that with respect to the human offspring it relegates to the heartless status of those who may lawfully be aborted. In principle, how does this differ from a law that would permit the enslavement of people whose brain activity falls below a certain level of intelligence? Or the murder of those like Terry Schiavo, whose helpless condition demands constant care? Yet as we all know and have argued, once such murder is permitted, have we not in principle drawn a line that sanctions the murder of helpless infants after birth? Have we not joined Obama and those like him who observe no distinction between abortion and infanticide?

The problem with the sacrifice of principle is that it discards the measure wherewith we measure. The word principle refers, etymologically and conceptually, to that which comes first. In both the Christian faith and the American creed, the first premise of human existence is the Creator of heaven and earth and all of us. So the abandonment of principle refers in the end to the abandonment of our acknowledgment of the existence and authority (authorship) of God. To procure that abandonment is the whole point of the evil that besets us. If we were to reduce the number of abortions in America to just one human offspring, offered each year in defiance of God's will and authority, that point would be made. The true life of our people will be lost. But what do we say of the perfect, God affirming sacrifice of Christ if, by word or action, we participate and lend credence to the sacrifice that denies what He died to prove?