Prudentialism vs. Absolutism
Over on the blog of Jill Stanek, there has been a raging debate between pro-lifers on whether or not to support incremental legislation and whether or not such legislation helps or hinders the pro-life cause.

Most of the people in the pro-life movement support incremental legislation because it works. In many states where various laws restricting abortion have been implemented we have seen a reduction in the numbers of abortions performed.

On the other side you have those who say that the support of any legislation that does not absolutely ban abortion in effect allows abortion to continue, and in some cases even encourages it, and is therefore evil and cannot be supported.

One of the bases for this argument is that by allowing abortion to continue, these types of laws chip away at the dignity of the human person and help people to turn away from the humanity of the unborn. The end result, it would seem, is a more callous disregard for the rights of the unborn and a slow, slippery slope towards legitimizing more abhorrent forms of death to more groups of people.

But is the assertion correct that supporting incremental laws chips away at already existing human dignities? Another way to ask that question is: Does the child in the womb today enjoy protected status that would demand respect for their life?

The answer, according to the Supreme Court is a big, fat "NO" and the exact wording from the Roe V. Wade decision goes like this,

"All this, together with our observation, supra, that throughout the major portion of the 19th century prevailing legal abortion practices were far freer than they are today, persuades us that the word "person," as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn."

You can't chip away at something that doesn't exist.

Our culture is called a "culture of death" exactly because we lack the traditional respect for the dignity of the human person that is necessary for our survival. In order to fix the culture, we must take the time and effort to rebuild that respect for human life and do it one step at a time. Every human endeavour works this way and the fight to restore protection for the unborn is no different.

Or as Pope John Paul II put it when he addressed the young people gathered by the millions in Toronto for World Youth Day in 2002:

"The aspiration that humanity nurtures, amid countless injustices and sufferings, is the hope of a new civilization marked by freedom and peace. But for such an undertaking, a new generation of builders is needed. Moved not by fear or violence but by the urgency of genuine love, they must learn to build, brick by brick, the city of God within the city of man."



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