Janet Mefferd Interview

by Roger Resler

January 22nd marked the 43rd Anniversary of one of the worst Supreme Court decisions of all time: Roe v. Wade. Nationally syndicated talk show host Janet Mefferd interviewed Dave Sterrett and me on that day. Listen to the podcast here.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been interviewed live and it was a challenge to boil long answers down to quick responses. (Meaning: I failed miserably). In fact, I was cut off in mid-thought twice because we were up against breaks. What made matters worse is the fact that I could not hear the music rising in the background – which is the usual cue to wrap it up – so I simply kept talking!

The point I was trying to make the first time was that a key argument by Sarah Weddington in Roe v. Wade was that the anti-abortion laws that had come on the books in the late 1800’s (one of which – the Texas law – was the one Weddington was attacking) had only come on the books out of a concern to protect women from the dangers of abortion in the 1800’s. There was a partial truth to this argument since abortion, in the days prior to antiseptics, certainly was a dangerous undertaking for the pregnant woman. But Weddington was dealing in half-truths. In reality, the primary reason anti-abortion laws, like that of Texas, came on the books was a concerted effort to protect unborn human life. Ironically, even Justice Harry Blackmun, author of the Roe decision, openly (yet somewhat covertly) acknowledges this in the majority opinion!

Although buried in the midst of dry, legal ramblings, anyone who cares to take the time to look can still find this pro-life acknowledgment under the heading: “The Position of the American Medical Association” beginning on page 141 of the Roe majority opinion.

Prior to the mid 19th century, in the United States, English common law had prevailed. In general, abortion was considered a serious misdemeanor prior to “quickening” (the point in pregnancy when the mother first feels the baby move – which is generally around 17 weeks), and a felony after. Weddington ignored the fact that abortion after quickening had, for centuries, been a serious offense (even capital in some cases), and while Blackmun acknowledges it, he nevertheless tended to downplay the significance.

In the mid 1800’s, after fertilization in mammals began to be observed due to the improvements of microscopes, medical doctors became increasingly aware of the deficiencies of abortion laws that were based on the archaic notion of quickening. As Blackmun freely admits, these pro-life doctors began lobbying legislators to update the laws. As a result the quickening based abortion laws were replaced with even stricter laws nationwide. Many of these laws, like that of Texas, allowed for no exceptions other than a life-threatening situation for the mother.

So a key premise in Weddington’s arguments in Roe v. Wade was, at best, erroneous.

The second point I was attempting to make when time again ran out, was that the Texas attorneys who were arguing the pro-life position, were not well prepared and fell into the trap of arguing for “personhood” at conception instead of focusing on the biological beginning of human life. In short, they simply suggested that a fetus is a person because the state of Texas says so. This was obviously not a satisfactory argument for the pro-choice majority of Justices in Roe, who, ironically, ended up arguing the same way – only in reverse – by holding that a fetus is not a “person in the whole sense” because the Supreme Court says so. Unfortunately for millions of unborn humans, the say-so of the Supreme Court trumped the say-so of Texas.

Gosnell Guilty!

by Roger Resler

Things don’t seem to be going well for the pro-abortion lobby in the U.S. in recent weeks. Following on the heels of Planned Parenthood of Florida’s pro-infanticide slip of the tongue in March and Live Action’s undercover exposé of late-term abortionist, Le Roy Carhart last week, the conviction today of late-term abortionist, Kermit Gosnell is the latest in what may be a lasting trend. To those of us who consider the evil of induced abortion on an almost daily basis, Gosnell’s conviction is a no-brainer. It’s nearly impossible to believe that anyone could legitimately fail to grasp that what Gosnell does on a routine basis – simply stated: killing babies – is immoral; beyond any reasonable doubt illegal and should be condemned by even the most pro-abortion of pro-abortionists.

It would have been a sorry state of affairs had this blatant killer been acquitted. That he was not at least bodes well for the future. In the past, convictions such as this one have been appealed and overturned by a judge. Other similar convictions have stood, but typically on the basis of maternal death. In 2007, the aforementioned Le Roy Carhart – of recent Live Action fame – was convicted of performing illegal “partial-birth abortions” and the conviction was eventually upheld by the Supreme Court. The difference with the Gosnell case is that the conviction is based exclusively on the value of the baby. The implication is that a “person” comes to exist at birth which makes birth the moral dividing line between legal abortion and illegal infanticide.

While the birth-line may make legal interpretations more convenient (at least to a certain extent), from a rational and scientific standpoint, human life has clearly begun long before birth – as any expectant mother beyond quickening knows.

While we can definitely celebrate the trend toward fetal-value-based legal convictions as a positive development, the next logical step will be to point out the irrationality of protecting human beings only after they manage to escape the confines of the womb intact and breathing.

 

 

New program to launch: Pro-Life Voices

by Roger Resler

In December, 2012, Truth In Depth produced two radio specials on the significance of Roe v. Wade to air in January. January 22, 2013 marked the 40th anniversary of this landmark decision. We produced these specials not knowing whether any stations would air them or not. January ended with nearly 170 full power Christian radio stations airing at least one of the specials and/or the accompanying 1 or 2 minute vignettes. When you add in the various translators that many of these parent stations have, the specials were heard on over 600 radio outlets across the United States with a potential total audience of over 2 million. Pretty good for producing in faith!

This would not have been possible without the willingness of my publisher, eChristian, to promote the book. Westar Media handled the distribution, and, with short notice, managed to reach a lot of stations very quickly.

All in all, the campaign was a huge success! People not only heard about the book, but they also learned, and heard firsthand, that while Roe v. Wade may be a landmark, it’s definitely not a national treasure. Thank you again, to eChristian, Westar and to all the stations that aired the specials.

The success of the specials has opened an opportunity for the creation of a new weekly/daily pro-life radio and internet program that will be called “Pro-Life Voices.” While there are certainly other great pro-life programs already out there, what will be unique about this program is that it will publicize and promote the effective things that many different pro-life organizations are already doing for the cause of life and for the cause of reducing the number of abortions and ultimately eliminating the need for abortion.

There are millions of pro-life people and many great pro-life organizations out there. The majority of people in the U.S. now consider themselves pro-life and in fact the shrinking pro-choice trend continues. Gallup is now reporting that: “Pro-Choice” Americans at Record-Low 41%. There is a definite trend toward the pro-life point of view and Pro-Life Voices will provide a platform for the movers and shakers behind this trend to share their stories and successes with others in an effort to keep the numbers moving in the right direction.

It is my hope and prayer that Pro-Life Voices will emerge as a unifying force that will galvanize the millions of pro-life people in the United States (and elsewhere) in order to bring about meaningful change with respect to abortion, in both the legal aspects as well as the perceived need for abortion.

Many pro-choice proponents are comfortable with the idea that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” They already claim that abortion is far safer (for the mother) today than ever before, and as long as it remains legal, we aim to help them make abortion as rare as possible.

There is much that is already being done and much more that can be done to bring this about. Whether or not Roe v. Wade is overturned; whether or not abortion is formally outlawed in most situations; whether or not we have a pro-life President; we can make a dramatic difference. In the end, numbers are extremely important and the trend is in our favor. The “mainstream media” (which is becoming more like a trickle these days) can only present a false picture of reality for so long. If the numbers continue to trend toward pro-life philosophy a breaking point will inevitably be reached, regardless of whether Roe v. Wade is overturned or not.

I hope you will join with the vision of this program as we give a voice to those who are already effectively working to eliminate the need and desire for abortion and working to change minds toward the pro-life point of view. Think of the potential!

I’m encouraged! And I’m especially encouraged because we will be launching this new program with the support and participation of two ladies who are playing a dramatic role in the shift toward pro-life philosophy. One of them – Abby Johnson – is part of the trend toward pro-life thinking. Abby went through her own very dramatic shift from pro-choice to pro-life in 2009 and we will be interviewing her for the launching of Pro-Life Voices. Abby will discuss her own journey from pro-choice to pro-life and will also discuss the founding of her new ministry called “And Then There Were None” which is a ministry dedicated to encouraging abortion clinic workers to leave the abortion industry. Her efforts are yielding encouraging results. The abortion industry cannot sustain itself without workers willing and able to perform and assist with abortions.

The special guest for our second interview will be Melissa Ohden. Melissa is the survivor of a saline-infusion abortion. When you say that, most people don’t understand what you mean. Melissa did not have an abortion, her biological mother did in 1977. Because that abortion failed we are privileged to hear Melissa’s story of survival. She was left for dead with the “discarded medical waste” but a nurse heard her tiny cry and saved Melissa’s life. She not only survived but has thrived and is today a pro-life speaker and author with one of the most powerful testimonies you’ll ever hear.

It is amazing how God is working to not only to bring a new program into being, but to bless it with participation from today’s most effective pro-life proponents! In the weeks ahead we will be recording and producing these and other programs as well as web-site building. This is beginning from the ground up! We do not yet have a formal launch date, and, just as with the specials, we have no idea how many radio stations will agree to air the new program, but we are forging ahead in faith and will leave those details up to God.

I’m excited! Though there will no doubt be battles ahead, it’s a great time to be pro-life! Stay tuned!

No middle ground

by Roger Resler

Following Anna from Las Vegas’s not-so-complimentary review I noticed that James from Canada, had a different reaction to the book:

My reaction to this book was in stark contrast to the previous reviewer. She is absolutely right that those that have made up their minds on the abortion issue will find this book most helpful. However, pro-choice advocates react to “screeds” such as this with the same vitriol, unsubstantiated by fact. Compelling interest is an excellent tool to expose one’s true point-of-view on the subject of abortion. Contrary to the opinion of the previous reviewer, there is no middle ground on this issue. Pro-life advocates are accused of closed-mindedness. Ey tu Brute?

James is correct: There is no middle ground on this issue in spite of the fact that many people long for middle ground. People wanted middle ground in the mid-1800’s with regard to the problem of slavery; but “middle ground” included such things as looking the other way when human beings were bought and sold, separated from families, and then beaten and lynched for attempting to escape the tyranny. Being “neutral” meant that you were expected to report and return runaway slaves. How can middle ground exist in the face of such injustice?

The problem with abortion is the same problem that made slavery morally impermissible: it violates basic human rights. People disagreed over whether black humans should be protected by the Constitution and those who believed they should not attempted to justify their belief by suggesting that black humans were inferior to white humans. They were not “part of the people.” Abolitionists disagreed. The question of the moral permissibility of slavery was highly controversial, just as the question of abortion is today. Yet slaveholders wanted the law to sanction their desire to own slaves, which can only be morally permissible if their racist philosophy is correct. If the abolitionists were correct, then slavery was immoral.

It is exactly the same situation today with regard to abortion. Those who desire legal abortion want the law to continue to sanction their desire to kill fetuses, which can only be morally permissible if their pro-choice philosophy is correct. If the pro-lifers are correct, then abortion is immoral. Both sides cannot be right.

Pro-choice philosophy can’t establish itself as correct (and most pro-choice advocates don’t even attempt to). It can only assert its alleged correctness in the face of both hard evidence and basic intuitions that run counter to the assertion much like slaveholders asserted their racism was the correct way to think about skin shades when basic intuitions said there is something wrong with that. After Dred Scott we had slavery based on skin shade discrimination. After Roe v. Wade we have legalized abortion based on age discrimination. Both forms of discrimination are equally irrational and equally appalling in their violation of human rights.

Neither of these forms of discrimination offer room for middle ground. And in both cases, it was not possible for both of the opposing sides to be correct. It could not be morally permissible for southerners to own slaves but not northerners. It was either morally permissible for all or for none. Today, contrary to popular opinion, it is not morally permissible for pro-choice people to choose abortion (in the absence of life-threatening pregnancies) but not for pro-life people. If pro-lifers are correct when they assert that abortion is the killing of an innocent human being, then abortion (in the absence of life-threatening pregnancies) is immoral for all, not just for those who recognize the immorality.

Am I living on Mars?

by Roger Resler

The callousness of the “tolerant” pro-choice left never ceases to mystify me – at least until the shock wears off and I force myself to see things from their shallow, “politically correct” point of view. Case in point: actor Mehcad Brooks’ tawdry video “celebrating” his and Jane Roe’s 40th Anniversary. (It must have been an arranged marriage given that he wasn’t even alive in 1973). Produced through the auspices of the Center For Reproductive Rights, the video is so revolting – when one considers the subject matter – that I refuse to dignify it with a link. You can readily find it online. By now you’ve probably seen at least snippets on TV anyway.

The silky, smirking Brooks chortles: “Oh, hey baby. Did you think I forgot?” as he sniffs a rose and puts his cognac down while sexy jazz plays and a fireplace burns in the background. “All these years,” he smugly expounds, “so many people said we’d never make it. They’ve been trying to tear us apart. Take you away. Put limits on you. On me. On us.”

As is common for typically question-begging pro-choice logic, Brooks and Roe’s allegorical relationship only manages to keep itself out of the realms of sheer barbarity when viewed from the narrow perspective of “reproductive rights.” But there is a more subtle truth hidden behind the apparent irony of a man starring in a video that is intended to celebrate “women’s rights.” Townhall’s Katie Pavlich observes with respect to pro-choice proponents, “it’s not that they don’t want men involved, they simply want men to regurgitate talking points and celebrate abortion when it’s convenient.” Pavlich also notes that: “It’s no wonder men in our culture today don’t respect women as they should, because they aren’t required to.”

While Pavlich’s points are certainly valid, the truth is that the adoption of abortion as a natural staple of “women’s reproductive rights” is actually driven by male interests and has been from the beginning.

The seeming paradox of the male “reproductive freedom” advocate makes sense when understood within the misogynistic context of escaping the moral consequences of one’s actions at the expense of female biology. Readily available abortion relieves men of moral obligation and child-support responsibilities. It is precisely the avoidance of this moral obligation that MSNBC’s “The Cycle” co-host, Toure, extolled on Friday, suggesting that the availability of abortion saved his life because he wasn’t ready to be a dad. Think about that for a moment. Toure explains that he was “in a committed relationship with a woman” that he paradoxically “knew was just not the one.” According to Toure, “She also knew it probably wasn’t going to work out. And then she got pregnant” as though Toure himself was a sideline observer in the phenomenon. “I knew that pregnant woman and I were not going to be able to form a lasting family.” Years later, Toure explains, he met another woman, married her and “after we decided to get pregnant, I went to her doctor’s appointments – our doctor’s appointments, with joy.”

Surprisingly, though, Toure’s “lifelong commitment to abortion rights was… jostled” by witnessing their “boy grow inside her”  and noticing “how human they are” during the second trimester as “we watched him move around on 3-D sonograms.” Despite this challenge to his pro-choice commitment, Toure remained pro-choice because he “cannot imagine arguing against a woman’s right to control her body and thus her life.”

Ironic, isn’t it, that Toure identifies his “lifelong commitment to abortion rights” with “a woman’s right to control her body and thus her life” and yet he’s specifically grateful that abortion was available to save his life. Consider the male-centricity in Toure’s assertion that: “I thank God and country that when I fell into a bad situation, abortion was there to save me and keep me on a path toward building a strong family I have now. And I pray that safety net stays in place.”

Aside from the fact that abortion was there to save him, one wonders how exactly Toure “fell into a bad situation” in the first place. Even when hammered, a typical male needs a minimum level of functioning cognition in order to “fall into” the act that leads to pregnancy.

Given the male interest in avoiding long-term obligations that stem from one’s inability to keep from stumbling into “bad situations” coupled with the fact that men don’t have to undergo abortion procedures, it’s no great surprise that men have been strong supporters of “women’s reproductive rights” since before, during and after Roe v. Wade. As I point out in Compelling Interest (Chapter 5) several of the key arguments Sarah Weddington used while arguing Roe originated with men. In particular: Roy Lucas and Cyril Means, Jr. That these arguments turned out to be largely fallacious illustrates that the establishment of a moral basis for abortion on demand, secured by rational logic, was not as important as the benefit men would receive from the creation of “women’s reproductive rights.” Given that backdrop, Brooks and Toure have a lot to celebrate.

40 Years and Roe’s not looking any better

by Roger Resler

I discovered the writings of Francis Beckwith while doing research on the update and revision of my audio-book turned print edition, Compelling Interest. His name kept popping up in the reference section and footnotes of the materials I was reading.  Unfortunately, I did not actually get a copy of his book, or see any of his writings (other than what was quoted in other materials) until after my updated manuscript was finished. Once I began reading his materials on abortion, I was amazed at how similar our conclusions are regarding the abortion debate. Certainly some similarities are to be expected, given that we are both pro-life and both writing on the topic of abortion, but I was amazed at just how similar our thinking is. For example, on page 114 of his book Defending Life, he quotes Harry Blackmun’s fallacious argument from pity in his dissenting opinion in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989) wherein Justice Blackmun attempts to illicit sympathy for the “millions of women” who have “ordered their lives around the right to reproductive choice…” but (it was believed at the time) apparently stood on the precipice of losing that right.  By this point in the book, Beckwith has already shown how such a line of reasoning is fallacious because it says nothing about whether the “right to reproductive choice” should be a right in the first place, but instead, attempts to suggest that the right should be retained since millions of women have come to structure their lives around it.

I have a habit of making notes in the margins of books I’m reading in case I want to quote something in the future. When I read Dr. Beckwith’s quotation of Harry Blackmun, I noted that “This could be parodied to Dred Scott.” I continued reading and on the next page Dr. Beckwith presents a parody of Blackmun’s logic by substituting his defense of Roe with a similar defense of Dred Scott. After several additional instances like this I reached the conclusion that Francis Beckwith and I must be twins who were separated at birth.

Given all this, it is no great surprise that I would heartily agree with his latest blog posts at The Catholic Thing website. I responded to part two of his posts. The following is a re-post of that response.

Francis Beckwith wrote:

 “What is key to understanding the third is that Blackmun concedes a symmetrical relationship between the right to abortion and the degree to which the fetus is not a person.”

“Degree” being the operative word. In theory, being a “person” or not being a person emerged as the pivotal moral factor in the abortion question during Roe v. Wade oral arguments, with even Sarah Weddington conceding that if the state could establish that a fetus is a “person” under the protection of the 14th Amendment, then she “would have a very difficult case.” (Pro-choice) Justice Stewart suggested that such a finding would render Weddington’s case “almost impossible” and Justice Blackmun wrote that Weddington’s case “collapses” with the establishment of fetal personhood. Thus, the metaphysical concept of “personhood” became the critical element that living humans are supposed to fully possess before their lives can be protected by the Constitution. This is a clear case of stacking the deck in favor of the pro-choice agenda.

It is precisely the ambiguous nature of the concept of “personhood” that was exploited by pro-choice proponents in order to facilitate the larger pro-choice notion that the decision (as to whether or not abortion is morally permissible) should be left up to each individual woman.

Ironically, with specific regard to the law, Justice Blackmun never conclusively suggested that the unborn are not persons, but rather that, according to the law, they had allegedly never been regarded as “persons in the whole sense.” The implication being that even if they were in some sense “partial persons” they were still not “whole” persons. This, of course, logically raises the question of how much “personhood” is required before one’s pre-existing life can be protected by the law; a question that can only be answered subjectively since personhood cannot be measured.

The debate over fetal personhood was therefore an ad hoc response specifically designed to facilitate the desire for abortion on request; a desire that had grown out of a larger desire to avoid moral responsibility to one’s own offspring. We would not be debating fetal “personhood” 40 years after Roe v. Wade, had there not previously existed a desire for legalized abortion on request

Still more from Amplify: Strawman fallacy

By Roger Resler

Continuing with my responses to “10 Arguments in Favor of Pro-Choice Policy” from Amplify Your Voice.com:

6. Reproductive restrictions do not end with abortion. Many people also argue that contraception itself is wrong—another mainly-religious philosophy—and will deny women the protection they need based on this belief. There are legislative acts that allow actual pharmacists to deny women their birth control because of their beliefs; does this not violate the Hippocratic Oath, especially if thousands of women are on birth control because their very lives depend on it (see #2)? Also, since it is my belief that men should not rape women, if I were a pharmacist, would I have a right to deny a man his Viagra just in case he uses it to rape? You never know.

The pro-choice arguments presented thus far are getting progressively weaker. Among other problems, the above “logic” suffers from a straw man fallacy. According to the Skeptic’s guide website, a straw man argument “attempts to counter a position by attacking a different position – usually one that is easier to counter. The arguer invents a caricature of his opponent’s position – a ‘straw man’ – that is easily refuted, but not the position that his opponent actually holds.”

While some (but certainly not all) pro-life people and religious organizations frown on or even prohibit contraceptive use among their followers, the contraceptive argument is a pro-choice diversionary tactic. Most people today, religious or not, do not oppose contraceptive use. By definition, a contraceptive inhibits conception or fertilization. Hence, very few people have any moral issue with contraceptive use and no group that I am aware of advocates for laws against contraceptive use. Those groups or religions that oppose contraception do so as a policy or church doctrine among their congregants, not in an effort to make them illegal in society. The recent hullabaloo featuring self-made pro-choice media darling Sandra Fluke centered around whether a private religious institution should be forced to purchase contraceptives for its students through the health insurance it offers them. Of course the media hype centered on the illusion that organized religion was somehow attempting to deny Fluke her birth control. This is simply utter nonsense. Fluke was free at any time to buy her own birth control.

Similarly, I am not aware of any “legislative acts that allow actual pharmacists to deny women their birth control because of their beliefs.” Not surprisingly, the Amplify Your Voice author of this article does not cite any actual examples that support  her (or his) case. I suspect that is because there are no such laws. Some pharmacies might allow individual employees to refuse to participate in the sale of contraceptives if it violates their religious beliefs, but, quite frankly, I’ve never heard of this happening and even if, in some bizarre twist, it did, another employee would simply make the sale. While it is possible that something like this might happen in some obscure location (I mean McDonalds got sued because a woman spilled coffee on herself, for Pete’s sake, so, nearly anything is theoretically possible) if it did, it would obviously be an out-of-the-ordinary occurrence and the sale would still be made by another employee – if not, a lawsuit would surely follow.

By the way, its worth noting that despite this author’s reference to the Hippocratic Oath, there is nothing in the oath pledging allegiance to women’s free access to birth control. There is, however, an explicit condemnation of abortion – at least in the unedited, original version.

This argument is a clear example of desperation. Amplify is simply trying to fill space since “10 arguments” sounds better than 9. But filling space with baseless arguments does nothing to help the pro-choice cause or demonstrate why someone should be pro-choice instead of pro-life.

What pro-life people rightfully oppose is the intentional killing of unborn humans through induced abortion. The battle is over abortion, not contraception. Suggesting, as Amplify does, that a good reason to be pro-choice is that “Reproductive restrictions do not end with abortion” is diversionary at best; deceptive at worst.