A Growing Split

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Friday, December 15, 2006

A growing split in the pro-life community
Posted: December 15, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern


By Ed Hanks
© 2006

In the wake of last week's U.S. House vote on the Fetal Pain bill, several magazines, blogs and pro-life websites have begun to discuss a growing split in the pro-life community over bills like this that attempt to slow or regulate abortions, but not stop them.

Some such divisions can be detrimental to a cause. Others can finally crystallize the issue and energize the movement.

The debate over incremental anti-abortion laws, versus working toward the goal of stopping abortion altogether, is a necessary crisis of conscience for pro-lifers. Its resolution will determine the future of abortion in America.

(Column continues below)

The Fetal Pain vote came just short of the required votes. On one hand, it's promising that nearly two-thirds of the U.S. House would support a bill widely backed by pro-life groups. But defenders of the right to life are fortunate this legislation did not pass, because it contains a fatal flaw that could further entrench "abortion rights" in U.S. law.

The Fetal Pain bill consisted of two parts. The first part would have required abortion doctors to advise pre-abortive mothers that by the 20th week of pregnancy there is evidence their baby will experience excruciating pain from the procedure.

One drawback, even in the first part, is that it equates human abortion to animal cruelty – a dehumanizing comparison.

Still, it points to the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958 as an improvement over how humans are treated in the womb, and there is a natural word association between "humane slaughter" and "human slaughter." A mother is forced to consider that her own child is about to be tortured to death, and that a civilized society treats even animals better.

Many pro-life groups, including National Right to Life and most of its 50 state affiliates, supported the bill for this reason, believing that mothers would decide against an abortion if they knew their baby would feel pain.

But Colorado Right to Life, the American Life League, Operation Save America and several other pro-life organizations opposed it because it didn't stop with the positive goal of exposing the awful truth of abortion.

Part two of the bill negated whatever benefit a baby would gain from a description of excruciating pain by offering a way out. It required abortion doctors to offer pain medication for the baby before the abortion – so the baby would feel no pain.

Not only does part two legitimize the abortion – by saying it's perfectly OK to kill the baby, provided these restrictions are met – but it also relieves the moral pressure accomplished by the first part. "Your baby would experience pain, but once I inject this anesthesia it becomes a simple, painless procedure." Tidy. Guilt free. Not any different from putting a cat to sleep.

By offering a way out – a painless, "compassionate abortion" – it makes pain the issue, rather than the principle. For that reason, many right-to-lifers believe this particular version of fetal pain legislation would actually have increased the number of abortions.

If abortion takes the life of an innocent, unborn child – as no life activist disputes – then an abortion is just as wrong with or without pain medication. Would it have been less abhorrent for the Nazis to kill Jews if they had medicated them first? Absolutely not!

In the early 1800s, most Northerners said, "I'm personally opposed to slavery, but the Supreme Court says it's legal so I have no right to tell another man he can't own a slave." So the anti-slavery movement accepted the "legality" of slavery, and instead worked within the system to regulate it and limit its spread.

They saved slaves a few at a time, but the regulating and limiting of slavery allowed a cold rationalization. By freeing slaves "where and when" they could, anti-slavery activists felt like they were making a difference, even as millions of men, women and children suffered in chains in the South. They made no real progress toward eliminating slavery as an institution.

Finally, in 1830, a man named William Lloyd Garrison demanded change. He said depriving an innocent man of freedom is evil, and slavery is a crime against God and humanity. He said slavery is always wrong. He called on Americans to abolish slavery everywhere, rejecting any compromise.

By arguing that compromise only undermined freedom, Garrison faced slanders and petty attacks from abolitionists who preferred compromise. But he won hearts and minds. Those who agreed with him grew to 10 and 25 percent until Americans finally elected an abolitionist president who finally freed the slaves. A compromise agenda might instead have perpetuated slavery for decades.

Abortion is a barbaric practice, just like slavery. Lessening its barbarity won't make it easier to rid ourselves of this evil. It will only prolong the suffering.

Changing the direction of America's pro-life movement from defeatist incrementalism to the righteous indignation of abolition will be difficult. It took Garrison 30 years. However, far more Americans are pro-life today than were anti-slavery back then.

It's a mathematical truism that if each step only takes you halfway to your goal, you will never get there. By addressing specific, limited cases, incrementalism fights on ground chosen by opponents of life and lends credibility to pro-abortion arguments. Instead, pro-lifers should be playing to their strengths.

Only absolutism abolished slavery once and for all. Only absolutism will end the evil of abortion. Like anti-slavery abolitionists, pro-lifers have principle on our side. We should defend life as a civil and human right.

Related special offer:

"On Message: The Pro-Life Handbook"

Ed Hanks is a freelance writer, operates the website www.abortionisslavery.org, and is president of Colorado Conservative Action and the Conservative Renewal Authority.

To view this item online, visit http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=53382

15 Comments

Ed,
Do you not understand that some prolifers see passing laws which restrict abortion as the best path towards eventually banning abortion?

I hope Serge doesn't mind but I thought I would copy and paste the following from his post into this comment.

The debate over incremental anti-abortion laws, versus working toward the goal of stopping abortion altogether, is a necessary crisis of conscience for pro-lifers. Its resolution will determine the future of abortion in America.

Not only is this a logical fallacy, it is a particularly sloppy and mean-spirited one. It should be clear that every one who is pro-life is attempting to stop abortion altogether. This issue in not one of goals, but of tactics. The question is: what is the quickest and most effective way to end the evil of abortion?

If the "future of abortion in America" is best addressed by making laws that make abortion illegal without exception as the only acceptable tactic, I believe abortion will continue to be common for a very, very long time. That tactic did not work out very well 2 months ago in one of the most pro-life states (see S. Dakota), so can someone offer an argument that it would work throughout the rest of the country?

In the meantime, claiming that your tactic is the only one that works towards the goal of stopping abortion altogether is simply wrong and an utter misrepresentation or lack of the ability to understand an argument. Our opponents must be loving this.

I will re-post my response to Serge here:

Serge,

I appreciate your comments, though I disagree with them on several points.

First off, I do recognize that we pro-life activists are all aiming toward the same goal with our whole hearts, and do so with the sincere intention of ending abortion eventually.

However, What I'm saying is that there IS a precedent we can look to on what works and what doesn't. And the slavery issue proves that incrementalism doesn't work. It wasn't until Garrison set absolute abolition as the ONLY goal that we began making real progress toward that goal. Previously, anti-slavery activists believed victory was so far off that all they could achieve was attacking slavery around the edges.

As someone who watches politics, legislators, and most particularly Republican legislators and activists every day, I can tell you that passing incremental laws gives activists the false impression that they're making progress against an eventual goal, when in reality they have achieved very little toward the real goal -- ending abortion.

We are trying to start an earthquake -- overturn Roe v. Wade and make abortion illegal. Any geologist will tell you that "little tremors" delay a major earthquake by relieving pressure on the fault line.

An equivalent process happens in politics. To the extent that voters/activists think they're making progress (and to the extent that legislators think they're getting credit for making progress) they do tend to slack off and take a rest after every major push.

This happened with the Partial Birth Abortion Ban. Partial Birth Abortion was seen by many as "the worst evil" -- worse than the rest. When it was passed, it was seen as a great victory -- the best pro-life accomplishment in 30 years. It offered political cover to Republicans and Democrats who supported it. Yet there are two facts not widely reported -- 1) reaching this plateau meant people slacked off. Some, having achieved a victory against the worst evil, even gave up on more ambitious goals like overturning Roe v. Wade. But more significantly, this "best victory in 30 years" achieved absolutely nothing. Dr. Hern, Colorado's foremost abortion doctor, pointed out that the Partial Birth Abortion Ban did not save one baby, did not stop one abortion -- because it banned one specific procedure for a late-term abortion, out of three or four. He -- and other abortion doctors -- who would have used Partial Birth Abortion just switched to another method of late-term abortion that's just as evil. We achieved nothing, yet we feel good as if we did. That sets our movement back.

Besides which, any law banning some abortions has the unintended logical consequence of lending moral and legal support to those abortions NOT banned. In other words - passing a law which bans some abortions as worse than others makes it harder to ban the other abortions. It makes them seem less reprehensible, when in reality -- in a philosophical, right-to-life sense, they are not.

As for South Dakota, I see it opposite from you. I see a state where 1) a state legislature actually passed a referred measure that was basically a total ban on abortions, and 2) 44% of the voters approved of it! Just 6% more votes, and we're there -- we've banned abortion in South Dakota! That's not alot of votes -- it's very achievable within the next few years. It's not a reason to stop trying -- it's the most promising thing we've seen since we began this fight!

It can even be argued that the SD effort faltered in the final days because some leaders on the Ref. 6 campaign began pitching Plan B as an acceptable alternative that would be available even after the measure was made law. Some pro-life voters would have not supported it if they believed this was the case - they're not going to support something that upholds Plan B (as far as we can tell, it would not have allowed Plan B, but some supporters started running advertisements saying Plan B was an acceptable alternative to abortion).

In any case, there IS a growing sentiment in this country to ban ALL abortions. The momentum is on our side. In my opinion, any work that doesn't go toward that goal is a diversion of our efforts. The "finish line" is in sight -- let's not distract ourselves with secondary goals!

Ed Hanks

I'm not opposed in principle to incremental laws. Saying "you can't do x" doesn't _mean_ "but you ought always to be allowed to do y." Of course, if we wanted to ban more abortions and if Roe v. Wade were overturned (still a big "if" folks--would that I could live to see the day, and I'm not old!), we would have to convince legislatures and voters to pass stricter laws than are even on the books in most states. Well and good, so if that happens, we should try to do that. Certainly the incremental approach would be less tactically necessary _if_ Roe v. Wade et. al. were overturned. I think it was born of Roe v. Wade (and Doe v. Bolton, and Casey, all of those).

Okay, but on the other side, I think we need to ask ourselves whether perhaps there's been a negative psychological effect of the incremental approach. Consider President Bush: We accepted the Right to Life enthusiastic endorsement of him despite the fact that he "supports" (what does that mean?) legal abortion in cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother. This was a change in policy, as previously they'd not endorsed candidates who supported legal abortion in the first two of these cases.

Now, what does that mean that he "supports" it? See, it used to be thought that we were merely talking about a candidate who would reluctantly vote for an incremental law that included such exceptions. But that distinction is now out the window. Years of incremental thinking have led us to accept politicians who really think there _should_ be such exceptions, who really think abortion isn't so wrong in such cases or shouldn't be illegal in such cases and wouldn't ban it then even if the voters were behind them. _That's_ a problem. And the pro-life movement's enthusiastic support for such candidates is a problem. And the failure to make the distinction between candidates who would reluctantly vote for a law with some exceptions (if it were better and more protective than the present one) and those who really are confused on the moral issues is a problem. But we got there by incremental thinking.

In fact, that's even starting to affect our approach to the Supreme Court: "Well, so-and-so really isn't a constitutional originalist, but he's a *little better* than so-and-so." So now we're going to approach trying to overturn some of the insane decisions of the past by incremental thinking? It'll never happen.

Now, look, practically speaking, trying to ban all abortions is like walking to Mars. Here as far as where the country really is, I'm more on Jivin J's side. And I'm still far from convinced that Roe and its evil progeny decisions will ever give us a chance to put any of this to the democratic test. But I do think it's extremely important that, when it comes to supporting candidates, we pro-lifers get our house in order and stop supporting with pathetic excitement everybody who comes along who isn't just a total pro-abortion person. This has led to a lot of dishonesty, to covering up problems with candidates and with the present administration. And it does need to stop.

Ed - I’m not at all against discussing and debating strategies and believe it is possible to present an argument against fetal pain legislation and incrementalism in general without using invalid arguments. Unfortunately, this post does not do it.

Whether you agree with his conclusions or not, Serge identified a clear logical fallacy with your argument. The false dilemma used at the onset and reflected in the title suggests your conclusions are not supported by your arguments.

Here’s another fallacy. You assert part 2 of the legislation says "it's perfectly OK to kill the baby." However, this is an unfortunate mischaracterization of the actual legislation and an invalid effort to strengthen your own argument (a Straw Man Argument). The tactic is regrettable, considering the implication it engenders.

The argument "an abortion is just as wrong with or without pain medication" is a Red Herring. This is a point not even up for debate within the pro-life community.

You suggest those who support fetal pain legislation are "defeatist incrementalists" who need to turn and follow the "righteous indignation of abolition". The use of emotive language and ad hominem in this manner are also invalid attempts to strengthen your position at the expense of others.

"It's a mathematical truism that if each step only takes you halfway to your goal, you will never get there…" is a false analogy.


I don't doubt for a moment Ed's concern for the unborn, but so far, he's done nothing to fix the inherent fallacies in his reasoning. Nor has he presented any substantial evidence to support his claim that we are close to outlawing abortion nationwide.

Oh, really? Why should anyone think that?

Ed should seriously consider publishing a modification of his original piece, if not an outright retraction.

My own thoughts Ed's position, as well as my exchange with him, can be found here:
http://lti-blog.blogspot.com/2006/12/limiting-evil-is-not-moral-compromise.html

Ed,
First, you can't claim that incrementalism doesn't work (and absolutism will) based on one example. I think that could be described as a hasty generalization. If using one example, creates some kind of truth regarding strategy, I could use the example of William Wilberforce in Great Britian and say that incrementalism works (they first regulated slave trading and then banned slave trading years before banning slavery altogether) and absolutism doesn't.

Second, your arguments regarding slavery in the U.S. treat Garrison and absolutists as if they were the only ones who played a role in making slavery illegal. You're glossing over a number of incrementalist things that happened before slavery was made illegal. For example, a number of states banned slavery, the slave trade was made illegal, the Missouri compromise, etc. William Garrison even said that Lincoln "had not a drop of anti-slavery blood in his veins."

Third, your reasoning why the South Dakota ban failed is obviously wrong. Anyone who watched the poll numbers would know that the ban was typically at around 40-45% in favor of the complete ban throughout the majority of election season. Talking about Plan B at the end of the campaign didn't keep it from getting 50%. Plus, I think we all know what would have happened if it passed. It would have be quickly ruled unconstitutional.

Fourth, if their is a growing sentiment to ban all abortions in the U.S. - where is this sentiment coming from? Why are people more prolife? Could it possibly be because of certain incrementalist prolife laws which have been debated and passed?

What I find interesting here is that wasn't a total ban on abortions the main tactic used by the prolife groups in the years shortly after Roe was handed down? How did that work back in 70's when the nation as a whole was arguably more prolife than it is now? It wasn't until the 80's that states started passing parental consent laws, informed consent laws, etc. -

I don't think the ban on PBA was the most important prolife victory in the last 30 years and I don't know many prolifers who would claim that. How about the Hyde Amendment or the banning of tax dollars being used to pay for abortion in the majority of states?

Jivin,

I understand everything you say, though I still disagree.

All of what you say about the incrementalist victories of the 1800s are correct. It's a matter of how you interpret -- you see those as leading up to eventual abolition. But I believe it was a distraction, and the fact that during those critical years from 1830-1860 the fact that most of those incrementalists were deriding Garrison as a nutcase and actively working against him as a sign that they weren't really working toward abolition.

My point about S. Dakota is not that "it would have won IF..." It's that it almost won. Period. Just give it a few more years.

The reason I don't believe incrementalism is leading people to be more pro-life is because those activists arguing for many of these incrementalist laws -- PBA ban, parental consent, etc. -- are arguing against some abortions, but through omission from their arguments they are philosophically conceding the legitimacy of those abortions they do not ban.

The elimination of public funding for abortions is a critical milestone, and one I would agree with. But many Republicans view PBA as if it were a more fundamental victory (because it's pointed to by the Party as such - for political gain).

But my most effective refutation of your post is this: Incrementalists love to point to William Wilberforce as an example of an incrementalist, but in the 1830s just before his death American incrementalists and American absolutists came to him and other British activists, each seeking their support.

Wilberforce (and almost every other major British anti-slavery activist) not only signed onto Garrison's agenda in America, but also signed a letter publicly condemning the efforts of the incrementalists as philosophically unsound.

Garrison was able to convince Wilberforce and others that absolute abolition was the only philosophically sound position, and by that time in the struggle the British abolitionists had also come to that conclusion.

Ed,
I don't see how William Wilberforce signing one statement over the other (on his deathbed) proves which strategy will be most effective, especially when dealing with abortion.

I'd like to point out a problem in how you view the difference between incrementalism and absolutism. You claim Wilberforce said that absolutism was the only "philosophically sound position." Absolutism vs. incrementalism isn't a philosophy vs. another philosophy. It's a strategy vs. another strategy.

Incrementalists and absolutists both want abortion banned but they disagree over which strategy (not philosophy) works best. It creates a large deal of problems when you start to view your strategy as a philosophy.

Second, from my understanding Wilberforce was against an organization (the American Colonization Society) which wanted to send slaves back to Africa, not the tactics of people working to ban all slavery in the United States through an incrementalist strategy which was well under way by the 1830's. Or are you referring to something else?

You're correct about the American Colonization Society, but at that time, abolitionists generally fell into two groups -- the ACS and Garrison's group (whose name I forget). The philosophical (or strategic) splits were generally between the two.

The philosophy of which I speak, which I think we both agree upon, is "Abortion is always wrong, in every circumstance."

However, as we share that philosophy, I have the easier strategic position. It becomes more difficult to say "abortion is always wrong, in every circumstance" when you're defending or promoting a bill which seems to draw moral distinctions between two or more different types of abortion (like PBA vs. 1st trimester), or putting conditions on abortions (like "it's okay if the parent approves").

That's where I say the philosophy/strategy gets muddied in the minds of the public, even if it isn't muddied in our own minds.

Ed,
So then the ACS didn't really have an incrementalist strategy, did they? They had more of a "send the slaves" back to Africa mentality. I don't see comparing that group to prolifers who think incrementalism is the best strategy to make abortion illegal as being at all fair.

It's not which strategic option is "easier." It's which strategic option will be more successful. The strategic option you propose seems to be highly unsuccessful in the case of abortion and I've seen little from your arguments which shows that this strategy will be at all successful in stopping abortion.

No prolifer I know of thinks "abortion is okay if the parent approves." They see parental consent laws and other prolife laws as a way of lowering the number of abortions in and saving lives. They also see these laws as a way of continually saying "Abortion is not okay so we're going to do everything in our power to limit abortion." True, it's not a perfect solution but it's better than having no parental involvement in abortion at all. It's also a way of reaching out to the hearts and minds of people who are sitting on the fence of the abortion debate.

Who is going to defend the bill's language, allowing the
abortionist's "good faith judgment" to determine
the baby's fetal age?

Jivin,

You're being dismissive, which is not fair. The name "American Colonization Society" was chosen a decade or more before they became the driving force behind the incremental abolition movement. In the 1830s-40s, etc. they were the incrementalists, up until they were eventually eclipsed and absorbed by Garrison's philosophy/strategy (and the ACS members eventually joined Garrison's group once it became popular and successful!).

My point is that Garrison made 10 times more progress against ending slavery than the ACS ever had. Partly that's because in the process of arguing "against" slavery the ACS folks were acknowledging certain "rights" of slaveholders (a right to be compensated, a right to determine slave policy in their home states, etc.) which actually was detrimental to the cause and bolstered the case for slavery in the South!

And this is exactly where the parallel exists. Incrementalists today push for a bill which would outlaw 10% (or 20% or 30%) of abortions, but in doing so they tacitly acknowledge certain "rights" women have to the other 90% or 70% of abortions.

I know it's not what you intend, but it IS what's happening. We need to stop splitting hairs and get down to a single mantra which we can all put before the people:

"Abortion is always wrong, in every circumstance!"

Ed,
You're the one who isn't being fair. You've claimed that William Wilberforce "signed a letter publicly condemning the efforts of the incrementalists as philosophically unsound."

When I look up the situation I find this:

At Garrison's behest, Wilberforce drew upon his influence and wide contacts among British reformers to denounce the racist aims of the American Colonization Society, which sought forcibly to repatriate slaves to Africa. Along with the many fellow reformers whose help he had enlisted, Wilberforce signed his name to the document denouncing the ACS.

It seems to me that you are either being intentionally deceptive or you don't really know what you're talking about.

You've equated an organization which wanted to send slaves to Africa with prolifers who think the best way to stop abortion is by passing laws which restrict abortion. Since when is "send the slaves to Africa" an incrementalist strategy? That is far from fair. I find it incorrect, mean-spirited, and intellectually dishonest.

You've also treated Garrison as if he played the major role in freeing the slaves as if the process of stopping the slave trade, banning slavery in the North, etc. didn't help at all in the eventual banning of slavery.

Prolifers don't tacitly say "women have a right to abortion" by limiting abortion. Please stop asserting this. We're saying that we're going to do everything we can do at this point in time to delegitimize, stigmatize, regulate, and limit abortion and the reason we're doing this is because abortion is so wrong we're doing everything we can do at this point to limit it.

I'm really tired of being personally attacked in the course of this discussion, so if you will stop, so will I. To my knowledge, I have not personally attacked you except for the above statement. You, on the other hand, seem to see it as a means to make me shut up, which is inherently uncivil and unhelpful for legitimate debate.

Internet sources are really insufficient to discuss this - I find this as I try to find online resources to support my side (which, frankly, are as few as those which exist to the contrary). I've spent hours researching this. Much of my information is drawn from an expansive book called "All On Fire" -- a biography of William Lloyd Garrison, which goes into intricate detail on the history of various anti-slavery societies, most of which opposed Garrison. Unfortunately, I listened to this on audiobook, my ordered copies of the book have not arrived after three months waiting, and there's snow up to my waist outside which keeps me from finding a library copy. My memory of this book will have to suffice, and if that's not good enough for you you're welcome to dismiss anything I say, which you seem intent in doing anyway.

Garrison was opposed by many groups, including virtually all anti-slavery groups, and the American Colonization Society was one of them. The book dwells upon the ACS for two reasons -- it was Garrison's most vehement critic, and it was also the most powerful and prominent anti-slavery society, its members including James Madison and even Abraham Lincoln.

Yes, the ACS was inherently racist, which Wilberforce points out in the letter he and other British abolitionists signed. But I would submit -- supported by what I remember from the book -- that most ACS members were not racists, even if its leadership may have been tacit racists.

Wilberforce, before he renounced his position, had been taken in by the ACS, as were many other British abolitionists, because they purported to be the pre-eminent anti-slavery voice in America. That is why Wilberforce and Clarkson wrote their letter specifically to denounce the ACS for its racist and misleading tactics.

But, more in support of my position, and to the denigration of what you now believe of Wilberforce, Wilberforce also publicly extended his vocal support to Garrison and his American Anti-Slavery Society -- the absolutists -- because Wilberforce became convinced that Garrison had the right strategy, and held the secret to the abolition of slavery in America. While Wilberforce was at the end of his ability to lend more than his name to the movement (he died shortly after Garrison left England), he did ask his prominent ally Thomas Clarkson to travel to America and to lecture on Garrison's circuit to support Garrison's absolutist strategy. Clarkson and Garrison were both attacked verbally and physically, not just by supporters of slavery, but by the ACS and by other abolitionists who were gradualists/incrementalists.

And it's here where I see parallels with today's anti-abortion movement. There is great opposition -- we see it here today! -- to the very idea of absolute abolition, just as Garrison faced back in his day.

More on this in a few minutes (addressing the rest of your post)...

I didn't bring my point home in the previous post. What I was trying to say is that many incrementalists were members of the ACS because it was the pre-eminent organization that wasn't Garrison's. And nobody liked Garrison -- who could like an absolutist? So they were ACSers. Until the 1850s the ACS was more popular among abolitionists than Garrison's AASS.

The connection with the pro-life debate is this: When abolitionists used states rights arguments to allow Kansas, or Missouri, to determine their own slavery policy (pro/con), they were also philosophically arguing FOR the rights of southern states to determine THEIR slavery policy.

Tell an abolitionist this, they'd probably get angry, just like you're getting. But this kind of thinking entrenched slavery in the south back then, and it's entrenching abortion in the USA today.

Unless you're arguing that all abortions are wrong, you're effectively arguing that some abortions AREN'T wrong! You may not realize it. You may be horrified when you come around to understanding my point. But it IS what happens in the minds of outside observers who see pro-lifers distinguish between one type of abortion that's "worse" than the others.

In other words, we've gotten away from arguing on principle, and are instead arguing indivual cases, which will always result in at least a partial victory for our enemies.

Seen in this light -- NO! -- banning slavery in the north, or ruling that southern slaves who visited the north should be free (which is another way of saying slaves who remain in the south should STAY enslaved!) did NOT contribute to the eventual abolition of slavery. They actually worked against it because these laws acknowledged the "rights" of southern slaveholders.

By this reasoning, which I believe is perfectly sound (though perhaps difficult for an incrementalist to admit to), Garrison was responsible for creating the absolutist movement which achieved the real victories against southern slavery.

Banning slavery in northern states which already existed is a different matter -- it doesn't acknowledge the rights of southern slaveholders, it only stops slavery from existing in that state. It's the laws which "traded" free states for slave states which I'm talking about.

I would be curious to know (because I haven't found this yet) who it was (what group) that backed the abolition of slavery in northern states. Though this is also somewhat outside our discussion, because all this was done decades before Garrison threw the gauntlet down.

You also mentioned banning the slave trade. Norhtern states had banned this decades before Garrison. But as far as I can tell, at least some southern states maintained the slave trade up until the Civil War. I would be happy to be corrected on this.

To your last paragraph: If you pass a law which says "A woman has no right to an abortion unless [insert the condition of the week here]...", then it is a logical corrolary that you're saying "A woman DOES have a right to an abortion IF [insert condition here]..." A parental notification law says "A woman does not have a right to an abortion UNLESS the parent approves [THEN SHE DOES!]".

Your motivations for passing a law don't matter. The actual wording of the law is all that matters to a judge (remember, judges are a-moral, which means they'll ALWAYS support immorality if it's legal) or to society, which is also largely amoral or immoral.




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