On Incremental Politics
Posted: 3:00 am on February 29th, 2016
There is an old saying that "politics is the art of the possible." So, for example, when the Texas legislature passed a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, that's something to be applauded — as long as it was the strongest possible legislation that Texas had the votes to pass. These types of "incremental" restrictions or controls on abortion obviously fall far short of our ultimate goal, which is to build a society in which all unborn children are protected in law, welcomed in life, and cherished by the culture. But the reality is that other moral evils in history, such as slavery, did not disappear overnight. It usually takes a long-term, incremental approach to correct a societal evil, especially ones like slavery and abortion that have deep roots in the culture.
These "less than perfect" pro-life bills offer us an opportunity to publicly ask some tough questions. For example, if it's wrong to abort a child at 20 weeks of pregnancy, how is it somehow OK at 19 weeks? Or consider Arkansas, which passed a law to ban abortions after 12 weeks, which is when an unborn child's heartbeat can be detected. I applaud the Arkansas legislature for passing such a law. But really, this should cause us to ask: is our ability to detect a heartbeat relevant for determining whether an unborn child is a "person" for purposes of receiving protection under the law?
These are the types of questions such laws help us pose in the public square, to raise the public's consciousness about our profoundly disordered thinking on abortion and the unborn.