January/February, 1998 Volume XII Number 10

Coming home to roost

by Matt Trewhella

Anyone who raises chickens and lets them roam free, knows this: they always come home to roost at night. This is why people often say "the chickens have come home to roost" when people make a mistake or do a misdeed and the fruit of that mistake or misdeed comes to light. In June of 1995, I wrote a letter to the pro-life community denouncing the partial-birth abortion strategy. A precious few other voices were also raised. Our warning went unheeded. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.
The partial-birth abortion strategy was designed to: a) emphasize the horror of partial-birth abortion to the general public by, b) introducing legislation to outlaw it, thus c) exposing pro-abortion legislators who would oppose the legislation for the brutes that they are, causing them to be unseated. This was a sure win (so we were told), and once partial-birth abortion was outlawed, then we could move on to outlawing other forms of abortion.
Reality is quite different than what the partial-birth abortion strategists had hoped for. Reality is: a) the general public now thinks that partial-birth is the only horrible abortion procedure that exists, b) the legislation to outlaw partial-birth abortion has failed to pass, and c) the pro-abortion legislators who opposed the legislation are still sitting in public office (Bill Clinton was re-elected after vetoing the partial-birth abortion ban, and a well-organized recall effort against Wisconsin's two senators who voted against the ban failed to get the required signatures to hold a recall election). All this for a piece of legislation that would not have prevented one preborn child's death. But things get worse.
By drawing the line in the sand at partial-birth abortion and deciding to fight there, people now believe that if someone is opposed to partial-birth abortion, they are pro-life! For example, shortly after the vote on the partial-birth abortion ban, we received a phone call at our office from a gentleman who wanted to know why we weren't backing Congressman Tom Barrett in his re-election campaign, since, as he put it, "he voted for the partial-birth abortion ban, he's pro-life!" We had to explain to him that Tom Barrett has consistently voted to uphold and fund baby-murder, and that he is decidedly pro-abortion, not pro-life.
Not only does the partial-birth abortion strategy allow clearly committed pro-abortion legislators to be mistakenly viewed as "pro-life" by pro-life people, but it also allows political weasels like Steve Forbes to pawn themselves off as being pro-life. Forbes is currently running the Pro-Family/Pro-Life talk circuit. This year he has spoken on Marlin Maddox's Point of View Show; spoken at Concerned Women of America's National Convention; spoken at Christian Coalition's National Convention, and spoken at a national conference sponsored by the American Family Association (Pat Buchanan and Howard Phillips could only dream of a grand-slam line up like that).
Forbes is placating the Pro-Family/Pro-Life groups by making known his disdain for partial-birth abortion. The Family Research Council has even helped him produce radio ads where -- you guessed it -- partial-birth abortion is denounced.
The truth about Forbes is that he favors legal abortion up to six months; that he was chair and is a present board member of Empower America, an organization which has a goal of making abortion a non-issue in American politics; that he was co-chair of the Committee for Responsible Government, a group organized to promote pro-abortion Republican candidates; and that under his leadership, Forbes Foundation gave thousands of dollars to Planned Parenthood.
Finally, not only does the partial-birth abortion strategy now allow clearly committed pro-abortion legislators to be mistakenly viewed as "pro-life" by pro-life people, and allows weasels like Steve Forbes to pawn themselves off as being "pro-life," but it allows cowardly, so-called pro-life politicians to portray themselves as strongly pro-life. An example is Jack Kemp. Kemp backed Forbes during the 1996 Republican primary until Forbes dropped out. Kemp is also part of Empower America. He refused to talk about "the abortion issue" while running for the vice-presidency with Dole. Now, this past spring, Kemp ran radio ads declaring his disdain for partial-birth abortions. Kemp, like Forbes, is posturing for the elections in 2000.
The pro-life community has only itself to blame for the present malaise. By embracing the partial-birth abortion strategy, we have "lowered the standard" in our description of what it means to be pro-life. When the pro-life movement began in the early '70s, being "pro-life" meant that you were 100% opposed to any and all abortion. In the early '80s, that standard was watered down to include those who had rape, incest, and the life of the mother exceptions. Now in the '90s, things have declined so rapidly that someone who is only opposed to partial-birth abortions can sell themselves as "pro-life."
When will we learn that half-measured legislation, and in this case, minuscule-measured legislation, is a flawed strategy which will not bring an end to baby-murder in America? When will we take the moral high ground and commit ourselves to the complete abolition of this crime?
So why are so many Pro-Family/Pro-Life groups trumpeting the partial-birth abortion strategy? Because they have learned something -- namely, it fills their coffers full of money!
So why are Pro-Abortion groups trumpeting the attacks on their "rights" through partial-birth abortion legislation in their mailings? Because they have learned something -- namely, it fills their coffers full of money!
In fact, partial-birth abortion benefits everyone but the preborn child. The spineless, so-called pro-life politicians benefit because it gives them an opportunity to vote for so-called "pro-life" legislation so they can appear "ardently pro-life." Pro-life people benefit because it makes them feel like we are succeeding in protecting the preborn. But the reality is: not a single preborn baby will be protected from death by this legislation. There is no money, political brownie points, or good feelings in it for them.
The pro-life community will have to answer to God for the money wasted and the time wasted for this worthless charade. Why don't we do what's right and call this nation to repentance for violating God's Law in regards to all its State-legal murder, whether the child is being killed by chemicals two days after conception or by partial-birth abortion two days before birth? The legacy of half-measured, in this case, minuscule-measured, legislation is clear -- In January we commemorate 25 years of State-legal baby-murder.

Matt Trewhella is a pastor and the director of Missionaries to the Preborn in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.