If you are a Southern Baptist and you care about the pro-life cause in the SBC, now is the time to make your voice heard. Speak up for the incremental gains we have made over the last several decades, and keep pushing the ball down the field until we get into the endzone.
I am writing this short essay as an appeal to Southern Baptists who care about the pro-life cause. Right now, there is an effort underway by what I believe to be a tiny minority in the SBC to reverse the SBC’s longstanding commitment to the pro-life cause. They call themselves “Abolitionists,” but they are not the only ones who support the abolition of abortion. All sides of this debate want to see abortion abolished. The Abolitionists, however, condemn and repudiate the pro-life movement’s efforts to restrict abortion in whatever measure possible.
After the Roe decision in 1973, the pro-life movement eventually coalesced around an incrementalist strategy to abolish abortion. Pro-lifers realized that because Roe prevented them from passing laws to outright end abortion, they would have to take whatever ground they could to save as many unborn lives as possible. So we have tried to pass parental notification laws. We’ve supported the Hyde Amendment to prevent taxpayer funded abortions. We’ve supported fetal heartbeat laws in an attempt to outlaw abortion. We supported and passed a ban on the reprehensible procedure known as partial birth abortion. Etc.
The so-called Abolitionist movement condemns all of these measures as compromises with evil. The abolitionists even oppose any exception to save the life of a mother. The only laws or public policies they support are ones that completely abolish abortion all at once. Anything short of that fails to honor the humanity of the unborn. Not only do Abolitionists oppose pro-life policies, they also publicly condemn and shame pro-lifers as compromisers with evil.
To use a football analogy, pro-lifers would love to have a 100-yard touchdown run. But if that isn’t possible, then pro-lifers are eager and willing to take 5-10 yard runs in a sustained drive down the field toward the same end. Abolitionists only accept 100-yard touchdown runs. Anything short a 100-yard touchdown run should be condemned and repudiated as a grave compromise with evil. That’s the difference between the pro-life movement and so-called Abolitionism. It’s not about the final goal of abolishing abortion but about how to get there. Pro-lifers will take whatever ground they can get. Abolitionists are all-or-nothing.
If we had followed an Abolitionist strategy, we would not be on the cusp of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. The Mississippi fetal heartbeat law that is the basis for the Supreme Court’s recently-leaked Dobbs decision is a pro-life, incrementalist law. Abolitionists oppose that law and thereby support an all-or-nothing approach that would have undermined the most significant pro-life victory in two generations.
Southern Baptists have expressed themselves clearly decade after decade in resolution after resolution to be on the side of the pro-life movement. Southern Baptist resolutions have long supported incrementalist measures to abolish abortion. We have put ourselves on the side of those moving the ball down the field 5-10 yards at a time. We would welcome a 100-yard dash for the endzone. But short of that, we’ve been more than willing to support measures to take whatever ground we can get. That is why we have supported legislation to outlaw partial birth abortion, to keep the Hyde Amendment in place, to pass parental notification laws, etc. Our record on this goes back at least 41 years.