Bad Fruit Rational debate of Carhart called for
By Alan Keyes The Covenant News ~ June 24, 2007
I learned with sadness and chagrin that at the recent convention of National Right to Life, the organization's leadership decided to purge the Colorado Chapter because the chapter took to task the pro-life leaders who applauded Justice Kennedy's reasoning in Gonzales v. Carhart — the recent Supreme Court decision on partial birth abortion. (For my analysis of this decision, please see the article "Gardeners of Evil".)
Unfortunately, this news was not my first inkling of the internecine conflict the decision brought to light within the ranks of the pro-life movement. Judie Brown has been one of the critics of the decision's wicked entrenchment of the unconstitutional Roe/Casey jurisprudence. When RenewAmerica published her response to those who have taken such criticisms as personal attacks against themselves, one of the organizations coming in for criticism withheld its support from a Christian citizen mobilization effort I am involved with.
Need for rational discussion
I am of course not surprised or dismayed that there should be disagreement among pro-lifers. I have been deeply disappointed, however, that instead of answering the lucid arguments being made by people like Judie Brown and myself, the Gonzales v. Carhart cheering section has chosen petty maneuvers and power plays aimed at damaging or silencing their critics.
This is the standard response of those who lack the ability to defend their position with good logic and clear arguments. We have suffered this kind of response for years from the proponents of abortion, from their claque in the liberal media and their tools in the political arena. But the rational moral strength of our position has placed pro-lifers beyond the temptation to stoop to such tactics — until now.
The problem with Carhart
I know that the Carhart support group wants people to believe that its critics are impractical folks unwisely making the best the enemy of the good. The problem is that there is no good in Carhart itself, and no good will come of it.
Justice Kennedy makes clear that the PBA ban withstood scrutiny under the Roe/Casey jurisprudence only because equally effective means of killing the child remain readily available. He relies on the fact that the ban need never prevent a single abortion from taking place, and therefore in no way interferes with purported abortion rights. He implies that the ban strengthens abortion rights by eliminating a form of killing so gruesome that it threatened to give all abortions a bad name. Far from seeking to limit the evil of abortion in any way, he seeks to safeguard the current unconstitutional abortion regime from a potential loss of public tolerance.
As I pointed out in "Gardeners of Evil," the two justices pro-lifers have heretofore claimed as their champions on the Supreme Court (Scalia and Thomas) recognized the danger posed by Kennedy's argumentation, and dissociated themselves from it. (See Thomas's brief — but telling — concurring opinion, in which Scalia joined, in which Thomas reiterates his view that the entire Roe/Casey jurisprudence has no basis in the Constitution.) Had the pro-life leaders who claim to admire them followed their prudent lead, they would have accepted the decision's result while warning against its solid reiteration of the unconstitutional Roe/Casey jurisprudence. Instead, they encouraged the impression that it represented, or at least set the stage for, a major departure from the Supreme Court's pro-abortion jurisprudence.
Had Thomas and Scalia failed in their example, this might have been an understandable error. But their reiteration of dissent from the Roe/Casey regime should have led responsible pro-life leaders to read the decision carefully before commenting on it. If pro-life leaders cheered the result before reading the decision, surely they should give careful consideration to the analyses that now seek to demonstrate its evil implications. Why should anyone respond to conscientious efforts to discern the truth with attempts at repression, instead of persuasion?
Poisoned fruit of partisanship
I cannot help but wonder why any of us would feel so desperate to claim some kind of victory that we would step into an intellectual and legal ambush as obvious as Kennedy's carefully devised entrenchment of the Supreme Court's unconstitutional Roe/Casey jurisprudence. Sadly, the answer may lie in the current disarray and demoralization of the Republican Party, which leaves people who have put partisanship above principle desperate to prove that their willingness to do so has borne good fruit.
But the Carhart fruit is a poisoned apple, and the ugly spectacle of political purges and power plays some of its applauders have now produced is no better. Having abandoned principle to serve political ends, they now use the means at their disposal to try to silence or discredit the voices of those unwilling to approve their sacrifice of reason and integrity.
Until might makes right, they cannot succeed. As God is the ultimate judge of right, they never will.
Truth the issue
I for one must make it clear that I will listen carefully and patiently to reasonable, principled arguments in favor of the stance the Carhart applauders prefer. But I pray that neither I nor other pro-lifers of serious conviction will be intimidated by unworthy tactics that substitute raw power for a careful effort to discern the truth. If such tactics could shake us from what we believe God's truth requires, we would long since have surrendered to the prevailing climate of evil, which the Gonzales v. Carhart decision seems destined insidiously to extend.