Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019
This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
It's Wednesday, February 13, 2019. I'm Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
Are abortion advocates on a slippery slope? What new laws reveal about the widening moral divide in America
The horrible reality of late-term abortion points to the horrible reality of abortion. Abortion is the killing of an innocent unborn human being regardless of when that abortion takes place. A biblical affirmation of the sanctity and dignity of human life goes all the way back to fertilization. And of course, the sanctity of human life continues as an issue of basic human dignity as God's gift all the way through the natural human lifespan all the way to natural death.
But as we have looked at the issue of abortion unfolding explosively before us in recent weeks, we have seen the development that late-term abortion is becoming a basic principle of the pro-choice movement, the pro-abortion movement. The movement determined to make the womb unsafe for any baby at any time in the United States of America. We have seen it just in recent weeks in the State of New York, in the State of Rhode Island. We saw this proposed legislation in the State of Virginia. It is now, we are told, being considered in the State of Illinois. What's going on here?
Well, for one thing we are seeing the basic divide over abortion, over the larger issue of the dignity and sanctity of human life dividing America so that the polarization on the pro-abortion side is now abundantly clear. We are seeing, as it were, the mask taken off, the truth revealed, the determination that abortion be available to any woman at any time for any reason or for no reason. And now we are even to the point that the advocates of abortion, who had basically tried to indicate that they understood third trimester abortions to be different, they're now saying they are no different at all. And we also have to acknowledge this follows their own deadly logic.
But there was another aspect to the logic that's very important here. Because in recent years, Americans overwhelmingly have come to the conclusion that even as they are against late-term abortion and believe it to be gross moral error, they also believe that when a murder takes place of a pregnant woman and her unborn baby dies, that baby is counted also as a victim of murder. This means two murders, not just one. The American conscience on this was focused back in the year 2002 on the murder of a pregnant mother, Laci Peterson, and her unborn child. Her husband later convicted of the murders was charged not with one murder but with two and there was an overwhelming moral consensus in the United States that this was right.
The warnings came just about two weeks ago even as the state government there in New York adopted a law that was so radical that it makes legal abortion of a baby all the way up until the moment of birth. Well, there were warnings then that this would make it impossible to convict the murderer of a pregnant woman of two murders even though he has killed two human beings. Now of course, as we look at this, there is a bit of a inconsistency in the American mind, that's often the case. The inconsistency in this case is saying that when a murderer kills a baby, it's a murder but when an abortionist kills a baby it's not. But the point is that Americans on the question of murder at least had it right. They understood there are two victims, not just one. And there were those who recognize that even as the New York Assembly was poised to pass and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was poised to sign that radical abortion bill into law, it would remove one of the victims in that kind of murder. And now we know it has done just that.
The New York Times reports a story by Ashley Southall, the headline, “Murder Case Stirs Debate On Abortion And New Law.:” The report tells us, and I quote, "As Democrats in New York last month celebrated Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's signing of a law expanding abortion rights in the state, anti-abortion campaigners predicted it would eliminate criminal penalties for violence that ends women's pregnancies. The debate resurfaced over the weekend after the Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, cited the new law, knows as the Reproductive Health Act, as the reason for dropping an abortion charge against a man who the police say fatally stabbed his former girlfriend when she was 14 weeks pregnant." So this isn't theory, this is actuality. This hasn't happened at some point in the distant future after the passage of this law, we're talking just a few days after the ink was dry on the paper that the governor had signed. This is just how fast the culture of death moves forward.
The New York Times is abundantly clear about what happened here. I quote, "Meris Campbell, a spokeswoman for the district attorney, said prosecutors dropped a second-degree abortion charge after learning that the Reproductive Health Act, which was signed on January the 22nd, had stripped the crime from the state penal code. The New York Post's article," says The Times, "about the decision roused many who are against abortion."
Now here's where we need to look even closer at that New York law in order to understand what is unfolding here. That law made legal an abortion in New York all the way through a woman's pregnancy, right up until the moment of birth. That would include of course late-term, third trimester abortions. All that is required is the claim that what's involved is a woman's life or health at stake. But health in this case, even in the text of the DOH decision that followed row, that makes very clear that health can be expanded to mean virtually anything including mental or emotional health. In other words, a woman demanding an abortion in an emotional state can be granted an abortion just based upon that argument. It basically comes down to abortion on demand even through the third trimester.
Now abortion advocates say that doesn't happen very often. Well, we should be thankful that it doesn't happen very often but we have to understand that if it happens once or twice, and we know it happens a lot more than that, then we are looking at the fact that the New York government in passing this radical law said that they are not even concerned about defending the sanctity of human life in the third trimester, when a bay would be viable on its own. We are talking about the baby able to exist and to live and thrive outside the mother's womb. The sanctity of human life argue and in Scripture it goes all the way back to fertilization. But now we're looking at an issue that has even changed the terms of debate when you consider a secular world view because viability outside a woman's body means that the baby can survive on its own, no longer dependent upon its mother.
But less noticed by many, the New York legislation also removed abortion, absolutely, totally from the state's criminal code. What does that mean? That means that there is no crime whatsoever for killing an unborn baby in the State of New York. When it comes to a double murder, it's no longer a double murder, it's single murder. When it comes to an unborn person in the State of New York, that person is a non-person according to the law of that state. A non-person is in a very vulnerable position. And in this case, that baby declared by New York to be a non person, can be murdered without it even being a criminal act of any sort, especially if that murder takes place in the course of murdering the mother.
Now, keep that in mind when we look at this, "In a joint editorial published Friday in the Times Union of Albany, that's the state's capital city, state senators Liz Krueger, a democrat from Manhattan and the law's chief sponsor in the upper chamber, and Anna Kaplan a democrat from Long Island wrote that physical attacks that end pregnancies can be persecuted as first-degree assault which carries a prison sentence of up to 25 years 'far more than the previous sentence for unlawful abortion.'"
Now wait just a minute, that is one of those arguments that simply has to be confronted for what it is. It is avoiding entirely, deliberately, strategically the personhood of the unborn child and saying that all that matters is assault against a woman. That, they argue, can still be prosecuted, should be prosecuted. But what they are defending here is arguing for the absolute non-existence, the absolute moral insignificance of an unborn human life. The two legislators then went on to write, "Furthermore, judges have discretion to increase the penalty in cases where the crime was particularly violent. The Reproductive Health Act does not prevent appropriate charging and sentencing of violent perpetrators."
Notice just how diabolically evasive that kind of language is. Again, it simply points to an assault upon the woman as the only significant person involved. And of course, the woman is fully significant and the penalties of any abuse or any assault, much less violent assault, should be commensurate with the crime protecting women. But the issue here is the absence of any concern, any protection even any recognition of the unborn child within a pregnant woman.
So many times when concerns of this sort about legislation on abortion or some other issue, when these concerns are raised, we are told that they are simply the musings of someone concerned about a slippery slope. We are told those are invalid arguments. Slippery slope arguments simply are not acceptable. But in this case of course, we are talking about a slippery slope, it's not hypothetical, it's real. And it didn't take very long, the slope turned out to be unbelievably steep. We are talking about just a matter of days until it turned out that the murder of an unborn baby in the baby's mother's womb in New York slipped from being a criminal offense, a felony, to being non-existent as a criminal issue at all.
By the way, a slippery slope argument as a logical fallacy is only just a fallacy if there is no indication of cause and effect. If there is a clear indication of cause and effect, it's not a slippery slope argument, it is just cause and effect. In this case, a deadly course with a very quick deadly result.
Why political pressure is not enough to change biology
But next we turn to a recent front page story in USA Today. It's one of those headlines that tells us a great deal about where we stand in the culture in the midst of this massive moral and secular revolution. The headline: “LGBTQ millennials embrace parenthood.” Well, that's interesting. They embrace parenthood. What would parenthood mean in this context? The subhead celebrates, "They are leading the way in new focus on families". You can understand that language wasn't by accident. Susan Miller for USA Today reports, "When Sarah Koehler came out about 15 years ago, she ached for the pieces of her future that might go missing. She said, and I quote, 'I thought I'd never get married, never have kids. I went through an active grieving process.' Miller then reports, "But as Koehler got older and fell in love with the cutest girl in the whole world, she realized her aspirations were still within reach. Now she is 32, happily married – and thrilled to be on a path to parenthood."
USA Today then says, "A survey out Wednesday reaffirms reality: LGBTQ families are on the cusp of dramatic growth, and millennials are leading the way." We are also told that this was one of the key findings from the survey from the Family Equity Council that shows that 63% of LGBTQ millennials, those 18 to 35, are considering expanding their families." And the report goes on, "48% of LGBTQ millennials plan to do so compared with 55% of non-LGBTQ millennials."
Now, at first glance, perhaps the most important aspect of this story is the fact that it is a story, front page news in USA Today. The fact that it is presented in such a celebratory context tells us that in the midst of this moral revolution, we have long passed some kind of tipping point. When the press believe that it was merely to report something that was an objective development, it is now openly celebrating the LGBTQ revolution and this is nearly universal throughout the national press. If you dare to resist this moral revolution, the media avalanche is abundantly clear you are going to be buried. You're going to be buried by history, you're going to be buried in stories such as this.
But the second question of course you have to raise is, shall we say, biological. Just how is it that same sex couples and others in the array, LGBTQ become parents? What exactly does that mean? And we do have to ask the honest question, how exactly is that happening? Miller tells us, "One of the reasons Koehler says she fell for Marissa Rosenblum was that Rosenblum was very family oriented. The New York City couple, who married in 2014, knew children were always in the cards. Koehler says, "Five years ago, we were on the cutting edge of gays getting married, now we are on the cutting edge of LGBTQ couples wanting to have kids."
Miller then tells us this, and I quote, "The couple are using a fertility treatment known as IUI, artificial insemination and Rosenblum, now 35, will carry the child. They soon encountered a challenge, however we are told. Despite having what they thought was a good healthcare coverage, their insurance company basically told them, 'We need six months of sperm bank records.' We are told that they are then paying for all of this out of pocket."
Now, you will notice that absolutely embedded in that article is the understanding that two women can't on their own have a baby. And actually, two women can't even carry a baby, that two women together can't conceive a baby, there has to be a man somewhere. In this case, the man's contribution evidently comes from a sperm bank. But nonetheless, this is not two women having a baby, this is one woman carrying a baby with the assistance of some male known or unknown somewhere in the process.
But then we are told, and this is extremely telling, inevitably there is now a claim about a new demonstration of inequity. Inequity between same sex couples and heterosexual couples. An inequity when it comes to healthcare coverage and medical treatments. Why? Well, it turns out that the key issue here has been in the past infertility. Now, that's a word you really can't use in this context because there really isn't necessarily an infertility problem when there is no natural context for fertility in the first place. In this case, you're really not looking at infertility demonstrated in the way that it would be in a heterosexual couple, you are looking at a lack of fertility.
And that gets to the point, many health insurance companies require heterosexual couples to try to have a baby the natural way for at least six months before healthcare coverage for infertility will kick in. In other words, there simply has to be some demonstration of infertility before the insurance coverage will kick in for infertility treatments. But when you're looking at an absence of fertility, the inability of two women to conceive a baby or two men to either conceive or carry a baby, you are looking at the fact that the entire structure of insurance, medical insurance, is now showing us the results of a moral revolution. Before the moral revolution, infertility meant infertility but now infertility means non-fertility as well as infertility. So now you are looking at the demand that if same sex couples are not given immediate access under medical coverage to these advanced reproductive technologies, there is an inequity, an inequity with heterosexual couples.
But here's where Christians need to back up for a moment and understand that in so many cases, the words equity and justice really do not apply. They certainly really do not rightly apply here. At the same time, we understand why the moral revolutionaries have to press this argument. It's completely consistent with their way of turning the entire world upside down morally. Here's the point, even as they may claim that they have turned the world upside down morally, they can't turn the world upside down biologically. Political pressure can force a change in public morality but guess what, no amount of political pressure is going to bring a change in biology.
The tools of a moral revolution: Report card on LGBT issues shames states into ‘progress’
But next we shift to another article that appeared recently in USA Today, this one's by Jorge Ortiz, the article's entitled “LGBT equal-rights report card shows triumphs and obstacles.” Again, there is a celebratory character to this particular article and the coverage. Ortiz rights, "As the LGBT community continues to purse equal rights, it can point to substantial gains at the state level, broad public support and increased momentum towards a federal equality act." Now, just look at those opening words. Again, look at them carefully. You will notice the expression as the LGBT community continues to purse equal rights. That is an entire comprehensive, massive, moral argument embedded and affirmed in what's supposed to be the opening to a new story in USA Today. That tells us again where we stand.
But even as that first paragraph supposedly told us according to this world view, good news, the second paragraph tells us, "On the other hand, most states still lack laws banning discrimination and bills that would curtail gay rights keep popping up." Thus we are told of the latest state equality index. It is described as a yearly report of statewide laws and policies that affect LGBT people. It's produced by the Human Rights Campaign and the Equality Federation Institute.
Now, when you're talking about the Human Rights Campaign, not to mention the Equality Federation Institute, you are looking at organizations, the HRC in particular, that has been promoting gay rights, the entire LGBT spectrum for a very long time. It is not a dispassionate independent think tank. It is an activist organization. But what we need to see here is that even as the moral revolution moves forward, it is using mechanisms of social control. We need to see them very clearly.
One of those mechanisms of social control is reversing the issue of shame, the issue of being on the moral defense within the society. Shame, throughout most of human history and especially in the United States just looking at the last century, until very recently, has been attached to those who would press the LGBTQ agenda. They were on the moral defensive, they now believe they are now on the winning side. They have court decisions and laws, they have the entire medial and the cultural elite, they have Hollywood and a constellation of other moral and cultural symbolic authorities on their side. Thus, they perceive probably rightly that we are now as those who hold to a biblical understanding of sexuality, marriage and gender, we are the ones on the defensive. And thus in an article like that this, you see how shame is to be applied to any who would stand in the way of the revolution.
In this case, it has made these kinds of indexes or report cards. They're doing this for universities, they're doing this for American corporations, they're doing this for medical centers. For instance, not only on gay and lesbian issues but also on transgender issues. They are rating different nonprofit organizations and you know how this works. You want to be found on the good side of the list in order to receive cultural approval, not the bad side of the list in which you receive cultural shame. And now, it's not just colleges, medical centers, hospitals and corporations, it's states, entire states, all 50 of them. All granted a grade, a rating by the Human Rights Campaign and its Equality Federation Institute.
Reporting on the newly released index, USA Today tells us that it revealed a record, 17 states and the District of Columbia, earning a top rating, that 17 states plus DC rating top. Then we are told that that's an increase of four states over just last year and more than double the number of states that's eight from 2014, that was the first year the index was published. But the report goes on to tell us about the states that are judged naughty, not nice. "That still leaves 33 states in the other three rankings, with 28 of them in the lowest category dubbed high priority to achieve basic equality. I looked at the actual report and it was interesting to see which states are listed.
And the 16 states plus DC that are in the highest rated category, we find California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware. We also find Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Four states are in the category in the middle, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland and New Hampshire. Two states are in the third category down; Utah and Wisconsin. And 28 states are in what are claimed to be the lowest rated category. You can figure out what these are; Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Atkinson, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming."
Interesting analysis to be brought here has to do not only with the number of states but with the total U.S. population within this division. If you're looking at that particular statistic, when you look at the 28 states in that lowest rated category, they do not represent a majority of the U.S. population. That tells us a lot about geography, moral worldview, the general liberalism of the coast. There are a host of issues to consider here.
But as we think about the big picture, one of the things we need to keep in mind in worldview analysis is the fact that every society makes moral judgments. There's no society by definition that doesn't make moral judgments. In this case, what we are seeing is an entire revolution in the moral judgments that are being made. It is as if the two sides are switching places. What was shamed is now a matter of pride, what was pride is now a matter of shame. This is what is required for a moral revolution.
And what is also required are tools, instruments, leverage to use in furthering that revolution. This kind of index is exactly that. Offering this kind of report card, the point here is abundantly clear, if you are the leader of a state, you better make sure if you want your state to be a part of the future and not just the past, that you are on the right side of history. If your state is on the lowest of these ranges, you had better work as fast as you can to get it in the highest ranking and do so as quickly as possible.
But finally, I end on the fact that USA Today has packaged itself, that it's branded itself as America's newspaper. It thus claims to represent the American pulse, the American spirit at any given time. That should be a particular concern to us. This is America's newspaper as it claims publishing the true about the new America. But of course we also recognize they're not really honestly just reporting on what they see as the America that is or even the America that will be but the America that they very clearly want to see and want to have.
Thanks for listening to The Briefing.
For more information, go to my website at AlbertMohler.com. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.com/albertmohler. For information on the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to sbts.edu. For information on Boyce College, just go to boycecollege.com.
I'll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.