The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Monday, October 4, 2021

It’s Monday, October 4, 2021.

I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.


Part I

U. S. Controversy Over Abortion Heats Up As House Panel in Washington Hears Pro-Life and Pro-Abortion Testimonies and a Federal Court Considers the Texas Abortion Bill

We’re going to be going to Washington, Texas, Mexico, and China in order to understand some of the most important frontline issues right now on the issue of abortion. We’re going to be going for to Washington where on Thursday, members of Congress spoke to a House of Representatives committee concerning their own abortion. There was more to it than that, but as Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times reports, “Representative Cori Bush, a Democrat from Missouri, is known on Capitol Hill as a nurse, a pastor, a Black Lives Matter activist and a member of the squad of progressive women lawmakers.” We’re told that, “On last Thursday, she told a House panel that she is also a rape survivor who had an abortion after she was attacked on a church trip when she was 17.”

She says she’s no longer ashamed. She says that she became pregnant after the assault and, “I chose to have an abortion.” She wasn’t alone. What we’re looking at here is that other members of the squad were actually quite vocal. They’re pressing the issue. And here’s what we need to understand right now. They’re pressing the issue precisely because the question of abortion is front and center in our nation’s conversation. It’s going to be here for some time. On December the 1st, the Supreme Court of the United States is going to be considering the most important abortion case in terms of constitutional law to come before the High Court in a very long time. It is a generational opportunity to reverse Roe v. Wade, and both sides in the abortion conflict well understand that. But as you’re thinking about the contemporary conversation front and center is the bill in Texas that outlaws abortion after about a sixth week of pregnancy.

That bill is front and center, it’s the big catalyst, you might say the fuse that has now been lit on the issue of abortion. But add to that, the fact that on a party-line vote, Democrats in the House of Representatives passed through one of the most radical bills legalizing abortion, basically legislating Roe v. Wade, one of the most radical bills we could imagine. But as you look at this testimony that took place on Thursday, it is incredibly revealing. Stolberg, by the way, puts it into this context, “With the right to abortion under threat after a major Supreme Court setback, Ms. Bush,” that is the member of Congress, Cori Bush, “was one of three democratic congresswomen who sat at a witness table to share their personal experiences with terminating a pregnancy.” Now, as we look at how to read the mainstream media, this is The New York Times, the reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg, notice the language with the right to abortion under threat.

In other words, that very sentence implies that a right to abortion should be just the normal status quo. It should be the baseline reality. It is that, we are told, that is now under threat. You could consider what we’re looking at here by reversing the sentence in terms of how it could be written. The sentence leading this paragraph could have been written not about abortion rights under threat but rather the possibility of protecting unborn human life as a new opportunity. And you see exactly how the mainstream media puts abortion as the norm, and that’s not by accident. The divide over abortion in our country was made clear in this section, “The hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform reflected a sharp cultural divide with Republicans accusing Democrats of glorifying and normalizing abortion and Democrats making their point that abortion is a decision best left to women and their doctors in matter-of-fact terms.”

Now, let’s look at some of the other testimony that was given. We’re told that another member of Congress, Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington, “got an abortion when she was a young mother caring for a very sick child and struggling to recover from postpartum depression so severe,” we are told that she considered suicide. “Her doctor told her that carrying a second child to term would be extremely risky for both her and the baby.” The risky there, you’ll notice is really not defined. She said, “I very much wanted to have more children but I simply could not imagine going through that again.” Then notice this, Representative Barbara Lee, Democrat of California, “was the first Black cheerleader in her high school and a promising student with good grades when she got pregnant before abortion was legal in the United States. Her mother sent her to a friend in Texas who took her for a back alley abortion at a clinic in Mexico.”

In this case, Representative Bush was saying that ought not to have been necessary, she had a right to abortion, she should have been able to exercise that right. And you’ll notice it’s because she got pregnant before she was ready to be pregnant, therefore, she sought an abortion. And in this case, her mother sent her to a friend who, according to the testimony, took her to Mexico. There was also some moving testimony coming from another perspective. In this case, it came from Republican Representative Kat Cammack, a freshman from Florida and we are told she was the lone Republican member of Congress to testify. As The New York Times indicate, she offered a starkly different personal story, “telling her colleagues that she would not be here if her mother, who suffered a stroke after having her first child, had not rebuffed a doctor’s advice to have an abortion.”

Congresswoman Cammack said, “You can imagine the feeling, the disappointment, the struggle, the internal anguish that my mother felt. She chose life. That wasn’t an easy decision for a single mom.” With these huge developments on abortion looming before us, it’s interesting that one of the most important figures in second wave feminism, Gloria Steinem, made a virtual appearance at the hearing, we are told. You also had members of Congress who were very clear about exactly how they would vote on the issue of abortion. That included James Comer, representative of Kentucky and another Republican who, “insisted that Congress must continue to ban taxpayer-funded abortions.” The debate went back and forth as did the testimony, at least to some extent, but there are some other very important dimensions to what took place last Thursday in this hearing on Capitol Hill.

For example, The New York Times reports, “Representative Ayanna S. Pressley, Democrat of Massachusetts, who is Black, spoke in her opening statement of how denying abortion care affects people of color, including ‘our lowest income sisters, our queer, trans, and non-binary siblings.'” Here’s the argument she made that deserves a very close attention, “These bans are rooted in patriarchy and white supremacy.” So, now you have the claim that the pro-life movement is rooted in patriarchy and white supremacy. In other words, she is making the argument that the pro-life movement and pro-life legislation are specifically targeted at minority populations. You’ll notice the identity politics here. It’s not just race and ethnicity, it is also, in her words, “our queer, trans, and non-binary siblings”. Remember she said, “These bans are rooted in patriarchy and white supremacy.”

But we should just look at the bare facts and we’ll do that even more closely in an upcoming edition of The Briefing and we’ll look at the disproportionate effect in terms of the murder of the unborn in many of those very same minority communities. At one point, civil rights leaders such as the Reverend Jesse Jackson Jr. argued that abortion was a white effort to try to stop the growth of the African American population. When he ran for the democratic presidential nomination, he changed his position. Not a coincidence, not even the claim of a coincidence. But as you look at this article, you understand that having these arguments made right out loud by members of Congress tells us just how white hot is the heat to this controversy. At one point, Representative Bush said, “Choosing to have an abortion was the hardest decision I ever made. But at 18 years of age, I knew it was the right decision for me.” And we are told that she had tweeted about her abortion on Wednesday saying it was a story she had never “fully told publicly before”.

And then she issued these words, “To all the Black women and girls who’ve had abortions and will have abortions, we have nothing to be ashamed of. We live in a society that has failed to legislate love and justice for us so we deserve better, we demand better, we are worthy of better.” How in the world do you unpack that kind of argument, arguing that society has failed to legislate love and justice and so there must be the right to abortion? Just think about the convoluted moral reasoning that is required to get you to that kind of conclusion. But that was last Thursday in the United States House of Representatives. But last night, a very important story broke. And it has to do with one of the members of Congress that cited her abortion experience in that testimony last week. That would be Representative Pramila Jayapal.

CNN reported last night that Jayapal, who is the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said that she would not support a sweeping series of economic moves including the big bill, the $3.5 trillion bill that is now being pushed by the Biden administration if it includes the Hyde Amendment, “adding another complicating factor to the ongoing negotiations among Democrats as they hash out details for the massive spending bill.” Now, just to make sure everyone knows, CNN says, “The Hyde Amendment blocks federal funds from being used for most abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or when the woman’s life is in danger.” Jayapal made those comments on CNN State of the Union program and she made them in response to a member of the United States Senate, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. He said that he would not support any such legislation that did not include the Hyde Amendment.

Representative Jayapal says she will not vote for the measure if it does include the Hyde Amendment. In other words, she is so committed to demanding taxpayer funding for abortion that she will take the major democratic legislative initiative of a generation, you might say, when it comes to the Biden administration’s plans, and she will do so because if it doesn’t include federal funding for abortion, if taxpayers aren’t coerced to paying for abortions, then she’s not going to vote for the bill. On the other side, Senator Manchin was really clear telling National Review Magazine just days ago, “It has to be,” meaning the Hyde Amendment has to be in the legislation, “It has to be, it has to be, that’s dead on arrival if that’s gone.” That is extremely strong language. One of the things we need to note is that it is a form of political trap language. And in this case, Senator Manchin set the trap for himself. It’s effectively a very tenured politician’s way of saying, “I have used language from which I cannot now back down. If Hyde is not in it, I’m not going to vote for it.”

When you use language, “It has to be, it has to be, that’s dead on arrival if that’s gone,” you have created a sound bite that will be played over and over again against you if you reverse your policy. And we all need to remember that hold Senator Manchin to it. But for now, we need to be very thankful that Senator Manchin spoke with such candor and clarity, two often missing ingredients in the Washington conversation.

Part II

Logic of the Culture of Death In Mexico As Elites Pressure Popular Culture To Present Abortion As A ‘Right’ And A ‘Choice’

But that was Washington. Next, we go to Texas where a federal judge on Friday heard open hearings and oral arguments in a challenge to that Texas abortion law. This was in Austin, Texas, the judge was U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman, and the hearing was a three-hour virtual hearing. Now, in this case, Judge Pitman was appointed to the federal bench by President Barack Obama. He was very critical or appeared to be quite critical of the Texas legislation.

That doesn’t tell us everything. Judges don’t always tip their hands, so to speak, in this kind of hearing. But there is every expectation that this judge will strike down or at least put on pause the Texas legislation. It will then go to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a court that has often upheld the constitutionality of limits set by states on abortion. In any event after the Fifth Circuit, it is likely to ricochet to the United States Supreme Court whereas I said, on December the 1st, the Supreme Court is already set to hear a blockbuster case on abortion. That’s just how fast this issue is now unfolding in the United States. And the national and international conversation is extremely interesting. We need to track it. Right now, there’s no way to give have too much attention to this issue.

I said, we’re going to two other places, Mexico and China. Quite quickly, going to Mexico, you’ll remember that that country’s highest court struck down laws that criminalized abortion. That doesn’t mean that it legalized abortion, but it does mean that it made it so that it’s not illegal in terms of any kind of criminal sanction. But then we saw all something else. We saw a couple of things. We saw the fact that like in the United States, the Supreme Court acted way out ahead of any change in public conviction on the issue of abortion in Mexico. Even the mainstream media have conceded that there is no widespread support in that nation for abortion rights. We also saw that the next question is whether or not doctors and other medical professionals in Mexico will be coerced into performing abortions because they want nothing to do with it. Of course, they went into medicine to save lives not to take them.

But the culture of death will use coercion, even to make doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals complicit in abortion. We’re going to be tracking that very closely. But just a few days ago, an opinion piece written by Melissa Ayala for The New York Time from Mexico City set some of these issues out very clearly before us. For example, she writes this “This month,” that would be back in September, “the Mexican Supreme Court offered hope to all women and girls in our country. The justices said what has long been intuitive to feminist activists that someone who is not yet born does not have the same protection as someone who already is alive.” Here, we need to look at that sentence. We need to take it apart. Wait just a minute, what’s the parallel being made here, the fact that the unborn baby doesn’t have the right to protection the same as someone who has been born?

But here you’ll notice that we’re really not honestly talking about the protection of women’s lives. That is a fiction of the pro-abortion movement. It is a very rare occurrence, so rare that it is statistically unimportant in terms of looking at the numbers of abortion and frankly at the demand for abortion on demand. What you’re looking at here is the logic of the culture of death showing up in Mexico. But it’s also really interesting to note something you might have to think about for a moment. This is about Mexico and it’s about abortion rights in Mexico. It is an article intended to persuade, but in this case, it’s not published in Mexico, it’s published in New York, one of the most pro-abortion cities and one of the most pro-abortion states anywhere in the United States. In other words, this is elite liberal, very progressive moral opinion calling out to like in this case, from Mexico City to New York City.

You’ll also notice something else and we’ve tracked this over the development of the abortion conversation in recent years, the effort on the part of the pro-abortion movement to argue that there should be no stigma, there should be no shame in abortion. Ayala writes this, “In Mexico, abortion has long been cast in the context of shame just as I first learned from Padre Amaro. This is finally starting to change. Protests by those who oppose abortion were held outside the doors of the Supreme Court. But the prayer and protest did not seem to have any effect on the arguments of the justices.” But that tells you something. Here you have, once again, a sideways acknowledgement that this was an elite imposition of a liberal judgment upon a rather conservative nation when it comes to something like the instinct to preserve life. Ayala also goes on to write “Now it is essential that the Mexican media and pop culture portray abortion as what it is, a right and a choice.”

That’s fascinating. Here you have, now again, this is written from Mexico City, published in New York city, arguably the very heart of American cultural production, and the demand is that pop culture in Mexico get with the program, get on message and support abortion as a right and a choice. Fascinating. In truth, that’s exactly what happened in the United States decades ago. You had the same kind of liberal pressure upon the entertainment and culture production industry and you saw the absolute defense of abortion, the absolute projection of abortion rights all of a sudden shot through popular culture. Now here you see the demand that the same thing happen right now and fast in Mexico. We remind ourselves that we’re going to have to watch the developing debate there in Mexico because it is going to be very, very important, including that question of whether or not medical professionals are going to be coerced into performing abortions.

Part III

Abortion in China: As Totalitarian Seeks to Restrict Abortion, It Shows that Anti-Abortion Does Not Always Mean Pro-Life

But speaking of coercion, let’s go from Mexico to China. Vivian Wang reports about China’s pledge to cut abortion and we are told it sets off public worries. The subhead in the article, the plan also vows to increase women’s access to birth control. Well, here you’re looking at a very complicated situation. But to cut to the simplest way of understanding it, China is under the totalitarian rule of the Chinese Communist Party, and in the PRC, known as the People’s Republic of China, Communist China, you have the fact that that government understands no real distinction between the public and the private, between the government and the individual. By the way, we’ll watch this and track this over time. But one of the great achievements of Western civilization is that distinction between the public and the private. And not only a distinction between the public and the private, but an acknowledgement of the right of private citizens to engage in what are called mediating institutions. That is to say such as churches, they’re neither private in the sense of being individual nor public in the sense of being under the control of the government.

A part of the strength of Western democratic forms of government in Western societies is the fact that you have the distinction between the public and the private, the government has no right to invade many kinds of private decisions, and yet you also have the right to have these mediating or in between institutions such as churches or for that matter, clubs, associations, foundations, institutions such as Christian colleges and universities. But you’re not going to find any of that in China, where the totalitarian nature of the government comes down to the meaning of the word totalitarian. The government claims total power over everything, everyone, everywhere, all the time. And that includes even the most intimate decisions that should be left to individual couples.

In this sense, thinking of married couples, thinking of the decision to have children, you recalled that back in the 1970s and onward, China held to a one-child policy that led to forced abortions, forced sterilization, even infanticide, trying to limit its population growth. But now China’s facing the opposite problem. China is facing a dire future if it does not have a higher birth rate, thus it is now trying to clamp down on abortion. Not only that, it’s trying to allow its citizens to have as many, that is married couples, have as many as three children. But here we note that when a totalitarian government tries to impose such policies on private couples, in this case, the decision to have more children, it turns out that a totalitarian government can prevent births much more readily that it can encourage them. But that’s a different issue.

What we’re looking at here is the fact that you have the Chinese government saying that it is now going to require a medical need for any kind of abortion. That’s a very important turn. Just consider the fact that another communist regime, the Soviet Union, basically, by the time you get to the say, last decades of the 20th century just before the collapse, abortion had become the main form of birth control in that country. And in China, the Chinese Communist Party wants more babies, it wants more control, it is going to exercise its totalitarian dominion as it claims and it is going to crack down on abortion. But you’ll notice, it’s not out of concern for the sanctity and dignity of human life. That’s not a part of the Marxist communist worldview. It’s simply because they want more to children to be little soldiers and little industrial workers. This is not rooted in an argument for the sanctity of human life. And that just shows you that you can be anti-abortion and yet not be pro-life.

Part IV

Coming To A School District Near You: LGBTQ Inclusivity Guidelines — for 4-year-olds

Finally, we’re going to go from Washington to Texas, to Mexico, to China, to Scotland where a report comes to us in recent weeks telling us that the Scottish government has now issued a 70-page document branded as New LGBT Inclusivity Guidelines. And in those guidelines, we are told that the schools are advised to allow children, children as young as four years of age, to change their name and their gender identity even without a parent’s consent or as you might look at this policy, even with a parental objection. You have a report from The Christian Post saying that in this 70-page document, teachers are now told to address students by their desired pronouns “should they choose to identify as the opposite sex.”

This reported also in The Telegraph, a major newspaper from London. We are told that the schools are going to have posters that challenge the construct of gender stereotypes and we are also told, and this is really important, parents are being told, educators, citizens in Scotland are being told that you are never too young to come out, and that includes coming out as transgender. The report in The Telegraph and other media there in the United Kingdom go on to report this in such a way that it’s clear the report’s not expected to bring any significant outrage from parents, from churches, or from others. A group there in the United Kingdom known as The Christian Institute has given attention to the fact that LGBTQ advocacy groups have actually received $4 million, more than that we’re told, something like £3 million of taxpayer money there in the United Kingdom, and that’s just in the last three years.

Parents in the United States and elsewhere need to look at this of development in Scotland and understand this won’t stay in Scotland. This is coming to a school district very near you. And by that, I mean very near you. It’s not a question of if, it’s only a question of when. And it’s a question of what you are willing to do with that knowledge.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

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I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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