The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

It’s Tuesday, May 9th, 2023.

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

Part I

A Deadly and Undeniable Past: Eugenics Denies the Dignity of Every Human Life

Sometimes you see an argument and you just understand that argument requires an answer. We cannot leave that statement. We cannot leave that argument where it is. That is the case with an argument that recently appeared at the Los Angeles Times. The headline and the article by columnist Carla Hall, is this, “Opponents need to stop equating abortion with eugenics.”

Now at this point, the worldview issues just explode because this is a massive intersection of two different issues that do often, and this is what we need to acknowledge. They do often collide. They do often combine. The issues here are abortion and eugenics. I’m going to assume that we know what abortion is, what is eugenics? The linguistic background to the term means good genes.

The ideological background to the term means especially what you see in the 19th and 20th centuries, continuing horrifyingly enough into the 21st, the argument that we need as societies to encourage more children from those with good genes, fewer children with less good genes, or inadequate, or deficient genetic health. You look at this issue and you hear the echoes of history, a very tragic history. The most horrifying echo comes from the Third Reich in Germany where eugenics became a major plank of the Nazi platform, more from the fit, less from the unfit. And of course, this was explicitly defined first of all in racial terms. Secondly, in anti-Semitic terms, and thirdly, also in genetic health terms that included those who might have fetal deformities, those who might have some kind of genetic background that could be traced to an inheritable trait, or to what might be defined as a genetic defect.

In any event, Nazi Germany will go down in human history as the quintessential government effort to try to create the eugenic state, the state in which the only children born are those children with good genes defined, racially, defined in a way that was openly anti-Semitic and in the way that you had entire classes of people defined with the horrifying German term, “Lebensunwertes leben.” Life, unworthy of life.

But before we just try to put all of this off on Nazi Germany, we need to recognize that Adolf Hitler and other Nazis got at least some of their eugenic ideas from the English-speaking world from both Britain where there was a eugenics society and from the United States where you had major figures such as the industrialist Henry Ford, who was openly a eugenicist. But there’s actually more to it, more darkness to it as you think about the issue of eugenics because it’s not just Nazi Germany.

When you look at the eugenics movement in much of the United States, in England, in the English-speaking world in Europe, much of it was actually coming with a very liberal progressivist impulse in that day. And using those terms in the historic context, those who argued that the human race needs to make progress in terms of weeding out those who are inadequate in order to give way to those who are defined as adequate. I mentioned that motto, more children from the fit, less from the unfit. You can understand just how discriminatory, just how dark this is. And by the way, if you’re going to enter into the eugenicist argument, just recognize that we as Christians have to understand that necessitates a subversion of if not an outright denial of the fact that every single human being is made in God’s image.

Now let’s just think about this for a moment. How would we have an article that appears now in the Los Angeles Times, “Opponents need to stop equating abortion with eugenics.” Carla Hall makes the argument, and I’m just going to turn to her argument for a minute. She begins, “Among the dubious points that U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk makes in his recent ruling, suspending the Food and Drug administration’s authorization of Mifepristone is that abortion is part of the now reviled practice of eugenics.”

So this opinion piece running in the Los Angeles Times says that this is a dubious point among the most dubious of the points that Judge Kacsmaryk made is identifying abortion with eugenics. She describes it as a, “Now reviled practice of eugenics.” She goes on to say, “That clinical sounding word refers to the appalling and scientifically incorrect theory that was promoted in the past by government and prominent civic leaders, and even the U.S. Supreme Court to justify the forced sterilization of women and men deemed feeble-minded, mentally ill, criminal, or poor to prevent them from bearing offspring who might sully the gene pool.”

Carla Hall then points to references linking abortion with eugenics in the past, not only Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk very recently, but Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas back in 2019 and beyond that, even previous judges and of course many theologians, moral philosophers, and others debating the issue of abortion.

The question is, is it legitimate to say that abortion and eugenics are linked? Carla Hall has written this article to say that there is no legitimate link. I’m going to argue that the link is not only legitimate, it is undeniable and it is incredibly relevant in moral terms. The fact that this article has appeared actually tells us in an indirect way just how connected these two issues turn out to be.

Carla Hall reaches out for support to Mary Ziegler, Professor of Law, University of California Davis, and she said, “You’ll see more of that, that means making this linkage.” And then Hall tells us, “Linking such an evil philosophy with abortion distorts everything about the personal right to control your own body and decide whether to terminate a pregnancy.”

Now the impetus behind this article is made clear by the author, Carla Hall does not like the fact that US District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk made the link between abortion and eugenics. She doesn’t like the fact that Kacsmaryk actually cites Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas making a similar link in 2019. In which Justice Thomas said that abortion “has proved to be a disturbingly effective tool for implementing the discriminatory preferences that undergird eugenics.” Carla Hall says it’s just not fair to link these issues. She cites Mary Ziegler as saying, “You’re going to see more of that.” But then she writes that sentence. It’s so crucial, “Linking such an evil philosophy with abortion distorts everything”–about what?–“about the personal right to control your own body and decide whether to terminate a pregnancy.”

And here you have an argument that says it’s absolutely illegitimate to leak abortion and eugenics. Eugenics is an evil philosophy. Those are the words used by the author. Abortion is simply “the personal right to control your own body and decide whether to terminate a pregnancy.” The language about terminating a pregnancy is intended to create distance from the evil philosophy of eugenics.

I’m just going to argue that doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for several reasons. It’s very telling that Carla Hall wants to create this distance in moral terms between eugenics and abortion. She understands that once abortion is linked with eugenics, well, there are huge moral problems involved, but she wants to make the claim that there is no huge moral issue with abortion in terms of the termination of the unborn baby. That term of course, is not used in her article. Rather, she wants to redefine abortion as “the personal right to control your own body.”

Later she will speak about supporters of reproductive rights. She’ll speak about the reproductive rights movement. You’ll notice there is a concerted effort here not to refer to the unborn baby, and to the destruction of that unborn human life. Trying to create this defense. Again, the author says, “There’s a long horrible history of eugenics policies in the United States here in California,” she says. “Laws in effect from 1909 to 1979 allowed the forced or coerced sterilization of women and men who were considered mentally defective or were thought to have criminal tendencies.”

She goes on later to say, “Particularly targeted were people of color and those who were poor.” But then she has to go somewhere else and she does so very quickly. She refers to Margaret Sanger in so many ways, the founder of the modern birth control movement, the founder of what later became known as Planned Parenthood, one of the early most radical proponents of birth control and also of abortion in the United States.

Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist. Margaret Sanger identified with the argument, more babies from the fit, less from the unfit. Margaret Sanger understood the connection between eugenics and both birth control and abortion, and she understood that this was a way to try to limit too many of the undesirable people from coming into the world. Carla Hall acknowledges this to this degree saying that Margaret Sanger, “A pioneer of birth control, also believed in eugenics.”

She doesn’t concede the leading role played by Margaret Sanger in both birth control and in abortion in the United States and the link to eugenics, which Margaret Sanger made abundantly clear. But speaking now, Carla Hall writes quote, “But these are not the values of the reproductive rights movement of the 21st century, which is concentrated on empowering women to make their own choices. Contraception and abortion should be part of basic undeniable healthcare.”

The fight for reproductive rights, she writes today, is not about encouraging or forcing women to abort pregnancies as part of some government or societal effort to weed out possibly defective babies. She says, “In fact, abortion bans are more akin to the old eugenics movement in that both rob women of their choice of whether to bear children and fall disproportionately on poor women, particularly women of color with the least resources to travel to get an abortion.”

I simply want to draw attention to this because this is an argument that has just appeared in a major American newspaper. Here you have a revisionist effort to try to say, “Okay, there’s that old abortion rights movement that was clearly tied to eugenics, but the reproductive rights movement of the 21st century is not tied to eugenics at all.” And yet she doesn’t acknowledge that abortion as it’s practiced in the United States today, falls out in some very clearly defined ways as related to the baby’s most likely to be aborted, and there’s simply no way of denying that abortion has a disproportionate effect that is not evenly distributed through the population, and has a great deal to do with minority status, and income, and social context.

And so Carla Hall can do all she wants to argue that it’s simply a matter of choice, but it is also a matter of the data. But then she goes on to make this bizarre argument that it’s actually bans on abortion that are more akin to the old eugenics movement because these bans supposedly removed choice. But you’ll notice that this is supposedly a choice to destroy unborn children. It’s a choice to terminate pregnancies. There is simply no way around the fact that the pro-life movements logic would lead to more of those babies being born, not fewer of those babies being born.

That’s the bottom line effect. The bottom line effect of the pro-life argument would be more babies born, not fewer. The disproportionate effect of abortion on minority communities would mean that there would be more babies born if the pro-life argument takes hold, not fewer.

Part II

Yes, Abortion and Eugenics Are Inextricably Linked: A Revisionist Moral Argument Seeks to Detach Abortion From Eugenics

But then the actual agenda becomes very clear here, Carla Hall writes, “A woman should have the right to have or not have a baby for whatever reason she chooses.” The word whatever is emphasized by being put in italics. I read it again, “A woman should have the right to have or not have a baby for whatever reason she chooses.” Here again, we simply need to note that the most radical arguments for abortion of decades past are now taken as routine these days.

Now you have Democrats who had supported the Hyde amendment preventing taxpayer funding for abortion. They’re all for it now, including the current President of the United States. They are against any regulation of abortion. They’re against any denial of abortion at any stage of pregnancy under any situation, for any reason. They actually celebrate a doctrine of abortion. That’s the only way you could possibly put this, and now you have the open statement that’s just embedded in this editorial. “A woman should have the right to have or not have a baby for whatever reason she chooses.” In other words, there could not even possibly be a bad reason for a woman to seek an abortion.

The desire to have an abortion is morally neutral if not morally good in every single situation. It’s hard to imagine a more radical moral argument than this, and yet it’s gone without much comment in the pages of the Los Angeles Times. It must not go without comment in our understanding of where we stand as a nation, “A woman should have the right to have or not have a baby for whatever- ‘italicized’… Whatever reason she chooses.”

That is the ultimate irreducible creed of the culture of death. There you have it right there in the English language in just a few words. For whatever reason she chooses. This just shows you how the issue of abortion is now elevated above all other issues to where you can now say, “Even though there is a eugenic effect when it comes to abortion as distributed in the United States, the reason you can’t contest this is because abortion should be available for whatever reason the woman chooses.”

Here’s where we also need to understand something else. If you reduce the agent merely to this woman that denies all the circumstances that may be forced on that woman at any given time. We understand that there are men who often have everything to gain by the termination of a pregnancy. They put pressure on a woman in order to have an abortion. Does that mean that that abortion according to this definition is legitimate for “whatever reason she chooses?”

You’re looking here at the fact that even this word betrays the problem that is chooses, chooses or choice is not an irrelevant category in Christian moral thinking, but it simply can’t bear the freight of justifying the destruction of an unborn human life. That is something that is absolutely disproportionate but is presented here as if it makes perfect sense. This is one of those situations in which someone trying to make the argument that A is not B actually makes very clear that A and B are inextricably linked.

The effect of permissive abortion, government funded abortion in the United States. It would be a eugenic distribution. It would be a distribution to where those who have minority status, who have less economic power, and suffer from various forms of discrimination, those babies will be terminated at a disproportionate rate, and that is something for which we have plenty of evidence right now. And looking at the history of legal abortion in the United States, it has always been mal-distributed and that mal-distribution indicates the influence of a eugenic motivation very clearly. It’s just undeniable. It’s there.

And furthermore, just ask yourself where abortion clinics are? They are primarily not in the most affluent areas of town, but in the opposite, you look at how abortion is contextualized in the United States, and of course there are many women from wealthy families. There’s students at colleges and universities. There are others who seek abortion, but there’s a reason why the abortionist has in general terms always functioned somewhere on the periphery of society.

For you can make this argument as long as you want. The reality is, that there’s something inherently shameful about abortion and there is no way to remove that shame. Society may declare itself to have changed its moral judgment on abortion, but the fact is, it’s virtually impossible to remove the moral judgment on abortion, and it’s because it’s not just a matter of societal judgment. It’s not just a matter of legal history. It’s not just a matter of some kind of lingering moral judgment.

It is because there is eventually no way to overcome or to finally deny the fact that it is the destruction of a human being at some stage of development in the womb.

Part III

Why Did Copenhagen’s Lord Mayor Write to the Mayor of Solvang, California? A Lesson in “Progressivist” Moral Posturing

Well, that argument appeared in a California newspaper. Now, I want to go to a California city you may or may not know about that just received a letter from the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen in Denmark.

Trust me, this is worth a closer look. The little town is named Solvang, and that name hearkens back to a tradition in Europe, specifically in Denmark, that is a Danish name, and it invokes a Danish history. And the little town in the Santa Ines Valley is known for, well, it’s trumpeting of that Danish history right down to its architecture, its streets, its windmills, as Haley Branson- Potts for the Los Angeles Times.

Again, the same newspaper tells us, “In the self-described Danish capital of America, friendliness is part of the brand was Solvang so outwardly idyllic. It was the setting for the saccharin lifetime TV movie, a Very Charming Christmas town.” But the reporter goes on to tell us, “But lately, if you’re, something smells rotten in this wannabe outpost of Denmark.” Because we are told that LGBTQ issues have become controversial in this little town rural Solvang population, 6,000 where there has been raging and waging “an ugly battle over just how visible it’s LGBTQ plus community should be.”

The reporter tells us, and I quote, “The city council shot down a proposal to hang pride themed banners downtown, and both critics and supporters now say they’ve received death threats.” There are arguments over the disposition of a pride flag, but now we are told that the situation in this little California rural town is so ugly that the mayor of Copenhagen in Denmark has stepped in, “admonishing the US town for bragging about its Danish heritage while snubbing, its LGBTQ community.” Now we’re able to pull up a P of the actual letter from Sophie Hæstorp Andersen, who is the Lord mayor of the city of Copenhagen, and yes, the Lord Mayor did write to the mayor of the California city of Solvang declaring the fact that the California city is basically denying its Danish heritage by raising these issues contrary to the LGBTQ revolution.

Now, you look at this and you recognize some of these issues are of course debatable in terms of how they’ve been handled, but the bottom line reality is that the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen in Denmark is appalled that a city that would claim a Danish heritage might not be enthusiastically for the LBTQ plus agenda revolution in its entirety without reservations. It turns out, according to the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, that is not very Danish, the mayor of Copenhagen wrote this, “Copenhagen and Denmark also have a proud tradition of acceptance and inclusion of LGBTI plus people you already know of Denmark’s longstanding position, and it’s one of the most progressive countries in the world. And since the 1970s, the LGBTI plus community has held events in our city and Copenhagen Pride has happened every year since 1996. Two years ago in 2021, we hosted World Pride, the most significant LGBTI plus event held anywhere in that year.”

The Lord mayor in Copenhagen then went on to say she was appalled to hear that in the city is Solvang, there might be controversy over these issues, and the Lord Mayor says that the city and its political leaders should quote, “Embrace Santa Ines Valley pride publicly and visibly.” So this just leads us to stand back for a moment and say, “What in the world’s going on that we’re talking about a letter from the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen and Denmark to a small California town over these issues?” Well, it’s because this letter is just priceless and revealing the way the world works. My interest in this is not so much the controversy that so many in the media are celebrating. It is rather just taking a closer look at the argument that the Lord Mayor made, because upon reflection, it’s slightly farcical, if not hilarious. There is no doubt by the way that Denmark is one of the world’s most liberal societies.

The Lord Mayor spoke of Denmark’s long-standing position as one of the most progressive countries in the world. Now on issues related to say LGBTQ as we discuss them in the United States. Just how long has Denmark been quite so progressive? Well, according to the Lord Mayor’s article, it goes all the way back to the 1970s. Well, my heavens, the 1970s, I’ll simply say I was a teenager in the 1970s. The bottom line is the 1970s. Here’s a hint, Lord Mayor, that is not ancient history. If you are the world’s most progressive country, you haven’t been so-called progressive on that issue for a very long time, and notice how the argument falls apart even in this letter from the mayor of Copenhagen. We are told that Copenhagen Pride has happened every year since 1996. Well, my goodness, 1996 again, are we supposedly talking about ancient history?

And then to cap it all off, as the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen is trying to shame this California city and to declare just how progressive Denmark is, and I’m not denying that Denmark wants to be progressive. We are told two years ago in 2021, we hosted World Pride, the most significant LGBT event held anywhere in that year. Wow, that long ago, two years ago in 2021. Is anyone able to remember that far back?

In Denmark, by the way, the tragedy of its moral progressivism is also made clear by the fact that 74.4% of all the Danish people are actually members of what’s defined as the Church of Denmark, which has identified with historic Christianity except evidently with very little effect when it comes to the morality of that country, because the mayor of Copenhagen is not just bragging and is not exaggerating. When she describes the country of Denmark as radically progressive on so many moral issues. Way off on the left.

In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen elaborated on what was behind the letter, “I was informed that the local opposition to put up pride flags around town was justified with regard to Danish values and traditions. That’s why I think it was incredibly important to kindly make aware that these are not values we can answer for in Copenhagen.”

Now again, notice the Lord Mayor’s insistence about Danish values and traditions that are now reflected in Copenhagen. The point is, now, if you go back to Danish history, actually, those who do not support the LGBTQ Revolution are on very sound and very solid, and very old footing. If the Lord Mayor Copenhagen wants to go back in history, well, it’s not going to go the direction she wants.

Now, there are so many different dimensions of this story, the development of this letter. It’s not likely to have a giant political effect, but it is very interesting in moral terms. But I’ll simply conclude this for today by saying that our great hope is that the people in Solvang and sane people everywhere will give this argument and this letter from the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, all the respect and authority it deserves.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

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R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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