Good vs. Bad Abortion Incrementalism


[For "pain capable", admitting privileges, waiting periods, heartbeat, informed consent, anesthesia, "protected class" bills, racially-motivated abortion bans, etc., see Compromised Incrementalism below.]


When personhood is finally enforced in law, of all the abortion laws then in effect, only the principled incrementalism bills will not be thereby abolished. All compromised incrementalism will be repealed when personhood is in effect. As American RTL wrote to Dr. James Dobson in our full-page open letter that appeared in newspapers around the country, "Incrementalism is fine; compromised incre­mentalism violates God's enduring command, Do not murder."

Examples of Principled Laws

  • Fetal Crimes Bills: only principled UVCA bills, but not those re-affirming abortion
  • Divesting Pension Funds: from companies that perform or support abortion
  • Parental Involvement: in medical care, but not mentioning nor re-affirming abortion
  • Born-Alive Infant Protection: though moral, legal protection for survivors backfires
  • Prohibit Embryonic Stem Cell Research: for both publicly and privately funded use
  • Prevent Insurance Coverage: prohibit any health insurance from covering abortion
  • Prevent Funding of Abortion: prohibit financing of abortion (without re-affirming abortion and its funding as is usually done)

American RTL's two must-read articles, Oppose Regulations Because... and Oppose Exceptions Because... explain the principles that must be adhered to in order to write principled incremental legislation. In summary, the God-given right to life must be advocated without exception. As an example of a horrendous violation of those principles, see ARTL's PBA Summary: Saved Not One, about the 15-year fundraiser that took in a quarter-of-a-billion dollars for the pro-life industry, yet as Dr. Dobson wrote, "Ending partial-birth abortion... does not save a single human life." Rather than being a victory, many pro-life leaders have since condemned the U.S. Supreme Court's Gonzales v. Carhart ruling upholding the PBA "Ban" for being a virtual late-term abortion manual.


If you prune the abortion weed, you strengthen its root.On the other hand, morally compromised legislation can be recognized in that they are child-killing regulations, present child-killing exceptions, and in that they therefore:

  • end with "and then you can kill the baby"
  • would keep abortion legal if Roe were ever merely overturned.

"And then you can kill the baby" bills include:

Examples of Unprincipled Laws

  • Informed Consent (here's an example)
  • Waiting Period (then kill her)
  • Partial-Birth Abortion "Ban" (for example PBA: Saved Not One)
  • Late-term Bans (including pain capable, heartbeat, and anesthesia bills)
  • Clinic Regulations (cleaner reputation for mills)
  • Admitting Privilege (safer abortions)
  • Fetal Pain Bills (here's an example)
  • Parental Notification or Consent (then kill him)
  • Etc.

Use the Personhood Test: One way to help people see whether or not an abortion law is principled or not is to apply the personhood test. When America finally recognizes the personhood and God-given right to life of every child, some pro-life laws will become redundant and unnecessary. However, other laws which include "pro-life" regulations and exceptions will be explicitly invalidated and annulled. The pro-life laws that will be merely rendered no longer necessary are the principled incrementalism. The abortion regulations that will be invalidated are the compromised laws. An example of this is found in Ohio's HB 125 "heartbeat bill" which bans the killing of an unborn child only after the detectability of a heartbeat). Morally compromised incremental efforts have raised hundreds of millions of dollars for their supporters but undermine the nation's recognition of the sanctity of human life. Principled pro-life laws build toward victory. So American Right To Life urges everyone to oppose compromised incrementalism and to support only principled laws, and especially personhood!

Compromised: Pain Capable, Heartbeat, Etc: Just like Roe v. Wade, pain capable bills, heartbeat bills, etc., regulate the age at which a child can be killed, showing them to be violations of God's command, Do not kill the innocent (and so also unconstitutional). Therefore, by the law of unintended consequences, though well-intentioned, passing a heartbeat bill can actually increase the number of unborn children killed. For if a "heartbeat bill" becomes law, there would be a predictable significant increase in the use of mechanical abortifacient IUDs and chemical abortifacients like RU-486 (mifepristone) including the routine use of the Morning After Pill.

Without personhood enforced, the child's right to life is denied. So people find ways to comply with the regulations for how and when they can kill unwanted children. The genocidal Roe and Doe v. Bolton opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court, issued concurrently, presented gestational ages after which states can prohibit, although with exceptions, the killing of the unborn child. The 2012 Ohio heartbeat bill, for example, likewise presents an age, with exceptions, after which the child cannot be dismembered or otherwise killed. Of course with opposing motives, these are substantively similar showing that a heartbeat bill is fundamentally a variation on the immoral Roe ruling. And as a heartbeat bill regulates the timing of killing the child, it inherently undermines the recognition of that boy or girl's God-given right to life and personhood. So being instructed by the "pro-life" law that they can only kill their children in the earliest weeks of their lives, a greatly increased percentage of women and young girls, at great risk also to their own health, will start popping Plan B like a vitamin with their morning-after breakfast. As sure as the sun rises in the morning, a heartbeat bill will help mass market the various abortifacients (which are non-surgical). Then multiple factors including biological, economic, and behavioral, can easily combine to kill millions of additional children who, without their mothers even knowing they are there, nor having even a chance for a change of heart, will get flushed down the toilet, children whom we will all meet when we stand before God. Thus because the heartbeat bill is not principled and is not based upon the God-given right to life, that strategy will predictably backfire, give a false sense of victory, and kill even more children, but just not by a scalpel. Any abortion regulation is immoral if it creates a protected "class" of children that makes it obvious that there is also an unprotected "class", as here, the youngest kids and children with quiet heartbeats. Historically, efforts at 100% abortion bans did not create an obvious unprotected class of children, and so, as explained below in ARTL's Esther Analogy, such bans were not morally compromised.

Compromised: Georgia RTL's Ban on Discriminatory Abortions: Dan Becker, president of Georgia Right To Life, thankfully promotes personhood and operates the great website And like ARTL's own position, Dan opposes the regulation of abortion in principle (as at because such efforts are immoral and inevitably backfire). However in practice, Dan has opened up an unfortunate new front in the pro-life battle: denying that regulations are regulations. Supported by Dan and GRTL, Georgia's 2009-2010 SB 529:

  • contains the words, "relating to when abortion is legal"
  • creates an anti-discrimination abortion regulation for clinics to comply with
  • incorporates and thereby reaffirms existing "exceptions"
  • incorporates and reaffirms existing regulations (notification, informed consent, PBA, etc.)
  • has the official description of providing "prohibitions on the circumstances under which an abortion may be performed."

The GRTL-supported bill unequivocally indicates that if the abortion is not racially motivated, "then you can kill the baby." As it passed the state senate with GRTL's support, the text of SB 529 states that it "is a prohibition on the circumstances under which an abortion may be performed…"

GRTL's well-meaning anti-discrimination bill also creates an obviously unprotected class of children. So by supporting both personhood and regulations, a contradictory stance which undermines personhood itself, Georgia RTL places itself in Tier 2 at Pro-life Profiles, a classification system which helps activists identify the strengths and weaknesses of organizations and helps pro-lifers know how to pray for our leaders. For a full treatment of this GRTL abortion regulation, see our article, Abortion Regulation: Anti-Discrimination Law.

The Esther Analogy: In a 2011 conference call with a Georgia RTL attorney, legislator, and the group's president, ARTL discussed a principle that is seen at work in the book of Esther (which appears online in the Sarah Palin profile):

Haman said to King Ahasuerus, "… If it pleases the king, let a decree be written that [the Jews] be destroyed..." Esther 3:8-9

And so the unjust "law" was issued. If Esther had taken a position similar to that advocated by some today, that the law was unjust and illegitimate it therefore did not need to be "repealed," it is likely that the Jews would have been annihilated. Rather, after Haman was exposed and punished for his treachery, Esther attempted to countermand the murderous "law," and said to the king:

"If it pleases the king… let it be written to revoke the letters devised… to annihilate the Jews who are in all the king's provinces." ... Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther and Mordecai the Jew... You yourselves write a decree concerning the Jews... and it was written, according to all that Mordecai commanded... the king permitted the Jews who were in every city to... protect their lives... Esther 8:5, 7-11

With her uncle Mordecai, as affirmed by the Bible's book of Esther, the Jews succeeded in reversing an unjust law. The legislation (if you will) that Mordecai wrote did not protect "all people." It only asserted the right of self defense for the Jews. But in the historical context, his law did not create an "obviously unprotected class" of human beings, because the threat was specifically against the Jews. Likewise, historically, if surgical abortion is the threat, an abortion ban that does not take into consideration cloning and IVF, does not create an obviously unprotected class of human beings. Thus an abortion ban that does not explicitly exempt living children outside of their mothers wombs (for example), is not a compromised regulation. It is not principled incrementalism though but personhood which will be the dagger in the heart of the evil that is destroying America.

Principled Incrementalism On Our Free Time: Even considering principled incrementalism, however, pro-lifers would be wise to only pursue principled incrementalism as side issues and on off-years when they are unable to campaign for personhood amendments and legislation. Why? Because spending another 36 years on incrementalism, principled or otherwise, will never stop America's genocide against unborn children.

"The law condemns and punishes only actions
within certain definite and narrow limits;
it thereby justifies, in a way,
all similar actions that lie outside those limits."
- Leo Tolstoy widely attributed