The ProLife Team Podcast 129 | Frank Pavone

Frank Pavone answers several questions for The Abortion Museum and this is the raw footage of our interview. This footage will assist us in creating a series of museum exhibits on the truth/history surrounding abortion.


The transcript was automatically generated and may contain errors.

Welcome to the Pro-Life Team Podcast. My name is Jacob Barr, and in this episode, we’re sharing footage captured for the Abortion Museum. Well, my name is Frank Pavone, and I began involved in the pro-life movement back as a high school student. I was 17 years old. I went to the third annual March for Life, and from there, my involvement in the abortion issue and the pro-life movement just grew and grew. I describe it as an alarm going off in my mind, getting louder and louder. I was involved in many other activities.

Of course, I went into seminary, got ordained to the priesthood, was doing a lot of educational work and teaching, and of course, parish work in a busy parish in New York City. But along with all of that, and ultimately dominating all of that, was involvement in advocating for the unborn. That ultimately got me to the point where I felt, and this was in 1992 into 93, that I needed to devote myself full-time to pro-life work. I got the necessary permissions to do that, and so since 1993, have been full-time in national pro-life leadership with the organization Priests for Life. Awesome. Question number two, how has the abortion debate evolved since the 1960s to today? The abortion debate has evolved since the 1960s.

First of all, technology has evolved, and therefore the unborn child has become much more real to people. You can visualize the unborn child not only through developments in ultrasound, but also other technologies. Embryoscopy, for example, direct video imaging of the child. Once you can see the child, you can connect emotionally and on a human level with that baby. Once you can see the child, you can also diagnose and treat the child. So this has led to a revolution in culture, a revolution in popular sentiment.

I know that that’s a baby. Look, that’s my baby, people’s first pictures are of them while they were still in the womb. It’s also led to a revolution in medical technology where doctors recognize that the child in the womb is a patient, and indeed, we have gotten so far now as we can do heart surgery and brain surgery on the child still in the womb. This has affected the abortion debate. The other thing that has evolved is the voices of experience of those who have had abortions. It’s a big part of my work. The more years that have gone on where we’ve had legal abortion, the more people have experienced how painful and devastating it is.

And those voices have become a key element in helping people realize that abortion is wrong, is bad, doesn’t solve any problems, only creates new ones, and that has really assisted the pro-life effort. Question number three. Thank you for talking on that.

That was good. Question number three. Any big changes in the last two to three years? Yes. In the last two to three years, there have been some pretty big changes in terms of abortion because Roe versus Wade and Planned Parenthood versus Casey, two major Supreme Court decisions that set the parameters, if you will, of both the abortion debate and also of abortion policy, have been thrown out the window as we were always working, praying, and hoping they would be. Now, therefore, people are still unstable on both sides of the issue. When people ask me, what does the pro-life movement have to do now that the Roe v.

Wade has been thrown out by the Dobbs decision, as it’s called, and I say the first thing the movement has to do is understand the Dobbs decision. And we haven’t gotten there yet. We really still have not fully assimilated what this decision means, what it says, what it doesn’t say, what opportunities it opens up, what challenges it brings, what hope it provides that we can end abortion. And until we get a grasp on that, we’re going to kind of be on shaky ground. The other side is on shaky ground, too. Nobody knows quite how to behave in this new environment where abortion policy is more in the hands of the people than it has been from the very beginning of this debate. This is the number one change that has ushered in many other kinds of changes.

A second big change has been the rise in chemical abortion. And there are many things about this that do not change our movement, but the reality of chemical abortion has changed, for example, the speed with which a mom that has an abortion comes to the realization of what she has done. The period of denial, which with surgical abortion can last for decades, has been significantly shortened because in a chemical abortion, she becomes the abortionist. Her home becomes the abortion clinic. She sees the baby, which usually does not happen in the case of a surgical abortion, and she is brought face to face with the reality of this much more quickly. It’s much harder to deny that this is a baby when you see the baby’s face staring at you from your own toilet bowl. It’s a radically, radically different experience, and this is one of the key things we are dealing with right now in this movement.

The Dobbs decision is highly significant. It would be hard to exaggerate the importance of this. It’s earth-shaking for America and for the abortion issue. First of all, it’s earth-shaking beyond the abortion issue itself because we are facing right now in America a rise in tyranny, and it shouldn’t be considered as some sort of hyperbole or extremist language to say that because our founders established our nation, wrote our constitution precisely to avoid tyranny, that power would be concentrated either in a dictator, a monarch, or in just a particular segment of the population that wanted a certain thing. The founders set up all kinds of checks and balances whereby the voices of even minorities in the public—I’m talking about numerical minorities—would always have a say. Roe v. Wade worked completely against that. Roe v.

Wade tried to put policy into the constitution regarding something the constitution never talked about, which is abortion. So it’s great for freedom when the court said, listen, the people and their elected representatives need to debate these issues, need to persuade one another, and then need to set policy on abortion according to the lawmaking provisions of our constitution. As for the abortion issue itself, the Dobbs case is extremely significant because under Roe v. Wade, when people would assert this is a constitutional right that we have from our federal constitution, that tended to shut down argument. You think about it, even the Dobbs case itself, what happened was the Mississippi legislators said, we have all kinds of evidence as to why we should protect these babies. They can feel pain, just as one example of the evidence. And the lower court, the district court that ruled against this law, said, we don’t even want to hear, we don’t even need to hear that evidence.

We just want to know, does this ban abortion prior to viability? Well, yes, undeniably so. They said, well, then, okay, that’s it. The law is unconstitutional. Because they were working under this myth that there was a constitutional right to abortion. Now that that’s been taken away, people can actually have an argument on the merits and look at the evidence of who this baby is and what abortion does to this baby and what abortion does to the mom and everyone else. It opens up the debate.

It’s harder to shut down the discussion and the debate among the American public and in the legislatures and in the courts. It’s a new day in America when it comes to abortion, if we accept the challenge to wrestle with the truth of this issue. Wow, that was powerful. Very powerful. Question five, what are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned over the course of your experience in pro-life activism? There are many lessons I’ve learned in pro-life activism, doing it since 1976. One of the big ones is, and I’m often quoted in saying this, that America will not reject abortion until America sees abortion.

Whether you look at the civil rights movement, whether you look at the anti-slavery movement or the anti-smoking movement, and many other movements besides that have tried to protect people from danger or advocate for a victimized class of citizens, it has always been clear that visualizing the danger we’re trying to avoid or the victims we’re trying to protect moves people to indeed do something about the problem. We have seen this play out time and time again in human history. It’s not a question of whether or not we like to show people the graphic reality of what an abortion is. It’s not a question of whether we prefer that tactic or whether we think it’s going to be helpful. The question resolves itself to this, is there any reason to think that the pro-life movement, that the anti-abortion effort, is exempt from the principles of social reform? Principles that manifest themselves in so many other movements in our history. You show the victim.

William Wilberforce and his friends trying to convince people that the slave trade was wrong graphically illustrated the condition of the slaves. The activists made diagrams of the ships and how the slaves were crowded together in there and put them up all over town. William Wilberforce took the instruments by which these people were tortured and put them right in front of the eyes of those that he was trying to persuade. The pro-life movement isn’t exempt from these principles because they’re rooted in human nature. You want to advocate for someone who has no voice, show people who you’re talking about. We in the pro-life movement, if we’re talking about the violence of abortion, we can’t use just words. You can justify anything with words.

The human mind is incredibly creative at justifying whatever it wants to justify. You’ve got to show people pictures. You’ve got to show people videos. You’ve got to bring them face to face with the reality. You’ve got to ask them if they think they’re in favor of abortion. Have you ever seen one? And you can even ask them simply to quote the medical textbooks on abortion and describe how it’s done.

I say to pro-abortion politicians, have the courage to describe what you defend. They don’t describe what they defend. They don’t talk about arms and legs and blood and skulls and decapitation and dismemberment. But when you look at how abortions are done, and in fact, when you look at the medical textbooks like Abortion Practice by Warren Earn explaining how they’re done, he actually uses those words, dismember and decapitate. This is one of the biggest things I’ve learned. Another great thing I’ve learned in my years of pro-life leadership is the need for compassion. People who are wrestling with this issue are not just doing so in their head.

They’re doing so in their heart. A dad might say, I think abortion should be allowed, not because he’s got some kind of moral compass that has gone astray, but because he has a daughter that he feels, you know, she might be in a situation someday where abortion is her only option. We do not agree that abortion would ever be justified in a million years. But what we have to understand is where are the people coming from to whom we are speaking and whom we want to persuade. The compassion we show, and the pro-life movement does this, the readiness to reach out to those who feel they have to have an abortion or to those who have had abortions and say to those people, we are not pointing fingers of condemnation. We are extending hands of help and of hope and of mercy. Brothers and sisters, that’s going to persuade people.

That’s going to help them listen to all the other arguments that we have. That is going to change our culture into a culture of life. Wow. That’s awesome. Same ovation. This is good. This is really good.

This one at the door? Was it? It’s almost like we turned the air conditioning on because it’s still clicking. I don’t know what that is. It’s not coming through though. Okay, good. Okay, we’ll keep it the way it is.

Question number six. What are some of the biggest missteps in the pro-life movement over the years? If you need a moment to think, we can start whenever you’re ready. Okay, thanks. Every movement for social reform makes mistakes. And one thing that every movement is subject to are the internal divisions that can come about. When people give in to the temptation to seek more of their personal opinions and preferences and reputations or egos than the service of the cause itself.

The pro-life movement has not been exempt from this. And there have been times in the history of this movement where divisions have erupted into the public eye between various groups that while ostensibly they’re seeking the same goal may be seeking a little bit more their own well-being rather than the cause. And over these decades there have been various fights like this and divisions and criticisms, internal criticisms of the movement. The other problem that we sometimes fall into is if we put too much stock in individuals let’s say specifically in the political arena if we put too much hope in a specific person or persons and we put more expectations on them than we should that can lead us into problems. And when I say problems it might mean at times that we back the wrong person in a political or judicial battle or it might mean that we set ourselves up for disappointment that then discourages people and it really doesn’t have to and what I mean is you know politicians can only do so much elected officials can only do so much we need to make sure that they do their job not ours. We need to elect them based on the office that they are seeking not the position that we ourselves hold. What I mean is sometimes people will say to me well this politician says that he or she is pro-life but I don’t hear them talking about abortion or I don’t hear them talking about the fact that every baby has to be protected no matter what the circumstances are and my response to that is I’m not asking them to do my job I’m not asking them to give my pro-life speeches I’m not even asking them to be a pro-life leader I’m asking them to be a pro-life governor, senator whatever office you’re electing them to representative, president, judge the bottom line being that the expectations we have of these people should not exceed their job description I don’t need a candidate to give all kinds of big pro-life speeches all I need is his or her signature on the right laws or his or her appointment of the right judges that’s what I’m looking for and I think we make a mistake in the movement that because we are rightly so people of principle because we know that no abortion can ever be justified because we are people who can articulate the pro-life message we sometimes put that on the shoulders of these politicians.

No let’s continue to persuade the public what the right position on abortion is but when we’re electing people or when we’re lobbying them just keep the expectations reasonable and limited to getting that signature on the right bills and getting those right judges on our courts Awesome How’s the sound? Is everything good? Okay Question number seven What is Priests for Life and why does it exist? I have been leading since 1993 a ministry called Priests for Life and as its title suggests it began as an effort of Catholic clergy encouraging one another to speak up more about abortion actually it began in California as an effort to get clergy to speak up about a pro-life legislative initiative that had to be advanced in the California legislature it has grown far beyond that it has grown first of all to a worldwide movement it generates resources for the clergy preaching on abortion for example we have a book that I wrote that has for every single Sunday of the year over a three year liturgical cycle pro-life reflections on the readings of that particular Sunday so whether it’s someone in the pews wanting to get a pro-life inspiration from those readings or someone preaching at the pulpit who wants to give such a message that book becomes a key resource and many many other resources like that it’s clergy encouraging clergy but then Priests for Life has grown well beyond that into a ministry that oversees the largest mission for healing after abortion that exists in the entire world it’s called Rachel’s Vineyard and connected with that Silent No More where those who have had abortions will share their stories of despair, of devastation but then of healing in Jesus Christ these voices are irreplaceable in our movement. We’ve also become an educational entity that has a speaker’s bureau we speak at every different type of pro-life event we have broadcasting we have publishing we have ministries reaching out for example through Dr. Alveda King to the African American community, youth outreach Hispanic outreach many many other things so in a sense we are at the service of the entire pro-life movement in every facet of its work and we have a large political outreach as well urging voters, as I say it, to elect public servants who know the difference between serving the public and killing the public and if they don’t know that difference they don’t belong in public office so we educate voters, we educate candidates we mobilize voters we work to win elections because protecting the unborn is not just some kind of wishful thinking or pipe dream it doesn’t come about by waving a magic wand, you have to pass laws that are going to protect the unborn and you can’t pass good laws without electing good lawmakers so that’s part of our work as well Peace for Life has become one of the largest pro-life organizations in the world and I’m privileged to have led it since 1993 Wow, awesome very very good answer Question number 8 In your view, how well are churches engaged on the abortion issue? Please explain The challenge for churches to be involved in the abortion issue is at the heart of every pro-life person.

There is no question I get more and have gotten over these years than what can I do to get my pastor, to get my church more involved The expectation is absolutely correct because the church is proclaiming a gospel whereby God Almighty took upon Himself our human life He became one of us God Himself became a child in the womb. God Himself said, here’s how much I think about human life I’m going to raise you up to my throne The book of Revelation, Jesus says in Revelation 3.21, to the victor I will give the right to sit with me on my throne That’s the hope of the gospel Can we credibly preach that while at the same time ignoring those same human lives being thrown in the garbage? No So the church must address abortion Jesus said He came to set the oppressed free There’s no one more oppressed than the child in the womb So the duty of the church to speak up on this is absolutely clear and irrefutable The problem is that too many people including pastors, see abortion as just a political issue and therefore they feel that that doesn’t belong in the religious realm My duty is to be a pastor, a preacher of the gospel, a healer of souls Yes, that is your duty And abortion ruins all those things Abortion damages people so badly that they feel they can’t even approach God And that’s where we help the pastors to see that if they start with the ministry of reconciliation which St. Paul says God has entrusted to us as ministers of the gospel that’s how most of them can find their way into dealing with the abortion issue You’re proclaimers of mercy You’re saying to people many of you have sinned because of abortion Come to Christ You can be forgiven in His blood You can be healed by His grace Come to the cross Come to the risen Lord And the sin of abortion can be washed away If we start there then we are on the right path as a church because by reconciling those who have been alienated and harmed because of abortion then we are educating people as to how harmful it really is We are understanding the sorrow which comes from the realization that yes this really is a child in the womb and that leads us into advocacy for that child and action to stop abortion So it all holds together The problem is that the church is often distracted that the church is often accepting the assumptions of society Oh, this is just a political issue No, this is a gospel issue This is an issue about mercy and life This goes to the core of why Jesus came to exalt human life not to let it be trampled underfoot Wow I’m really enjoying your answers I’m glad Oh, that is often a problem for me Got it? Question nine Do you have any word of warning for up-and-coming pro-life activists or maybe students perhaps? You know, I often say to congregations who are older You’re never too old to save a life. You may be too old to have a child but you’re never too old to love one or to save one I say the same to young people You’re never too young to save a life You’re never too young to be a leader in this movement.

You’re never too young to advocate for the youngest of the young who are in the womb Now, the zeal that young people have the directness as I describe it, the directness of their thinking. Let me give you an example Well, down the street there’s an abortion clinic Babies are being killed there Shouldn’t we be there? If that’s where they’re being killed, well, let’s go there And you know, very often as you get older and you get more experience, people come along They try to get you to think in more complicated ways, less direct lines of thought and then you come up with all kinds of excuses why you never go down to the abortion clinic to try to pray and to intervene for people. Or you come to the conclusion that, hey, these babies have to be protected by law Doesn’t that mean that we have to tell people to vote pro-life? Yeah That’s clear and simple and direct way of thinking and very often, as we get older, we complicate that thinking and again, it’s like, oh no, we really can’t talk of politics, we can’t tell people how to vote. You can’t elect people who are going to be killing babies. So my first piece of advice for young people is don’t let anybody tamper your enthusiasm or complicate your thinking.

You have a lot to teach the rest of us. Young people have a lot to teach those who are older because you’ve got to keep that fire that was in us and hopefully still is, but it may need to be rekindled. It may need to grow a little brighter and a little stronger and our thinking might need to become a little less complicated and a little more direct because sometimes what we learn as we go on in life is we learn how to be cowards. We have to keep reminding ourselves how to be courageous. Now there’s another side to this coin because just as young people have a lot to remind us older people about, we who have been in the movement a long time and have shaped and lived through its history have a lot to teach newer leaders and younger activists. You cannot move forward with confidence in this movement or expect to exercise an effective leadership role without knowing the history and that’s why it’s so important for us as we speak to you or as pro-life conferences are organized or educational efforts are carried out that we bring to younger activists the fullness of the history of the movement with all its glories and successes and with all its mistakes and failures too. We have a lot to be proud of and we have some things to be ashamed of, but we need to understand the whole history, we need to know who the personalities have been, what shoulders do we stand on when we take up the pro-life cause today.

We can never ever forget that. Those are the things that constitute a good connection between the more experienced leaders of the movement and those who are younger. And one final point and this I say to those who like myself have been in this movement for quite some time. It’s a mistake to say something like well you know we’ve been in this movement now we’re going to hand over the torch to the younger generation and they’ll finish the task, they’ll get the job done. You know I was saying this before Roe v. Wade got overturned and now we see that that victory was won. I would always say and I still say it’s not a matter of just handing over a torch or a baton.

It’s a matter of extending our hands to younger people and saying take my hand. We’re going to go over the finish line together. We’re going to win this victory. Okay, so Father Frank, do you have any words of encouragement you’d like to share with any pro-lifers who might be hearing this? To all the pro-lifers who are listening we are on the winning side.

Never doubt it. History will judge us in our favor. God will judge us in our favor. This is something that is really the same battle that those who fought against slavery were fighting for the equal protection of human beings. Those who were fighting segregation. Those who have stood up against genocide and holocaust and mutiny. Those who have stood up against racism and violence.

Those who have stood up against racism and violence. Those who have stood up against genocide and holocaust and mistreatment of people throughout human history. It’s ultimately the same principle. That the human person has dignity and is of infinite value and that no power on earth can redefine that or steal that from us. This is the cause of justice. Now I would encourage you too to recognize that even those who spearheaded the abortion movement in America, even those who were at the forefront of cases like Roe versus Wade which permitted legal abortion, changed their minds. Dr. Bernard Nathanson whom I knew was the chief architect of the abortion movement in America, he changed his mind.

He became a pro-life activist. He recognized that abortion was wrong. Norma McCorvey, the Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade, whom I knew, rejected the decision completely and used the last portion of her life to work to overcome that erroneous, tragic mistake. So did Sandra Kano who was the plaintiff of the companion case called Doe versus Bolton. So do countless women and men who have given in to the lie that abortion will solve their problems and they’ve learned from bitter experience that that’s not the case. These voices, these experiences, these turnarounds, these conversions should encourage us all to recognize that nobody, no matter how vocal they might be in favor of abortion, is beyond the ability of God’s grace and of the truth of the matter to change them.

Anyone can be changed on this and it shows the trajectory of history. You have many former abortionists who have become pro-life. You don’t have former pregnancy center directors who have become pro-abortion. People don’t get tired of saving lives. They do get tired of taking lives because it’s completely contrary to human nature. The whole movement on this issue is in our direction and so history will prove. There’s a strong connection between legality and morality.

We are supposed to be good citizens. God asks us, and scripture tells us, that when there are just laws, like for example to pay taxes, to pay respect to those who are in authority, we are supposed to do that. We are supposed to be obeyers of good law, just law. But the fact that we are characterizing it as just law also shows us the difference. Because if a law is created by human beings, that means it’s being created by imperfect people. People who can get it wrong. People who can misjudge what is right and wrong.

People who can make mistakes. People who are sinners. Law that is made by human beings always has to be judged against the law of God. In fact, the founders of our constitutional republic here in America said that explicitly. Our early founders said there are two categories of law. Human law and divine law. And human law also always has to correspond to divine law.

It’s divine law. It’s God himself who is the source of morality. It’s ultimately rooted in God’s nature, which then gets expressed in human nature. For example, when God gives his commandments in the scriptures starting in the Old Testament, he says to the people, be holy for I am holy. He says you have to be honest with one another and truthful. Why? Because I am the Lord.

And what he meant there was not just I’m in charge. What he meant was you have to be truthful to one another because I am truth. You have to respect each other’s lives because I am life. You have to live according to justice because I am justice. It’s all rooted in the nature of God. It’s rooted in the nature of human beings who are made in his image. So we respect one another, not because a court tells us to, not because a law was passed that says we have to, but because of who we are.

We respect life because that life came from God and has its own inherent dignity. It’s not given to that person by another human being. It’s not given to them by a court and therefore it can’t be taken away by a court. So the difference between morality and legality, you know Roe versus Wade made abortions legal throughout pregnancy, did not change the fact that they are immoral. So sometimes a bad law is passed and that law has to be resisted. That law does not compel us to obey it. At the same time sometimes, for example, you can think about a no trespassing law, right? Perfectly valid.

You can’t just walk onto somebody else’s property. But if you’re walking by somebody else’s front yard and you see a young child drowning in a swimming pool, that no trespassing goes away at that moment. You have every right and duty to trespass in order to save that life. Morality and legality, closely related, but certainly not the same. Laws come from the human law making process. Morality comes from God himself. Perfect. Awesome. Okay, question, question 18.

This is a medical, out of the medical set. Not medical, legal. Okay. Question 18. Is abortion law and policy for sale to the highest bidder irrespective of what’s right, good, or true? When we look at lawmaking, when we look at lawmaking when it comes to abortion, we often find people who are, well we always find people who are imperfect. And we often find people who are looking for their own convenience above and beyond what is right.

Many legislators want to run away from the abortion issue or they just want to do what’s convenient at any particular point in time. However, there are, and I have interacted with over the years, so many men and women of upright conscience just as pro-life as any of the rest of us who have endured significant personal sacrifice and who have stayed the course to say I am going to protect the unborn in any and every way that I possibly can. And it’s not going to deter me if I get criticism or if I lose votes or if I lose funding. And so many people have, in fact, endured those sacrifices in advancing pro-life laws both at the state and at the federal level. One of the things in this regard that we have to keep in mind too is that a politician has to look at where am I going to get the votes to pass this particular bill. Let’s say that they introduce a measure to increase the protection of the unborn. They, in their mind and heart, may well have the solid pro-life position that no abortion is acceptable and that every baby has to be protected.

But they can’t just introduce a bill to protect every baby and expect that it’s going to become law unless they get a majority of their colleagues to vote for it. If they don’t have, in a particular legislative assembly at a particular moment, that kind of support, then that’s beyond their control. They can only get as much support as their colleagues decide to give them. Now they need to work to persuade them. But the point I’m making is that if the legislator says, hey, I can’t bring about an agreement here to protect babies, let’s say, starting at 15 weeks into the pregnancy, but I can get them to agree to protect babies starting at 22 weeks into the pregnancy, well, then that’s what you should do. Not because the other abortions are okay, but because the ones that you can protect at that moment need to be protected and they need to be protected now because they’re persons too, just like the ones that you can’t protect because you don’t have the agreement of the whole legislative body or majority of them. And what I’m saying here is that this kind of political calculation, this kind of, and I’ll put it in quotes, compromise, because it’s not compromise morally, it’s compromise politically, is not to be confused with, oh, well, I’m just selling it to the highest bidder or I’m just going along with what’s convenient.

Those are two different things. You do have bad actors. You do have people that are in it for themselves and not for the babies, but you’ve got many who are in it for the babies, just as pro-life as the rest of us, but they realize the limits of what can be done in a political and legislative body. They know they have to respect those limits, and so they do everything that they can at that moment. If it doesn’t bring us all the way to the final goal, keep in mind, that doesn’t mean it’s a compromise in their own mind and heart or a compromise of moral principle. That simply means, hey, we’ve got to elect more and better pro-life legislators. Awesome. I’m going to do this on time.

We did do question one, right? Where does new life begin? Did we do that one? No, we didn’t do that one. Okay, I’m going to try to get that one in. This is question one from the medical set. When does new human life begin?

So when was it determined what color your eyes would be or whether you would be male or female or what color your hair would be? Any genetically determined characteristic that you, I, or any other human being has, we know exactly when that was determined. In the process of fertilization, uniting sperm and ovum and the combination of genetic material from the mom and the dad is exactly what brought about your eye color, is exactly what brought about your gender and untold numbers of other genetic characteristics that you have. When did you, as a unique human being, come into being at that process of fertilization? Now this is not a matter of opinion. And in saying this, we’re not even talking about the value that that life has or the legal protection it should be given. We’re simply talking about a biological, genetic, physiological, scientific fact.

Which, nobody has to take my word for it, you simply have to look up the consensus of embryologists, geneticists, biologists, that are out there for public knowledge. Look up embryology textbooks, look up the question in any scientific journals about when a unique individual human life begins. Of course we know this, otherwise we would not be able to begin a human life, as we are capable of doing, in a Petri dish, outside the womb. How do we know exactly what to do in order to bring about a new human life? It’s because we know that it’s the process of fertilization that brings that about. This doesn’t mean that people, by that very fact, appreciate the value of that life. You’ve got people who know the scientific facts and yet think that that life can be discarded.

You’ve got a lot of those kind of people. So the scientific answer here does not settle the moral argument, but you can’t pretend to be morally arguing for abortion by denying the science. Awesome. Okay. Question 19. This is on the legal set. Abortion has sometimes been described with extravagant language like genocide and holocaust.

Legally speaking, is this language more or less correct? And then, is it helpful? Are there contexts where you would use this language and others where you would not use it? Based on biology, the child in the womb is a human being. Laws exist, and our country was founded on the legal principle, that governments exist to secure the rights that God gave us, starting with life. This is why law is there in the first place. People’s rights, people’s lives need to be protected.

If entire groups of people, and this has happened multiple times throughout history, are considered to be less than human, are somehow considered to be less than a human person, governments have at times moved to exclude those people from protection. In fact, governments have moved in and destroyed entire categories of people. We think about the holocaust. We think about various forms of genocide. We think about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that came about in 1948 as a way of securing internationally, an international law, an international thinking about public policy, this fundamental truth, that the human person and the rights of that person should be, if you will, trans-legal, transnational. In other words, no matter who comes into power in a particular country, no matter what regime there is, no matter what their philosophy might be, the human person’s protection must be paramount, must be recognized internationally, and must not be transgressed. So if we say that taking an entire group of human beings, considering them less than human, and then moving in to destroy them is against the laws of nations and of international agreement, well then abortion certainly fits into that category, because that’s exactly what’s happening here.

We’re saying that children who are still in the womb, or at least who are in the womb up to a certain point, aren’t worthy of the protection of their lives. It’s the same thing. The fact that not everybody recognizes that they’re human doesn’t change the fact that morally, legally, it’s in exactly the same category. Now, as to when we use terms like this, comparing abortion to the holocaust, comparing it to genocide, it reminds me of an interview I did one day with a pro-life rabbi, and he had his assistant there in the studio, and his assistant spoke to me before the interview and said, you know, a rabbi is very pro-life, but you might not want to bring up the term holocaust, because that has a whole range of other meanings and sensitivities for the Jewish community. So I said, okay, we’re going to talk about abortion. If you don’t want me to bring that word up, I won’t.

So what happens? We’re having the discussion with the rabbi. He brings it up. He says abortion is a holocaust in our day. Now, we recognize the special religious meaning, the special spiritual significance of the holocaust for the Jewish people, so we don’t in any way want to deny or downplay that. But based on the reasons I was just giving, that you’re talking about a whole group of human beings who are denied the protection that their humanity demands, that’s exactly what abortion is. So yes, I would use it in situations where I am speaking publicly to audiences that to the best of my ability to judge at that moment are going to be receptive to hearing that.

There may be audiences that are not ready for that, or there may be circumstances like, for example, if we’re speaking in a setting of consoling people who have had abortions, leading people to healing, or speaking to people who are wrestling with the decision of whether or not to have an abortion. Those are not circumstances in which I would bring up those concepts, not because they aren’t true, but because that’s not what that person at that particular time most needs to lead them to the right decision. But in public education, broadcasting like we’re doing now, and even in legislative assemblies where there are debates about whether abortion should be legal or not, perfectly appropriate to make those comparisons. Genocide, holocaust, and also slavery. It’s a form of slavery. It’s the most unjust form of discrimination. And bringing in those concepts with all the emotions that they evoke is at times essential to get people out of the pro-abortion fog, if you will, that often prevents them from seeing abortion for what it really is.

Wow, that was really good. Okay, I think we’ve got time for one more question. Are we doing good on time on the video? Okay, perfect. So this is question 20 out of the legal set. There is a debate in the anti-abortion camp between abolitionism and incrementalism. Would you explain these two positions and what difference it makes and what your thoughts are on that? Yeah. There are within the pro-life movement different approaches and sometimes different camps that coalesce around a particular viewpoint or strategy about abortion.

And you can identify two of them, the abolitionists and the incrementalists. Essentially, the difference is abolitionists are saying, listen, there’s no justification for any abortion. Every baby needs and deserves protection right now. Let’s stop fiddling around and giving any kind of approval or acceptance for anything about abortion. Let’s not just regulate it.

Let’s end it. Let’s abolish it and let’s do so now. Incrementalists say, well, today we can protect babies. Let’s say if a legislative body is ready to protect them starting at 22 or 24 weeks into pregnancy, well, that’s going to protect a small percentage of the babies who are being aborted. But every one of that small percentage is a person. And if you can protect them now, you need to protect them now. And if the legislative body that doesn’t want to protect them now doesn’t agree to protect the younger ones, that’s beyond your control.

You’re not consenting to abortion in that case. You’re just bound by the limits of what the legislators are willing to do. And so the incremental approach says, let’s do what we have consensus to do right now. Consensus in a legislative body and also in the American public. Now, there are mistakes that are made in both camps. There is no question that every single baby in the womb from conception has an equal right to life. Every single baby at every stage of development deserves protection now because they are a person. No abortion.

If you live for a hundred million years and try to invent a rationale or imagine a situation in which abortion would be justified, you can never come up with one. So there are no exceptions to the moral prohibition on abortion. And in that sense, we are all abolitionists. If what an abolitionist is saying is that you cannot consent to or permit morally a single abortion, they’re absolutely right. If they’re saying the goal of this movement is to protect every baby from every abortion, they’re absolutely right. And in saying that, however, they should not fall into the mistake of thinking that the incrementalists are less pro-life.

Because here’s what I mean. You could be the most pro-life person imaginable on planet Earth. And let’s say you’re a legislator.

Let’s say you’re in the U.S. Senate where there’s 99 other senators, right? You’re one of a hundred. And you introduce a bill that says we’re going to abolish abortion. We’re going to protect every baby. How is that going to protect those babies? It’s going to protect those babies in one way, by becoming law.

And what do you have to do in order for it to become law? You’ve got to get at least 50 others, and by the rules of how our American Senate works, probably you’ve got to get 59 others to agree with you, to sign on to that. Let’s say you can only get 30. Let’s say you can only get 20. What are you going to do about that? You’re going to try to persuade them, but no matter how hard you try, if you don’t succeed in persuading them, well, you’ve done your part. You’ve done all you can.

Is that your fault? That the babies didn’t get protected by that bill? No, it’s not your fault at all.

So you’re not compromising. Some of them might be compromising, but not you. So an abolitionist shouldn’t say that. An incrementalist who says, look, they’re not willing to protect all the babies, but you know what? They’re willing to protect babies up until 15 weeks. So now I’m going to introduce a bill that says that. And I’m going to get them to sign on to it, and those babies are going to be protected.

Not all of them are being protected, but some are being protected that wouldn’t have been protected if I didn’t introduce that bill. Did I compromise on abortion? No, I did not. So we have two camps, and it’s very much a matter of emphasis. In a sense, we are all abolitionists because there’s no way to justify a single abortion. But in another sense, we are all incrementalists because there’s nothing we can do about the fact that if right now we don’t have the consent from the lawmakers to make a law, there’s no way we can make that law. What we can do, though, is keep persuading people, and we’ll never be quiet, and we’ll never stop, and we’ll never take our eyes off the prize of what we need to do.

So yes, there is a tension in the movement. There are these two camps. Let’s understand the dynamics at work in both of them, and let’s urge everybody to just look at these differences with goodwill. Never to say that another person isn’t as pro-life as you are unless they prove it, unless they say that they accept some abortions. Don’t make that judgment. Let’s try to work together to persuade the entire public that the days of abortion are over. We have to protect all these babies as quickly as we possibly can. All right.

I was noticing that the papers were – I hope that didn’t – yeah, yeah, yeah.