Yesterday the country saw anti-life sentiment carried out to an absurd degree. The Capitol Police actually arrested seventeen Members of Congress, and eighteen other people, in front of the Supreme Court. That the Capitol Police had to arrest those people, just to clear First Avenue East, was bad enough. But when Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) pretended to be in handcuffs, that was even less excusable. Still, all this is merely the endgame of a morally bankrupt ideology. Americans have an opportunity to embrace pro-life ideology – or re-embrace it.
Scenes from the anti-life protest
Reportage of the anti-life protest on First Avenue East came from Al-Jazeera, Newsweek, The New York Post, Business Insider, and The Washington Examiner. The most salient official statement came from the Capitol Police, at 3:35 p.m. ET yesterday:
We made a total of 35 arrests for Crowding, Obstructing or Incommoding (DC Code § 22–1307).
That arrest number includes 17 Members of Congress.
That section of the DC Code makes it unlawful to block car, foot, or other traffic along public streets, through public buildings, at entrances to the DC Metro, and so on. The code makes it a separate offense to keep doing it after law enforcement has told you to stop. It’s a misdemeanor, and those who commit it could get up to ninety days in jail.
The Capitol Police hauled Rep. “AOC” away, not in handcuffs, but striking a pose.
Nothing like this—ever—happened at any of the Marches for Life.
What makes this an anti-life protest? Those people were there to protest the Supreme Court’s handling of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The Court also summarily disposed of three similar cases, through Grant, Vacate and Remand orders. (This Order List has the details.)
The rogues’ gallery
A full list of Representatives who provoked arrest for blocking traffic comes from The Daily Caller. They are:
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)
- Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)
- Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)
- Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)
- Cori Bush (D-Mo.)
- Carolyn Mahoney (D-N.Y.)
- Andy Levin (D-Mich.)
- Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)
- Jackie Speier (D-Calif.)
- Katherine Clark (D-Conn.)
- Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.)
- Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.)
- Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.)
- Sarah Jacobs (D-Calif.)
- Alma Adams (D-N.C.)
- Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.)
- Veronica Escobar (D-Texas)
As you can see, it includes every member of The Squad, except for its one “stag,” Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.). It also includes some “usual suspects,” mostly from States where the Dobbs decision will likely have no effect. (The most notable exception is Texas and possibly North Carolina, Missouri, and Pennsylvania. Those last three results will likely depend on Midterms. State Senator Doug Mastriano, for example, is a staunch pro-life and even “civilizational Christian” candidate.)
What the anti-life position implies
AOC’s histrionics are undignified, but incidental, not least because she was the only one to employ them. (Histrionic comes from the ancient Greco-Latin word for an actor on the stage. AOC was literally play-acting; hence the term.)
The basic anti-life position is far more important. Most of the Representatives who blocked traffic and caused the Capitol Police to arrest them, represent States where little to nothing will change. The Supreme Court allowed States to restrict, curtail, or forbid pregnancy termination services if they so choose. That isn’t likely to happen in New York, California, Minnesota, Michigan, Massachusetts (ironic, given the State’s colonial history), Illinois, or New Jersey. Not, at least, after this Midterms and perhaps not for another two or three election cycles at least. The anti-life position and ethos are deeply entrenched and never depended on Roe v. Wade. If anything, the Roe court imposed New York and California values on Texas (where Henry Wade was District Attorney for Dallas County).
So why is the anti-life crowd so afraid? Why get upset because the Supreme Court, as Brett Kavanaugh said in his concurrence, decided that
the unelected Members of this Court
would no longer impose New York or California values on all States?
Why, indeed? Perhaps because they know that New York and California values are not sustainable.
Only pro-life values are sustainable
To repeat: only pro-life values are sustainable, long-term. Political ideologies promote themselves in two ways. Parents pass their values along to their children, and university professors pass their values along to their students.
For almost fifty years, the university professoriat kept the anti-life ethos alive. That ethos had a two-pronged attack. First, it represented license to consider only the pleasures and desires of the moment. Second, it taught that “Mother Earth groans with the birth of every child.”
The pro-life ethos has had a much easier time. First, pro-life mothers kept their children. Anti-life mothers did not – at least not in nearly the same proportion. Second, the pro-life side has been building the “parallel society” of Stephen Turley, Ph.D., for decades. They built alternatives to secular colleges and universities, to train their children as missionaries and clergy. In this they emulated John Harvard, Elihu Yale, and the other founders of the original Ivy League. Not all these “Bible colleges” are still in business. Furthermore, some of these institutions have had to repent of certain less-than-Biblical attitudes. (For example, Bob Jones University dropped its regulation against mixed-race dating. That was the single most important reform they could have put in place.)
But the parallel society had its colleges and universities – for those who would actually materially benefit from a “higher” education. More important still, parental moral instruction beats professorial instruction, so long as parents instruct consistently and lead by example.
Excesses on the anti-life side
So the anti-life side had an inherent disadvantage. It did not have as many parents to inculcate its values into its children. For that matter, it had many fewer children than the pro-life side! Such was and is the very nature of the anti-life ethos.
With such a severe disadvantage, that side surely needed no others. But it did have other disadvantages. From the start, the anti-life side had to defend certain practices that undermined the integrity and damaged the dignity of the medical profession. Who can forget:
Kenneth Edelin, M.D., who cut umbilical cords and held babies in the womb long enough to suffocate, timing their suffocation by watching the clock. A court in Massachusetts convicted him of manslaughter in 1974. But the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court vacated that conviction in 1976.
Leroy Carhart, M.D., the most prominent promulgator and practitioner of partial birth abortion. He was at the heart of all the Supreme Court jurisprudence on that procedure. In the most recent case, Gonzales v. Carhart, the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act barely survived. He invented the procedure – which few of his colleagues cared to perform. Indeed his two cases showed the shifting composition of the Court as would no other case until Dobbs.
These two doctors were heroes to the anti-life side. But then that side gained a hanger-on whom they had to disown.
The real turning point: the anti-life side rejects a hero
This was Kermit Gosnell, M.D. Of his excesses, the less said the better. Here let’s say that he violated every rule in the book about maintaining a sanitary consulting room. Moreover he was so callous that the anti-life community could never defend him as they did Drs. Edelin and Carhart.
Like Edelin before him, Gosnell would “make sure” that the baby would die. The problem was: he lost a mother under his care. Perhaps for that reason more than any other, he lost the support of the feminist community. Edelin and Carhart had the benefit of having the anti-life side celebrate them as heroes. But Gosnell they threw under the bus. Even Wikipedia calls him a police-blotter name: “serial killer.”
That happened nearly nine years ago. After that, Donald J. Trump took time to replace the two last obstacles to the eventual Dobbs result. First was Anthony Kennedy; second was Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Then in 2018 the State of Mississippi passed its Gestational Age Act. That Act set the time limit for ending a pregnancy at fifteen weeks. No more Edelins, no more Carharts, and certainly no more Gosnells. Why did the Jackson Women’s Health Organization fight this? One might as well ask why the anti-life side does, feels, and thinks as it does. Had they left it alone, Chief Justice Roberts might have saved Roe. But they didn’t, and even presumed to give the Court an ultimatum. Oh, yeah? said Sam Alito. Well, we’ll just see about that!
Where we now stand
As CNAV has said before, the anti-life side is being obnoxious – and maybe desperate. The full House of Representatives passed a measure to “codify” Roe – with all of 219 votes. Not only will the Senate never pass it, but after Midterms, the House won’t even get that many votes.
Merrick Garland has shown why the Senate acted wisely in refusing to confirm him to the Supreme Court in 2016. He has threatened to sue any pharmacists who won’t dispense mifepristone or other abortifacients.
But the real battle on the pro-life side must be for the hearts and minds of fellow citizens, and members of the helping professions. Neither Edelin nor Carhart nor even Gosnell came out of a vacuum. All three men are products of the industrial instruction model for medical education. They are also products of the anti-life ethos as it pervaded the medical profession and likely still does.
So once again: histrionics by certain politicians are incidental. Of far greater importance, we have to make sure that the medical profession will never again produce anti-life doctors.
Hippocrates of Cos had his students swear an Oath he designed specifically to prevent this. If Luke of Antioch did not improve on that Oath, he certainly could have. Today, if you go looking for a doctor, make it a doctor like Luke.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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