Prochoice activists are trying a new tactic: Just label antiabortion a hate crime—and haul prolifers off to court. Define prolife activism as discrimination—and bar it by law.
Federal courts around the country have done just that, invoking a century-old civil rights law known as the Ku Klux Klan Act. Comparing prolifers to white supremacists who terrorized blacks after the civil war, judges have ruled that blocking abortion clinics amounts to discrimination against women.
The tactic suffered a setback in January when the Supreme Court refused to buy the argument. In Bray v. Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic, the Court said that the Ku Klux Klan Act applies legally only to groups motivated by a “class-based, invidiously discriminatory animus.” Blocking an abortion clinic is not in itself proof of an animus against women.
There are all sorts of reasons for opposing abortion besides hatred of women, Justice Scalia argued. After all, both men and women oppose abortion—just as both support it. In fact, a 1977 Supreme Court case specifically ruled that favoring childbirth over abortion is not tantamount to gender bias.
After the Bray decision, prolifers breathed a sigh of relief. But the relief was short-lived. Recently a circuit court drastically curtailed its effects. A Manhattan federal appeals panel ruled that Bray applied to only one specific case; and that whereas the abortion protesters in Bray were not driven by an animus against women, other protesters still may be.
In other words, if this ruling stands, judges will once again be free to rule that prolife activism is indeed a form of women-hating.
What’s going on here is part of a broad attempt by liberals to demonize the opposition. We see it everywhere. If you oppose affirmative action, you’re not expressing a legitimate view of the purpose of law: You’re a racist.
If you oppose gay rights, you’re not expressing a legitimate stance on sexual morality: You’re a homophobe.
If you oppose the increase in out-of-wedlock pregnancies, you’re not concerned about children without fathers: You’re attacking single mothers.
It’s bad enough when ad hominem attacks like these become part of public rhetoric. But now they are being enshrined in the law.
As Christians we need to be ready with counter-arguments. Make it clear that taking a stand on an issue is not the same as attacking people. After all, when animal-rights groups oppose zoos, nobody thinks it’s because they personally hate zoo-keepers. Civil libertarians who oppose doctor-assisted suicide are not against doctors.
So why is it that when we talk about abortion or homosexuality, people equate disagreement with personal attack?
And when the courts begin to see it the same way, we’re headed for real trouble. In Sweden, a pastor who preached a sermon on Sodom and Gomorrah was convicted of “verbal violence” against homosexuals, and sentenced to 4 weeks in prison.
Will it come to that here in America? You and I need to work and pray that it does not. Legitimate moral beliefs should not be redefined as hate crimes.