When Supreme Court nominee Kentanji Brown Jackson recently refused to define “woman” on the basis that she was not a biologist, conservatives and evangelicals bristled at the idea that someone could claim ignorance to such a basic question. If a Supreme Court Nominee could not answer such a simple question, how could she provide judgments on complex matters of the law. Denny Burk, who has often taken principled Biblical stances on issues such as intersectionality and biblical manhood and womanhood pointed this out.
In the past week, Burk has published a series of articles defending the incrementalist approach to banning abortion, blasting abolitionists who want to totally ban abortion, and defending the idea that women who have abortions should not be subject to any legal penalty for their decision to break the law and murder their baby. In the process of defending his position, Burk had his own version of a Ketanji moment, when he used the words of Scott Klusendorf to make the claim that women don’t have the same level of understanding as an abortionist, and therefore they should not be charged for murdering their children.
“That is to say, did the woman contracting the abortion have the same understanding of the act and same proximity to it as the abortionist? I think most agree that the abortionist knows exactly what he’s doing while the aborting mother may not fully understand. For example, the abortionist assembles the instruments used to dismember the fetus and often views the child on an ultrasound machine during the dismemberment procedure. He uses a doppler devise, inaudible to the patient, to detect crushing fetal heartbeat. (See abortionist Warren Hern’s book, “Abortion Practice.”) His acts are clearly premeditated. True, the mother and the abortionist have a meeting of the minds in that they agree on having the abortion, but they rarely meet beyond that point because the mother rarely knows what the abortionist knows.”
Burk’s position that women can’t understand that they are murdering their children because they are not abortionists is just as absurd as Ketanji Brown-Jackson’s claim that she is not qualified to define “woman,” because she is not a biologist. The idea that women don’t know that they have a baby growing inside of them is demeaning to women and just plain ignorant. Give women at least a little credit, they must have some degree of culpability, right?
If a man hires a hitman, both the man and the hitman can be prosecuted. If parents gave their children to traffickers, both the parents and traffickers can be prosecuted. The idea that women who have abortions should be immune to a murder charge is absurd and ignorant of the Biblical standard for murder. It’s like arguing that David didn’t murder Uriah and should not be found guilty because he wasn’t there when it happened nor was it his men who physically killed him.
In fact, we’re convinced most prolifers like Burk have never met a defiant, motivated, haughty, unrepentant, ‘shout your abortion’ type woman before. Instead, they believe 99% of women who get abortions are meek, fearful, and are being dragged by the arm into the clinic under threat of death, having no comprehension of what they are doing, and therefore not punishable in any way.
Incrementalism was a pragmatic position of many pro-lifers under the Roe V. Wade ruling. The position led to constant compromise and the development of a “pro-life” industry that fed on the wallets of well-meaning conservative Christians (like Denny Burk) while providing only meager legal results.
If the Supreme Court stays the course and strikes down Roe V. Wade, Christians will no longer have any excuse for pushing half-measures that regulate abortion rather than totally abolishing it. Burk’s argument that abolitionists are anti-pro-life is blatantly false. Abolitionists have zeal to totally eliminate the scourge of abortion, giving it no quarter.
Editor’s Note. This article was written by Paul Brown for Protestia.