Abortion Legislation Has Exposed What I Most Treasure

May 29, 2020 by David Fowler

radiant cross and open treasure chest filled with light
Wednesday was one of my most unpleasant legislative experiences in 25 years, because I was compelled to speak critically of a pro-life bill proposed, sponsored, and supported by people I like and respect and whose pro-life convictions I would never question. What made it so unpleasant is that I probably would have supported the bill a few years ago. But I can’t now, because I don’t believe what I used to believe. Here is my public confession.

There were two abortion bills before the House Health Subcommittee. One bill would prohibit abortions at one of ten different gestational periods, beginning at 6 weeks and ending at 24 weeks. The bill is essentially asking a federal court to decide at which of those ten gestational periods it will let the state protect the life of a human being from destruction by a third person, an abortionist. Because the bill offers multiple points at which human life should be protected, it is called the “Laddered Bill.” There are other provisions in the bill, but the “laddered provisions” are the key component.

The alternative is what’s called the Rule of Law Life Act. It would protect human life from an abortionist from the point at which life can first be detected.

The difference between the two bills is not found in the specific provisions as to when pre-born life should be protected, but upon the foundational belief systems on which their different provisions are based.

These competing belief systems are literally at the heart of the matter for, as Solomon wrote, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23, KJV).” As one “thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).

The Big Confession

Here is my confession, which I’ll then proceed to apply and explain: Over the last two or three years, I have gradually come to see that my heart was not wholly God’s, particularly as it came to law. In my approach to law, I denied God the glory that is due to Him, and “to fall short of the glory of God” is the biblical definition of sin (Romans 3:23).

Comparing the Two Belief Systems

The Laddered Bill. The Laddered Bill assumes that the U.S. Supreme Court determines when a human life deserves protection from an abortionist and recognition in the law. That is the belief system on which its provisions rest.

Based on that belief system, it only argues that the Supreme Court should change its declaration that unborn human life merits legal protection when the unborn child can survive outside the womb to a point at which, if not aborted, it is medically likely that the pregnancy would go full term or at that point at which the unborn child would feel pain during the abortion.

The Rule of Law Life Act (“ROLL Act”). The ROLL Act rejects this belief system and relies on and points the Court to the Ninth Amendment. The Ninth Amendment says: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Using the Ninth Amendment is not some word game or constitutional sleight of hand. The Ninth Amendment reflects a biblical, Christian belief system and of law in particular. Notice the two beliefs which its words reflect.

First, our rights do not come from government, by any “enumeration” of rights in a constitution, statute, or judicial opinion. The Ninth Amendment is declaring that the purpose of the Constitution is to protect the rights we already have!

Second, by implication, the Ninth Amendment says that this unwritten, pre-political law or set of rights that exists outside of and independent of what man writes into a constitution is superior to what’s written in the Constitution. That’s what is meant when it says the Constitution shall not be “construed” to “deny” real rights that come from a source superior to man.

Now the Application to Me

To assert, as the ROLL Act does, that rights do not come from anything that man does is biblical, as God is the Author of all things (Romans 11:36). A law like that ascribes glory to God (Psalm 29:1–29) as the Source of such rights as we might claim and without whom we can claim none.

On the other hand, to look to the U.S. Supreme Court for rights, as the Laddered Bill does, is to deny God’s essential and inherent jurisdictional authority over humankind as a creature. This denies God the glory due Him as “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of Kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15, KJV).

The Laddered Bill effectively denies that God’s moral law is not universal and not unchanging—man’s law is exempted from it, and man can have some other law, some other lawgiver. As I have written in the past, it means there can be more than one lawgiver for humanity, and that is polytheism at its unvarnished core.

I’ve come to see that when I think of legislation in any context other than how it relates to and what it implies about what is true of God, then I have fallen short of the glory of God. It denies that the meaning of all things is to be understood in light of God and who He is. I have not loved God with respect to all things with all my heart and mind.

I can support only the ROLL Act, because only it is consistent with what I believe is true about God. And when my heart is wholly His, I must bow all other things before what He reveals about Himself and what it says about Him.

But… But What About Saving As Many Babies As Possible?

What I have said about myself will no doubt leave some Christians saying, “But, David, half a loaf is better than none. Saving some babies is better than none, because some part of the Laddered Bill might be upheld. You’ve supported that approach in the past.”

I did support that approach in the past, but as I’ve written before, it was not in connection with the question of what constitutes a human being. It was about what constitutes a safe and clean abortion clinic, what kind of information about abortion procedures a woman should know, and what professional criteria an abortionist should meet. Those are wholly different issues in kind. 

But, even then, I am also not the same person I was then, and my understanding of who God is and what it means for Him to have the whole of my heart is not the same.

Pragmatism, which is what is being urged on me, is an unbiblical belief system. It rests on the belief that there are no right or wrong answers, only what works. That, too, denies the glory of God.

Am I Being Too Hard on Myself?

Is this a hard line? You bet it is. It’s acknowledging a line I know I won’t be able to hold to all the time.

But, it’s like the line Jesus drew for the rich young ruler: Give away all that you hold dear to the poor and come follow me (Matthew 19:21). That, Jesus said, would show what the young man really treasured in his heart. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” Jesus said (Luke 12:34, KJV).

You see, as with this young man, I finally realized that God has already drawn the line, and it applies to all things, even how I think of legislation, because it has to do with what my heart really treasures.

But only when my heart really understood God’s grace, could my heart treasure God Himself enough to want to walk a line that I knew was humanly impossible and I would fall short of.

John Newton said it best in Amazing Grace: “T’was Grace that taught my heart to fear and Grace my fears relieved.”
David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. 

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