Why “No Bill But SB13” ?

James SilbermanAbolitionism, SB13

When the government demands we choose between obedience to man or obedience to God, scripture is perfectly clear about what we are to do. In Acts 5, Peter and the apostles get into trouble for teaching in the name of Jesus. Verse 29 records their response to the governing authorities: “But Peter and the Apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’”

We strive to follow this example with Senate Bill 13, “The Abolition of Abortion in Oklahoma Act,” sponsored by State Senator Joseph Silk. Roe v Wade is an order from the supreme court to the states commanding Oklahoma and every other state that we must allow the mass murder of preborn human beings. This order is in explicit contradiction to what we are called by God to do when he commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves and establish justice for the fatherless. If the supreme court opined that murdering Christians was a constitutional right, we would plead with the government of Oklahoma with all the strength and passion within us to ignore that court opinion. We are Biblically obligated, therefore, to do the same for our preborn neighbor. Not only is Roe an order demanding we neglect justice for the fatherless, it is one of the most egregious violations of the law of love. We are talking about murder. The passing and enforcing of Senate Bill 13 would be the state of Oklahoma saying to the supreme court, “We will obey God rather than men. In our state, the laws against murder will be applied to all humans. We will not allow the murder of image bearers of God.”

The Five Components of SB13

Acts 5:29 encapsulates the spirit of SB13. Put very simply, to support SB13 is to proclaim one’s allegiance to God over-against evil decrees. Isaiah 1:12-17, Amos 5:18-24, and Proverbs 24:11-12 are all verses you could point to as well. Here are the five components of SB13 that make it consistent with these verses and make it a bona fide bill of total and immediate abolition.

1) SB13 recognizes and establishes that life begins at conception and provides human beings from that point onward with the same legal protections against murder as anyone else. “It is the intent of the Legislature to provide to unborn children the equal protection of the laws of this state; to establish that a living human child, from the moment of fertilization upon the fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum, is entitled to the same rights, powers, privileges, justice and protections as are secured or granted by the laws of this state to any other human person.”

2) SB13 makes no exceptions for murder. Unlike many pro-life bills which include exceptions allowing for abortion, for instance, in the case of rape, SB13 does not allow abortion. Period. Isaiah 10 says “Woe to those who make iniquitous decrees” which “make the fatherless prey.” There is no one more fatherless than the child conceived in rape. It is unacceptable to allow for the murder of a baby because of the crime of the father. Furthermore, allowances for abortion in certain scenarios undermine the whole case against abortion. If abortion is murder, it does not stop being murder because of the circumstances of the baby’s conception. As for the matter of abortion in cases where the mother’s life is in danger, there is never a situation where the preborn child must be intentionally murdered to save the mother’s life. There may be cases where the child must be delivered early, but there is never cause or justification for murdering the child before delivery. Doctors are supposed to be healers, not killers, and SB13 specifies that they must exhaust all options at their disposal to save both human beings in cases of pregnancy complications demanding triage.

3) SB13 criminalizes abortion. Put simply, all an abolition bill does is make preborn human beings completely equal under the law. This means that murdering or being an accomplice to the murder of a preborn human being comes with the same legal penalty as murdering or being an accomplice to the murder of a born human being. Pro-life bills which give automatic legal immunity to the mother deprive preborn human beings of equal justice and protection. This hypocrisy of treating the murder of a preborn human being differently than the murder of a born human being actually led to the decriminalization of abortion in the first place.

The Texas abortion statutes in question in Roe gave automatic immunity to the mother in all cases. Justice Blackmun, author of the Roe ruling, wrote in footnote 54 of the decision that if Texas really believed preborn human beings were persons deserving of legal protection, the state would legally penalize those who murder them to the same degree as those who murder born persons. Another enormous problem with providing automatic immunity to the parents who murder their preborn child is the fact that it creates a right to self-induced abortion, a practice which is increasingly common as abortion pill technology advances. To write a law outlawing abortion but giving automatic immunity to the parents means that the mother is free to induce her own abortion. SB13 does not fail to provide equal protection to preborn humans and therefore does not legalize self-induced abortion.

4) SB13 is not contingent upon supreme court approval. Roe is an evil, unconstitutional supreme court opinion ordering the states to allow mass murder within their jurisdictions. An abolition bill recognizes that the courts have no rightful authority to legalize murder. Court opinions legalizing murder are null and void by their nature and will be treated as such upon the passage and enforcement of an abolition bill. In addition to a magistrate’s duty to uphold the Constitution in the face of judicial tyranny, all men have a transcendent, immutable moral obligation to disregard an order from a superior to allow mass murder, which is exactly what Roe is. Lower magistrates must interpose themselves between the victims of abortion and any higher magistrate who would deprive preborn human beings of the right to life. Specific to this case, state executives, legislators, and judges are the lower magistrates who must defy the tyrannical federal judiciary. An abolition bill includes language specifying that it will be enforced regardless of any contrary federal law, executive order, or court opinion. Submitting to the supreme court’s order to allow mass murder is cowardly and iniquitous, and absent language nullifying Roe a bill purporting to outlaw abortion will not be enforced. As an example of a bill that lacks language nullifying Roe, in 2019, Alabama passed a court-submissive bill establishing that it’s illegal for an abortionist to perform abortion. Yet Planned Parenthood is so confident the court will not allow the law that they broke ground on a new megacenter in Birmingham a few months after the bill passed. SB13 does not submit to Roe or any other government edict purporting to legalize abortion:

“Any federal statute, regulation, executive order or court decision which purports to supersede, stay or overrule this Act is in violation of the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma and the Constitution of the United States of America and is therefore void.” 

5) SB13 repeals pro-life regulations… because it has to. One of the ways the pro-life leaders fought against SB13 last year is by spreading the idea that we could lose all of our pro-life regulations because SB13 repeals them. For instance, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (who have since rebranded as Oklahoma Baptists) said, “SB13, as proposed, unnecessarily and purposely repeals hard-earned pro-life laws that have helped significantly reduce Oklahoma’s abortion rate, including repealing our state’s ban on partial birth abortion, parental notification requirements, the unborn child protection from dismemberment abortion, among numerous other life-saving laws.” What they don’t mention is the dismemberment ban must be repealed because it codifies into law the legality of murdering a baby as long as a certain dismemberment technique isn’t used. The parental notification law must be repealed because it specifically codifies into law the practice of murdering a preborn child so long as the grandparents are notified. The partial-birth abortion ban specifically codifies into law the acceptability of murdering a preborn human being as long as the child is not partially delivered before being murdered. All of these laws passed by pro-life politicians and lobbyists regulate where babies can be murdered, how they can be murdered, by whom they can be murdered, and the licensing needed  to murder them. Such laws explicitly contradict SB13 which abolishes abortion as murder. Abortion cannot be abolished while there are still laws on the books saying abortion is legal as long as you jump through pro-life hoops. They have to be repealed. SB13 repeals them.

SB13’s primary opponents such as Tony Lauinger of National Right to Life and the leaders of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (now going by the name Oklahoma Baptists) also argue that a hostile court could uphold the parts of SB13 which repeal pro-life regulations while striking down the parts of SB13 which abolish abortion, leaving Oklahoma without any abortion regulations. This is patently false. Section 34 of SB13 reads “The provisions, words, phrases, and clauses of this act are declared to be inseverable.” A judge could not strike down parts of the bill while upholding others. This has been adequately and clearly communicated directly to those making this claim but they continue to make it despite knowing that it is not true.

The above components of an abolition bill may be new to some, but every one of them is crucially important. No matter what any pro-life politician tries to tell you, a bill that is missing one of these five components will not abolish abortion.

Fake Abolition Bills

One of the ways that abolition can be prevented is if Christians are deceived by a bill that purports to abolish abortion but does not because it lacks one or more of the componenents of an abolition bill. The problems with most pro-life bills, like partial birth bills or ultrasound bills, are easy to spot and easy to grasp. They blatantly regulate when, where, how, why, and by whom a baby can be murdered. But bills which appear to be more Biblically and legally consistent could very well become the primary obstacle to abolishing abortion because they might draw people who sincerely believe they are supporting the abolition of abortion away from an actual abolition bill. There are two bills of this sort currently in the Oklahoma legislature.

The first is Senate Bill 1721, “The Unborn Person Equality Act” sponsored by Senator David Bullard and by Representative Tom Gann in the House. Before the problematic aspects of the bill, parts A, B, and the first half of Part C of Section 2 begin with some great language that would seem to imply that abortion is being abolished.

A.  This section shall be known and may be cited as the ‘Unborn Person Equality Act’.

B.  The Oklahoma Legislature finds that:

   1.  The life of each human being begins at conception;

  2.  Unborn persons have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being; and
3.  The natural parents of unborn persons have protectable interests in the life, health, and well-being of their unborn child.

C. Consistent with Amendments V and XIV of the United States Constitution and pursuant to powers reserved to this state by Amendment X of the United States Constitution, the laws of this state shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge on behalf of the unborn person at every stage of development, all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this state, subject only to the Constitution of the United States,…”

Up to this point, the bill is solid. Life begins at conception. Human beings have rights. Amendments V and XIV guarantee the right to life. Amendment X is supposed to prevent the federal government from going beyond its designated powers. But the rest of Part C renders all of that worthless.

“…and decisional interpretations thereof by the United States Supreme Court and specific provisions to the contrary in the Oklahoma Statutes and the Oklahoma Constitution.”

In other words, Bullard’s bill establishes that life begins at conception if the supreme court agrees that life begins at conception. It establishes that there is a right to life and equal protection if the supreme court agrees that there is a right to life and equal protection. It establishes that Oklahoma has a Tenth Amendment right to stand up to federal overreach if the federal government agrees that Oklahoma has the right to stand up against federal overreach. In other words, the bill establishes nothing because the federal courts have affirmed and reaffirmed their disagreement with all of this thirty seven times over.

Where SB13 says, “We will obey God rather than a supreme court opinion that Oklahoma must allow the mass murder of preborn humans,” SB1721 says, “We will obey men rather than God when the supreme court opines that we should allow the mass murder of preborn humans, but we ask the supreme court to let us obey God.” As Senator Silk put it, “Oklahomans do not need to wait for the supreme court’s permission to do what is right. You don’t have to have anyone’s permission to protect children from murder.” We have God’s permission, and further, God’s mandate.

If a court or any other governing entity disagrees with the idea that murder is illegal, they can pound sand. We are going to obey God. Bullard has expressed support for abolition in the past, so it’s possible he would be open to amending the bill to make it an abolition bill. But as of this printing, it is not an abolition bill and does not deserve anyone’s support.

The other current bill which some claim will end abortion is House Bill 1182 sponsored by Rep. Jim Olsen. This bill would strip the medical license from a medical professional who performs an abortion and possibly provide a one-to-three-year prison sentence and $500 fine. This bill has the same problem as Bullard’s bill because it lacks language nullifying Roe and the court’s other abortion decisions, meaning the bill will not go into effect without the court’s approval. Beyond that, what sort of argument could possibly be made to defend the bill in court? How can a state take away a medical license from a doctor for performing certain acts when that same state’s laws say that the act is legal? And how can a state argue that abortion is murder if the penalty for doing it is a mere loss of license and a possible one-to-three year sentence and $500 fine? HB1182 is legal nonsense that undermines itself and would not abolish abortion.

The Paradigm is Shifting

Thanks to the work of abolitionists who have tirelessly had their hand to the plow for years, the abolitionist ideology is spreading like wildfire, especially in Oklahoma. Two prominent Christian denominations in the state have passed resolutions supportive of SB13 in the past eight months. Last May, the Oklahoma Free Will Baptists passed the following resolution:

“WHEREAS, God’s Word clearly declares that all human life is a sacred gift from our sovereign God and that His Law is supreme over mankind and man’s law, and therefore that all abortion is wrong and usurps God’s sovereignty; and,

WHEREAS, since Roe v. Wade, 60 million innocent unborn babies have been legally murdered in the United States and approximately 5,000 innocent unborn babies are legally murdered in Oklahoma every year; and,

WHEREAS, government is not instituted to grant rights but to protect our unalienable, God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as recognized in the Declaration of Independence and Article 2, Section 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution; and,

WHEREAS, traditional pro-life laws do nothing to abolish abortion and, in fact, merely establish regulatory guidelines for how to obtain a legal abortion and, in so doing, simply facilitate the murder of innocent unborn children; and,

WHEREAS, Roe v. Wade will never be overturned unless a state enacts a law abolishing human abortion; therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the Oklahoma Association of Free Will Baptists, call upon the Legislature, Governor, and Attorney General of Oklahoma to pass, sign, and enforce legislation abolishing the practice of human abortion at all gestational stages and for all reasons in Oklahoma.”

The resolution was authored by Tim Gillespie, pastor of Stroud Free Will Baptist Church, and the vote in favor was unanimous according to Oklahoma Free Will Baptists Executive Director Mike Wade.

Oklahoma Baptists (the Oklahoma affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention) passed a resolution at their annual convention on Nov. 12, 2019 adding language to the convention’s platform on abortion calling for the immediate end of abortion in the state:

“Finally, we call upon the Oklahoma State Legislature to enact legislation that calls for the immediate end of abortion without exception or compromise.”

The resolution, introduced by Pastor Bill Ascol of Bethel Baptist Church in Owasso, OK, and passed by a majority of representatives of the various Southern Baptist churches in Oklahoma, was a direct rebuke from member churches to the leaders of Oklahoma Baptists who had publicly opposed the Abolition of Abortion in Oklahoma Act during the 2019 legislative session.

The Oklahoma Republican Party also amended its platform last year to call for SB13 to be given a floor vote in the State House and Senate, declaring, “Be it resolved that the abolition of abortion be brought to a full floor vote in both Oklahoma Legislative chambers.”

These resolutions are the result of a paradigm shift that is taking place toward rejecting compromises with abortion and demanding the killing be stopped immediately. This paradigm shift is happening around the country, but is especially far along in Oklahoma.

No Compromise

An objection we sometimes hear is, “I understand that pro-life bills do not abolish abortion, but aren’t they at least a step in the right direction?” To illustrate the problem with that sentiment, consider what happened in the 2019 legislative session in Oklahoma.

When Senators Greg Treat and Jason Smalley (both pro-life Republicans) denied SB13 a hearing in 2019, there was a massive outcry against them. Christians all over the state were outraged. Responding to the outrage, Treat authored a pro-life trigger bill and helped pass three other incremental pro-life bills, raising the total for Oklahoma to 25 pro-life laws (abortion regulations) on the books. None of these bills brought us any closer to abolishing abortion. In fact, all of them served to further entrench the misconception that Oklahoma is bound by the supreme court’s arbitrary opinion that murdering a preborn child should be legal and thereby made it more difficult to abolish abortion.

What these bills did accomplish, though, was helping Treat save face. The outrage against him was somewhat quelled. These bills preserved Treat’s pro-life reputation in the minds of those who did not understand what he was doing. Jason Smalley, who resigned just ahead of the 2020 session, was not able to retain his pro-life reputation as Oklahomans inundated his district with fliers and doorhangers and put up billboards around OKC making it known that he kept abortion legal. Treat was only able to get away with preventing abortion’s abolition by authoring and passing incremental bills. These bills accomplish nothing while communicating to the culture the insidious idea that we are bound by every arbitrary court opinion up to and including orders to allow mass murder.

Furthermore, incremental compromise bills teach people dehumanizing misinformation about preborn human beings. Free the States lobbyist Russell Hunter discovered this when he was outside a killing center in Norman trying to talk to abortion-minded mothers and fathers. After engaging one young woman who was going in for an abortion, she told Russell that she was pro-life, but that the abortion was okay because the baby was too young to feel pain. Where did she learn that? From the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which explicitly codifies into law the practice of murdering babies who can’t feel pain. While meeting with Ohio State Senator Andrew Brenner’s office, Free the States’ James Silberman discovered the same thing. After presenting to Brenner’s aide the importance of introducing a bill of abolition, the aide responded, “This is interesting, but it’s Senator Brenner’s personal religious conviction that life begins at a heartbeat. He’s very proud that we just passed the Heartbeat Bill and he has been working to pass that bill since the beginning.” Where did he learn that ridiculous and dehumanizing nonsense that life begins at a heartbeat? He learned it from the heartbeat bill and pro-life messaging supporting it.

Incremental pro-life bills are not simply less good than abolition bills. They are counterproductive. They are the excuse politicians use to not abolish abortion. They instill in the culture dehumanizing misinformation about the preborn and the idolatrous idea that we owe unconditional submission to the supreme court. In conservative states incremental bills and the incremental ideology held by pro-life politicians are quite literally all that is standing in the way of abolition bills being passed, signed, and enforced. In a state like Oklahoma where pro-life Republicans hold super-majorities in the Senate and the House, it’s not that we cannot pass a bill abolishing abortion because we do not have the votes, it’s that we could pass a bill abolishing abortion but choose to pass pro-life bills regulating abortion instead.

This has been a common tactic to delay abolition throughout history. In their famous 1833 Declaration of Sentiments, the American Anti-Slavery Society said the following on the matter of compromise: “We regard, as delusive, cruel and dangerous, any scheme of expatriation which pretends to aid, either directly or indirectly, in the emancipation of the slaves, or to be a substitute for the immediate and total abolition of slavery.” Incremental compromises are exactly the substitute being rebuked.

Abolitionist movement leader William Lloyd Garrison said similarly, “Come what may – cost what it may – inscribe on the banner which you unfurl to the breeze, as your religious and political motto – ‘NO COMPROMISE WITH SLAVERY!’”  There are innumerable principled and pragmatic reasons why Garrison was correct. May we similarly proclaim “No compromise with child sacrifice!”

Elizabeth Heyrick, a British abolitionist of slavery, wrote a pamphlet entitled Immediate, Not Gradual Abolition, one the most compelling rebukes of compromise with monstrous societal evils ever written:

“The enemies of slavery have hitherto ruined [the abolitionist] cause by the senseless cry of gradual emancipation. It is marvelous that the wise and the good should have suffered themselves to have been imposed upon by this wily artifice of the slave holder, for with him must the project of gradual emancipation have first originated. The slave holder knew very well that his prey would be secure, so long as the abolitionists could be cajoled into a demand for gradual instead of immediate abolition. He knew very well, that the contemplation of a gradual emancipation, would beget a gradual indifference to emancipation itself. He knew very well, that even the wise and the good, may, by habit and familiarity, be brought to endure and tolerate almost any thing…

“He knew very well, that the faithful delineation of the horrors of West Indian slavery, would produce such a general insurrection of sympathetic and indignant feeling; such abhorrence of the oppressor, such compassion for the oppressed, as must soon have been fatal to the whole system… Our example might have spread from kingdom to kingdom, from continent to continent, and the slave trade, and slavery, might by this time, have been abolished all the world over:

‘A sacrifice of a sweet savour,’ might have ascended to the Great Parent of the Universe, ‘His kingdom might have come, and his will (thus far) have been done on earth, as it is in Heaven.’

“But this GRADUAL ABOLITION, has been the grand marplot of human virtue and happiness; the very masterpiece of satanic policy. By converting the cry for immediate, into gradual emancipation, the prince of slave holders, ‘transformed himself, with astonishing dexterity, into an angel of light,’ and thereby ‘deceived the very elect.’ He saw very clearly, that if public justice and humanity, especially, if Christian justice and humanity, could be brought to demand only a gradual extermination of the enormities of the slave system; if they could be brought to acquiesce, but for one year, or for one month, in the slavery of our African brother, in robbing him of all the rights of humanity, and degrading him to a level with the brutes; that then, they could imperceptibly be brought to acquiesce in all this for an unlimited duration.”

The key to keeping abortion legal is to delay its abolition with a never-ending stream of incremental “victories” to soothe the consciences of the public and to quell the righteous outrage which would otherwise be fatal to the whole abortion system. We must not acquiesce another year, another month, another day. We must faithfully and uncompromisingly bring the truth of God’s word and the light of the Gospel of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ into conflict with the enormous evil of the abortion holocaust.

The Christian Obligation

A Christian who lives in a culture that practices child sacrifice on an industrial scale is obligated by the law of love to demand the abolition of that practice. It must be demanded with passion and it must be demanded by all. In the words of the late preacher R.C. Sproul, “When the church is silent in the midst of a Holocaust, she ceases to be a real church.” Those are harsh words, but they are confirmed by scripture. Isaiah 1 paints the picture of what it looks like when God’s people neglect to demand justice and mercy in the courts. Verses 12-17 explain God’s disposition toward that society:

“When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”

God forbid we let that be us.

Abolitionists today argue that the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is to be salt and light in a dark and decaying world, bring the Gospel of the Kingdom into conflict with the culture of death, and seek justice and mercy for the “least of these” being murdered in our midst. We believe abortion apathy is sin and that abolitionism is repentance. This has always been at the heart of abolitionism. As Garrison wrote in the 19th century abolitionist publication The Liberator: “Genuine abolitionism is not a hobby, got up for personal or associated aggrandizement; it is not a political ruse; it is not a spasm of sympathy, which lasts but for a moment, leaving the system weak and worn; it is not a fever of enthusiasm; it is not the fruit of fanaticism; it is not a spirit of faction. It is of heaven, not of men. It lives in the heart as a vital principle. It is an essential part of Christianity, and aside from it there can be no humanity. Opposition cannot weary it out, force cannot put it down, fire cannot consume it. It is the Spirit of Jesus, who was sent to ‘bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God.’ Its principles are self-evident, its measures rational, its purposes merciful and just. It cannot be diverted from the path of duty, though all earth and hell oppose; for it is lifted far above all earth-born fear. When it fairly takes possession of the soul, you may trust the soul-carrier anywhere, that he will not be recreant to humanity. In short it is a life, not an impulse — a quenchless flame of philanthropy, not a transient spark of sentimentalism.” It is this unyielding Godly conviction for which we strive.

In December 2019, we spoke with a legislator about supporting SB13. You know his response? “If the churches really want it, they’ll show up. If you have 10,000 Oklahomans at your rally, we’ll have to pass the bill. In fact, there will be legislators fighting to take the bill and pretend it was their idea in the first place.” We can make that happen. But the church of the living God has to show up. It’s time to move beyond holding a pro-life opinion and take action to demand abortion be abolished. Be salt and light. Tangibly support SB13, spread the abolitionist ideology, and bring people into the abolitionist movement. Go to the capitol for rallies and set up meetings with your Representatives and Senators. Make sure to call and email them continuously, exhorting them to support the Abolition of Abortion in Oklahoma Act. It’s time for our magistrates to uphold justice or be replaced by those who will.

Don’t let your activism be a spasm of sympathy for the unborn or a fever of enthusiasm, lasting but for a moment. Pray for an awakening from heaven such that the body of Christ in Oklahoma becomes animated by an unquenchable flame of compassion for our preborn neighbor that no opposition can weary. Let that be what future historians say about the Christians of Oklahoma during the time of the abortion holocaust. May abortion be abolished and may God get the glory.

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