Incrementalism Versus Immediatism in a Nutshell

Rolley HaggardAbolitionism

The Pro-Life Establishment often likes to say about abolitionists that “we all want the same thing.” This is actually untrue. Abolitionists want preborn children treated as our equals under the law; we want abortion treated as murder. The Pro-Life Establishment wants abortion classified as a lesser crime, and for preborn children to be denied the equal protection of the law.

But even if it were true to claim that we want the same thing, to conclude therefore that the differences between the strategies of these two movements should be ignored or minimized is naïve at best. 

It would be like saying that since Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill wanted the same thing – “peace for our time” – the differences between the two weren’t worth making a fuss over. Everyone ought to just ignore the differences and merrily work together to manage the growing Hitler problem. 

But clearly, similar ends imply neither the necessity nor the propriety of employing similar means to accomplish those ends. Some strategies are good, others are disastrous.

Chamberlain and Churchill wanted, generally speaking, “the same thing.” Yet their strategies for achieving it were as different as night and day.

Where Chamberlain would compromise with Hitler, Churchill would defy him. 

Where Chamberlain would issue concessions, Churchill would issue ultimatums. 

Where Chamberlain would appease, Churchill would stand on principle and, if necessary, go to war. (See Endnote)

Their strategies for dealing with the archenemy of the free world were, at a fundamental level, vastly and irreconcilably different. 

Likewise, the strategies today for dealing with the archenemy of the preborn are also vastly, irreconcilably different. 

Incrementalists (pro-lifers) are willing to meet the enemy halfway, appeasing him with concessionary proposals of legislation that ostensibly halt the murder of some preborn children while implicitly sanctioning in law the murder of all the rest. Gradually (so the thinking goes), the enemy will be worn down or come to his senses.

Immediatists (abolitionists), on the other hand boldly assert that if abortion is murder (and it is), then compromise is immoral. All abortion ought, on principle, to be immediately criminalized. It is wrong to attempt to purchase the supposed deliverance of some at the price of the continued murder of the rest. Legislatively, we must demand nothing less than the total and immediate abolition of all abortion, or by default we unavoidably give tacit approval to the murder of some.

To fail to glean from Chamberlain and Churchill lessons applicable to our own war against abortion is not only to disobey God (who prohibits all murder), but to actively court failure. Failure which, as the past 49 years amply demonstrate, equates to the continuation of the mass slaughter of the preborn, perhaps to the end of time.

In a very real sense, the fundamental difference between incrementalism and immediatism (i.e.,  pro-lifeism and abolitionism) is hardly more complicated than this: the former is Chamberlain, the latter is Churchill. 

God grant all who love the inestimable gift of life discernment and resolve in the war against child-murder to reject incrementalist “Chamberlain” and unite under abolitionist “Churchill” so that we may defeat the tyrant Abortion once and for all.


This is not to suggest that abolitionists promote or condone violence. We emphatically do not (see our statement on why abolitionism must be non-violent). The point is simply that we will not shrink from standing firm on the peaceable principles of abolition, even if the price of fidelity to their practice is hostile opposition.

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