Culture Friday: Sweeping pro-abortion legislation

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Friday the 25th of January, 2019. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.

AUDIO: [Applause]

The applause is for a draconian piece of legislation New York Governor Andrew Cuomo just signed into law.

He chose the 46th anniversary to the day that the Supreme Court ruled in Roe versus Wade. January 22nd, Tuesday of this week.

The new law in New York codifies in state law the provisions granted in Roe. It does maintain the state’s existing rule protecting unborn babies after 24 weeks of gestation. But it adds exceptions for an abortion beyond that point if the baby is judged unable to live outside the womb—or an abortion is considered “necessary to protect the patient’s life or health” based on a healthcare provider’s “good faith professional judgment.”

It also allows physician assistants to abort babies and moves abortion regulations from criminal to civil code. Pro-life advocates fear that could make it harder for prosecutors to bring charges in assaults that lead to lost pregnancies.

Governor Cuomo said the law is necessary because Roe versus Wade is in danger, with a conservative majority on the Supreme Court. Let’s listen to him.

CUOMO: That’s why we had to pass this law to protect our state, and that’s why I believe we have to go even a step further and do a constitutional amendment so no governor, no legislator, no political swing can ever jeopardize a woman’s right to control her own body in this state.

It’s Culture Friday and John Stonestreet joins me now. He’s president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Good morning.

JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning, Nick.

EICHER: Governor Cuomo proudly called this law—and I will quote him again— it is “another New York national precedent … the most aggressive women’s equality platform in the nation.” Now, John, he does appear to be right about “most aggressive” part.

What do you say?

STONESTREET: Oh, look, this is the most radically pro-abortion piece of legislation we’ve seen in a long, long time at the state level. In fact, the trend nationally has been to add more restrictions on abortion across the nation. And 75 percent of Americans say that they want more restrictions. This was a set of exceptions so big a Mac truck could drive through it. I mean, this isn’t even close to what reflects the will of the larger American people. And probably the vast majority of New Yorkers who live outside of New York City.

This is a stunning piece of legislation and it really puts to the lie anything if anybody still believes that the pro-abortion movement has any connection whatsoever anymore with the “safe, legal, and rare” talking point from Bill Clinton in the 90s. I mean, what we have seen, really, in the last 5-7 years is the sides of this issue become even more stark and I think we’ve really seen that in so many issues how politically far apart the two sides are. But nothing as far as abortion. And I think that needs to be realized.

The extremists on this issue compared to where the rest of the American people are, are those who are on the pro-abortion side. Who annually at the Democratic National Convention do a group cheer whenever abortion is mentioned, like the people did in the gallery when this bill was passed and lighting up the World Trade Center with pink as a celebration of women’s reproductive health. There’s nothing in the bill that advances women’s reproductive health. Everything in this bill advances unborn baby death. Basically, no questions asked. I mean, it’s a stunningly sweeping bill.

And here’s the other thing that it demonstrates, Nick—and I think this is really, really important—that for all pro-lifers who are waiting for Roe v. Wade to be overturned, it’s really hard to imagine that any overturning of Roe v. Wade will make abortion illegal. What it’s going to do is it’s going to push the issue back to a states rights matter. And then we’re going to have to deal with states like New York and California, who of course last year, California really kind of took the cake for crazy when they tried to make organizations that exist to be pro-life marketing agencies for abortion centers.

And just for the record, too, this is a law that you will not find in the vast majority of the larger world. This sort of exception on abortion, you will not find this in the larger portion of the Western world. I mean, we are joining a group of people with this law, a group of nations with this law that are known human rights abusers. This is China sort of stuff right now. And it’s shocking and it’s disgusting.

EICHER: John, there’s so much to say about the social-media reverberations from this past weekend. Our Megan Basham did a terrific job writing about this for WORLD Magazine. So proud of the work that she did.

I’m referring to the social-media smear of a group of high-school kids who had come to Washington for the March for Life.

Those kids found themselves accosted by a strange group of counter-protesters at the Lincoln Memorial, after the March was over and they were waiting to be picked up.

We don’t need to go back over the whole thing, but suffice it to say, how you see it begins with your biases and presuppositions that existed long before the videos surfaced.

But I have to tell you, I am this close to deleting all my social media. And when I say “this close” I have two or three grains of rice distance between my thumb and index finger here when I say I’m “this close” to deleting social media.

I read one Tweet that captures, frankly, the disgust I felt this past weekend, and I’m eager to hear what you have to say about it. But the Tweet said this:

“What I hate most about Twitter and ‘the Internet’ is that I know it is rotting my soul and everyone else’s, while also destroying our society and driving us to self-destruction … but I need it for my job.”

That’s about it, right? What do you think?

STONESTREET: Well, look, we can talk about the merits and the lack thereof of social media and I think that’s exactly right. But this story about the Covington Catholic kids, this wasn’t the fault of social media. This was the fault of media in general. We need to be clear on that. The mainstream media had a terrible, no good, very bad week. That’s what I called it. I could only think when I saw this kind of run-up last week, I thought, from the Karen Pence outrage for teaching at a Christian school that believes Christian things to Buzzfeed claiming to have inside information from the Mueller investigation that Bob Mueller then turned around and directly contradicted, to the so-called Ben Shapiro controversy for what he said at the March for Life—which, the only way to miss what he said is to intentionally want to miss what he said—to this, where exactly an additional 30 minutes spent looking at the whole video would have kept all the major media outlets from proclaiming a narrative that for them was predetermined as soon as they saw the red hats on their head. That was where the narrative came from. You have the same exact video clip without the Make America Great Again hat and you don’t have this controversy.

Look, I get what you’re saying about Twitter. 

But, look, this story is not a story about the limitations of Twitter. This story is a story about a nation that no longer looks to tell the truth. And, look, this isn’t a political side that I’m taking on this because this gotcha style journalism has created a gotcha style social media which is forming a gotcha style culture. And we’re guilty of it on the right and on the left. And I hope that among the things that we learn on this is that on the right we should take a deep breath, too, before we immediately jump into the gotcha outrage that now has replaced our entire cultural discourse. This is a real problem that this story revealed.

And, look, Twitter has its own issue. And, Nick, your soul might be better if you do delete your Twitter. [laughter] I’m not going to argue with you on that. But I just don’t think this story is about Twitter at all.

EICHER: Yeah, and probably a conversation for another day, John, because enough mainstream-media journalists are out there in real time on Twitter just pouring gasoline on problems. But, yeah, conversation for another day.

John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. It’s Culture Friday. And, John, thank you.

STONESTREET: Thank you, Nick.

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo talks during a bill signing ceremony, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in New York. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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