NECAC Debate: Bill Baird and a Pro-Abortion Guest Host on Christian Radio WEZE
John C. Rankin
My third interface with Bill Baird, reputed “father on the abortion rights movement,” was ca. 1989, on WEZE Christian radio in Boston.
The host of the show, Jeanine Graf, was on vacation for a week, and she invited a Jewish friend, an agnostic, to host her show in her absence. True hospitality, especially on a Christian radio station. So he invited Baird and I to debate the abortion subject.
At one point Bill was insistent on trying to have me call him a murderer (of the unborn), so he could rationalize an accusatory mode against me. But I would not do so. Finally I said to him, “Bill, are you familiar with Jesus’s words in the Sermon on the Mount, where he says that calling someone a fool is equivalent to murdering him?” He said yes. I continued, “Bill, I drive in Boston traffic, so I qualify.” That ended his attempt.
I continued to state my motivation for being involved in pro-life – it was not to deny women freedom, or to accuse him and others of murder. Rather it was to serve the rescue of as many women and their unborn children as possible, to give witness to the Good New of Jesus Christ to people who are struggling with such brokennesses that lead to an abortion decision. Vengeance is God’s alone, and his desire is to shower mercy on people so they can avoid his judgment – but they must admit their sins first, and desire such mercy.
An interesting sidelight to the show was how the host joined with Bill Baird in arguing against me, thus violating his role. In the middle of it I thought how strange it was for a Christian radio station to have a decidedly non-Christian host side with another non-Christian against a Christian guest. When the show was over, I wondered what value it had. But then the station heard from many callers saying how they thought it was the best show they had heard. Why? Because they heard a Christian ganged up on, but who responded with graciousness, not anger or condemning attitudes (by God’s grace). It was at this point that I first began to envision the concept of the Mars Hill Forum series.
Bill Baird was also pressing this issue of how abortion would be prosecuted if made illegal. Would I call for the death penalty? I said there should be no agenda to seek punitive measures against people, rather the agenda is to win equal protection under the law for the unborn. And that requires the empowerment of women in face of the male chauvinism reality. However, many pro-lifers have said to me that if I really believe the unborn are fully human, then I should also argue for the death penalty.
The Bible distinguishes between premeditated murder and manslaughter (ergo, an unintentional killing). Redemption is always possible, but for manslaughter, the death penalty is not prescribed, but a city of refuge (exile) is the penalty. For women who procure an abortion, the motivation is overwhelmingly related to male chauvinism, and/or an attempt to get out of a “bad situation.” To the extent that women are held accountable, their boyfriends (in 82 percent of abortions) and husbands (in most of the other 18 percent) should be held equally if not more responsible.
The real legal culprit in this matter is the abortionist himself (abortionists are overwhelmingly male), and when such a time comes that we will have successfully persuaded the nation to give full legal protection to the unborn, we can then segue into punitive laws against abortionists. But in the larger context of the debate over the death penalty versus a life sentence in prison, and in view of the emotional charges that our motivation is to put people to death, perhaps the segue will best be accomplished by a life sentence for convicted abortionists.
Only after we have won the hearts and minds of the nation to protect the unborn, can we deal with punitive laws, and even at such a time, redemption – even for the abortionist – is always the goal. Life in prison or the death penalty should only be the domain for the unrepentant and destructively aggressive killers.