By Baptist Message staff
NEW ORLEANS (LBM) – Messengers approved seven resolutions during the 2023 Louisiana Baptist Convention Annual Meeting: advocating for parental rights and responsibilities; protecting children’s innocence; protecting the underaged from the harms of alcohol; celebrating the 175th anniversary of the LBC; expressing appreciation for all who contributed to the annual meeting; preventing mail-order abortifacients; and congratulating Congressman Mike Johnson for his election to speaker of the House.
Brian Gunter, a messenger and pastor from First Baptist Church, Livingston, tried to substitute his resolution (on equal protection for preborn children) for the resolution on preventing mail-order abortifacients.
Gunter’s proposed resolution included prosecution of all who perform abortion of an unborn child, including the mother. His resolution noted that “such equal protection would require a case-by-case determination and would not alter any existing presumption of innocence, defense, justification, immunity, or clemency, including that mothers would not be subject to criminal liability if under criminal duress, mistake of fact, or in a life-threatening medical emergency, or for an accidental or natural death, or for an act prior to the effective date of the law (ex post facto).”
Additionally, his resolution stated “that we state unequivocally that all preborn children are image-bearers of God; therefore, call upon the Louisiana Legislature and Governor to fulfill their God-given duty to uphold justice by establishing equal protection under the law for all preborn children, rejecting all partiality in judgment, and implementing the legal prohibitions and sanctions applicable to homicide for the safeguarding of all persons, both born and preborn.”
Speaking for his motion, Gunter told messengers that for the last 15 years he has worked tirelessly for unborn children and even founded multiple pregnancy centers.
“The approach that has been taken in our state legislature and many others is to criminalize abortion clinics, but in fact to give immunity to mothers who seek and procure abortions,” he said. “Now, what has been said in opposition to my position, which is that we should totally ban abortion, is that I would seek to criminalize women, but laws don’t criminalized classes of people like women. Laws criminalized conduct, such as prenatal homicide.
“My position is very simple,” he said. “I believe that no one should be allowed under law to murder an innocent child in the womb. I believe that murdering anyone should be illegal for everyone. And while I agree with resolution six’s request that we would prosecute the abortion industry for shipping these pills into our state, that is not going far enough. If we leave it legal for women to order those pills from out of state and have a self-managed abortion at home, which current Louisiana law allows, we’ll never end abortion in our state if we keep self-managed abortion legal for women.”
Field Thigpen, pastor of Memorial Baptist Church, Bogalusa, and a member of the LBC Resolutions Committee, spoke against Gunter’s resolution. He told Gunter that while he respected him and shared with him a pro-life stance, he disagreed with Gunter’s assertion that women who have an abortion should be subject to prosecution.
“We live in a broken world, and in the broken world these are the ugly, negative types of certain circumstances that would unfortunately come up and inevitably come up,” he said. “And we’re afraid that the criminal justice system as it stands is not capable or qualified to be able to handle matters of prenatal homicide. I am concerned that it would not promote justice, but it could possibly further injustice.”
John Lombard, a messenger from Wardville Community Church, Pineville, then spoke in favor of Gunter’s motion.
“If we say with our mouths that it is human at the moment of conception, and that abortion is murder, we have to be consistent to say that the person who intentionally — not under duress and not under coercion — intentionally ends life of their child life has committed murder,” he said. “The Gospel can impact that person. But if we tutor them with such laws that say otherwise, where’s the Gospel impact? And so, it’s our heart to hopefully persuade you to see this in light of God’s view of things, and not pursue with unequal weights and measures or partiality which God looks to be as an abomination.”
Will Hall, director of the LBC Office of Public Policy, cited statistics from the Charlotte Lozier Institute, a major sanctity of life research organization, that show 70 percent of women who had abortions were coerced, pressured or otherwise regretted having an abortion. He noted that imprisoning a woman for having an abortion would make her a victim a third time (with so many having been coerced to surrender their purity, then when impregnated, coerced to kill their unborn child).
Hall said he appreciated the biblical citations that Gunter included to support each statement in his resolution. But he added that one was missing, John 8 and the account about the woman caught in the act of adultery.
Hall described how Jesus responded to the scribes and Pharisees.
“And those men were convicted of their sins and left,” he said. “And here’s the important part. He looked up at the woman and said, is there no one left to condemn you? And she said, no one, ‘Lord.’ With that title, “Lord” she declared Jesus as the Messiah, Savior. So that act of compassion from Jesus led to the salvation of that woman caught in adultery.
“Don’t criminalize these women,” he ended.
Messengers then voted and the substitute resolution was defeated.