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Joel Berry

Babylon Bee’s Joel Berry Goes Full Redditard Arguing Against Punishing Baby Killers

With the campaign of Dusty Deevers, the pro-life debate could get a new life starting in the state of Oklahoma where Deevers is running to abolish abortion in the state. This, paired with Bart Barber lying about supporting a pro-life candidate has set off a debate.

Many pro-lifers believe that abortion is murder. Unfortunately, the leaders of the pro-life movement largely do not. They view abortion as messy and undesirable, but not necessarily murder because they have adopted feminism. So many have adopted the label abolitionist to make this distinction. Joel Berry has weighed into this debate and is coming down on the side of feminism.

Joel Berry calls punishing baby-killing mothers a hypothetical that’s never been tested in the real world. The problem is, throughout Christendom, this isn’t true. Although there were centuries where the Catholic Church did not take infanticide seriously for centuries, they rectified this with the Council of Florence in 1439. From there, European powers took baby killing as a capital offense.

The Constitutio Criminalis Carolina (1532) placed limitations on medieval torturing, requiring due process. One such crime mentioned specifically is infanticide.

§ 35. When a girl, purportedly a maiden, comes under suspicion of having secretly had and killed a child, it shall be especially inquired, whether she was seen with a large and unusual body, and further, whether the body then became smaller and she was then pale and weak.  When such and similar  is discovered, and where this girl is a person of whom such a suspected crime could be believed, then she shall be inspected by knowledgeable women in an enclosed place, so far as that facilitates further inquiry; and if the suspicion is there confirmed, and nonetheless she will not confess the deed, she may be examined under torture.

§ 36. When, however, the baby was killed only such a short time before that the milk in the breasts of the mother has not yet gone away, then she may be milked in her breasts; and when mother’s milk is found in the breasts, there is in consequence a strong presumption for the use of examination under torture.  Since, however, some physicians say that for several natural reasons a woman who has not borne a child may have milk in the breasts, when, therefore, a girl exculpates herself in this way, she shall be further investigated by the midwife or other.

As our current system does not permit torture to acquire a confession, this demonstrates that the Holy Roman Empire viewed infanticide as a capital crime.

Moreover, the English tradition includes the Infanticide Act of 1624.

An act to prevent the destroying and murthering of bastard children 21 Jac. 1 c. 27, Statutes of the Realm.

Whereas many lewd Women that have been delivered of Bastard Children, to avoid their Shame, and to escape Punishment, do secretly bury or conceal the Death of their Children, and after, if the Child be found dead, the said Woman do alledge, that the said Child was born dead; whereas it falleth out sometimes (although hardly it is to be proved) that the said Child or Children were murthered by the said Women, their lewd Mothers, or by their Assent or Procurement:

…That if any Woman…be delivered of any Issue of her Body, Male or Female, which being born alive, should by the Laws of this Realm be a Bastard, and that she endeavour privately, either by drowning or secret burying thereof, or any other Way, either by herself or the procuring of others, so to conceal the Death thereof, as that it may not come to Light, whether it were born alive or not, but be concealed: In every such Case the said Mother so offending shall suffer Death …, except such Mother can make proof by one Witness at the least, that the Child (whose Death was by her so intended to be concealed) was born dead.

Both these instances are nationalized laws regarding infanticide. It was not until the 19th century that these laws were scaled back and infanticide was viewed as a lesser crime as opposed to a capital crime. According to one study, in the 17th century, the rate of executions of women for this crime was 1 per 100,000 inhabitants.

So to answer Joel Berry’s objection, this has been tried in the real world.

These are Reddit-tier arguments. He might as well be arguing about mixing fabrics and eating shellfish because of how uncomfortable he is with the prescription of the Bible and the historical precedent for following it in these instances.

Those who want to obfuscate the sin of baby-killing will ultimately do so in opposition to God’s word and with no good retort.

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4 Responses

  1. By the “real world”, he seems to mean the feminist secular society, rather than the one in which we will all stand before God and give an account. It’s also interesting to me that he ran to the “OT law” argument– we can look at the 10 Commandments and even Genesis 9 to see that murder is wrong and is a capital offense. But, ultimately, what he seems to be saying is that he thinks abortion is murder but that murder should not be punished. Talk about “graceless”.

  2. I would probably fall within the camp of abolitionists in that I don’t see a biblically moral difference between murdering a person in the womb and murdering a person outside the womb, and therefore see no reason why the penalty for such a sin should be different solely based on factors of location of the victim and the time of the murder.

    That said, it must be noted that neither the catholic nor anglican civil laws referenced in the article are in line with scripture. The Bible specifically requires two or three witnesses to the crime itself. Evidence that she had a large belly and then she didn’t is not evidence of a crime. It’s not specific witness to the alleged murder itself. Physical evidence that she gave birth is not evidence that the baby was born alive.

    First and foremost, both sides of the debate should be able to agree on the fact that presumption of innocence, and that the burden of proof is on the accuser, are Biblical principles derived directly from God’s law.

    Without that principle, the accuser may often be guilty of bearing false witness. Which is a sin carrying the same punishment.

    If we follow Duet. 19:15-21 …

    1) It puts the burden of proof on the accuser to such a degree that there should not even be an accusation made without two or three witnesses.

    2) It requires those two or three witnesses to have witnessed the actual act, in this case murder. I.e., not witnesses and evidence to whether or not she was pregnant and gave birth, but witnesses to the murder itself. In the case of still birth, it puts the burden of proof on the two or three accusers to prove the child was born alive, and to prove that the woman is lying.

    3) It requires diligent inquiry.

    4) It puts the sin of false accusation on par with the alleged sin of the accused, and requires that those found to have falsely accused are to receive the same punishment, to be carried out without pity.

    And so on …

    Biblically, if by either of the catholic or anglican laws referenced, any woman was ever put to death because it was shown that she was pregnant and gave birth, devoid of any proof with two or three witnesses thereto that the child was in fact born alive and she in fact murdered the child, then those involved in her death were themselves worthy of the death penalty.

    Just as Berry’s plan-B argument is at bit of Motte and Bailey, so is an argument that appeals to catholic, anglican, or other traditions which may not be in line with scripture. Both are pharisaical “teaching for doctrine the commandments of men”

    1. And of course, if we follow God’s procedures and standards that means that some would get away with murder in cases where there are not two or three witnesses the crime couldn’t be proved. In that case, God will deal with them, and they should know they’d be better off to confess and face justice here and now.

      Both sides of the debate also need to not lose sight of the fact that we live in a fallen world. No form of government, and no system of justice, by of and for imperfect mankind will ever be perfect. And for that reason, both sides are making some reasonable arguments.

      But God’s word says …

      A) It should be illegal (abolitionists make reasonable arguments)

      B) It must be proved (ProLifers make some reasonable arguments)

      Yet God’s way is consistent. The two are not mutually exclusive.

      At this point, though, I believe most of us would just like to live and work without being forced to support, affirm, endorse, bow down to, and work to fund the advancement of sins such as abortion, homosexuality, transvestism, and so on. God will judge the unbelieving world. But most of us would just like to roll things back enough so that we can live, survive, provide for our families, send our children to school, and so on, without being forced to violate our conscience and to knowingly defy the Lord. Apparently even that little request is too much to ask these days.

  3. Dear Ray,

    Would you be so kind as to provide some sources for your statement that the Catholic Church did not take infanticide seriously for centuries? I am aware of the distinction with moral theologians common before modern embryology between procured abortion before animation and after, in the former case a grave sin, but not homicide, in the latter case homicide, but I don’t know of any more permissive evaluations than that.

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