Back in February, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin met with leaders of Operation Save America, a radical anti-choice group that was setting up operations in Louisville in an effort to force the state’s last abortion clinic to close its doors. At that meeting, according to an account from OSA, Bevin told the activists that he had read a book by Matt Trewhella, an OSA activist who was at the meeting, in which Trewhella argues that elected officials should ignore laws on abortion rights and LGBTQ equality. OSA reported that Bevin had told them he had not only read the book, but had “passed it to others.”
Trewhella, who runs a Wisconsin group called Missionaries to the Preborn, has been working to bring what he calls the “Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates”—which holds that elected officials have a duty to “interpose” to stop the enforcement of laws that they believe violate the laws of God—to elected officials around the country.
In a speech to OSA’s national gathering in Louisville in July, which the group posted on YouTube earlier this month, Trewhella said that one of the main roadblocks that he’s met in talking with elected officials about his doctrine is that they are resistant to the idea that women who have abortions must be tried as murderers.
Trewhella told the gathering that for most of the history of Christianity, the church believed that “those who participate in” abortion “are guilty of a homicide.” It wasn’t until 1930, he said, that Christian denominations began to consider different attitudes toward abortion and birth control.
“Through all the history of Christianity prior to that,” he said, “every Christian, every Christian body that had ever been on the face of the earth all declared abortion to be murder and homicide, and all of them condemned the use of birth control.”
Elected officials, he said, are worshipping twin idols: the idea that women who have abortions should avoid legal punishment and the idea that rulings by the federal judiciary on issues such as abortion rights are law.
“There is a wild dog loose in our country,” Trewhella said, “a bear-wolf if you will. And this bloodshed is sustained by an odious fiction. It’s a fiction in the minds of men, an idol that they hold on to. We’ve started this mission to the magistrates up in Wisconsin, trying to see them effect interposition for the preborn, defy the federal judiciary. That is the wild beast in America, the federal judiciary.”
“And there’s two things that they always choke on, where they can’t see their duty to interpose,” he said. “Two things. One is they think that women who murder their own sons or daughters are victims and should not be treated, should not be tried for homicide. That’s one. And we respond to that repeatedly.”
He added that “we know the whole pro-life movement has made the women into victims, and that’s a total mistake, totally unbiblical.”
The “bigger idol” that public officials are beholden to, he said, is “that the Supreme Court has ruled and all we can do is obey.”
In the 1990s, Trewhella was one of the signers of the Defensive Action Statement, which declared that the murder of abortion providers is justifiable. Other OSA leaders, like Trewhella, argue that women who have abortions should be treated as murderers under the law.