How An MLB Pitcher And Gun Rights Lobbyist Are Teaming Up To Abolish Abortion… One State At A Time

“We're not settling for a 6-week ban, a 15-week ban. We're going to abolish this."
From left to right: attorney Bradley Pierce, pastor Jeff Durbin, professional political operative Zach Lautenschlager, and former MLB pitcher Dennis Sarfate (image courtesy of End Abortion Now).

Since 1973, Americans have murdered roughly 63 million preborn babies. Over the past five decades, the pro-life movement has attempted to curtail abortion through an incremental approach — regulating the lethal procedure via gestational age restrictions, “born-alive” protection acts, and various medical ordinances for abortion clinics. By doing so, pro-life groups leave entire subsets of preborn babies unprotected for the sake of political expediency.

Today, however, calls are growing for a paradigm shift away from incrementalism and toward immediatism — the complete and total abolition of abortion, without exception or compromise. Among the organizations calling for such an approach is Action for Life — the legislative arm of the Christian ministry End Abortion Now.

Dennis Sarfate — the president of Action for Life — is a former MLB pitcher who played for the Milwaukee Brewers, Houston Astros, and Baltimore Orioles before becoming a five-time Japan Series Champion. Zach Lautenschlager — the vice president of Action for Life — is a professional political operative who was instrumental in passing “constitutional carry” laws across the United States. 

In an interview with The Daily Wire, Sarfate and Lautenschlager explained how they were brought together by their desire to glorify Jesus Christ while establishing equal protection for the preborn — one state at a time.

‘God Just Wrecked Me’

Sarfate and Lautenschlager had drastically different experiences in coming to faith.

On one hand, Lautenschlager grew up in a multi-generational Christian home. “My folks taught me who Jesus was from the very start. What blows me away every day is how sinful I am in myself, and how gracious God is despite my sin… I’m still a sinful, fallen human being, and God’s grace is so massive, so huge, and His loving kindness is so amazing. The older I get, the more I see it.”

Sarfate, on the other hand, was not saved until his adulthood. “I grew up playing baseball my whole life… When I got drafted the second time, I wasn’t a believer. I was actually raised in a Catholic church — just dabbled in it every once in a while when I felt like I needed some kind of good luck. Even in the big leagues, I would go to chapel on Sundays — thinking that if I did that, God would definitely bless me with a scoreless inning.”

“It wasn’t until I left the United States and went to Japan that God just wrecked me and saved me from my sin,” Sarfate continued. “He allowed my heart to be changed — and that was in 2011… I was in an atheistic country with no Christian teammates, so I was off to fend for myself and study on my own and be held accountable by literally no one. I didn’t even have a church back at home.”

Eventually, Sarfate was introduced to Apologia Church in Phoenix, Arizona, where Jeff Durbin — who leads End Abortion Now — works as the teaching pastor. Sarfate and his family spent three years serving with the organization; however, abortion ministry had been “near and dear” to their lives for far longer.

“My wife was adopted. She was adopted through a one-night stand at a truck stop in Yuma, Arizona,” said Sarfate. “Her parents that adopted her were not Christians; they just couldn’t have kids, so they adopted her. She got saved first. God used her to bring them to Him when she was in high school.”

“When I met her, I was not a believer. She was part of my walk and coming to Christ,” he continued. “And I was able to share the gospel in Japan for ten years — all because one woman chose life in 1982 and did the right thing, the hard thing. Her case is what everyone uses birth control for — they use abortion as birth control now.”

“Her birth mom never met her and never will probably meet her. She chose life, and what God has used from this little girl and the people that have come to Christ through her — and the Japanese people that I’ll see in heaven one day — is just an amazing story.”

Sarfate was injured in 2018 — the year after he was the MVP of the Japan World Series — which led to him joining Action for Life on a full-time basis. “Jeff came to me knowing that my career was coming to an end and said, ‘You want to save babies some more?’ And I said, ‘Of course.’ What he had for me was that we’re going to do legislation now.”

At this point, Sarfate met Lautenschlager through a two-day Christian political leadership class at Apologia Church. Indeed, the Lautenschlager family — descended from John Hart, a Founding Father who signed the Declaration of Independence — has been passing down expertise about the American political system for generations.

“I got involved in politics when my granddad and my father started working to make homeschooling legal in our state,” recounted Lautenschlager. “My folks homeschooled me before it was legal and were involved in changing the laws… That’s how I got involved in politics at a very young age.”

Lautenschlager’s father ran for office and lost — an experience he described to his son as being “relieved from the duty of serving.” While working for the campaign, however, Lautenschlager discovered that he wanted to enter professional politics — beginning with a state-level gun rights organization launched by his father.

“I had the opportunity to start working for constitutional carry. When we started, there were no constitutional carry states,” Lautenschlager explained. “We started working on that about 25 years ago. And eventually that led to an opportunity to work for the National Association for Gun Rights… I had the privilege of building the team that is still working to pass constitutional carry. We’re in 21 states now; Texas is the most recent. We will likely see a couple more in this legislative cycle.”

Lautenschlager recalled that it took a remarkable amount of work — “much more than you would think” — to pass gun rights legislation in states with large Republican majorities. Rather than anti-gun progressives, Lautenschlager’s main opposition arose from self-proclaimed pro-gun politicians and lobbying groups — including the NRA. Lautenschlager said that the same phenomenon is true today for those seeking to advance righteous anti-abortion legislation.

‘Hope Is In Christ’

Why is abortion wrong? Sarfate answered plainly, “abortion is murder.”

“Life starts at conception — that is a baby. That is a human being worthy of respect and worthy of protection. God even calls it murder. We don’t have the authority to take life… You’re killing an innocent human being that deserves life, that God is allowing to be put into a woman.”

“Apart from God… we try to suppress the truth,” said Sarfate, referring to the first chapter of Romans. “You have to always go back and say, ‘Is that a human life? If it is a human life, can we murder it? Are we allowed to play judge and advocate for God?’ And I would say no.”

Sarfate noted that in addition to advancing laws that protect preborn babies from conception to birth, Christians should be offering hope to mothers considering abortion — which only comes through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“The gospel is for sinners. The gospel is for everyone. Through the gospel proclamation, we are saying that there is hope,” he said. “A lot of women that go to abortion clinics are deemed hopeless. ‘I can’t afford it, I’m in college’ — whatever the excuse may be, whatever predicament or trial that they’re in the midst of — that baby is not the problem. It’s a heart issue. It’s saying, ‘I don’t want to take responsibility for my actions, so now I can go and get rid of it.’”

“It has to be that this is evil, that God calls this murder, and that the only way you can get true peace and have hope is in Christ,” he continued. “Your peace doesn’t come in your comfort or in your lifestyle. Your peace doesn’t come from money. It comes from knowing that Christ paid for your sins — through that, you have peace with God. All of those women going to the abortion clinics to murder those babies are dealing with some sort of issue where they don’t have peace — they have no hope.”

‘There Is No Neutrality’

Sarfate and Lautenschlager observed that the pro-life establishment does not consistently treat abortion as murder. Instead, its flagship organizations pour resources into pragmatic solutions that fall short of truly abolishing abortion.

“Applying the lessons learned through constitutional carry — as we passed it in state after state, we had to demonstrate that these politicians only claim to be pro-gun… while they’re actually fighting us on the litmus test for the right to keep and bear arms,” said Lautenschlager. “In fact, these politicians were labeling the permit system your ‘right to carry permit’ — that’s an oxymoron. If it’s a right, you should not have to get a permit.”

“That’s where we demonstrated that this is wrong, and these guys aren’t doing the best they can. And it went from being just a crazy idea… to now, it is the gold standard. If you do not support constitutional carry, even the NRA will now agree that you’re not pro-gun. So we forced them to change. Now they run around passing that legislation — and we couldn’t be more pleased. That’s exactly what we want.”

Today, Lautenschlager is applying the same tactic to abortion legislation.

“National organizations claim to protect the right to life… when in reality, they send lobbyists to oppose very clear pieces of legislation which acknowledge and codify that, number one, abortion is murder; number two, we need equal protection; and number three, if necessary, we will defy Roe,” Lautenschlager explained. “That is abolition — and that is what we are pursuing.”

“The question must always be, ‘Is this just? Is this a just piece of legislation?’ The pro-life establishment… loves to propose legislation that they claim is pro-life, but it is grossly unjust on the face of it. We must stand against that,” said Lautenschlager. “The question is, ‘Is this just by God’s standard?’”

Sarfate observed that the pro-life establishment gets paid to “fight the fight” — but not to win the fight.

“The pro-life legislation that’s going out right now is deeming the mother a victim. They’re saying it’s okay to murder babies up to a certain week,” he said. “It’s not a true pro-life movement. If you can say ‘15 weeks is a good thing’ and you celebrate it — like we heard in Washington during the oral arguments for the Mississippi case — then as a Christian, you’re saying babies are okay to be killed up to 15 weeks.”

“Are we allowed to kill babies? If you say ‘Yes,’ what’s the cutoff? When is abortion okay, and when is it not? Is it 20 weeks? 15 weeks? 12 weeks?” Sarfate continued. “If it’s a life from conception, we have no authority to kill it, and we should be protecting these babies.”

In contrast, Sarfate and Lautenschlager are “finding state representatives that are abolitionists — that will not buckle under the pressure from the establishment, even Republicans.” In addition to a bill that immediately abolishes abortion, Action for Life has legislation that leads states to defy Roe and defund Planned Parenthood. 

“We’re not settling for a 6-week ban, a 15-week ban. We are going to abolish this,” asserted Sarfate. “This is the only way that we can be justified before God — that we say we are trying to end it. If we are not trying to end it, we are just as guilty as the rest of the pro-life establishment.”

“God is sovereign and we trust that He is going to work it out — but we can’t say ‘You know what? We’re going to do this and it’s probably not going to pass, so let’s just go for this and we’ll deal with God later.’ Because we’re all going to stand before God and we’re going to have to answer for this,” warned Sarfate. “I do not want to be the one that said, ‘Well, we tried.’ And He will say — ‘How? How did you try? By getting the bodies’ remains buried? A proper burial? That’s trying?’”

“There is no neutrality,” he added. “You can’t be neutral with God and neutral with the world. You’re either going to love God and serve Him, or you’re going to love the world. And so when you take a stance like that, you are not being faithful to what the Bible says.”

‘The Chains Of The Constitution’

Lautenschlager demonstrated that the persistence of legal abortion in the United States flows from widespread misunderstanding about the power struggle between voters and politicians — a reality that is encoded into the American system of government.

“Our Founding Fathers recognized something from Scripture — that corruption does not start from outside people; that unfortunately, we are born corrupt, that there are none righteous, and that there is no hope of somehow having people in government that are so good that government just works,” Lautenschlager explained. “That is why they adopted a constitutional form of government. And as Jefferson said, ‘Let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.’ The whole point is we will have a law that is king, and that civil magistrates must follow.”

“And so a huge part of that — and when you look at the Constitution — you recognize that most of what we’re dealing with is limits on how government will operate,” he continued. “Most of it is setting up checks and balances against government power. They did so by separating powers so that multiple people within government would have to compete with each other in order to exercise that power. That’s what we call layers of government — federal, state, county, city — and branches of government — judicial, executive, legislative. These are natural checks that flow from the core check against government power — which is the natural competition between citizens and the people in government.”

“The entire system is set up that way. That is the absolute genius of the American system — pulled straight from the Bible,” he noted. “Even the Founding Fathers who would be less orthodox from a biblical Christian perspective — people who would acknowledge that they were, for example, unitarians — acknowledged that the principles on which they built the Constitution were the principles of the Bible.”

“Our forefathers… acknowledged that we are sinful human beings; that we have to be bound by the chains of the Constitution, while at the same time recognizing that laws exist in order to restrain the excesses of the mob. You don’t want tyranny from an oligarchy — the few — and you don’t want tyranny from the many.”

Practically speaking, Lautenschlager said Americans must therefore demonstrate to politicians that “we will not allow you to continue holding office unless you change your behavior.”

“And that is the reality of the American system — and it always has been — government by the consent of the governed. If we don’t like what they’re doing, we stop consenting. And it still works. It works just fine. And it still works the way it should work. It’s just in many cases, we the people are not expecting our politicians to do what we actually want them to do — or we want them to do bad things. Our problem in the fight to end abortion is that we are not yet willing to stand up and say, ‘If you do not vote for the right to life, then we will vote against you.’”

Fifty years of failure to end abortion is attributable to this phenomenon. In particular, Lautenschlager noted that pro-life politicians hide behind the notion that states cannot ignore the Supreme Court when it issues unconstitutional opinions.

“One of the major foils for the pro-life movement — especially the pro-life establishment — is ‘You just have to let the Supreme Court do what they’re gonna do. There’s nothing anyone else can do about it.’ That is absolutely false — patently false. Everyone knows that when the states don’t want to do what the federal government says, the states don’t have to do it.”

For example — the widespread legalization of marijuana at the state level. “We can debate whether that’s a good idea or a bad idea. That’s not the point. The point is, states are telling the federal government what they can and can’t do regarding the use of marijuana — over the objections of the federal legislative, federal executive, and federal judicial branches. All three federal branches have a longstanding position that marijuana possession is illegal — and there are now 38 states denying law, administrative practices such as executive orders, and judicial decisions.”

“The idea that ‘Well, we as a pro-life state just have to allow abortion in our state because the federal government said so’ is laughable,” Lautenschlager concluded. “That’s what has to continue to be recognized as a major problem for the pro-life establishment. They absolve their favorite politicians of guilt and move on.”

‘It Is Our Responsibility’

The ideal way to purge government of inept politicians is to encourage committed Christians to run for office. 

“A lot of Christians think… ‘Ah, political stuff, I don’t want to get involved. It’s a dirty game.’ But let’s be real — ‘Christ is King’ was the most political statement ever made,” said Sarfate. “Christians should be involved in politics — we should actually be the ones that own it and run it, because we have Christlike integrity that we should honor and keep. We have the moral foundation that we should hold as true and dear to us.”

“It’s a cop-out for Christians to say, ‘Well, I don’t want to be a politician because they’re all corrupt.’ Why can’t you be a politician that’s a Christian, that lives by God’s Word and serves God? I’ve met plenty of them in the last year that I am inspired by. We’re running one in Arizona right now — Don Maes in my district for State Representative. The guy has a Christlike integrity — if he wins, I know he’s never going to compromise… he’s going to live as a man of integrity, and he’s going to live as Christ is walking with him. And I think that’s what we need to do.”

Lautenschlager concurred. “We cannot simply willingly yield our freedom. It’s not just about what people consider to be the Christian issues — such as fighting the homosexual agenda, or fighting abortion, or sex trafficking, or drugs… The Christian issue is keeping government in its box.”

“Binding it with the chains of the Constitution — we forget that was a self-consciously Christian concept. And that it is our responsibility.”

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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