National Pro-Life Religious Council
The National Pro-Life Religious Council is a Christian coalition representing numerous Christian pro-life denominations and organizations in the United States.
Its goal is to promote the view that Christianity is a pro-life faith “which acknowledges Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and is called to affirm and witness to the Biblical standard of the value, dignity, and sanctity of human life.” The organization was started in opposition to the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and other similar organizations.
The NPRC seeks to educate Christians on what they believe to be the biblical basis of the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death, also opposing euthanasia and stem-cell research. Its current president is Father Frank Pavone, who is also the National Director of Priests for Life, and its board meets quarterly in Washington, DC. The NPRC also sponsors educational conferences and funds the publication of pro-life books which promote the Christian pro-life message. It also publishes a quarterly newsletter called “Uniting for Life” which is sent to its contributing members on a quarterly basis.
The organization’s current members include Anglicans for Life, Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, Lutherans for Life International, Faith and Action, the National Right to Life Committee, Priests for Life, Presbyterians Pro-Life and United Church of Christ Friends for Life.
Stallsworth, Paul, ed.. The Church and Abortion. Nashville, TN: Abington Press, 1993.
Stallsworth, Paul, ed.. The Right Choice. Nashville, TN: Abington Press, 1997.
Stallsworth, Paul, ed.. Thinking Theologically about Abortion. Anderson, IN: Bristol House, 2000.
Gorman, Michael, J. & Ann Loar Brooks. Holy Abortion? A Theological Critique of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2003.
Di Mauro, Dennis R. A Love for Life: Christianity’s Consistent Protection of the Unborn. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2008.
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Susan B. Anthony List
The Susan B. Anthony List is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization that seeks to eliminate abortion in the U.S. by supporting pro-life politicians, primarily women, through its SBA List Candidate Fund political action committee. In 2011, it reported it had 333,000 members.
Founded in 1993 by sociologist and psychologist Rachel MacNair, the SBA List was a response to the success of the pro-choice group EMILY’s List, which was partly responsible for bringing about the 1992 “Year of the Woman” in which a significant number of women, all pro-choice, were elected to Congress. MacNair wished to help pro-life women gain high public office. She recruited Marjorie Dannenfelser and Jane Abraham as the 1st experienced leaders of SBA List. Dannenfelser is now president of the organization and Abraham is chairman of the board.
Named for suffragist Susan B. Anthony, SBA List identifies itself with Anthony and several 19th-century women’s rights activists; SBA List believes Anthony and other early feminists were opposed to abortion. Regarding Anthony’s abortion beliefs, SBA List has been challenged by scholars and pro-choice activists; Anthony scholar Ann D. Gordon and Anthony biographer Lynn Sherr write that Anthony “spent no time on the politics of abortion”.
The formation of the SBA List was catalyzed in March 1992 when Rachel MacNair, head of Feminists for Life, watched a 60 Minutes television documentary profiling IBM-heiress Ellen Malcolm and the successful campaign-funding activities of her Democratic pro-choice group EMILY’s List. MacNair, a peace activist and pro-life Quaker, was motivated to organize the Susan B. Anthony List for the purpose of countering EMILY’s List by providing early campaign funds to pro-life women candidates. Led by FFL and MacNair, 15 pro-life groups formed an umbrella organization, the National Women’s Coalition for Life, which adopted a joint pro-life statement on April 3, 1992.
Also inspired by EMILY’s List, in 1992 the WISH List was formed to promote pro-choice candidates who were members of the opposing Republican Party. In November 1992 after many of the pro-choice candidates won their races to create the “Year of the Woman”, MacNair announced the formation of the SBA List, describing its purpose as endorsing and supporting women who held pro-life beliefs without regard to party affiliation. MacNair determined to challenge the EMILY’s List and the WISH List notion that the top female politicians were primarily pro-choice. She said the SBA List would not support right-wing political figures such as Phyllis Schlafly. The NWCL sponsored the SBA List with $2,485 to create it as a political action committee on February 4, 1993, listing MacNair as the 1st secretary; the group operated out of MacNair’s office inside a crisis pregnancy center on East 47th Street in Kansas City, Missouri. The 1st SBA List public event was held the same month at the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the National Woman’s Party. Organized by founding board member Susan Gibbs, the “kickoff” event raised “more than $9000″.
The SBA List also cites other early feminists, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who wrote a letter saying, “When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.” The SBA List notes that Victoria Woodhull, the 1st female presidential candidate in the U.S., told the Wheeling, West Virginia, Evening Standard newspaper in 1875 that “Every woman knows that if she were free, she would never bear an unwished-for child, nor think of murdering one before its birth.” The SBA List refers to a 4th early feminist, Elizabeth Blackwell, the 1st woman to receive a medical degree in the United States, who recorded in her diary her thoughts about Madame Restell, an early 19th-century abortionist: “The gross perversion and destruction of motherhood by the abortionist filled me with indignation, and awakened active antagonism. That the honorable term ‘female physician’ should be exclusively applied to those women who carried on this shocking trade seemed to me a horror. It was an utter degradation of what might and should become a noble position for women.” Finally, the organization also cites suffragist Alice Paul, author of the original Equal Rights Amendment, who said, “Abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women.”
The early SBA List didn’t have much skill at furthering its mission. Founding board member Susan Gibbs, later the communications director for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, said “None of us had political experience. None of us had PAC experience. We just had a passion for being pro-life.” Shortly after its founding, experienced political activists Marjorie Dannenfelser and then Jane Abraham were brought on board—Dannenfelser served as executive director, leading the organization from her home in Arlington, Virginia. In 1994, the SBA List was successful in helping 8 of its 15 selected candidates gain office. In 1996, only two challengers who were financially backed were elected, while five SBA-List-supported incumbents retained their positions; a disappointing election for the group.
Contributions from supporters grew by 50% from 2007 to 2009. As of December 2009, the SBA List had outspent one of its pro-choice counterparts, the National Organization for Women, in every election cycle since 1996.
Former Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave joined the SBA List in March 2009 and works as a project director and spokesperson. Musgrave had previously been given a pro-life award in 2003 by the SBA List.
The organization was involved in trying to keep abortion coverage out of health care reform legislation in 2009 and 2010. It had targeted Senator Bob Casey to ensure abortion wasn’t covered in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and lobbied for the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to H.R. 3962 The group criticized Senator Ben Nelson for what it called a fake compromise on abortion in the PPACA and condemned the Christmas Eve passage of the Senate bill.
The group had planned to honor Rep. Bart Stupak at its March gala, but after Stupak’s deal with President Obama in which Obama would issue an executive order banning federal funding for abortion under the bill, Stupak was stripped of his “Defender of Life Award” three days before the gala because of Dannenfelser’s doubts, shared by the most prominent pro-life groups, about the effectiveness of the Executive Order. Stupak had told Dannenfelser, “They [the Democratic leadership] know I won’t fold. There is no way.” On the day of the vote, Dannenfelser said she promised Stupak that the SBA List was “going to be involved in your defeat.” In a statement, Dannenfelser said, “We were planning to honor Congressman Stupak for his efforts to keep abortion-funding out of health care reform. We will no longer be doing so…Let me be clear: any representative, including Rep. Stupak, who votes for this health care bill can no longer call themselves ‘pro-life.’” No one received the award in his place, and Dannenfelser instead used the occasion to condemn Stupak. The group also dropped its plans to help Stupak fend off a primary challenge from Connie Saltonstall, who was running on a pro-choice platform. Stupak later dropped out of the race, announcing his retirement from Congress.
In 2010, the SBA List hosted events featuring prominent pro-life political figures as speakers, including Sarah Palin, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and Rep. Michele Bachmann.
In August 2010, to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, the SBA List held a colloquium at the Yale Club of New York City, billed as “A Conversation on Pro-Life Feminism”. The event featured a panel of five scholars in the fields of law, philosophy, history, political science and sociology, who discussed various concepts of feminism and the possibility of broadening the spectrum of pro-life political candidates to include those with more centrist fiscal views.
An SBA List project, “Votes Have Consequences”, was headed by former Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave and was aimed at defeating vulnerable candidates in 2010 who didn’t vote pro-life on key issues, such as health care reform. Under this project, the group endorsed Dan Coats of Indiana for Senate against Rep. Brad Ellsworth, who had voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
In January 2011, along with Americans for Tax Reform and The Daily Caller, the organization sponsored a debate between candidates for chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Peter Roff writing for U.S. News and World Report credited the SBA List for the passage in the House of an amendment to defund Planned Parenthood of federal dollars for fiscal year 2011. Writing for In These Times, social media activist Sady Doyle wrote that in striving against Planned Parenthood, the SBA List registered its priority as ending abortion rather than helping women prevent unwanted pregnancies.
In March 2011, the SBA List teamed with Live Action for a bus tour through 13 congressional districts either thanking or condemning their representatives for their votes to defund Planned Parenthood of tax dollars in the Pence Amendment. In response, Planned Parenthood launched its own tour to follow the SBA List bus. The SBA List also bought $200,000 in radio and television ads backing six Republicans who voted to defund Planned Parenthood in response to a $200,000 ad buy by Planned Parenthood against the Pence Amendment.
In July 2011, the SBA List held a rally in New Hampshire supporting the New Hampshire Executive Council’s decision to cut off state funding for Planned Parenthood. Spokeswoman Marilyn Musgrave said the Council’s decision “really will save unborn lives.”
The SBA List Candidate Fund primarily endorses pro-life women, and pro-life men running against pro-choice women.
The SBA List gained renewed attention during the 2008 presidential election following Sarah Palin’s nomination for Vice President. They had endorsed her 2006 run for governor of Alaska. In 2008, the SBA List also started a social networking site and blog called “Team Sarah”, which is “dedicated to advancing the values that Sarah Palin represents in the political process.”
Palin headlined the organization’s 2010 “Celebration of Life” breakfast fundraiser, an event which got extensive media coverage and in which she coined the term “mama grizzly”.
According to Politico, Palin’s criteria for endorsing candidates is whether they have the support of the Tea Party movement and whether they have the support of the SBA List.
In September 2009, in a special election to fill an empty House seat in upstate New York, the group endorsed the pro-life third-party Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman over the pro-choice Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafava, on the stated basis that Scozzafava was an “abortion radical who does not represent the views of the growing majority of pro-life American women.” The SBA List joined forces with the National Organization for Marriage in support of Hoffman, spending over $100,000 printing literature, making phone calls, and flooding the district with volunteers from across the country.
For the 2010 elections, the SBA List planned to spend $6 million and endorsed several dozen candidates. The SBA List spent nearly $1.7 million on independent expenditure campaigns for or against 50 candidates.
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John C. Willke
John C. Willke is an American medical doctor, author, and pro-life activist. Along with his wife Barbara, he is the author of a number of books on abortion and human sexuality. He is the founder and president of the International Right to Life Federation and president of the Life Issues Institute. He is a former president of National Right to Life, and a proponent of the discredited concept that rape victims rarely get pregnant.
Willke practiced medicine in Cincinnati, Ohio for 40 years, at the Providence and Good Samaritan hospitals.
Willke is a proponent of the discredited concept that female rape victims have physiologic defenses against pregnancy, and thus that women rarely become pregnant after a sexual assault. Willke wrote in Christian Life Resources in 1999: “There’s no greater emotional trauma that can be experienced by a woman than an assault rape. This can radically upset her possibility of ovulation, fertilization, implantation and even nurturing of a pregnancy”, claiming that sexual assaults resulted in only about four pregnancies per state per year.
In an interview on August 20, 2012, following the Todd Akin rape and pregnancy controversy, he said: “This is a traumatic thing — she’s, shall we say, she’s uptight. She is frightened, tight, and so on. And sperm, if deposited in her vagina, are less likely to be able to fertilize. The tubes are spastic.”
These assertions were disputed by a number of gynecology professors. A study published in 1996 by the Medical University of South Carolina estimated that there are approximately 32,000 pregnancies from rape in the United States each year, a pregnancy rate of 5% per rape among victims of reproductive age.
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James Clayton “Jim” Dobson, Jr. is an American evangelical Christian author, psychologist, and founder in 1977 of Focus on the Family (FOTF), which he led until 2003. In the 1980s he was ranked as one of the most influential spokesmen for conservative social positions in American public life. Although never an ordained minister, he was called “the nation’s most influential evangelical leader” by Time while Slate portrayed him as a successor to evangelical leaders Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson.
He is no longer affiliated with Focus on the Family. Dobson founded Family Talk as a non-profit organization in 2010 and launched a new radio broadcast, “Family Talk with Dr. James Dobson“, that began on May 3, 2010 on over 300 stations nationwide. As part of his former role in the organization, he produced Focus on the Family, a daily radio program which according to the organization was broadcast in more than a dozen languages and on over 7,000 stations worldwide, and reportedly heard daily by more than 220 million people in 164 countries. Focus on the Family was also carried by about sixty U.S. television stations daily. He founded the Family Research Council in 1981.
Dobson was born to Myrtle Georgia and James C. Dobson, Sr. in Shreveport, Louisiana, and from his earliest childhood, religion was a central part of his life. He once told a reporter that he learned to pray before he learned to talk. In fact, he says he gave his life to Jesus at the age of three, in response to an altar call by his father. He is the son, grandson, and great-grandson of Church of the Nazarene ministers, although he does not speak for the denomination in any capacity.
His father, James Dobson Sr. never went to college. He was a traveling evangelist, chiefly in the southwest. The parents took their young son along to watch his father preach. Like most Nazarenes, they forbade dancing and going to movies. Young “Jimmie Lee” (as he was called) concentrated on his studies.
Dobson studied academic psychology, which in the 1950s and 1960s wasn’t looked upon favorably by most evangelical Christians. He came to believe that he was being called to become a Christian counselor or perhaps a Christian psychologist. He attended Pasadena College as an undergraduate and was captain of the school’s tennis team. In 1967, Dobson received his doctorate in psychology from the University of Southern California and served in the faculty of the university’s Keck School of Medicine for 14 years. For a time, Dobson worked as an assistant to Paul Popenoe at the Institute of Family Relations, a marriage-counseling center, in Los Angeles.
Dobson 1st became well-known with the publication of Dare to Discipline, which encouraged parents to use corporal punishment in disciplining their children. Dobson’s social and political opinions are widely read among many evangelical church congregations in the United States. Dobson publishes monthly bulletins also called Focus on the Family, which are dispensed as inserts in some Sunday church service bulletins.
Dobson interviewed serial killer Ted Bundy on camera the day before he was executed, in January 1989. The interview was controversial because Bundy was given an opportunity to attempt to explain his actions. Bundy claimed that violent pornography played a significant role in molding and crystallizing his fantasies. In May 1989, during an interview with John Tanner, a Republican Florida prosecutor, Dobson called for Bundy to be forgiven. The Bundy tapes gave Focus on the Family revenues of over $1 million, $600,000 of which was donated to anti-pornography groups and anti-abortion groups.
Dobson stepped down as President and CEO of Focus on the Family in 2003, and resigned from the position of chairman of the board in February 2009. Dobson sited the reason for his departure was a result of “significant philosophical differences” with successor Jim Daly.
Dobson is a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel.
Dobson married his wife, Shirley, on August 26, 1960; they have two children, Danae and Ryan. Ryan Dobson, who graduated from Biola University in La Mirada, California, is a public speaker, specializing on issues relating to youth and the pro-life movement. He was adopted by the Dobsons and is an ardent supporter of adoption, especially adoption of troubled children.
Dobson attended Point Loma Nazarene University, where he was team captain of the tennis team, most valuable player in 1956 and 1958, and later returned to coach in 1968-1969. Dobson earned a doctorate in child development from the University of Southern California in 1967. He was an Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine for 14 years. He spent 17 years on the staff of the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles in the Division of Child Development and Medical Genetics. Dobson is a licensed psychologist in the State of California.
At the invitation of Presidents and Attorneys General, Dobson has also served on government advisory panels and testified at several government hearings. He has been given the “Layman of the Year” award by the National Association of Evangelicals in 1982, “The Children’s Friend” honor by Childhelp USA in 1987, and the Humanitarian Award by the California Psychological Association in 1988. In 2005, Dobson received an honorary doctorate (his 16th) from Indiana Wesleyan University and was inducted into IWU’s Society of World Changers, while speaking at the university’s Academic Convocation.
In 2008, Dobson’s Focus on the Family program was nominated for induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame. Nominations were made by the 157 members of the Hall of Fame and voting on inductees was handed over to the public using online voting. The nomination drew the ire of gay rights activists, who launched efforts to have the program removed from the nominee list and to vote for other nominees to prevent it from being approved. However, the program garnered enough votes and was subsequently inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.
James Dobson is a strong proponent of traditional marriage, which he defines as “one where husband and wife are lawfully married, are committed to each other for life,” and have a homemaker mother and breadwinner father. According to his view, women aren’t deemed inferior to men because both are created in God’s image, but each gender has biblically-mandated roles. He recommends that married women with children under the age of 18 focus on mothering, rather than work outside the home.
In the 2004 book Marriage Under Fire, Dobson suggests that heterosexual marriage rates in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden have been falling, and that the is due to the recognition of same-sex relationships by those countries during the 1990s. He remarks that the “institution of marriage in those countries is rapidly dying” as a result, with most young people cohabiting or choosing to remain single and illegitimacy rates rising in some Norwegian counties up to 80%.
Dobson writes that “every civilization in the world” has been built upon marriage. He also believes that homosexuality is neither a choice nor genetic, but is caused by external factors during early childhood. He anecdotally cites as evidence the life of actress Anne Heche, who was previously in a relationship with Ellen deGeneres. Criticizing “the realities of judicial tyranny,” Dobson has written that “[t]here is no issue today that is more significant to our culture than the defense of the family. Not even the war on terror eclipses it.”
Critics have stated that Dobson’s views on homosexuality don’t represent the mainstream views of the mental health community, with Dan Gilgoff noting the positions of the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association on homosexuality.
Focus on the Family supports private school vouchers and tax credits for religious schools. According to Focus on the Family website, Dobson believes that parents are ultimately responsible for their children’s education, and encourages parents to visit their children’s schools to ask questions and to join the PTA so that they may voice their opinions. Dobson opposes sex education curricula that aren’t abstinence-only. According to People for the American Way, Focus on the Family material has been used to challenge a book or curriculum taught in public schools. Critics, such as People for the American Way, allege that Focus on the Family encourages Christian teachers to establish prayer groups in public schools. Dobson supports student-led prayer in public schools, and believes that allowing student-led Christian prayer in schools does not violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
In his book Dare to Discipline, Dobson advocated the spanking of children up to eight years old when they misbehave, but warns that “corporal punishment should not be a frequent occurrence” and that “discipline must not be harsh and destructive to the child’s spirit.” He warns against “harsh spanking” because “It isn’t necessary to beat the child into submission; a little bit of pain goes a long way for a young child. However, the spanking should be of sufficient magnitude to cause the child to cry genuinely.”
Anyone who has ever abused a child — or has ever felt himself losing control during a spanking — should not expose the child to that tragedy. Anyone who has a violent temper that at times becomes unmanageable should not use that approach. Anyone who secretly ‘enjoys’ the administration of corporal punishment should not be the one to implement it.
By learning to yield to the loving authority… of his parents, a child learns to submit to other forms of authority which will confront him later in his life — his teachers, school principal, police, neighbors and employers.
Yes, I believe there should be a limit. As long as the tears represent a genuine release of emotion, they should be permitted to fall. But crying quickly changes from inner sobbing to an expression of protest… Real crying usually lasts two minutes or less but may continue for five. After that point, the child is merely complaining, and the change can be recognized in the tone and intensity of his voice. I would require him to stop the protest crying, usually by offering him a little more of whatever caused the original tears. In younger children, crying can easily be stopped by getting them interested in something else.”
Sociologists John Bartkowski and Christopher Ellison have stated that Dobson’s views “diverge sharply from those recommended by contemporary mainstream experts” and aren’t based on any sort of empirical testing, but rather are nothing more than expressions of his religious doctrines of “biblical literalism and ‘authority-mindedness.’”
In the winter of 2004-2005, the We Are Family Foundation sent American elementary schools approximately 60,000 copies of a free DVD using popular cartoon characters to “promote tolerance and diversity.” Dobson contended that “tolerance” and “diversity” are “buzzwords” that the We Are Family Foundation misused as part of a “hidden agenda” to promote homosexuality. Kate Zernik noted Dobson asserting: “tolerance and its 1st cousin, diversity, ‘are almost always buzzwords for homosexual advocacy.’” He stated on the Focus on the Family website that “childhood symbols are apparently being hijacked to promote an agenda that involves teaching homosexual propaganda to children.” He offered as evidence the association of many leading LGBT rights organizations, including GLAAD, GLSEN, HRC, and PFLAG, with the We Are Family Foundation as shown by links which he claims once existed on their website.
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Focus on the Family
Focus on the Family is a non-profit organization founded in 1977 by psychologist James Dobson, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It is active in promoting an interdenominational effort toward its socially conservative views on public policy. Focus on the Family is one of a number of evangelical parachurch organizations that rose to prominence in the 1980s.
Focus on the Family‘s stated mission is “nurturing and defending the God-ordained institution of the family and promoting biblical truths worldwide.” Focus on the Family opposes abortion, divorce, gambling, LGBT rights, LGBT adoption, pornography, pre-marital sex, and substance abuse. It supports abstinence-only sexual education, non-LGBT adoption, corporal punishment, creationism, school prayer, and strong gender roles. Psychologists, psychiatrists, and social scientists have accused Focus on the Family of misrepresenting their research to bolster FOTF’s political agenda and ideology.
The core promotional activities of the organization include a daily radio broadcast by its president, Jim Daly, and his colleagues, providing free resources according to Focus on the Family views, and publishing magazines, videos, and audio recordings. The organization also produces programs for targeted audiences, such as Adventures in Odyssey for children, dramas, and Family Minute.
From 1977 to 2003, James Dobson served as the sole leader of the organization. In 2003, Donald P. Hodel became president and chief executive officer, tasked with the day-to-day operations. This left Dobson as chairman of the Board of Directors, with chiefly creative and speaking duties.
In March 2005, Hodel retired and Jim Daly, formerly the Vice President in charge of Focus on the Family‘s International Division, assumed the role of president and chief executive officer.
In November 2008, the organization announced that it was eliminating 202 jobs, representing 18 percent of its workforce. The organization also cut its budget from $160 million in fiscal 2008 to $138 million for fiscal 2009.
In February 2009, Dobson resigned his chairmanship, and by early 2010 he was no longer the public face of Focus on the Family, nor hosting the daily radio program.
The primary ministry of Focus on the Family is to strengthen what it considers to be traditional marriages and families, based on an evangelical view of Biblical teachings. The group is strongly opposed to same-sex marriage. Their website offers online tracts on topics regarding marriage and parenting.
Focus on the Family‘s Wait No More ministry works with adoption agencies, church leaders and ministry partners to recruit families to adopt children from foster care. The program co-sponsors several adoption conferences throughout the country each year. Since November 2008, more than 1,700 families have started the adoption process through Wait No More. In Colorado, the number of children waiting for adoption dropped from about 800 to 350, due in-part to the efforts of Wait No More. Focus on the Family‘s efforts to encourage adoption among Christian families is part of a larger effort by Evangelicals to, in their perception, live out what they see as the “biblical mandate” to help children. Focus on the Family supports laws to prevent couples from adopting who are cohabiting together outside of marriage as well as homosexual couples.
Focus on the Family’s Option Ultrasound Program provides grants to qualifying crisis pregnancy centers to cover 80 percent of the cost of an ultrasound machine or sonography training. As of February 2012, the program has provided 536 grants to centers in all 50 states and Bucharest, Romania. Focus on the Family began OUP in 2004 with the goal of convincing women not to have abortions. FOTF officials said that ultrasound services help a woman better understand her pregnancy and baby’s development, creating an important “bonding opportunity” between “mother and unborn child”.
The Option Ultrasound Program reported in 2012 that it has helped prevent more than 120,000 abortions since 2004. A study released in February 2012 shows that ultrasounds don’t have a direct impact on an abortion decision. In 2011, FOTF President Jim Daly announced that while FOTF will continue to fight for the overturn of Roe v. Wade, in the meantime he would like to work with pro-choice groups like Planned Parenthood who state they want to make abortion “safe, legal and rare” towards the shared goal of making abortion less common. Rep. Michele Bachmann introduced a sonogram bill in 2011 and — citing Focus on the Family — told Congress that “78 percent of women who see and hear the fetal heartbeat choose life.” She was later corrected by Focus on the Family, which released a statement saying her data wasn’t accurate.
Focus on The Family Radio Theatre is a series of audio dramas adapting classic literature, mystery mini-series and biographical productions, extending its reach to the mainstream as well as the Christian audience. The endeavor began through the efforts of former Adventures in Odyssey producers Dave Arnold and Paul McCusker, along with casting director Philip Glassborow based in England.
Radio Theatre began in 1996 with a 90-minute radio drama based on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which was produced and aired as a broadcast special. The drama continued with historical biographies of Squanto, Jesus (“The Luke Reports”) and Dietrich Bonhoeffer (“Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom”). In 2003, Focus on the Family Radio Theater released an audio dramatization of C. S. Lewis’ epic novel series The Chronicles of Narnia, with David Suchet providing the voice of Aslan, and over 100 English actors rounding out the cast. Lewis’ stepson, Douglas Gresham, serves as host—sharing his personal stories at the beginning of each audio drama.
Radio Theatre also released an original miniseries, the Father Gilbert Mysteries, which tells of the spiritual mysteries encountered by Louis Gilbert, a cop-turned-Anglican-priest, who lives in Stonebridge, Sussex, and ministers to the people of the town from St. Mark’s Church. Nine episodes have been produced in four volumes available on cassette and CD.
FOTF also produces a children’s radio drama entitled Adventures in Odyssey. It began in 1987 as Family Portraits, starring John Avery Whittaker. It was renamed “Odyssey USA” in November 1987 and took on its present name, Adventures in Odyssey, in April 1988.
FOTF also produced a radio miniseries based on their videos, The Last Chance Detectives.
In 2009, FOTF’s Radio Theatre produced an audio drama of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, starring Andy Serkis as the voice of Screwtape. The audio drama was also accompanied by the release of www.screwtape.com, the only site authorized by the C.S. Lewis estate to represent The Screwtape Letters.
Boundless is Focus on the Family’s podcast for young adults in response to the increasing number of single adults in today’s society. The ministry’s web magazine, blog and podcast cover topics from navigating singleness, dating, relationships, popular culture and sex. Boundless promotes what they call a biblical model for marriage, including that men and women should adhere to distinct roles within marriage. Boundless also recommends online dating as one of the ways Christian singles can find a potential spouse.
The Day of Dialogue is a student-led event which takes place April 16. Founders describe the goal of the event, created in opposition to the anti-bullying Day of Silence, as “encouraging honest and respectful conversation among students about God’s design for sexuality.” It was previously known as the Day of Truth and was founded by the Alliance Defense Fund in 2005.
The National Day of Prayer Task Force is an American evangelical conservative Christian non-profit organization which organizes, coordinates, and presides over Evangelical Christian religious observances each year on the National Day of Prayer. The main office of the NDP Task Force is located at the headquarters of Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The website of the NDP Task Force states that “its business affairs are separate” from those of Focus on the Family, but also that “between 1990 and 1993, Focus on the Family did provide grants in support of the NDP Task Force” and that “Focus on the Family is compensated for services rendered.” Shirley Dobson, wife of James Dobson, has been chairwoman of the NDP Task Force since 1991.
Focus on the Family has a number of additional ministries. Many are aimed at specific demographics including teenage boys and girls, children, college students, families, young adults, parents, while others are aimed at specific concerns, such as sexual problems, entertainment, and politics. Many have their own regular publications.
Focus on the Family supports teaching of what it considers to be traditional family values. It advocates school sponsored prayer and supports corporal punishment. It strongly opposes LGBT rights, abortion, pornography, gambling, and pre-marital and extramarital sexual activity. Focus on the Family also embraces and reflects the wider political agenda of its audience, for instance promoting a religiously-centered conception of American identity and the support of Israel.
Focus on the Family maintains a strong pro-life stand against abortion, and provides grant funding and medical training to assist crisis pregnancy centers in obtaining ultrasound machines. The organization has been staunchly opposed to public funding for elective abortions. According to the organization, this funding, which has allowed CPCs to provide pregnant women with live sonogram images of the developing fetus, has led directly to the birth of over 1500 babies who would have otherwise been aborted.
Focus on the Family broadcasts an eponymous national talk radio program hosted by Dobson or his aides. The program has a range of themes, such as Christian-oriented assistance for victims of rape or child abuse; parenting difficulties; child adoption; husband/wife roles; family history and traditions; struggles with gambling, pornography, alcohol, and drugs. Listeners often respond to programs dealing with civic issues by contacting political leaders.
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Colorado Right to Life
Colorado Right to Life is an American pro-life advocacy group based in the state of Colorado. CRTL believes all human beings not convicted of a capital crime have a right to life from the moment of fertilization until natural death. The organization is opposed to abortion and euthanasia, as well as any kind of birth control that functions as an abortifacient or embryonic stem cell research that causes the death of an embryo.
Colorado Right to Life was founded in July 1967 by a coalition of pro-life activists — including Mary Rita Urbish, Charles Onofrio, and John Archibold — three months after Colorado became the 1st state to pass a law which legalized abortion in cases of rape, incest, or danger to maternal life.
CRTL was disaffiliated by the National Right to Life Committee in 2007, partly as a result of disagreement between the positions taken by the two organizations, and partly over an open letter which CRTL and several other major pro-life organizations signed. The open letter, paid for by independent donors, asked Focus on the Family chairman James Dobson to retract his statement that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of upholding the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in the case Gonzales v. Carhart was a positive outcome for the pro-life movement. The letter claimed that the decision actually affirmed widespread abortion rights, detailed methods which could be used to perform late-term abortions legally, and indicated that all but two of the Supreme court justices currently serving supported Roe v. Wade. Carrie Gordon Earll, a Focus on the Family spokesperson, responded by referring to Colorado Right to Life as a “rogue and divisive group”, and the National Right to Life Committee selected Colorado Citizens for Life/Protecting Life Now to replace CRTL as its state affiliate for Colorado.
Colorado Right to Life continues to operate as an independent entity, because its existence predates the National Right to Life Committee, and CRTL therefore owns its name and isn’t required to be an affiliate of any national organization.
Biff Gore is the president of Colorado Right to Life.. Leslie Hanks has served as its vice president and spokesperson for several years.
Colorado Right to Life does not believe that an abortion should be permitted under any circumstances, including rape or incest, and this has resulted in disagreement between CRTL and other pro-life organizations like the National Right to Life Committee. CRTL has appealed to these groups not to support exceptions to the prohibition of abortion and not to advocate parental involvement legislation. CRTL maintains that any law under which an abortion would be allowed condones the procedure and is therefore unacceptable.
Because CRTL advocates the standard of a right to life “from fertilization to natural death”, it also opposes euthanasia, arguing that the deliberate taking of one innocent life undermines the value of life as a whole.
CRTL objects to embryonic stem cell research, suggesting that research conducted on adult stem cells and cord blood is preferable, as neither relies upon the destruction of human embryos.
CRTL is on record as opposing Susan G. Komen for the Cure because the foundation does not recognize the abortion – breast cancer hypothesis and because they donate money to Planned Parenthood. Along with former Komen Foundation medical analyst Eve Silver, who is now a pro-life activist, CRTL met with the Komen board in September 2006 to discuss the abortion-breast cancer issue.
Colorado Right to Life holds an annual event called the “March for Life” at the Colorado State Capitol to mark the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. They also hold a yearly fundraising dinner known as the “Light on Life Banquet”.
In April 2007, CRTL organized an event called “40 Years in the Wilderness”, at which Alan Keyes, Judie Brown of the American Life League, and Flip Benham of Operation Save America gathered to collectively back a no-exceptions position on abortion and euthanasia. Another goal of the meeting was to bring attention to the Gonzales v. Carhart ruling for the same reasons outlined in the open letter to James Dobson.
CRTL actively pickets abortion clinics and has launched a campaign intended to halt construction of a new Planned Parenthood facility in Denver.
Colorado Right to Life was also the leading force behind 2008′s Colorado Amendment 48, otherwise known as the “Personhood Amendment” (basically a statewide Human Life Amendment), and is trying to get another Personhood Amendment on the ballot for 2010, in cooperation with Personhood USA.
Related Sites for Colorado Right to Life
- Colorado Right To Life | Defending human life from the beginning … read Colorado Right to Life
- The Colorado Right to Life Blog read Colorado Right to Life
- The Colorado Right to Life Blog: Candidate Positions – Pre-Primary … read Colorado Right to Life
- Life on a Colorado Farm | Life on a Colorado Farm (All Rights … read Colorado Right to Life
Georgia Right to Life
Georgia Right to Life is a pro-life advocacy organization that is non-profit, non-partisan, and non-sectarian. It was incorporated in 1971 by Jay and Cheryl Bowman. In 1973, it became the state affiliate of the Washington, D.C. based National Right to Life Committee in response to the Supreme decision of Roe v Wade which legalized abortion. GRTL serves as Georgia’s largest pro-life organization with grassroots chapters across 30 counties in Georgia and more than 240,000 identified pro-life households. Georgia Right to Life is organized for activities in the areas of education, legislation, and political action. The organization uses the aforementioned methods to oppose legalized abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and human cloning and artificially produced genetic transformation.
Georgia Right to Life, which was originally titled the Georgia Right to Life Committee, was established in 1970. The organization changed its name to Georgia Right to Life in the mid-1980s. Its 1st major action was a letter-writing campaign in the same year. The campaign encouraged Georgians to vote for pro-life candidates. By 1971, the Georgia Right to Life Committee was incorporated and became a member of the National Right to Life Coalition. An office was set up in the garage of the Bowman’s home and volunteers helped mail packets of information and a newsletter to thousands of Georgians. Several months later, Georgia Right to Life began establishing local chapters in other parts of the state.
In 1973, Georgia Right to Life launched a pro-life campaign in reaction to the Supreme Court case Roe v Wade which was decided on January 22, 1973. The Bowmans appeared on television and radio programs as speakers on abortion and other pro-life issues. Jay Bowman appeared in the “hot seat” on the WAGA show “Confrontation” and Cheryl Bowman appeared on WSB-TV’s “Today in Georgia.” The group gained national recognition when an article about Georgia Right to Life was printed in a 1975 issue of “Newsweek”. The organization eventually relocated its office to Decatur, Georgia.
The Bowmans left Georgia Right to Life in the late 1970s. Mary Boyert joined GRTL’s executive committee in 1978. She served as the Education Director from 1979-1980. She was elected president of the organization in 1980. She served for three consecutive terms. After her 3rd and final term, Ms. Boyert was appointed to the Executive Director position in late 1986. She held that post until being appointed the Archdiocesan Pro-Life Director in 2000. Ms. Boyert established the Georgia Right to Life Executive Committee, the Georgia Right to Life Educational Trust Fund, and the Georgia Right to Life Political Action Committee. Under Ms. Boyert’s presidency, local chapters were founded and the organization’s bimonthly newsletter. By the 1990s, 225,000 pro-life households identified with the organization.
In 2000, president-elect Caryl Swift and the State Board of Directors voted to reverse the organization’s position on politicians; views on abortion in regard to rape and incest. Previously to 1999, Georgia Right to Life didn’t disqualify elected public officials from receiving an endorsement from the organization if they held an exception for abortion in favor of rape and incest victims. Caryl Swift and the Executive Committee reversed this position. All politicians who hold an abortion exception for rape and incest can no longer qualify for and endorsement from the GRTL Political Action Committee.
In 2000, Caryl Swift was elected to the presidency of Georgia Right to Life. She held the position from 2000-2007. Under Ms. Swift, GRTL began lobbying for Georgia state representatives and proposed legislation. In the last few years, GRTL has publicly endorsed Casey Cagle, Ralph Reed, Paul Broun, and Mac Collins for higher political office. Current United States Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss didn’t receive an endorsement from Georgia Right to Life in the 2004 midterm elections.
The REACH Benefit Dinner was 1st established in 2001 by the Swift administration. REACH, which is an acronym for Reaching Hearts, Changing Minds, is an annual fundraiser for Georgia Right to Life‘s Educational Trust Fund.
Under Ms. Swift’s presidency, Georgia Right to Life was able to successfully lobby the General Assembly on HB 197 in 2006. The bill created a 24 hour waiting period for all women seeking an abortion, tightened parental notification regulations, mandated that all women seeking abortion be offered the chance to view an ultrasound, and mandated all women seeking abortion be informed about fetal pain.
By unanimous vote by the State Board, GRTL, Inc. became a faith-based organization in 2007. Georgia Right to Life is a philanthropic Judeo-Christian organization which is legally recognized as a not-for-profit.
Georgia Right to Life has had a democratically elected president since its creation in 1970. These presidents include: Jay Bowman, 1970–1979, Kel MacDonald, 1979–1980, Mary Boyert, 1980–1986, John and Linda Fuchko, 1986–1988, Erik Petersen, 1988–1989, Tom Clark, 1990–1991, Gen Wilson, 1991–2000, Caryl Swift, 2000–2007, and Dan Becker, 2007–Present. All presidents are limited to three consecutive terms. Any president may serve in any position within the organization for as long as the current president sees fit after their presidency.
Today, Georgia Right to Life‘s activities include: the printing of a bi-monthly newsletter with a stated circulation of around 60,000, the funding a multi-media pro-life and “personhood” campaign, the drafting and promoting of legislation to restrict abortion, and the hosting of pro-life events like the Together for Life rally. Georgia Right to Life is also well known for its pro-life organization intended for instilling, mentoring, and fostering a respect for human life in young girls, Miss Right to Life of Georgia Scholarship & Benefit Pageant.
There are currently 30 adult-organized, grass roots chapters and one youth-focused and youth-organized chapter under the Georgia Right to Life banner. Daniel Becker succeeded Caryl Swift as president of Georgia Right to Life in 2007. Under Becker’s leadership, the organization has lobbied for restrictions on abortion, including the Human Life Amendment which would have defined personhood as beginning at fertilization, to be added to the Georgia Constitution.
Georgia Right to Life has been written about in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Christian Newswire, the Christian Index, and the Times Free Press as well as highlighted by NPR and other sources of media.
Each year, Georgia Right to Life hosts the Together for Life rally and memorial service at the Georgia state capitol. Rep. Martin Scott and Dr. Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the event in 2009.
In most recent news, Georgia Right to Life has received coverage for its endorsement of Governor Mike Huckabee in the 2008 presidential election and its support for The Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos Act, the Option of Adoption Act, and HR 334/SR 156 “Opposing FOCA Resolution.”
The organization’s most recent projects include the “Abortion Holocaust Memorial Wall” and the “Choose Life” license plates campaign. The virtual wall is modeled after the Vietnam Memorial but it recognizes every abortion performed in the United States since 1973. In 2009, GRTL joined the non-profit organization Choose Life of Georgia in its license plate campaign. License plates which read “Choose Life” are offered to be purchased by any Georgia citizen. Proceeds from the purchases are donated to agencies that promote adoption.
Whereas, the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states, ‘nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law,’ Georgia Right to Life PAC affirms the principle that the right to life is the bedrock upon which all other Constitutional rights are derived.
Georgia state senator Eric Johnson, Ray McBerry, Georgia state Commissioner John Oxendine, Georgia state representative Austin Scott, and Jeff Chapman, five of the Republican candidates for Governor, have signed GRTL’s declaration.
Starting in 2010, Georgia Right to Life will promote a pro-life outreach campaign geared toward the African-American community.
Related Sites for Georgia Right to Life
- Georgia Right to Life | Advancing Personhood—The Paramount Right … read Georgia Right to Life
- Pregnancy Centers | Georgia Right to Life read Georgia Right to Life
- Moral Vacancy at Georgia Right to Life | RedState read Georgia Right to Life
- CONFIRMED: Georgia Right to Life Opposes Legislation to Prohibit … read Georgia Right to Life
Virginia Society for Human Life
The Virginia Society for Human Life is a non-profit organization advocating an end to abortion in Virginia and the United States. VSHL is the Virginia affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee. It was founded in 1967 and is the oldest Pro Life organization in the country. The group has a political action committee, VSHL PAC, to support pro-life candidates for Virginia public office. Olivia Gans is the current president of VSHL and the Director of the American Victims of Abortion (AVA).
VSHL works through political and social channels against abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, and other life issues in Virginia with the ultimate goal of ending those practices in the state and nationwide. It lobbies for pro-life legislation or against pro-choice legislation in the Virginia General Assembly. VSHL president Olivia Gans says that during a General Assembly session, VSHL has “a team of 2-3 individuals who are almost daily down at the General Assembly communicating, lobbying, giving our pro-life members information, reaching out to members who might be on the fence and monitoring bills…We may or may not support every pro-life bill that is put forward because we look at what kind of effort has the greatest chance of success in this session.”
In 2011, VSHL was involved in the passage of a bill to regulate abortion clinics as hospitals. The bill, which passed the House by an large margin and passed the Senate after a tiebreaker vote from Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, may force a number of abortion clinics in the state to close.
In August 2012 VSHL started a pro-life youth camp called Camp Joshua that is part of the Life & Leadership Camps Initiative developed by the National Right to Life pro life program. Olivia Gans the president of VSHL and the Director of the American Victims of Abortion attended the event and presented workshops on how abortion effects women and the world.
In the fall of 2012 VSHL supported Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s push to have abortion clinics fall under the same regulations that new hospital construction standards call for. Olivia Gans Turner president of the VSHL argued that the new abortion clinic rules were called for. She cited the notorious Pennsylvania abortion clinic in Philadelphia of Kermit Gosnell that Pennsylvania state officials labeled as a “house of horrors.”
In January 2013 VSHL supported a rally at the Virginia State Capital in favor of Pro Life in which several hundred pro life supporters showed up. Several dozen induced abortion supporters showed up also. “It is hard work to do the right thing,” and “We’re here and we’ve got your back.” stated VSHL president Olivia Gans Turner to the many lawmakers that were present. The pro life supporters were of diversified ages and many had pink scarves and baby blue scarves around them. They also had stickers that stated “Abortion Hurts” and “Unborn Babies Feel Pain.”
VSHL supported the amendment by Governor Robert McDonnell to forbid insurers from offering abortion coverage if they elect to be part of the soon to come federal health exchange. The Virginia General Assembly approved the amendment on 3 April 2013 after Virginia House of Delegates approved the amendment earlier in the day. Olivia Gans the president of VSHL stated taxpayers are indebted to the Virginia governor and the Virginia General Assembly. “Without this amendment, starting in 2014 Virginians would have been forced to pay for all abortions on demand done in the commonwealth through the new federal health care law.”
In April 2013 VSHL advocated that the Virginia Board of Health require abortion clinics to follow the same construction standards as new hospital to limit botched abortions. The Virginia Board of health approved regulations requiring the states abortion clinics to follow existing standards of construction for new hospitals by a vote of 11-2 “These reasonable regulations will begin to rein in reckless abortionists in Virginia” stated Olivia Gans Turner the VSHL president.
Virginia Society for Human Life, Inc., is a voluntary and non-denominational organization united in the belief that the human being in his innate dignity and worth should be safeguarded by law at every stage of biological development. Through education and legislative activity, the Society’s purpose is to promote measures which will insure protection for all innocent human life.”
The American Life League accused the VSHL of inconsistencies for not taking a stand against the morning after pill legislation that was to allow over the counter sales in Virginia. The bill went down in defeat in the Virginia Legislature. ALL President Judie Brown charged, “The problem is that everybody knows that the combination of pills, otherwise known as morning after pills in fact works to abort children,” “It seems appalling to us that… the Virginia Society for Human Life has taken no position on something as clearly as abortifacient in nature as these pills are.” The VSHL made no comments on the American Life League’s charges but issued the following statement:”The Virginia Society for Human Life (VSHL) is opposed to abortion, euthanasia and infanticide. VSHL takes no position on the prevention of fertilization, i.e. the union of the sperm and the egg cell. Once fertilization has occurred, a new human life has begun and VSHL is opposed to destroying human life.”
VSHL PAC provides support to pro-life candidates for public office, especially for U.S. Congress, the Virginia General Assembly, and statewide offices. The VSHL endorsed Fred Thompson for president in 2007. They also endorsed Gov. Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in the 2009 elections, as well as 61 candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates. VSHL PAC started in 1990 and has spent about $100,000 on federal elections since then. In the 2011 state elections, 11 of VSHL’s endorsed state Senate candidates and 21 endorsed House of Delegates candidates were elected.
Related Sites for Virginia Society for Human Life
The United States pro-life movement is a social and political movement in the United States opposing on moral or sectarian grounds elective abortion and usually supporting its legal prohibition or restriction. Advocates generally argue that the human fetus (and in most cases the human embryo) is a person and therefore has a right to life. The pro-life movement includes a variety of organizations, with no single centralized decision-making body. There are diverse arguments and rationales for the pro-life stance. Some anti-abortion activists allow for exceptional circumstances such as incest, rape, severe fetal defects or when the woman’s health is at risk.
Although anti-abortion views have existed throughout US history, especially emanating from the Catholic Church, the politically active pro-life movement grew especially following the Supreme Court 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, which struck down most state laws restricting abortion in the 1st trimester of pregnancy. In the United States the movement is associated with several Christian religious groups, especially the Catholic Church, and is frequently, but not exclusively, allied with the Republican Party. The movement is also supported by non-mainstream pro-life feminists. The movement seeks to reverse Roe v. Wade and to promote legislative changes or constitutional amendment, such as the Human Life Amendment, that prohibits or at least restricts abortion.
The “pro-life” concept is at times used synonymously with the concepts of “right to life” and “culture of life”, and can also refer to a prohibitive or restrictive position on the issues of euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, and capital punishment, as well as other life issues.
On the other side of the abortion debate in the United States is the pro-choice movement, which argues that a woman is the only person with a right to make a decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.
In the late 1960s, a number of organizations were formed to mobilize opinion against the legalization of abortion. In the United States, the National Right to Life Committee was formed in 1968, while in Australia, the National Right to Life formed in 1970.
That the pro-life movement is bigger is a given. It’s also younger, increasingly entrepreneurial, more strategic in its thinking, better organized, tougher in dealing with allies and enemies alike, almost wildly ambitious, and more relentless than ever. Pro-lifers have captured the high moral ground, chiefly thanks to advances in the quality of sonograms. Once fuzzy, sonograms now provide a high-resolution picture of the unborn child in the womb. Fetuses have become babies.
Barnes also discussed the rise in opposition to abortion among the younger generations, especially the millennials, the prevalence of crisis pregnancy centers, and the rejuvenation of old pro-life groups, such as Students for Life, and the rise of new ones, such as 40 Days for Life and Live Action. Lisa Miller of The Washington Post wrote about the younger, more feminine face of the pro-life movement with the rise of leaders such as Lila Rose of Live Action, Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life, Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America, and Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life, all “youngish Christian working mothers with children at home” who offer a pro-life perspective on the women’s rights aspect of the abortion issue instead of focusing exclusively on the fetus.
The pro-life movement has been successful in recent years in promoting new laws against abortion within the states. The Guttmacher Institute said eighty laws restricting abortion were passed in the 1st six months of 2011, “more than double the previous record of 34 abortion restrictions enacted in 2005—and more than triple the 23 enacted in 2010″.
Before Roe v. Wade, the United States right-to-life movement consisted of lawyers, politicians, and doctors, almost all of whom were Catholic. The only coordinated opposition to abortion during the early 1970s came from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Family Life Bureau, also a Catholic organization. Mobilization of a wide-scale pro-life movement among Catholics began quickly after the Roe v. Wade decision with the creation of the National Right to Life Committee. The NRLC also organized non-Catholics, eventually becoming the largest pro-life organization in the United States. Connie Paige has been quoted as having said that, “[t]he Roman Catholic Church created the right-to-life movement. Without the church, the movement would not exist as such today.”
Before 1980, the Southern Baptist Convention officially advocated for loosening of abortion restrictions. During the 1971 and 1974 Southern Baptist Conventions, Southern Baptists were called upon “to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.” W. Barry Garrett wrote in the Baptist Press, “Religious liberty, human equality and justice are advanced by the [Roe v. Wade] Supreme Court Decision.”
By 1980, conservative Protestant leaders became vocal in their opposition to legalized abortion, and by the early 1990s Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition of America became a significant pro-life organization. In 2005, Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said that making abortion illegal is more important than any other issue.
Pro-life individuals generally believe that human life should be valued either from fertilization or implantation until natural death. The contemporary pro-life movement is typically, but not exclusively, influenced by Conservative Christian beliefs, especially in the United States, and has influenced certain strains of bioethical utilitarianism. From that viewpoint, any action which destroys an embryo or fetus kills a person. Any deliberate destruction of human life is considered ethically or morally wrong and isn’t considered to be mitigated by any benefits to others, as such benefits are coming at the expense of the life of what they believe to be a person. In some cases, this belief extends to opposing abortion of fetuses that would almost certainly expire within a short time after birth, such as anencephalic fetuses.
Moreover, conservative publications, such as American Thinker, cite studies such as a comprehensive review of literature published in the British Journal of Psychiatry which suggests that, among women, “there is a significant increase in mental health problems after abortion.” However, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists responded to the review with a position statement in which they said that three previously published systematic reviews and the RCOG guideline development group have concluded that women who have an abortion aren’t at increased risk of mental health problems when compared with women who continue an unintended pregnancy. Furthermore, they questioned the fact that while the paper’s findings pointed to increased substance misuse and suicidal behaviors among the groups of women, the research didn’t fully examine if these women had pre-existing mental health complications such as dependency issues and mood disorders before the abortion.
The variety in opinion on the issue of abortion is reflected in the diverse views of religious groups. For example, the Catholic Church condemns every procured abortion as morally evil, while traditional Jewish teaching sanctions abortion if necessary to safeguard the life and well-being of the pregnant woman.
Much of the pro-life movement in the United States and around the world finds support in the Roman Catholic Church, Christian right, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the Church of England, the Anglican Church in North America, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, the pro-life teachings of these denominations vary considerably. The Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church consider abortion to be immoral in all cases, but permit acts which indirectly result in the death of the fetus in the case where the mother’s life is threatened. In Pope John Paul II’s Letter to Families he simply stated the Roman Catholic Church’s view on abortion and euthanasia: “Laws which legitimize the direct killing of innocent human beings through abortion or euthanasia are in complete opposition to the inviolable right to life proper to every individual; they thus deny the equality of everyone before the law.”
The National Association of Evangelicals and the LDS Church oppose abortion on demand. However, the NAE considers abortion permissible in cases with clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, dire threat to the life/physical health of the pregnant woman, or when a pregnancy results from rape or incest. The Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality was formed in 1987 to further the pro-life ministry in The United Methodist Church. The Southern Baptist Convention believes that abortion is allowable only in cases where there is a direct threat to the life of the woman. Other Mainline Protestant denominations in the United States, such as the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the United Church of Christ, are pro-choice.
Although traditional Hindu texts and teachings have opposed elective abortions, a vocal pro-life movement is limited in India, the nation with the largest Hindu population. Most abortions in India are done for sex selection, with boys being favored. As a result, activists who argue against abortion in India are typically women’s rights activists. Recently, these pro-life activists took Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft to court, suing to remove web ads that sell products that enable parents to determine the sex of a fetus. Some Hindu institutions oppose abortion, and teach that abortion prevents a soul in its karmic progress toward God. Other Hindu theologians believe personhood begins at 3 months and develops through to 5 months of gestation, possibly implying permitting abortion in extenuating circumstances up to the 3rd month and considering any abortion past the 3rd month to be destruction of the soul’s current incarnate body.
In Judaism, views on abortion draw primarily upon the legal and ethical teachings of the Hebrew Bible, the Torah, the case-by-case decisions of responsa, and other rabbinic literature. In the modern period, moreover, Jewish thinking on abortion has responded both to liberal understandings of personal autonomy as well as Christian opposition to abortion. Polls of Jews in America report that 88% of American Jews are pro-choice. Prominent Jewish pro-life activist Michael Medved has said, “Jewish law for millennia has been extremely clear, that abortion is only permitted when the life of the mother is directly threatened… To link Jewish tradition to the pro-choice position is ‘ludicrous and ignorant’.”
The pro-life movement includes a variety of organizations, with no single centralized decision-making body. There are diverse arguments and rationales for the pro-life stance.
There are many socially conservative organizations in the U.S. that support the pro-life movement. Some groups focus solely on promoting the pro-life cause, such as the Susan B. Anthony List, National Right to Life Committee, Americans United for Life, and Live Action, among many others. Other groups support not only the pro-life cause but the broader family values cause, such as Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, American Family Association, and Concerned Women for America, among many others.
A major stated goal within the pro-life movement is to “restore legal protection to innocent human life.” This protection would include fetuses and embryos, persons who cannot communicate their wishes due to physical or mental incapacitation, and those who are too weak to resist being euthanized.
Some pro-life advocates, such as those subscribing to the philosophy of a Consistent Life Ethic, oppose virtually all acts that end human life. They would argue that abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, and unjust war are all wrong. Prominent organizations advocating a Consistent Life Ethic include Democrats for Life of America (which includes dozens of Congressmen), Sojourners Magazine, and Priests for Life.
Others argue that the death penalty can be a fair punishment for murder, justifiably inflicted by lawful authority, whereas abortion is an attack on an innocent. The increasing attention paid to this controversial position may result from the large Roman Catholic membership of the pro-life movement, striving to adhere to Catholic Church teachings on the death penalty.
In some countries, the abortion issue remains one of the broader and more controversial societal issues. A broad spectrum of positions exists on this issue, from those who advocate abortion-on-demand at any point during a pregnancy until birth on the one end, to those who oppose every form of abortion on the other. Between these two there is a considerable range of positions. Some oppose abortion, but are content to work at reducing the number of abortions through prevention of unwanted pregnancies, a task they accomplish through encouraging abstinence, targeted sex education and/or increased availability of contraception. Current legislation in United States Congress, the Pregnant Women Support Act, seeks to reduce the abortion rate in the U.S. without making any procedure illegal and without overturning Roe v. Wade. There are many who support legal abortion within the 1st trimesters but oppose late-term abortions. Those who oppose late-term abortions usually take the view that once a fetus has reached the point where it could live independently from the woman, the balance of rights swings in favour of the fetus. Some oppose most abortions but make exception for cases where the woman’s life is in serious risk. In this category, some likewise make an exception for severe fetal deformities. Others make exceptions when the pregnancy wasn’t caused by consensual sexual activity or may violate social taboos, as in cases of rape and incest. Some allow for all these exceptions, but stop short of abortion-on-demand.
Related Sites for Pro-life movement
- patrons of the pro-life movement