A week ago I noted with regret the attempt by pro-life purists to cause friction in the pro-life movement.
On May 23 they distributed a press release entitled, "Rift opens in Christian Right unprecedented criticism of Dobson by major ministries," to announce they placed an ad in a CO newspaper shaming Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family for supporting the Partial Birth Abortion Ban. The title of their release revealed their intent: to cause public dissension in the pro-life ranks. I said while I admired many people in this group, I did not think this was good.
Since then, the group's organizer, Pastor Bob Enyart, has been raising money to rerun the ad, which I consider a tragic use of pro-life funds. Indeed, the ad ran in the Washington Times May 30, and the group plans to run it at least one more time.
Pastor Enyart fueled the fire last week with this headline on his site: "Dobson's staff: '3rd trimester abortion banned!'"
He linked to a phone call one of his staff made to FOTF wherein an employee did mistate this about the effect of the PBA Ban, although she semi-recovered by reading the factual details.
It seemed clear to me from listening to the call (which can be heard by scrolling about halfway down this page) she was simply foggy about the ban and was not intentionally lying.
I emailed Carrie Gordon Earll, Senior Director, FOTF, and asked for clarification. I did not believe FOTF would intentionally spread such blatantly false information.
Earll authorized publication of her response on my blog, which is:
Focus on the Family is aware that Bob Enyart Live has played a clip of a secretly taped phone conversation with one of our staff members and has posted that conversation on a web site. During that conversation, our representative incorrectly stated that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban (upheld in Gonzales v. Carhart) prohibits abortion in the third trimester. We handle a significant volume of calls on a wide variety of topics, and mistakes do occur on occasion. We strive for accuracy, so when we make an error, we welcome the opportunity to "set the record straight."
I emailed Pastor Enyart several days ago expressing my concerns. He acknowledged receiving my note and said he would respond but has not. A reminder email I sent last night has gone unanswered.
There are two issues at stake here, the concept of a two-front war and the strategical differences between pro-life purists (win all or nothing) and incrementalists (win a little at a time).
Re: the latter, I'm fairly certain after reading and discussing this topic that the purist/incrementalist debate is akin to the Protestant/Catholic debate. It will never be resolved.
Incrementalists appear to accept our differences and are focusing energy/money on pro-aborts. I think incrementatlists agree it is fine if purists want to pursue a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution. There are a number other ways they can pursue their strategy, such as spotlight education against the rape/incest exception.
Purists appear to not accept our differences and are focusing at least some of their energy/money on attacking fellow pro-lifers. It seems to me the voices of purists are growing louder as incrementalism demonstrates success.
The two camps simply disagree in strategy. But we should agree that one losing strategy is to launch a war against one another.