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.
Why would pro lifers want to intentionally divide their base like this? It seems it would be more of a hindrance in reaching their ultimate goal (complete ban of abortion) than anything else.Posted by: JK at June 1, 2007 12:19 PM
"The two camps simply disagree in strategy."
Having trolled numerous prolife discussion forumns, there are divergent beliefs, not just strategy. On the extreme end of the spectrum, some don't even think it is right to abort if the woman's health is at risk, if she's been raped, of the child is a product of incest... where as the moderate prolifes have various exceptions.Posted by: cameron at June 1, 2007 12:38 PM
Why should a baby be killed because his or her father
is a criminal rapist?
"We also document similar misinformation being given out by the Focus on the Family call-center including with recorded phone calls to Focus made over the last month and as recently as May 25, 2007, and with affidavits from callers to Focus' Correspondence Department. Focus on the Family employees have told callers and financial supporters that the PBA ruling means that in a late-term abortion, the baby "couldn't be out of the womb at all, it can't be out of the womb at allï¿½ they can't perform [an abortion] while any part of the body is outside. " And they told other callers, as can be heard in one call at KGOV.com, that, "The U.S. Supreme Court made it illegal for women to have an abortion in the last trimester." These well-meaning Focus employees are repeating the misinformation provided to them by their leadership such as CitizenLink editor Tom Hess' misleading online article reporting that perhaps, "CRTL [Colorado Right To Life] would prefer that viable babies would continue to be killed without anesthetics." CitizenLink continues to mislead Focus' employees and donors everywhere by implying the Gonzales v. Carhart PBA ruling prohibits the killing of "viable babies" or that it requires "anesthetics." "Posted by: lesforlife at June 1, 2007 1:59 PM
I have to agree with some of the things that Ginsgurg says in her dissenting arguements and I would like to just quote from the ruling.
Ginsburg, J., dissenting, on page 14,
"(We must determine whether the Act furthers the legitimate interest of the Government in protecting the life of the fetus that may become a child.) But the Act scarely furthers that interest: The law saves not a single fetus from destruction, for it targets only a method of preforming abortion."
Next paragraph on page 14 further goes on to state, "Nointact D&E could equally be characterized as brutal, involving as it does 'tearing a fetus apart' and 'ripping of' it's limbs. The notion that either of these two equally gruesome prodecures... is more akin to infanticide than the other, or that the State furthers any legitimate interest by banning one but not the other, is simply irrational."
I have to agree with Ginsburg! She has a more honest statement than some pro-lifers that say this saves babies lives.
I'm sure Pastor Bob Enyart would love to answer all of everyone's questions, but he is out of town camping with his three youngest sons. His radio program is pre-recorded today, so you can't call in today. Please call his radio show on Monday.
God Bless!!! Ken
" Dr. Dobson's organization continues false claims, including that the recent decision "outlaw[s] the brutal killing of a nearly born fetus" ( CitizenLink.com, 5-23-07, Carrie Gordon Earll, senior Focus spokesperson). This claim is false." "
Ken, 2:55p, I emailed Pastor Enyart the morning of May 27, and he acknowledged its receipt that same morning. I told him I planned to post May 29 re: his tenuous charge that FOTF misinformed the public on the PBA ban, which turned out to be an innocent mistake. I delayed that post three days so as to afford Pastor Enyart time to settle this on his own. I never heard back from him.Posted by: Jill Stanek at June 1, 2007 3:59 PM
Cameron, 12:38p, said: "Having trolled numerous prolife discussion forumns, there are divergent beliefs, not just strategy. On the extreme end of the spectrum, some don't even think it is right to abort if the woman's health is at risk, if she's been raped, of the child is a product of incest... where as the moderate prolifes have various exceptions."
Cameron, it is politicians who allow for rape/incest/health exceptions. I don't know of any "moderate" pro-lifers who do.
Where pro-lifers do differ is on the topic of contraception.Posted by: Jill Stanek at June 1, 2007 4:01 PM
Les, 3:59p: The information FOTF's Susan relayed turned out to be an innocent mistake which has now been corrected, as FOTF states. Where is the grace? It seems, rather, there has been a rush to judgment.Posted by: Jill Stanek at June 1, 2007 4:03 PM
Leslie, 1:54p, said: "Why should a baby be killed because his or her father
is a criminal rapist?"
Leslie, please, I know of no pro-lifer who disagrees with you on that.
In OK, they tried to pass a law stopping taxpayer funding of ALL abortions, and the bill failed. The purist attempt FAILED. Now they’ve passed a law stopping taxpayer funding of all abortions but 1%. Do you still oppose this?
This is the equivalent of asking, "Would you not pull any victims out of a burning building if they couldn't all be pulled out?"Posted by: Jill Stanek at June 1, 2007 4:12 PM
Jill, I contacted you personally, hoping to attempt to discuss this matter, but you didn't respond. (I am the one who made the call to Focus on the Family.) Further, your attack on Bob Enyart alone is decieving your reading audience as Judie Brown and ALL, Tom Euteneuer and Human Life International, and Flip Benham of Operation Save America were also among the signers of this letter.
Jill is actually attempting to do what she's claiming we shouldn't be doing: causing friction in the pro-life movement. Her failure to be fully honest of who was behind the letter, knowing they are some of the largest pro-life ministries we have today, shows she's trying to cause friction between the pro-life movement and Bob Enyart.
Jill is also dishonest when she claims that this staff member of Focus just made a mistake. Here is the email I sent her, showing she had more education on this than she leads on.
"Hey Jill, this is Will Duffy who placed the call to Focus on the Family. The reason I called is because my father did, and a Jonathan in their correspondance department told my dad that all third trimester abortions had been banned. I told Bob (Enyart) and we were shocked, so he instructed me to call FotF only once, ask for no one in particular, and record the call, and well, the rest you know. Further, a listener has since emailed us that they called FotF as well and were told the exact same thing. I believe they recorded it and are sending it as well. I truly don't believe that this was just a mistake by Susan, given the other phone calls, and further, when you sit back for a second Jill, where in the world would someone get the crazy idea that the PBA ruling would end all third trimester abortions, much less multiple FotF employees!? In love, Will Duffy
(I'm 24 and I've dedicated my life to ending abortion. PLEASE Jill Stanek, hear what we have to say. If you haven't done so already, please read the ruling, our open letter, and our analysis of the ruling, and maybe, just maybe, you will see that we mean nothing but good. Having a person of your stature in the pro-life movement on our side would help tremendously and we're fighting tooth and nail to get the pro-life movement united again and back on the right track.)"
My question still needs an honest answer Jill. Where in the world would 3, not just one, Focus employees get the crazy idea that the PBA ruling, bans ALL third trimester abortions?
P.S. Jill has followed suit with 100% of those who have responded to the open letter to Dr. Dobson: EMPTY RHETORIC.
I'm hoping someone will respond with something of substance to our QUOTES from the ruling itself.Posted by: Will D at June 1, 2007 5:12 PM
After reading through some of this fewd, I would say that it is clear that on no level is this a debate, and I think that it is unfair to compare this to "the Protestant/Catholic debate" Jill. Instead it reminds me of the debate aired on Nightline News between The Way of the Master Christians and the Rational Responders Atheists. Kirk and Ray would present evidence and the atheists wouldn't respond to the evidence, but in their response they would attempt to redefine the debate and slam the Christians.
Jill I respect you and have enjoyed your blog, but please if you are going to address this issue, respond to the points of these people. I would enjoy a dialog much more than maneuvering.
Will, 5:12p, I never received your email, or if I did, I missed it, and I'm sorry if so.
Will, you said, "when you sit back for a second Jill, where in the world would someone get the crazy idea that the PBA ruling would end all third trimester abortions...."
I agree with you. That's why, when I was told about this and listened to the phone call, it didn't sit well. I emailed a higher authority at FOTF, who provided a rational, understandable explanation. To continue to use this tenuous thread to slam FOTF is far-fetched, IMO.
Luke, 6:03p, thank you for your kind words about my blog. It appears you're a hardliner/purist. You make my point that this debate is similar to the Protestant/Catholic debate. It goes round and round.Posted by: Jill Stanek at June 2, 2007 5:36 AM
What about Carrie Gordon Earll's claim that the ban
"outlaws the brutal killing of a nearly born fetus?"
That is demonstrably false and for my money, an organization
with a $150 million dollar budget ought to have a better staff
of lawyers and researchers so they can put out truth.
Christians are being misled by Dr. Dobson.
We are calling on him to follow his own pledge to never
support anyone or anything that allows for the killing of
even one innocent human being.
Why would any pro-lifer refer to a pre-born baby as a "fetus?"
"We are calling on him to follow his own pledge to never support anyone or anything that allows for the killing of even one innocent human being."
I'm guessing that doesn't include stoping the war in Iraq.Posted by: Cameron at June 2, 2007 6:21 PM
"Cameron, it is politicians who allow for rape/incest/health exceptions. I don't know of any "moderate" pro-lifers who do."
Somehow it doesn't surprise me, that you might not be prepared to acknowledge/understand/recognize that things are ussually on spectrums in reality, as opposed to polarized black and white.
Get out much?Posted by: Cameron at June 2, 2007 6:24 PM
Cam: "Somehow it doesn't surprise me, that you might not be prepared to acknowledge/understand/recognize that things are ussually on spectrums in reality"
"spectrums of reality" ... yea, yea, that sound right! spectrums of reality....Posted by: jasper at June 2, 2007 8:22 PM
We don't oppose incrementalism, just compromised
incrementalism which says, "and then you can kill
Leslie, please give examples of the difference.Posted by: Jill Stanek at June 4, 2007 10:10 AM
Most eggregious would be Parental Consent.
No one has the right to consent to the death
of another innocent human life.
Even Parental Notice is problematic. If the
parents are notified their daughter is seeking
an abortion and they agree, then you can kill the
The assumption is that if parents know, the right thing
will be done. Unfortunately, in our fallen world often
as not it won't be.
Finally, we don't have a right to construct laws that emphasise
what is politically attainable rather than what is morally correct,
to quote Judie Brown, bless her heart!!
And for an example of a law the pro-life ministries would support that would be incremental. (This is only a simple example and I know there would need to be a few more specifics)
"No baby shall be killed / aborted after the second trimester by any means or it shall be considered 1st degree murder"
All pro-lifers could support that and it is incremental.Posted by: Jmaes at June 4, 2007 11:37 PM
"No baby shall be killed / aborted after the second trimester by any means or it shall be considered 1st degree murder"
Oh for some Presidential candiates that could articulate such
Sad we spent 15 years and nearly 1/4 of a billion $$
and we aren't anywhere near that bold stance!
Yeah, instead you can now only take the baby out to the navel instead of the neck and then rip it apart!
So we spent all that time and money moving where you can kill the baby by 4 or 5 inches!
What will or brilliant pro-life industry leaders think of next? Maybe we can send them large money for 15 more years while they work to pass a law that says you can only pull the baby out to the hips before you snuff her out!
And 20 million more children die........Posted by: James at June 5, 2007 8:31 AM
Even if you're a purist, you should see that you'll win through a series of smaller battles won, not through one major rout. The culture of death is too deep and well entrenched to be undone by one decision, one law, one answer.Posted by: ben at June 8, 2007 7:47 AM