March 3 2014 by
Tom Strode, Baptist Press
WASHINGTON – The most enriching occurrence in Krysten Haga
’s time as director of a 40 Days for Life
campaign came when she learned there was no longer a need for her to fill that role.
Near the conclusion of last fall’s campaign in Lubbock, Texas, the city’s only abortion clinic – Planned Parenthood
– shut down a business that had taken the lives of more than 30,000 unborn babies, according to the 40 Days for Life national staff. The facility had not only been a site of 40 Days prayer vigils, but reportedly could not meet the state’s new abortion clinic regulations.
As the local campaign director, Haga “had the honor of sending the email that announced the closing of Planned Parenthood Lubbock for good, which was by far the most rewarding experience I have ever had while being involved with 40 Days for Life,” the Texas Tech University student told Baptist Press in an email interview.
When Planned Parenthood Lubbock, an affiliate of the country’s largest abortion provider, stopped performing the lethal procedures, Haga recalled, “I spent that Friday afternoon [Nov. 1] emailing everybody that I could think of to share the good news, including the national team” of 40 Days.
Krysten Haga, a student at Texas Tech University, speaks as campaign director at a 40 Days for Life rally in Lubbock, which is no longer home to an abortion clinic. Photo provided by 40 Days for Life Lubbock.
As a result, there is no need for a prayer vigil outside an abortion facility in Lubbock when 40 Days launches its next campaign March 5.
During the campaign, tens of thousands of volunteers will gather outside abortion clinics in 251 cities spread across 11 countries, hoping for an outcome similar to the one the 40 Days team in Lubbock witnessed. The campaign, which concludes April 13, will be held not only throughout the United States but in cities in Australia, Canada, Croatia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, England, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, Spain and Wales.
The around-the-clock prayer vigils outside abortion facilities that are at the heart of the semi-annual campaigns have provided a significant boost to the pro-life movement since the effort went national in 2007. In the ensuing six years, 40 Days – which also consists of community outreach, prayer and fasting to end abortion – has reported the following.
More than 8,200 unborn children have been spared from abortion.
44 abortion facilities have closed, and 88 clinic workers have left their jobs.
About 600,000 people representing some 16,500 churches have participated in 522 cities across all 50 states and 20 other countries.
Haga, 24, became one of those participants four years ago when, in spite of her age, “knew it was time to stop stalling and jump head first towards something I knew God was calling me to.” She served as the 40 Days director for the final four campaigns outside Lubbock’s Planned Parenthood facility.
The “biggest motivation” for her pro-life work is her mother, Haga said.
“She found herself in a crisis pregnancy at the age of 16 and chose life after visiting Planned Parenthood and considering abortion,” Haga told BP. “She had me the beginning of her senior year in high school. Every time I find myself out on the sidewalks counseling, I see my mom in those scared and lonely girls. I thank God that someone was there to show her Christ’s love and know that I was given the opportunity to do the same.”
On its website, the 40 Days national staff encourages participants during each campaign to pray not only for women considering abortion and the unborn children whose lives are threatened but, among other requests, for post-abortion women and men, and abortion center workers.
Haga and the other participants in 40 Days have always been from a diversity of religious, ethnic and age groups, but “noticeable growth” came in three areas in the fall 2013 campaign, said 40 Days National Director David Bereit
. These areas, he said, were “youth and young adults, Protestant and evangelical Christians, and minorities – most notably a dramatic increase in Hispanic participation.”
A Roman Catholic, Haga is part of the largest religious group of 40 Days participants. Catholics make up an estimated 65 to 70 percent of volunteers, while Baptists constitute the second largest religious affiliation and continue to increase, Bereit said.
The most recent 40 Days international campaign was marked by continued growth demonstrated in new locations and greater numbers of participants at repeat locations, Bereit told BP in an email interview.
The fall 2013 campaign appeared to reflect “a growing sense of hope and optimism as record numbers of abortion centers are closing, as more workers are converting and going public and as more local and state pro-life laws are enacted,” Bereit said.
“In addition to the reports of lives saved, more abortion workers experiencing changes of heart, record numbers of abortion centers closing, I was most encouraged by the reports and photos of children participating in this 40 Days for Life campaign who were saved from abortion during previous 40 Days for Life campaigns – some of them are now several years old.”
Along with the hopeful signs, the foremost discouragement reported to the national 40 Days staff, Bereit wrote, was volunteers asking: “Where is the rest of the church of Jesus Christ?”
There remains “enormous opportunity for greater Christian participation in pro-life efforts,” he said.
The locations for the next 40 Days campaign may be accessed at http://www.40daysforlife.com/location.html.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Baptist Press’ Washington bureau chief.)
3/3/2014 11:58:37 AM
February 6 2014 by
Baptist Press staff
Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments
WASHINGTON – The latest reported decline in abortions in the U.S. cannot be appreciated without giving credit to legislative and educational efforts of pro-life organizations, National Right to Life president Carol Tobias said.
Tobias was responding to a report released Monday (Feb. 3) by the Guttmacher Institute showing the U.S. abortion rate in 2011 is the lowest it has been since 1973. The institute, a former research arm of Planned Parenthood, said the statistics reflect a drop in abortions prior to a wave of pro-life advances in state legislation.
Tobias, however, rejected the Guttmacher Institute’s reasoning.
“The legislative efforts of the right-to-life movement, and significantly, the resulting national debate and educational campaigns surrounding pro-life legislation should not be minimized when discussing the decline in abortion numbers,” Tobias said in a news release.
“The more Americans learn about the development of the unborn child and the tragedy of abortion, the more they reject abortion as a legitimate answer to an unexpected pregnancy.”
Abortions declined to 16.9 per 1,000 women ages 15-44 in 2011, well below the 1981 peak of 29.3 per 1,000 and the lowest since 1973, when procedures numbered 16.3 per 1,000 women in that age group. The Guttmacher report, titled “Abortion Incidence and Service Availability in the United States 2011,” largely parallels estimates in the National Right to Life Committee’s abortion report issued in January, which was based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and previous Guttmacher findings.
Tobias said the continued decline in abortion rates and numbers is “heartening because it shows that women are rejecting the idea of abortion as the answer to an unexpected pregnancy.”
The Guttmacher report “shows the long-term efforts of the right-to-life movement to educate the country about the humanity of the unborn child and to enact laws that help children and their mothers are having a tremendous impact,” Tobias said.
The Guttmacher made note of a 13 percent decrease in abortion during the study period, which pre-dated a surge in state anti-abortion laws and the closing of clinics offering abortion.
“While the study did not specifically investigate reasons for the decline, the authors note that the study period (2008-2011) predates the major surge in state-level abortion restrictions that started during the 2011 legislative session, and that many provisions did not go into effect until late 2011 or even later,” according to the Guttmacher study. “The…total number of abortion providers declined by only 4 percent between 2008 and 2011, and the number of clinics (which provide the large majority of abortion services) declined by just one percent.”
Abortion rates dropped in all four U.S. regions and in all but six states during the study period, the report said. Declines were steepest in the Midwest at 17 percent and the West, 15 percent, the study found, and less steep in the South at 12 percent and the Northeast, 9 percent. States showing an increase in abortion rates had rates below the national average at the start of the study period, Guttmacher found.
The National Right to Life Committee said the Guttmacher statistics were presented in a way to downplay pro-life legislation during the period covered by the report.
“This ignores the significant educational impact of the public policy debate surrounding pro-life legislation. Pro-life legislative efforts at the federal and state levels dating back to the 1980s have established legal protections for unborn children and their mothers,” according to an NRLC press release. “They have also increased public awareness about the impact of abortion by prompting discussion of such topics as the development of the unborn child, the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortion, and the gruesome partial-birth abortion procedure.”
Despite the declining numbers, abortions still number 21.2 per 100 pregnancies ending in live birth or abortion, Guttmacher found. These numbers support the need for continued pro-life lobbying and education, Tobias said.
“While overall fewer unborn children are being killed by abortion, the Guttmacher report tragically finds that more than one in five pregnancies ends in abortion and takes the life of a living unborn child,” Tobias said. “The right-to-life movement must continue its efforts to protect these children and their mothers from the tragedy of abortion and our society must do a better job in providing life-affirming alternatives.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Diana Chandler, Baptist Press general assignment writer/editor.)
2/6/2014 12:01:45 PM
February 5 2014 by
Edward Lee Pitts, WORLD News Service/Baptist Press
Baptist Press staff | with 0 comments
DALLAS – Carolyn Cline
calls it “our God machine.”
The director of the Downtown Dallas Pregnancy Center
is referring to the group’s latest ultrasound machine. Cline saw a father come in with his 17-year-old pregnant daughter recently, believing abortion to be the best option. But after seeing the ultrasound and hearing the unborn baby’s heartbeat, tears ran down the man’s cheeks.
“There’s my grandchild,” he said. Then he turned to his daughter and said, “We are going to do this together.”
Few things have done more for the pro-life movement than the ultrasound. 3-D and 4-D images now allow glimpses of babies inside the womb that are so clear they can compel a future grandfather to cry.
“It brings truth and reality into the room,” Cline said. “I’m so excited that science has caught up with the Bible.”
Places like the Pregnancy Crisis Center of Wichita, Kan
., which sees 140 clients each month, now have high-definition big-screen televisions mounted on the wall facing exam tables. At the 10-day Nebraska state fair, Nebraska Right to Life
sets up a big-screen TV that displays 4-D videos of babies in the womb throughout the day.
Ultrasounds are not alone in providing a boost to the pro-life cause. Medical advances, such as neonatal and in-utero surgery, are giving pro-life lawmakers new legislative avenues to pursue. States are passing bills outlawing abortions at 20 weeks because medical science has proven that babies at that stage can feel pain. In 1973
, when the U.S. Supreme Court
ruled on Roe v. Wade
, options for treating a sick baby in-utero were limited, but doctors today can perform life-saving surgery.
“OBGYNs always knew and were told that the unborn child was the second patient,” said Donna Harrison, executive director of the American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “But on the other hand you have very powerful pro-abortion forces saying that there is no reason why we shouldn’t terminate the pregnancy.”
Because of these two positions, Harrison said, there are sometimes cases where doctors are trying to save a 23-week pregnancy in one room while abortionists are taking the life of a 23-week-old unborn baby in another room.
A hot topic in the abortion fight is the issue of ultrasound viewing requirements. In Wisconsin last year, lawmakers approved a law requiring hospital admitting privileges and ultrasound viewing 24 hours prior to the abortion. A judge has temporarily blocked its enforcement.
In North Carolina
, a federal judge has thrown out the state’s Woman’s Right to Know Act
(H.B. 854), which requires abortionists to display an ultrasound image of a woman’s pre-born child to her prior to an abortion and also to offer the opportunity to hear the baby’s heartbeat.
Steven H. Aden
, senior counsel
with the Alliance Defending Freedom
, in a written response, stated, “Giving women the information they need before such a weighty moral and medical decision is more important than an abortionist’s bottom line. This law places the best interests of women and their preborn children first.
“Abortionists, of all people, should not be given a pass from the common-sense standard that anyone performing risky surgery fully inform the patient of what the procedure is and what it does,” Aden said. “We expect the appeals court will reverse this decision and uphold this important law.”
A total of 19 states have considered ultrasound requirements. Abortion advocates, meanwhile, argue that an ultrasound before an abortion is unnecessary and call ultrasound viewing laws “medical rape.” During an international conference in 2007, ultrasounds were tabbed as one of the main obstacles to the growth of abortion because, as Harrison put it, “it turns the mind of the mother to the human state of the unborn baby.”
Abortion advocates are actively engaging technology, particularly in Planned Parenthood
pilot programs to supervise medical abortions remotely to counteract abortion clinic closures. At satellite facilities, a woman sees an abortionist by webcam. After they talk, the abortionist presses a button at his location that releases a locked drawer holding abortion drugs at the woman’s location. He then instructs her to take the first abortion pill while he watches on screen.
Pro-life groups want to quell this tactic before it takes off by requiring that the abortionist be present for all procedures. Legislators from at least 11 states addressed chemical and webcam abortions last year after numerous reports of dangerous abortions in hotel rooms involving webcams and the drug RU 486. Seven states enacted laws requiring a physician to personally administer the drug, and in Missouri, to have a follow-up appointment soon after.
For West Virginia resident Chelsea Svenson, seeing her baby on the ultrasound helped establish a relationship with her child. “There is an emotional disconnect when it is so little initially because you can’t really feel your baby,” Svenson said. “Then you’re listening to the baby’s heartbeat, and it is so loud and fast, and you think that it is amazing that something so tiny can have a soul. It is pretty indescribable.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Edward Lee Pitts is the Washington bureau chief for WORLD Magazine. Used by permission from WORLD News Service. Baptist Press staff also contributed to this report.)
2/5/2014 1:11:10 PM
January 31 2014 by
Tom Strode, Baptist Press
Edward Lee Pitts, WORLD News Service/Baptist Press | with 0 comments
WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives
has approved a permanent, government-wide ban on federal funding of abortion but with a smaller majority than three years ago.
In a Jan. 28 roll call, the House voted 227-188 for the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, H.R. 7
, which would install a prohibition on both funds and subsidies for abortion. The vote for passage in 2011, however, was 251-175.
The bill would standardize bans on abortion funding that now exist in various federal programs, many that have to be approved annually, and certify they extend to all agencies. The measure also would halt funds for abortion coverage under the Affordable Care Act
(ACA), the 2010 health care law. In addition, it would make certain that Americans can easily identify before the ban takes effect whether plans in the health care exchanges include abortion coverage and surcharges.
The legislation likely will go no further in this session of Congress. The Senate, with Democrats in the majority, undoubtedly would defeat the ban if it comes up for a vote.
Were the bill to gain Senate passage, President Obama would almost certainly veto it. The White House issued a statement of policy on the eve of the House vote, saying the administration “strongly opposes” the proposal. Obama’s senior advisers would recommend a veto if the legislation were to arrive at his desk, according to the statement.
The U.S. House of Representatives
Southern Baptist ethicist Russell D. Moore
applauded the vote, saying, “Good for the House of Representatives for doing the right thing. Let’s pray for the Senate to have a conscience about the unborn and their families.”
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
(ERLC) strongly supports the ban, Moore said in a Jan. 27 letter to House leaders and all Southern Baptists in the chamber.
“Human lives in their earliest stages, Scripture teaches us, hold an intrinsic value equal to that of any other life – adolescent, adult, or aged,” said Moore, the ERLC’s president. “We therefore believe every unborn life is worthy of protection. Millions of other Americans, informed by their faith or simply by science, share this view as well. For the government to compel Americans to fund the destruction of the smallest and most vulnerable among us, in violation of those firmly held beliefs, is unconscionable.”
, president of the National Right to Life Committee
, said the administration’s veto threat “demonstrates yet again that President Obama is engaging in establishing massive federal subsidies for abortion on demand, notwithstanding his evasions and denials.”
Abortion rights advocates, meanwhile, criticized the House. Ilyse Hogue
, president of NARAL Pro-choice America
, charged House Republicans with “rolling back basic freedoms for women across this country.”
The smaller majority for the ban on abortion funding resulted from a drop in both Republican and Democratic support. This time, 221 Republicans voted for the bill, while all 235 GOP members supported it in 2011. Only six Democrats backed the measure in this roll call, a decrease from 16 last time.
The six Democrats who voted for the bill were Reps. Henry Cueller of Texas, Dan Lipinski of Illinois, Jim Matheson of Utah, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Nick Rahall of West Virginia.
The Hyde Amendment
, first enacted in 1976
, is the best known prohibition on abortion funding, but others have been implemented in various federal programs. The Hyde Amendment applies to Medicaid and other funding through the annual Labor and Health and Human Services spending bill. A Judiciary Committee report with the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act estimated the Hyde Amendment has saved more than a million babies because 25 percent of women who would have chosen abortion did not do so for a lack of government funds.
In debate before the vote, Rep. Chris Smith, R.-N.J., chief sponsor of the ban, said the Affordable Care Act “massively violates” the Hyde Amendment by providing federal funds in the form of tax credits for insurance plans that include election abortion.
He also told the House that the health care act “requires premium payers to be assessed a separate abortion surcharge every month to pay for abortions. We have learned that consumers may never know they are paying the surcharge, despite assurances to the contrary when the ACA was passed.”
Enactment of his bill “will help save lives,” Smith told the House.
The House-passed legislation includes exceptions for abortions in cases of a danger to the mother’s life and pregnancy by rape or incest.
Sen. Rogers Wicker, R.-Miss., is sponsoring a companion bill in his chamber, but it has only 25 cosponsors.
In other abortion-related news:
The U.S. Supreme Court announced Jan. 13 it would not review a lower-court ruling striking down Arizona’s ban on abortions at 20 weeks or more into pregnancy – which is 18 weeks post-fertilization – based on evidence a baby in the womb experiences pain by that point. The high court’s refusal means the decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is in effect in that circuit.
The Ohio Department of Health has ordered a license revocation for a Cincinnati-area abortion clinic operated by Martin Haskell, a doctor who helped popularize the partial-birth abortion method. The clinic, Women’s Med in Sharonville, has appealed the order, which would prevent abortion procedures at the center, to a county court. In the 1990s, Haskell became identified with the gruesome procedure that came to be known as partial-birth abortion after he described it in a 1992 paper he presented at a seminar sponsored by the National Abortion Federation. The procedure, which has since been banned in federal law, typically consisted of the delivery of an intact baby feet-first until only the head is left in the birth canal. The doctor pierced the base of the infant’s skull with surgical scissors, then inserted a catheter into the opening and suctioned out the brain. The collapse of the skull provided for easier removal of the baby’s head. The method typically was used during the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy.
In North Carolina, a federal judge has thrown out the state’s Woman’s Right to Know Act (H.B. 854), which requires abortionists to display an ultrasound image of a woman’s pre-born child to her prior to an abortion and also to offer the opportunity to hear the baby’s heartbeat so that the woman has full and complete information before surgery.
Steven H. Aden, senior counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, in a written response, stated, “Giving women the information they need before such a weighty moral and medical decision is more important than an abortionist’s bottom line. This law places the best interests of women and their preborn children first. Abortionists, of all people, should not be given a pass from the common-sense standard that anyone performing risky surgery fully inform the patient of what the procedure is and what it does. We expect the appeals court will reverse this decision and uphold this important law.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.)
1/31/2014 10:03:14 AM
January 29 2014 by
Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor
Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments
On Jan. 19, churches and pro-life organizations celebrated Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Also, the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade
was remembered Jan. 22 by thousands of pro-life supporters rallying during the annual March for Life
on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
These “life” events come on the heels of a state injunction that will affect pregnancy centers and pro-life nonprofits in the state of North Carolina.
Friday, Jan. 17, Catherine Eagles
, U.S. District Court Judge, found that the ultrasound requirement of the 2011 law – “Woman’s Right to Know Act” (WRTK) – violates First Amendment rights. WRTK requires abortion providers to display and describe ultrasound images to all women seeking abortion in the state.
Eagles issued a permanent injunction against WRTK that was first approved by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2011 over the veto of Governor Beverly Perdue. The WRTK bill overwhelmingly passed the General Assembly with the N.C. House vote, 72-47, and the Senate vote, 29-19.
“This ruling by Judge Eagles is egregious on several levels,” said Mark Creech
, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc
. “The fact that she would turn the First Amendment on its head in this fashion is beyond the pale. The ruling actually stifles free speech.
“To rule against the ultrasound requirement – that only by a woman’s consent the doctor avail her of an opportunity to see and learn about her fetus – is a suppression of free speech. This is a suppression of a woman’s right to know all the information that helps her make an intelligent decision about the procedure.”
Eagles’ decision does not strike down the full WRTK law. Her injunction targets the “speak-and-display” provision. This provision requires an abortion provider to conduct an ultrasound at least four hours – and no more than 72 hours – before an abortion.
Also, the law requires the provider to display the ultrasound images to the woman and to describe the image in detail, including the size and age of the unborn child.
WRTK was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union
, the Center for Reproductive Rights
and Planned Parenthood Federation of America
“The Act requires providers to deliver the state’s message to women who take steps not to hear it and to women who will be harmed by receiving it with no legitimate purpose,” wrote Eagles in her 42-page opinion and order issued January 17.
Eagles said, “Thus, it is overbroad, and it does not directly advance the state’s interests in reducing psychological harm to women or in increasing informed and voluntary consent.”
Republicans and social conservatives who supported WRTK said the law is designed to give women adequate and balanced information about the methods of abortion and who provides it.
Creech said, “The irony of the court’s decision is that it cites free speech. But who speaks for the unborn child? It cannot speak.
“Without the ultrasound provision, it has no voice.”
There is no word yet if the state will appeal the Eagles’ decision.
1/29/2014 12:54:48 PM
January 24 2014 by
Tom Strode, Baptist Press
Michael McEwen, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments
WASHINGTON – The survival and growth of the pro-life movement are remarkable, some of its leaders said as the United States reached the 41st anniversary
of the Supreme Court’s legalization of abortion nationwide.
Right-to-life advocates applauded their movement’s continuing response to Roe v. Wade
, the Jan. 22, 1973
decision that struck down all state bans on abortion.
“Forty-one years ago, if you had asked someone, ‘What will the pro-life movement look like in the year 2014?,’ they probably would have replied back, ‘Are you kidding? There won’t be a pro-life movement in 2014,’” said Russell D. Moore
, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
(ERLC), in a statement for Baptist Press.
“And yet, today I watched thousands of people march down the streets of our nation’s capital to protest laws that dehumanize and destroy living human persons,” said Moore, who participated in Wednesday’s March for Life, which is the centerpiece of pro-life activity each Jan. 22 in Washington.
Tens of thousands of pro-lifers participated in the annual event despite snow on the ground, a temperature of 15 degrees and a wind chill of minus 1 when they began the procession to Capitol Hill.
Russell D. Moore, ERLC president, posted on Instagram this picture of the crowd gathered Wednesday (Jan. 22) at the March for Life rally in Washington.
a Republican presidential candidate
and U.S. senator
, told participants at another event Jan. 22, “No one would have predicted that 40 years after Roe versus Wade that teenagers and 20 year olds would be more pro-life than the generation that gave us Roe versus Wade.
“The bottom line is: Truth is on our side; science is on our side; young people are on our side,” he said at ProLifeCon
, a conference for pro-lifers who blog and use social media. “This movement’s winning.”
Rep. Chris Smith, R.-N.J
., the leading pro-lifer in Congress, said at the rally on the national mall that preceded the March for Life
, “he pro-life movement is alive and well and making serious, significant and sustained progress.
“Rather than dull our consciences to the unmitigated violence of abortion, the passage of time has only enabled us to see and, frankly, better understand the innate cruelty of abortion and its horrific legacy – victims – while making us more determined than ever to protect the weakest and the most vulnerable,” he said, according to a draft of his speech.
The 41st anniversary of Roe followed new reports released by both pro-life and pro-choice organizations that documented the grim toll of legalized abortion, as well as inroads by its opponents:
An estimated 56 million unborn babies, or more, have died by abortion since Roe.
The annual total of abortions has fallen from 1.6 million in 1990 to between 1.1 and 1.2 million in recent years.
States have enacted 205 laws restricting abortion during the last three years, including 70 in 2013, according to a Jan. 2 report by the Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of the abortion rights movement.
State restrictions “have helped immensely” in reducing the number of abortions, said Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), in a Jan. 21 news conference.
“The right-to-life movement is succeeding because even after 41 years and more than 56 million abortions, the conscience of our nation knows that killing unborn children is wrong,” she told reporters.
Pro-life advocates need to maintain and change, pro-life leaders said.
“As churches, we must continue to call for justice for the unborn while pointing burdened consciences to the forgiving mercy of God through the blood of Christ,” Moore said.
Santorum told the ProLifeCon audience at Family Research Council
’s headquarters in Washington, “we are a movement that I think has learned lessons, and we continue to learn lessons about how to ... put our foot forward.
“We just need to keep loving, keep working and do so with a smile on our face,” he said.
Also at ProLifeCon, Joe Carter
, the ERLC’s director of communications
, urged pro-lifers – especially those operating online – to stop considering themselves “activists” and accept the role of persuading others “to recognize the intrinsic dignity of all humans.”
“In order to be more persuasive we need to change the perception of our movement,” Carter said. “Instead of being viewed as pro-life activists, we need to be viewed as normal people who simply want to champion the cause of human dignity.”
Neither the March for Life nor Twitter – despite their ability to rally pro-lifers – are means of persuasion that will produce a pro-life America, he said. Yet, social media can be helpful to the pro-life cause, Carter told the ProLifeCon audience. A photo of a baby on Facebook is the “most powerful and persuasive pro-life tool,” and posting, “liking” or sharing such a photo can produce change, he said.
“If we want to be more persuasive for the pro-life cause, we need to find more ways like this to change the context,” Carter said. “We don’t need to do this by showing pictures of bloody fetuses to trigger a gag reflex. We need to do this by evoking our neighbor’s natural love and protective instinct for children.”
Pro-life advocates should be more creative and innovative in using tools such as Facebook and Twitter, he said.
“We need fresh thinking about what methods work, and a ruthless weeding out of methods that don’t,” Carter said. “Too often we’ve simply been late, sloppy adapters of tools that were already created.
“For far too long we’ve judged ourselves on the nobility of our cause rather than on the effectiveness of our efforts. But it’s because our cause is so noble – and so urgent – that we have to do better.”
In a report it released Jan. 21, NRLC included the following in chronicling the successes of states in enacting pro-life laws:
Americans United for Life
29 states have enacted effective parental involvement laws.
27 states have passed measures requiring informed consent for women considering abortion.
24 states have approved bans on coverage of abortion in insurance plans.
23 states have enacted provisions requiring clinics at least to offer an abortion-minded woman the opportunity to see an ultrasound of her baby.
(AUL) released Jan. 14 its annual state rankings in protecting unborn babies and their mothers.
AUL’s 10 most protective states were: (1) Louisiana; (2) Oklahoma; (3) Arkansas; (4) Arizona; (5) Pennsylvania; (6) Texas; (7) Kansas; (8) Indiana; (9) Nebraska; (10) Missouri.
The organization ranked Washington as the least protective state for the fifth consecutive year. The next nine least protective states were: (2) California; (3) Vermont; (4) New York; (5) Connecticut; (6) New Jersey; (7) Oregon; (8) Hawaii; (9) Maryland; (10) Nevada.
On the federal level, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia
announced at the March for Life that the House of Representatives would vote the following week, Jan. 27-31, on the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act, H.R. 7. The House is expected to approve the government-wide ban on federal funds for abortion, but President Obama and the Senate’s Democratic leadership oppose it.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is Baptist Press’ Washington bureau chief.)
1/24/2014 12:23:17 PM
January 20 2014 by
Daniel James Devine, World News Service
Tom Strode, Baptist Press | with 0 comments
Jackie Moffitt calls herself a “scaredy-cat.” The Georgia-born, white-skinned, dark-haired executive director of the Women’s Center of Northwest Indiana
never planned to work in Gary, Ind
., a city infamous for crime and murder
. “I would run my tires bald to not get off at Grant, Burr, or Broadway,” she says of the three interstate exits for Gary.
Yet here she stands, checking in on the remodeling progress of her organization’s new Gary branch, housed on the bottom of a multistory brick building recently converted into apartments. With a historical hammered tin ceiling and suspended venting, the new pregnancy resource center sits in the heart of downtown, catercornered to the Gary Fire Department.
“This is the first pro-life organization
to come into Gary. You’re standing in it,” says Moffitt, 53.
Gary is known not just as the hometown of late pop star Michael Jackson but as an impoverished and dysfunctional city. For five miles on Broadway, the main artery from downtown, half the shops are boarded up or empty, with broken windows and permanently locked gates. The mayor claims the true jobless rate
is between 30 and 40 percent.
Arial shot of Gary, Ind.
In the ’90s, Gary earned the title “Murder Capital of the United States
” for its homicide rate. Crime has fallen since then, but the city still recorded 55 violent deaths last year. More deaths occur at the Friendship Family Planning Clinic of Indiana
, an abortion facility long in town. A Gary Planned Parenthood
does abortion referrals. As in other cities, these facilities target African-American girls and women, whose abortions disproportionately account for a third of the U.S. total.
For the past several years, members of the pro-life movement have focused on planting pregnancy centers in urban settings to counter the work of abortionists. They have found the work arduous to launch and difficult to sustain. The effort in Gary has been no exception so far, but Moffitt and her co-laborers are staunchly determined to help preserve this city’s future.
Some Gary women, unexpectedly pregnant and unsure what to do, currently travel as far as 12 miles to an outside Women’s Center branch. There they get a free ultrasound and advice from pro-life counselors who hope they’ll keep the baby or place it for adoption. The long drive is a likely deterrent for women who don’t have their own cars.
Moffitt was aware of the need. But when a pastor in a neighboring city challenged her to plant a pregnancy center in Gary, the task seemed daunting. She told a co-worker, “It’s too much, it’s too big. We’re white.” (Eighty-five percent of Gary residents are black.) A Gary woman who pled for Moffitt to come to the city helped change her mind.
Hurdles followed. Several initially proposed locations fell through. When Moffitt and her board of directors found a location in a historical building, their remodel plans required rounds of approval from city, state and federal officials. Gary officials grilled them about the center’s purpose. It took nine months and multiple visits to city hall before they got the first building permit, issued in October.
Despite the delays, other elements fell providentially into place: Someone sold the Women’s Center the necessary construction lumber for a penny, and the leasing company offered to cover a $19,000 plumbing bill. A Gary resident, LaDonna Bazziel, heard about the planned branch on a Christian radio station and called Moffitt to help: She’ll be the facility’s new manager once it opens, as early as January. “I had been praying for a long time for something like this for our city,” says Bazziel, who is African-American and grew up in a single-parent home, like many of her potential clients.
James Lewis dealt with young girls getting pregnant during his more than 30 years as a pastor at a Gary church. “And of course they’re not going to tell the pastor they’re going to get an abortion.” Sometimes they would quietly drop out of church. Trapped in a cycle of poverty and lack of education, such women have difficulty moving beyond the daily pursuit of food, clothing, and shelter. With support and guidance, Lewis says, “many go on to marry and live productive lives. But it’s a struggle.”
One example of the struggle: La’Brittnie McCafferty, 25, is due to give birth to her fourth child in March. She holds on her lap a 1-year-old son named Syncere, who has a crystal earring and beautiful teardrop eyes. The next baby will be her last, she says: “I’m getting my tubes tied!” McCafferty lives alone with her children and will have to use day care in order to get a job. She says her boyfriend is in jail for traffic violations, and the father of her 3-year-old was murdered in a drive-by shooting in 2012. “All those drugs out there are making them lose their minds,” she says of the violence.
Moffitt hopes to offer clients more than just pregnancy counseling: They need parenting and life skills coaching, and most of all they need the gospel. But much is uncertain in Gary, including long-term funding, as it is in other urban settings. The pro-life umbrella organization Care Net
, after launching an initiative in 2003 to plant pregnancy centers in urban areas, is currently rethinking its approach in part because of the difficulty of obtaining local financial support.
“In Gary, it’s a real step of faith, because they can’t support this,” admits Moffitt. But she adds, “Every day we’re not open, someone’s dying.” Although the effort to plant in Gary has been frustrating at times, “I know [God] wants us here because I would have quit. … But I can’t quit. If we quit, who’s going to do it?”
1/20/2014 10:59:41 AM
January 20 2014 by
Emily Belz, World News Service
Daniel James Devine, World News Service | with 0 comments
Thirteen years ago, the Supreme Court upheld a Colorado law that created an 8-foot buffer zone around any person who didn’t want to be approached while entering an abortion center. Justice Anthony Kennedy dissented from that ruling, saying the law was a direct violation of free speech.
That was then, and now a very different court is considering a challenge to an even broader buffer zone in McCullen v. Coakley
. The 2007 Massachusetts law at issue created a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion centers for anyone but employees and clients, regardless of whether clients wanted to be approached. Supporters of the law say it helps prevent pro-life protestors from obstructing the entrance. But Massachusetts and the federal government already have various laws that forbid obstructing entrances to medical facilities.
“An injunction against groups and individuals who have interfered with access, keeping them back, I think that’s perfectly permissible,” said Mark Rienzi, the lawyer for pro-life sidewalk counselor Eleanor McCullen, in arguments Wednesday.
Eleanor McCullen, lead plaintiff in the case before the Supreme Court, outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in Boston.
A majority of the court seemed leery about Massachusetts’ law. Even liberal Justice Elena Kagan
expressed skepticism about the 35-foot rule. “You know, 35 feet is a ways,” she said. “It’s from this bench to the end of the court.” Later in the arguments she added, “I guess I’m a little bit hung up on why you need so much space.”
Kennedy made his continuing dislike for such laws clear. As a hypothetical, he said the law would bar an elderly woman from having “meaningful conversation” with women going into the clinic.
“There is no guarantee, as a doctrinal matter, to close, quiet conversations,” said Jennifer Grace Miller
, the assistant attorney general of Massachusetts
. “The question is, are there adequate alternatives? And in this particular instance in this record, there are adequate alternatives. Take, for example, the situation–”
“You say there’s no guarantee of talking quietly?” Kennedy interrupted. “Do you want me to write an opinion and say there’s no free speech right to quietly converse on an issue of public importance?”
With Kennedy’s thumb on the scale, the current court seems likely to rule the state buffer zone law unconstitutional at some level, and may declare buffer zones violations of free speech, full stop.
The justices had some extended discussion about what employees could say to clients within the buffer zone, if speech was restricted for everyone else.
“A woman is approaching the door of a clinic, and she enters the zone,” said Justice Samuel Alito. “Two other women approach her. One is an employee of the facility, the other is not. The first who is an employee of the facility says, ‘Good morning. This is a safe facility.’ The other one who’s not an employee says, ‘Good morning, this is not a safe facility.’ Now, under this statute, the first one has not committed a crime. The second one has committed a crime. And the only difference between the two is that they’ve expressed a different viewpoint.”
“Your Honor, I think what the statute distinguishes is based on what those two different people are doing,” responded Miller. The employee could talk because she was “escorting that individual into the facility” as part of her job, she said.
The lawyer for Massachusetts as well as the lawyer for the federal government, which sided with the state, reminded the justices of their own precedent as well as multiple lower federal court rulings that had upheld buffer zone laws. The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
upheld Massachusetts’ buffer zone law in January of last year.
The 1st Circuit based its ruling on the Supreme Court precedent in the Colorado case. Rienzi argued that the Massachusetts law shouldn’t survive under the precedent in the Colorado case, because the Colorado law at least allowed sidewalk counselors to approach willing recipients. He didn’t go so far as to ask the court to overturn its precedent and throw out buffer zone laws entirely.
The normally chatty Chief Justice John Roberts
did not say anything during the arguments. But he has issued broad defenses of free speech rights in the past. He wrote the decision in Snyder v. Phelps, the case concerning Westboro Baptist protestors at a fallen Marine’s funeral. Roberts acknowledged that the protestors were “hurtful” to the grieving family but maintained their right to protest.
“Speech is powerful,” Roberts wrote in 2011. “It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and–as it did here–inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker. As a nation we have chosen a different course–to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”
1/20/2014 10:46:43 AM
January 14 2014 by
Bonnie Pritchett, Southern Baptist TEXAN/Baptist Press
Emily Belz, World News Service | with 0 comments
GRAPEVINE, Texas – The positive pregnancy test sent Brittany’s life into a tailspin. She had plans – college, career and, potentially, the Miss Pennsylvania pageant.
Her boyfriend Andy, a fellow student at California University of Pennsylvania
, had pro football aspirations. The couple considered themselves pro-life but when they were confronted with an unplanned, life-altering pregnancy, all options were on the table.
queries ranged from searches for free ultrasounds to abortion clinics.
Tech-savvy businesses wrangle their way to the top, or at least the first page, of those searches. With enough money, for-profit abortion providers and Planned Parenthood
can do the same, leaving nonprofit crisis pregnancy centers
(CPCs) at a disadvantage in getting their message before desperate women.
Photo by Rick Linthicum/Southern Baptist TEXAN
Brian Fisher (left), co-founder of Online For Life (OFL), and Tim Gerwing, OFL vice president of technology, pose for a photo in their Frisco, Texas, office. Drawing on business and technology savvy, OFL has developed cutting-edge online marketing techniques to direct abortion-minded women to CPCs and their life-affirming message.
Brittany and Andy’s Web search gave them options not available just a few years ago.
There among the hits and advertisements for abortion services was an ad for a crisis pregnancy center offering free ultrasounds. The cash-strapped couple made an appointment, and their daughter was saved.
Using its marketing and technology expertise, an organization called Online For Life
is turning Internet searches for abortion services into encounters with 50 life-affirming pregnancy centers in 23 states. No longer will Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers be the only results at the top of a page when a person types “abortion clinic” in the Google search bar.
Working from a base in Florida in 2007, pro-life entrepreneur Brian Fisher and his cohorts tested the idea of online marketing for pregnancy centers. One of those clinics was Pregnancy Resource Center of South Hills
(PRCSH) just outside Pittsburgh. Five years later, because an Internet search for an abortion clinic also produced a hit for PRCSH, Brittany and Andy sought their help in the fall of 2012.
“It’s a good thing we ended up there,” Brittany told the Southern Baptist TEXAN in a phone interview from her home near Pittsburgh. “There is a chance that saved my baby’s life.”
When she and Andy arrived at the clinic for tests and counseling, Brittany had no idea how far along she was in her pregnancy. The ultrasound revealed she was 17 weeks pregnant. She was stunned. And the ultrasound also revealed more than the age of her baby – it gave her and Andy a perspective that righted their upside-down world.
“There was this little baby with arms and legs kicking. I saw her on the ultrasound. I broke down. Andy was speechless,” Brittany recalled.
She said the staff was kind. They shared their own experiences with abortion and their faith in God and the couple decided abortion was out of the question.
After the visit to PRCSH, Brittany told her family she and Andy were expecting. Her parents were supportive. On his way home from work, after being told of his daughter’s pregnancy, Brittany’s dad bought a stuffed lamb for the baby.
Looking into the face of her daughter Kaylen, born last June, Brittany said she gets physically ill thinking she ever considered an abortion.
One click on an Internet search was the first step in changing their family’s history for good.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Bonnie Pritchett is a correspondent for the Southern Baptist TEXAN (www.texanonline.net), newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.)
1/14/2014 12:20:40 PM
January 13 2014 by
Matt Damico, SBTS
Bonnie Pritchett, Southern Baptist TEXAN/Baptist Press | with 0 comments
Owen Strachan, assistant professor of Christian theology and church history at Boyce College
, has been pro-life
for many years. It wasn’t until recently, however, that he decided to act on his conviction.
“I’ve been convictionally pro-life for a long time, but hadn’t taken an opportunity to get involved
with the cause,” Strachan said. “I was a passionate advocate for pro-life thinking, but it wasn’t until coming into contact with this ministry – and finding people who were putting their convictions to work – that I started to get practically involved.”
The ministry is Speak for the Unborn
, which came to life when Ryan Fullerton, pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., preached a sermon on sanctity of life Sunday in 2009.
Dave and Stacey Hare, who were then members at Immanuel, decided to act on the message they heard. The following Saturday, they went to downtown Louisville to do sidewalk counseling outside of the abortion clinic.
“They had no idea what they were doing,” said Andrew King, who has led the ministry at Immanuel since the Hares left for the mission field in 2010. “But they went out there and started talking to people, pleading with them not to have abortions.”
SBTS photo by Emil Handke
Owen Strachan, center, assistant professor of Christian theology and church history at Boyce College, counsels women to choose life outside a Louisville, Ky., abortion clinic.
A group from Immanuel continues to go out every Saturday morning to do sidewalk counseling. On Tuesdays and Fridays, a group goes from Louisville’s Kenwood Baptist Church, where Strachan serves as an elder.
As a professor at the undergraduate school of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
and as a pastor, Strachan’s primary calling is to teach, write and think. But he wanted to put his intellectual life to work.
“It’s an extremely good thing for our faith and convictions to cost us something
,” Strachan said. “In a Jesus-like way, we can put boots on the ground and our doctrine into practice, and really experience the cost of gospel ministry.”
Sidewalk counseling makes the cost quite tangible.
“It’s not a fun ministry,” Strachan said.
The typical morning includes waking up early to arrive by 7 a.m., when the Speak for the Unborn volunteers stand on the sidewalk outside the EMW Women’s Surgical Center next to the busy Market Street. As women walk from their cars to the clinic door, volunteers try to engage them in conversations, which rarely last longer than a minute. Speak for the Unborn volunteers use this brief time to try and persuade these women – who are often with their boyfriends, husbands, friends or even parents – not to abort their unborn children and to receive instead a free ultrasound at A Woman’s Choice Resource Center, located next to the abortion clinic.
In the short time volunteers have to talk to these women, “you try to engage them quickly, you try to plant a seed, speak a gospel truth. And then they go in and you lose them, so to speak,” Strachan said.
The brief amount of time is not the only obstacle Speak for the Unborn volunteers must overcome. There are pro-choice volunteers there, too.
These volunteers wear orange vests with the words “clinic escort” on the back to indicate why they’re there: to help women enter the abortion clinic and to shield the women from the pro-life volunteers.
Interactions with escorts can turn hostile.
“They have pushed and sworn at us,” Strachan said. “I had one escort tell me that she’d wish I had never been born. I had shared how thankful I was that I hadn’t been aborted and that the people walking into the clinic hadn’t been aborted, and she shouted to me that she wished I had been.”
The hostility sometimes extends from the sidewalk to the web, where the Louisville escorts have a blog, everysaturdaymorning.net
. On the site, escorts share, among other things, stories from sidewalk interactions with people they call “antis” and “protesters.”
It is no surprise to Strachan that contact with the darkness and standing against the culture’s standards
can be difficult and disheartening.
“Jesus promised that ministry in His name is going to be hard
,” Strachan said. “We should expect some suffering.”
Yet, despite the uncomfortable situation and the direct contact with what Strachan calls “tangible darkness
,” there are reasons to endure. Just as Paul promised, God often uses fools and seemingly foolish efforts to accomplish his purposes.
Even when that foolishness includes preaching to a window. “Many of us will try to preach to the window of the waiting room where the women going into the abortionist’s chamber sit before they’re called in,” Strachan said. “We’ve seen women leave that waiting room and tell us that they could hear what we were saying outside. That’s a great thing to know, but when you’re actually preaching to a window, you feel like a fool.”
There have been other occasions for hope, as well. Heather Van Roekel, a volunteer from Kenwood Baptist Church, talked with a lesbian woman on her way into the clinic, and through her kindness and pleading, the woman decided to go in for a free ultrasound
at A Woman’s Choice Resource Center. After seeing the ultrasound, she decided against the abortion. Van Roekel has continued contact with the mother and has brought her – and the baby – to church events.
King has seen other examples of fruit in this ministry.
“I know people who have adopted children
from crisis pregnancy situations,” he said. “We do see women turn away, and we get to share the gospel with those people. Every life we see saved is a reminder that the Lord is faithful.”
Currently, Immanuel and Kenwood are the only churches formally taking part in Speak for the Unborn. There are a number of Catholics and other individuals who also do sidewalk counseling – although the number of escorts usually outnumbers the pro-life volunteers – but King wants to see more evangelical churches involved.
“We would love churches to claim days,” he said. “We want to set realistic expectations
, because it is a hard ministry. If your church can come out every third or fourth week even, we would love that.” Though individuals can volunteer with Speak for the Unborn, local churches have the advantage of facing the challenge with community.
“Due to the difficult nature of the ministry, it calls out for fellowship and community, support and prayer,” Strachan said. “You can do the ministry as a lone ranger, but it’s so much more empowering to go down with fellow members, to pray together, to encourage each other between conversations, to stand on the sidewalk together. You can be a lone ranger, but you’ll miss out on so much of what God intends to give us in the local church.”
Strachan knows that those who advocate for the unborn
, whether with their churches or by themselves, will face any number of obstacles. But the hope of seeing women choose life for their babies and of embracing foolishness for Christ’s sake makes the obstacles worth enduring.
“What keeps me going is that I want to be a light, and I want to suffer in his name, and I want my faith to taste and feel more real than it does when I try to risk-proof it,” Strachan said.
Conviction comes with a cost. But when it’s life or death, the cost is worthwhile.
1/13/2014 3:32:27 PM
Matt Damico, SBTS | with 0 comments