Pro Life Movement Is Moving Off Track

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

There was a time, not so long ago in this state, when declaring  you were “pro-life” was generally understood and accepted both within the pro-life movement and those who oppose it.  There were, inevitably, uncomfortable situations where those who were pro-life were willing to accept that parents, would-be parents, and higher powers would take precedence over established law.  While many within the community generally agreed to disagree over situations involving rape, incest, and the life of the mother, those who generally agreed with most other pro-life concepts were welcome within the fold.

That was then.  Today, the community seems more intent on purging those they deem less than pure, and expanding the litmus tests far beyond saving the lives created from an unplanned pregnancy.

The results have been counterproductive.  The movement is split. The endorsements of pro-life groups that were -until very recently- required to win a GOP primary may now actually be hurting candidates.  And the legislative priorities of the pro-life movement have moved so far from dealing with the issues of pregnancy that many who have taken a break from pro-life activism wouldn’t recognize it if they were to return today.

It seems virtually impossible for an OBGYN to be supported by pro-life groups these days.  Those who are responsible for the health of the unborn (and their mothers) during pregnancy are now generally rumored to be abortion doctors if they attempt to run for office.  Such was the smear campaign launched against DeKalb Dr. Carla Roberts -one of the nation’s leading physicians for gynecological surgery- and more recently against Dr. Dean Burke, who as an obstetrician seems to have delivered half of the babies born in Southwest Georgia.

Neither Roberts nor Burke were endorsed by Georgia Right to Life, despite their commitment to helping parents bring children into this world.  Roberts was defeated in a Republican primary to Chris Boedeker, who later lost to incumbent Scott Holcomb.  Burke defeated minister and former State Rep. Mike Keown who had been heavily backed by GRTL.  Many after, however, noted that the rumors that the doctor they knew very well was actually an abortion doctor didn’t sit well.

It’s one thing for Georgia Right to Life to cost Republicans a seat in inner metro Atlanta.  But for the organization to lose a candidate they supported in one of the state’s most socially conservative areas should be considered evidence that the leaders of the movement are losing their followers, and the battle for their agenda.

It is not much different on the legislative front.  After last year’s successful passage of the fetal pain bill – limiting abortions after the fetus has the ability to feel pain – the “pro-life” bill  this session is HB 481, calling for the ethical treatment of human embryos.  It seeks to ban, among other things, the creation of animal-human hybrids.

It would be much easier to accept the push into these areas had the pro-life movement actually accomplished the goal that once unified them – overturning Roe vs. Wade.  Despite the fact that Georgia and many other states have elected majorities that support pro-life legislation with up to three exceptions, the goal from the anti-abortion movement is purity on all parts of the issue, which now extends into opposition to in-vitro fertilization and human cloning experiments that are mostly the realm of science fiction, not science. And certainly not morality.

If pro-life forces wish to regain relevance, they would seek again to win hearts and minds.  Instead of demanding purity from their own ranks, or smearing those in the medical community who help families during pregnancy, they should meet the people affected by crisis pregnancies where they are, and how they live.

More effort and attention needs to be given to pregnancy resource centers for mothers seeking an alternative to ending their pregnancies.  And especially, the pro-life movement needs to work to help establish support networks for those mothers who choose life and carry their baby to term.  Believing that lives begin at conception shouldn’t mean turning our backs on those lives just because they’ve been born.

There are many working in the pro-life community who actively support these centers, and help mothers and children both during pregnancy and afterward.  The pro-life cause would be greatly enhanced if this was the focus of the movement, instead of increasingly fringe legislation or underhanded acts of campaign desperation that too often, define the pro-life movement’s public image today.


  1. xdog says:

    “. . . the community seems more intent on purging those they deem less than pure, and expanding the litmus tests . . . ”

    That sounds just like the current gop.

    I’d be interested in hearing more about those who actively support pregnancy resource centers.

    • Dan Becker says:

      Sent to the Editor of the Courier Herald

      Your March 4th column by Charlie Harper regarding the pro-life movement in Georgia was inaccurate and woefully misleading.

      Georgia is solidly pro-life. Recent election results and the large number of life-affirming-laws we’ve adopted clearly show that our citizens overwhelmingly respect the sanctity of all innocent life. For example, Georgia Right to Life (GRTL) endorsed 90 candidates in 2012 who signed a personhood pledge affirming to protect human life from its earliest biological beginning until natural death; 78 of them won. That’s an 87 percent success rate.
      Those accomplishments were achieved because GRTL and its supporters don’t give in to prevailing whims or the idea that compromise is an option when it comes to human life.

      Nationwide, achieving incremental success by seeking the middle ground has contributed to the death of at least 55 million children. GRTL will never support candidates or policies that lead to the death of a single child, or the distortion of human dignity. We will courageously address the human rights issue of the 21st century—protecting innocent life from its earliest biological beginning until natural death.

      As evidence, we have filed a “personhood” amendment to the state constitution—SR 420.
      The proposed amendment would recognize the God-given right to life for the most vulnerable: pre-born children, the physically and mentally challenged, the infirm and the elderly.The amendment and accompanying legislation would protect the life of the mother, permit the use of contraceptives that are not designed to cause an abortion, as well as in vitro practices that don’t destroy excess embryos. Such an amendment would also allow doctors to provide women with all life-saving procedures. Women would not be criminalized for an involuntary miscarriage.

      In addition, GRTL supports pregnancy resource centers by financing one of their greatest needs: advertising by purchasing billboard space and internet ads for hotline phone numbers that direct calls to a local center.

      To address another issue, GRTL will lead the way to ensure that biotechnical practices don’t destroy life, or distort the very idea of what it means to be human.HB 481, the Ethical Treatment of Embryos Act, is designed to help attract biotechnological companies to Georgia by removing uncertainty for venture capitalists and biotech companies.Promoting such a bill clearly demonstrates that the pro-life community is willing to work with biotech companies to advance medical research to improve lives, while protecting human life and human dignity.
      For example, it would ensure the freedom to pursue responsible and ethical research that does not violate basic human rights—especially the right to life at all stages of development.It would prevent ghoulish attempts to create bizarre human/animal hybrids that only serve to distort God’s plan for humanity, as well as reproductive and therapeutic cloning. Reproductive cloning was condemned by President Bill Clinton and the former President’s Council on Bioethics.Therapeutic cloning always results in the intentional death of a child.

      Our position and our strategies will never change.
      GRTL stands for life—all innocent life, always.

      For the sanctity of life in the 21st century,
      Daniel Becker
      President, Georgia Right to Life

      • xdog says:

        Dan, it’s you. What did you do to that visions guy?

        If you intended to respond to my post, you failed to address my question about your support for pregnancy resource centers. Nothing new there. You guys are a little short on the empathy side frankly, once you get past your personal and public distress that each child isn’t born with a testament in his hand.

        Otherwise, I agree you’ve had great statewide success electing slugs willing to pay lip service to your views without actually doing anything to advance them. Of course, there’s Doug McKillip and his Precious Darling Baby in Agony bill, but then Doug’s not around anymore, is he?

        There’s nothing to say about your personhood views except they’re an especially egregious example of religion masquerading as science. You use your reading of scripture to continue to intrude in the lives of citizens with no regard for the needless pain you cause or existing law, although I suppose we should be grateful for your leniency towards women who suffer a miscarriage. Nice human touch there. Grieving moms is probably a whole block of new votes you can line up once you’ve explained how you’re not really blaming them for their sin.

        I’m with you on the human/animal clones. Ever see that chimp/Bush hybrid? He’s finally gone but I won’t be getting those 8 years back.

        I believe you when you say your position and strategies will never change (probably want to keep those guys going in doctors’ offices on their toes, though) since you and yours haven’t changed since Roe at least and probably since you were all tads, and who could be against the sanctity of human life in any century, but all in all I’ll stick with those who think a woman and her doctor are the best judges of her health issues.

        Yours for a better tomorrow,

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          “I’m with you on the human/animal clones. Ever see that chimp/Bush hybrid? He’s finally gone but I won’t be getting those 8 years back.”


      • John Konop says:


        If you stand for ” all innocent life” does that mean you support free universal healthcare for anyone for life? Do you support welfare for life ? You do understand the child and parents need healthcare, food, shelter, education………? You do understand kids do not pick their parents? I realize you are very busy, but we have this major debt issue, mainly driven by entitlements, in fact in less than 20 years 90 percent of the budget, if we do nothing, will be entitlements, and interst on debt…..Any rational person knows the current system is ready to blow up, knowing the above, how do we pay for your plan? You do know around 3 out 4 teenage moms end up on welfare?

      • Ghost of William F Buckley says:

        Personhood is going to be the key issue next year and I predict Georgia’s future will suffer at the ballot box of well-intentioned, but heinously mislead voters.

        Truly, this is the reason we cannot have anything nice …

  2. Three Jack says:

    GRTL lost what little credibility it still had when Beckerhead said what he said about Karen Handel 3 years ago while endorsing all other GOP gubernatorial candidates including Ray McBerry. GRTL would be well served by getting rid of Becker.

    From Handel campaign press release at the time — Karen said, “My husband Steve and I tried for nearly ten years to have children. It is the single greatest disappointment in my life, and I can say with certainty that no one in this race cherishes human life more than I do.”

    In response, GRTL President Dan Becker said, “Someone’s desperate right to parenthood – because they’re infertile, they’re barren, whatever term you want to use – is an emotionally fraught subject that has our highest sympathy. But it should never be attempted to be addressed where a life is taken in the process.”

    • Ghost of William F Buckley says:

      Becker stooped a bit, at the Capital, this week.

      The Bill he ardently supported met with overwhelming opposition. Adult discussion centered on exciting medical therapies to help active lives suffering chronic illness, the Bill adverse impact on thousands of high-paying jobs and tarnishing our State’s renowned bio-research image.

      Active lives shall be cherished and protected, despite Mr. Becker’s dogma.

  3. shoshanna says:

    WHEN is it ever right and moral for our public policy to disregard human life? Should Human Rights EVER be separated from our quest for Human Knowledge? Germany certainly erred in the 1920’s when it allowed for human experimentation without informed consent. Today Germany has the MOST expansive biotech regulation of any western country.

    Cloning always take the life of a child at an embryonic stage of development. Charlie, I guess you agree with Mary Williams of Salon magazine (Jan 2013) when she admitted that ” . . . not all human life is equal.”

    I am grateful for GA RTL and their leadership in this area!

    • Three Jack says:

      “I am grateful for GA RTL and their leadership in this area!”

      Just saying no is not leadership.

      How many precious lives could be saved if a cancer cure is discovered through this type research? GRTL (the correct acronym) is an obstacle to medical science progress and the very real possibility of saving many actual human lives. You folks standing in opposition to such research are responsible for far more deaths than any obstetrician you target for not abiding your ridiculous demands.

    • Ghost of William F Buckley says:

      What shoshanna does not acknowledge is the the highest ethics and adherence to medically sound is ALREADY MANDATED by Federal law, that university research is governed and watched closely, and that sanctions would be forthcoming if any rules of law or professional ethics rules are broken.

      shoshanna, WTF? R E A D.

  4. fultonrighty says:

    The whole foundation of the prolife philosophy is that human beings are special–made in God’s image and therefore to be protected and held as sacred. The sanctity of all human life applies to much more than abortion. Biotechnology demands a response when human beings are treated as commodities to be used to their detriment. Human-animal hybrids, cloning and research on embryonic humans are not fringe issues; they must be adressed in any consideration of the dignity of human beings. End of life issues also require application of prolife principles: assisted suicide, euthanasia, organ harvesting (some countries take organs from prisoners “who are going to die anyway”), etc. Life is precious. GRTL supports pregnancy resource centers by financing one of their greatest needs, advertising, through purchasing billboard and internet ads for hotlines that connect women to their closest center.

    Charlie, my good man, it is so nice of you to define what is/isn’t prolife and what our strategy should be. Just like James Carville advising the GOP? Hmmm?

    • John Konop says:

      Do you think Charlie is a far left wing hippie, and the pp is nothing more than a front for far left Dems…….fultonrighty, whatever you are on please do not drive…….keep posting funny stuff!

      • bowersville says:

        “Do you think Charlie is a far left wing hippie…a front for far left Dems…” NO. Charlie knows Todd Aiken, Richard Murdock and the Democrats are skipping Mississippi and on their way to Georgia.

  5. Scott65 says:

    Looks like Charlie is getting a earful from the GARTL crowd. Its funny how you can be a small minority, but if you scream loud enough these days you can drown out the silent majority if they are not paying attention. Problem is…the silent majority is still there, and at some point they pay attention…something these fringe groups (TP included) dont seem to be able to grasp. Be it Deal’s refusal to expand medicaid to the lack of state leadership on transportation funding to the GARTL’s hardcore positions…most people dont agree with you, and statewide, its soon gonna matter, much to the dismay of those causing it.
    If these groups were as concerned about the babies they want born as they were on the “unborn” they might be something short of hypocrites. As it stands, throwing poor children under the bus on healthcare seems to be a more important issue these Jesus Freaks should ponder.

  6. Left Turn Only says:

    I will never understand these folks. This is a religious rule, like getting divorced, keeping Kosher, using birth control, or eating bovine or porcine flesh. None of those prohibitions are bad things if the practitioners choose to follow them. They become bad when persons of other beliefs, or non-beliefs, are forced to comply as well. With abortion, however, it is downright evil, as the “prolife” people have no real regard whatsoever for human life – for the the woman whose life depends on terminating a pregnancy or for a fetus which will be born to a short life of constant pain before it dies. Why can’t they just prohibit members of their group from doing the proscribed activities and let others make their own call?

  7. Chris Boedeker says:

    I’m so over this lie – concocted to protect the ego of a fraud.

    Smear campaign? Please show me exactly what you’re talking about – you can’t because it doesn’t exist.

    What is more likely? I won my primary by over 40% because I went door-to-door every night for several months, or that was the result a “whisper campaign” (now smear campaign) about my opponent’s occupation? Seriously, get a grip.

    Next time you put my name out there please let it be based on something factual.

  8. Dave Bearse says:

    ” If pro-life forces wish to regain relevance, they would seek again to win hearts and minds. Instead of demanding purity from their own ranks, or smearing those in the medical community who help families during pregnancy….”

    or burglarizing and setting fire to the office of physicians that publicly disagree the GRTL positions….

    “After last year’s successful passage of the fetal pain bill – limiting abortions after the fetus has the ability to feel pain….”

    Except that the scientific consensus is that the Georgia’s limit is before the fetus has the ability to fell pain.

    I know, I know, there’s no concesus that global warming is occuring either, and if there is, it’s not caused by greenhouse gases. Carry on.

  9. vision and values says:

    I thank the Lord for GRTL. Their purpose is to restore respect and effective legal protection for ALL innocent human life from the earliest stage of biological development unto natural death. (being prolife is more than just about abortion) They have a consistent Biblical view of life as is found in Gen. 1:26. I am glad they are in the “standard bearing” business and not the “King (Queen)” making business!
    It is with their leadership that the Prolife movement is on the right track in Georgia!! I am thankful for 66% of Republicans that voted yes on the Personhood Amendment during primary last year. I am glad that 158 out of 159 counties agree with the GRTL approach.

    • Charlie says:

      I’m sure you’re thankful for their paycheck.

      The rest of us would be thankful if you would work to try to shed your “meanest man at the capitol” persona, because spreading the love of Jesus Christ usually isn’t done by threat, bullying, or intimidation, even if you do add minister to your title.

      • xdog says:

        Charlie, your board, your rules, but those of us in the dark would like to know the name of the “meanest man at the capitol” too.

        • Three Jack says:

          I’ll take a shot at the What’s My Line Mystery Guest, let’s see…’meanest man at the capitol’, ‘minister’…how about Dan Becker for all the money?

    • Rick Day says:

      I refute your Lord, His Word, His Genesis Myth and I want my wife to be able to have any medical procedure she and her doctor agree.

      Ergo, your moral ground is built on quicksand.


      Why is your opinion and wants superior to mine? Why are you so morally superior, worshiping a zombie christ, than me, who just wants people like you to stay the hell out of our collective government?

      On second thought, by all means, continue this tactic. You and yours will sink the GOP like cement boots in the ‘Hooch.

      When you can respect the right to life, which includes the right to heal oneself by whatever means necessary, I’ll respect your intrusion into my wife’s vagina.

      Until then, do something your Lord would appreciate: go adopt some children of color.

  10. Ghost of William F Buckley says:

    Senate Resolution 420 was announced on the same day HB481 encountered heavy headwinds in Committee.

    To wit:

    Senate Resolution 420
    By: Senators Loudermilk of the 14th, Unterman of the 45th, Cowsert of the 46th, Carter of
    the 1st, Albers of the 56th and others

    1 Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the State of Georgia so as to provide that this
    2 state shall recognize the paramount right to life of all human beings as persons at any stage
    3 of development; to provide for submission of this amendment for ratification or rejection;
    4 and for other purposes.
    6 SECTION 1.
    7 Article I, Section I of the Constitution is amended by redesignating Paragraph XXIX as
    8 Paragraph XXX and inserting a new Paragraph XXIX to read as follows:
    9 “Paragraph XXIX. Paramount right to life. This state shall recognize the paramount right
    10 to life of all human beings as persons at any stage of development.”

  11. vision and values says:

    Charlie you know that people don’t like being held to a standard. Name calling is just a part of the price for doing what is right. Luke 6:26 comes to my mind when you made your comment about me. Sorry you feel that way. I wish you well in your pursuit of truth. Pay checks are not what it is all about. God bless you.

    • WeymanCWannamakerJr says:

      “They tell you to send your money to the Lord but they give your their address.” – Hank Jr., American Dream, 2:2.

  12. Bucky Plyler says:

    The pro-life movement is right on track if you believe that human life is sacred. It’s off track if you believe that humans are animals. II Timothy 3:1-9 is a good context for this discussion since ya’ll want to bring the Scriptures into this discussion. I like verse 7 particularly for this discussion. Charlie, would you like someone to say this about you?

  13. SallyForth says:

    “It seeks to ban, among other things, the creation of animal-human hybrids.” Animal-human hybrids??! ROTF, LMAO! These people really are crazy.

  14. vision and values says:

    Charlie, I saw D.A. King at the Capitol today and he said is upset that he did not get called “The Meanest Man at the Capitol” lol

  15. oldman45 says:

    I think what you are seeing is that fewer and fewer people really care about pro-life issues. They may oppose abortion but when it comes to voting for someone the pro-life stance of the candidate is a minor consideration for most voters. Most voters these days have one concern…What Can You Do For Me? If a candidate simply says he or she is pro-life (in the most general terms) most voters are satisfied. The Star Wars kind of issues the GRTL is dealing with today are important but they really don’t connect with most people.

  16. Ghost of William F Buckley says:

    Legislative Update: GA House Tables Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos Act (HB 481)

    GA House tables Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos Act, HB 481, on Friday, March 1, 2013. A special House judiciary Subcomittee, chaired by Rep. Wendall Willard, recommended HB 481 be assigned to a study committee to meet in the summer 2013.

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