This week’s Courier Herald column:
Georgia Right To Life last week decided that it would oppose the first significant pro-life measure before Congress in a decade. They declared that they and anyone else who wants to be pro-life must be pure and without exception when supporting pro-life legislation. In doing so, they demanded those who seek their favor in the future must side with them, and not National Right To Life nor the many that consider themselves pro-life but also understand the value in advancing legislation that would save 99.4% of the children who would otherwise not be born.
The truth is, Georgia Right To Life has long been one to move the goalposts on this issue. After a majority of “pro-life” legislators were elected using their own scorecard which allowed exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother, GRTL changed the rules instead of securing legislation that matched their pledges. That is a key sign of an organization that seeks its own relevance rather than a solution.
In the decade that followed, this trend continued. While most non-political types view the “life” issue as one of abortion, GRTL is now more concerned about banning in vitro fertilization and research into human-animal “chimera” hybrids. That’s correct. Georgia Right To Life now puts on equal footing the need to stop someone from trying to create a human horse hybrid with the attempt to save the lives of the unborn.
Understanding this is key to understanding GRTL’s demand that Georgia Congressmen oppose last week’s house bill which would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy – a so called “fetal pain” bill as it is estimated 20 weeks is the time when unborn infants can feel pain. Paul Broun, in one of his many moments of self-aggrandizing “principle” attempted to get his name off a bill he was co-sponsoring and ultimately voted against it as did Georgia’s 7th district Rob Woodall. But the rest of Georgia’s pro-life Republican Congressmen – including Senate candidates Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston – voted for the bill which passed the house largely on party lines.
GRTL’s reasoning is that “If all aren’t protected, then none are protected” in justifying opposition to the bill that contained exceptions for rape and incest – pregnancies that account for just six tenths of one percent of those in this category. Never mind that “all” aren’t protected under this bill either, as those younger than 20 weeks still fall outside of this bill’s protections. It’s just one of the many logical inconsistencies that observers of GRTL have become far too used too, and that many are now growing tired of.
The AJC’s conservative columnist Kyle Wingfield has called for “an intervention” with Georgia Right To Life. RedState.com and WSB’s Erick Erickson has gone a step further, calling for the formation of a new group to replace GRTL, referring to them as “The Westboro Baptist Church of the Pro-Life Movement”.
The curious part of all of this is an open letter that GRTL President Dan Becker posted on their website after the vote. Each Congressman that voted against it was mentioned on a separate line, but Karen Handel – not a member of Congress but one who did publicly indicate support of the measure prior to the vote – was singled out for two entire paragraphs. One of their attacks made a jump from Handel’s support for in vitro fertilization to an alleged support of abortion within 14 days of conception – a charge Handel flatly denies and there is no evidence to support.
It is clear that GRTL is not only at war with the majority within the pro-life movement, but is fixated on a battle with Karen Handel. After all, three of the four announced candidates for US Senate in Georgia now share her views on how to advance pro-life legislation – and do not feel beholden to the decrees by whim of GRTL.
But it is Handel with whom GRTL decided to draw a line in the sand in 2010 – endorsing all other gubernatorial candidates but her because she refused to bow to Dan Becker. He called her “barren” and “infertile” to the AJC, and confirmed doing so to WSB TV’s Lori Geary – but said into the camera that those comments were “off the record.” He now denies saying what was said so clearly.
The public statements continue to underline what appears to be an organization that is simultaneously struggling with the truth and its own relevance. The inconsistencies also seem to indicate leadership of GRTL has a much more flexible view of Exodus 20:16 than it says it does about when life begins.
From the late eighties until very recently, there was a time when Georgia Right To Life was the defacto voice for social conservatives in Georgia. Their grip on power has been slipping for some time, but the reign officially ended last week. The majority of the candidates running for the top of the ticket race in Georgia next year chose the side that would save the most unborn children, not the side of an organization that has purified itself into irrelevance.
A once proud organization has reduced itself to no longer winning hearts and minds, but instead is now consumed by tangential issues and unattainable extremes. More importantly, prominent social conservatives are no longer willing to tolerate those who have reduced themselves to being money changers in the temple.
The calls to replace this organization should be heeded. It is time to rejoin the battle to win hearts and minds.