This week’s Courier Herald Column:
Karen Handel received an endorsement from the Susan B Anthony List a couple of weeks ago. It was the first of their endorsements in a U.S. Senate race for the national pro-life group. As has now become customary, one of Georgia’s pro-life leaders is declaring his objection.
Dan Becker has grown quite accustomed in asserting that he alone speaks for Georgia’s pro-life community. And with this assertion he seeks to assert power. By controlling a decree of who is and who is not “pro-life” Becker and his Georgia Right to Life organization have long attempted to manipulate campaigns in order to help elect candidates that will answer to him and his organization.
Over time, however, Becker and GRTL have pushed the envelope of purity well beyond many practical applications, and the definition of what constitutes being “pro-life” well beyond the issue of abortion and into fertility treatment, other medical issues, and biological research.
Those who have not followed his lead into these areas nor sufficiently deferred to his positions have been cast aside as not being pro-life. This now includes most of Georgia’s GOP members in the congressional delegation who had the temerity to vote against Becker’s wishes and vote FOR a bill in Washington that would eliminate most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Becker has reserved a special scorn for Karen Handel. It is Handel who has most directly challenged Becker’s monopoly position as Georgia’s pro-life voice. As such, Becker has resorted to distortions, outright lies, and an attempt to smear Handel in such a way that the campaign against her on behalf of GRTL is now downright personal.
The result hasn’t affected Handel, as she still is treated with great respect within most of the pro-life community. The real result is that Becker, through years of false attacks, has rendered his organization with the effective title of Georgia Right To Lie.
When Handel was campaigning for Governor she was personally chastised by Becker for about an hour over her refusal to renounce In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) as a means of conception. He later responded by calling her “barren and infertile”, a charge which he verified to WSB’s Lori Geary on camera while asking to be “off record” – a charge that despite the video evidence he continues to deny.
The refusal to acquiesce to Becker’s position earned Handel enough scorn that she was singled out as the only candidate for Governor that didn’t fit GRTL’s values. They managed to find room in their values to endorse a candidate who had credible accusations of an inappropriate relationship with one of his 16 year old students, however.
GRTL’s position on Handel hasn’t wavered, despite her very public role in the battle between the Susan Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood. Handel was at the center of Komen’s decision to cut ties with Planned Parenthood. She resigned from the organization when the decision to reaffirm a working relationship with the nation’s largest abortion provider was made. Handel refused a severance package.
Behind the scenes as the Komen battle concluded, Becker realized that Handel was an emerging pro-life leader on his own turf. She was receiving national media interviews and being praised as a courageous pro-life leader. There was an attempt to mend the fences so that this time, Becker wouldn’t be on the wrong side of a huge pro-life media event.
An email was forwarded to me from Erick Erickson to forward to Handel. In it, Becker wrote “…we want to be able to support Ms. Handel in any of her future aspirations. Would you (Erickson) be willing to facilitate a meeting with Ms Handel?” Handel declined the meeting as Becker, even in that email, continued to deny that he had called her barren. And Becker’s public position has remained unchanged.
Now some two years later, Becker is again taking issue with Handel and with another group endorsing her as pro-life. In an email distributed after the SBA List endorsement, Becker has created yet another false position regarding Handel’s life beliefs, stating she believes life begins “6 to 12 days after conception.” Handel disputes this, saying she has always believed that life begins at conception and that Becker knows full well this is what she believes.
But just misrepresenting Handel’s position wasn’t a sufficient response from Becker. He decided that another comparison was in order. This time, because of her belief that exceptions for rape and incest should be allowed in abortion law, he chose to compare her to Hitler.
“GRTL will accept incremental advances, as long as it does not put human beings into classifications, where some are considered more valuable than others. That kind of thinking led to the horrors of Nazi Germany” his statement reads. Two years ago, Dan Becker was desperate to get a meeting with Handel so that he could support her. With nothing changing on Handel’s part, today he says she is worthy of running Nazi Germany.
Dan Becker has allowed his obsession with Handel to grow to a point where he will deny his own words, make up words for others, and endorse an alleged sexual predator over her just to make his point. The point for Georgians – especially in Georgia’s pro-life community – should be loud and clear. Dan Becker no longer can claim the moral high ground needed to lead this community. When your organization can be branded “Georgia Right To Lie” because of your statements and actions, it’s time to find a new leader. And, quite probably, a new organization.