Georgia Right To Lie

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.


  1. saltycracker says:

    With so many on both sides of this issue, the answer will not come from the Absolutists and Fundalmentalists except to provide a scary place for the desperate for answers in a complex world.

  2. ryanhawk says:

    “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.”

    I’m 100% pro-Karen in this dispute, but why would she decline the meeting? The reasons you cite seem to be a good reason to ACCEPT the meeting. It would have been an opportunity to listen and to lead. Just bring the video with you….

  3. I’m confused. Is Karen Handel running for Fulton County Commission Chair, or wait was it Secretary of State? Oh nevermind, I remember it’s Governor. Oh now it’s Senate? Are we sure she isn’t just running to be the head of Right to Life?

    • tdk790 says:

      Aw, cute, look who showed up to bash Handel again!

      You should also look at electoral history in Georgia, just so you don’t accidentally hit some unintended targets.

      Jimmy Carter – GA Senate, Governor (lost), Governor, President, President (lost)
      Roy Barnes – GA Senate, Governor (lost), GA House, Governor, Governor (lost), Governor (lost)
      Zell Miller – GA Senate, US House (lost), LG, US Senate (lost), Governor, Governor, US Senate
      Johnny Isakson – GA House, Governor (lost), GA Senate, US Senate (lost), US House, US Senate

  4. While I do respect people who associate themselves with this group, I do think they need to, in the very near future, pick new leadership. I don’t know their convention process or how they even pick new leadership but how come i never hear about people in the pro life movement challenging this guy?

  5. xdog says:

    This is a minor tempest in a tiny little teapot. I wouldn’t care if Becker and Handel both went away.

  6. Will Durant says:

    Give him back some of his own:

    ‘Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?’ (Num. 12:2)

  7. Doug Deal says:

    Hey look abortion. Thank god we are finally getting serious instead of debating silly trifles like out of control spending, skyrocketing debt, NSA spying, eroding freedoms and expansion of government. I think 40 more years of banging our head against the steel re-enforced concrete wall of the abortion “debate” is where we need to be. I can sense the beginnings of a crack any decade now.

  8. James Fannin says:

    Dan Becker hates Karen because she is a woman who doesn’t yield to Becker’s inner Taliban and because he is jealous beyond reason that she has actually moved the ball on Right to Life issues while he has only further marginalized himself and developed a reputation for mendacity. He did marshall his minions in the governor’s race but it was more to hurt Karen than to help Nathan Deal and the Governor has wisely not repaid Becker’s efforts in any meaningful way (legislation). I have to think that if Karen has managed to make enemies of both Planned Parenthood and Dan Becker, she must be doing something right and her views are probably more representative of mainstream Georgia voters.

  9. John Konop says:

    The story of Noah transcends many religions…The irony of the story is God used water ( a key ingredient of life) to make his point. One message is to much of anything will kill you even water….I would suggest Dan Becker read the story of Noah again…..and see if he can find some balance… is very grey….ie concept of forgiveness, not judging others, walking in the shoes of other people ….adds up to love of people …..people who judge the most usually have the most to hide….

    • Will Durant says:

      So I guess you are somehow asserting this case was “legitimate rape”? I will see your few conceived via rape and raise you more than 5 million via in vitro fertilization. I think the offspring of that process would argue with Becker that they are glad their mom’s resorted to science to help give them their own right to life as well.

      • Harry says:

        Legitimate rape is an oxymoron. In vitro fertilization is a gift of God, because the purpose is to promote life. IMHO.

  10. sarahmorris says:

    There are several flaws with this article, but we need to look at Karen’s past record to see what her views are. If you read her book ‘Planned Bullyhood’ you will find that several times she says how she was not at the center of the decision to defund Planned Parenthood but rather trying to keep Komen accountable to the standards for which they set their Grant criteria. You will also see that it was not through a desire to defund Planned Parenthood but rather a want to remain on neutral ground that Komen wanted to remove themselves slowly from Planned Parenthood.

    If one if truly pro-life they do not stay neutral on the issue of abortion (which is the killing of human life) but rather they stand vehemently opposed to abortion in all cases.

    Handel is in favor of exceptions in pro-life law that allow children conceived in rape and incest to be killed if it is desired by the parent. How can we say that these children are less worthy of life? They should not die for the father’s crimes, we should go after the man who has committed these crimes and help the mother with compassion and love.

    I am all for voting a strong pro-life woman into office, but through my research I find that Paul Broun has a much stronger stance on pro-life issues than Handel.

    I also find it sad that Handel will not meet with Becker or Georgia Right to Life. I’ve always found that if one stands on good principle that they don’t hide from meetings where the truth is on their side if that is the case.

    • TheEiger says:

      Would you meet with someone that called you barren and infertile? The answer is probably no.

      If someone said that to wife they would be put on my list of people that can go play in traffic not on my daily meeting list.

      • sarahmorris says:

        ‘If’ someone had called me that I would absolutely stand up to them and take a meeting with them if it would settle some points and prove I am in the right. If Mrs Handel can’t handle meeting with people who have called her names then perhaps she should not be running for U.S. Senate as I know there is a lot of that up in DC.

  11. northside101 says:

    No one has ever accused Georgia Right to Life of being politically savvy—politically naïve, yes, but savvy, no. not in a million years. Just like Ms. Morris above…abortion is never going to be completely banned in this state, no matter how Republican it gets. If Roe ever were to be overturned (I agree it was based on legal mush), if Georgia ever passed restrictions on abortion (I don’t count 20 weeks as part of that), politically there would have to be exceptions. No telling how many political careers would come to an end in the Legislature if a complete, no exceptions ban ever went through. And there is the political reality, some parts of this state either are pro-choice or at best 50/50 on the issue—think areas like East Cobb, Buckhead, North Fulton, Dunwoody, St. Simons on the coast. You generally find across the USA, large urban areas are more liberal on social issues, and the smaller city/rural areas more conservative. That is why, for instance, in the Virginia race for governor last fall, Ken Cuccenelli, who opposed exceptions even in cases of rape and incest, lost badly in suburban, very affluent, Northern Virginia—and lost the election.

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