Religious Group Protests Laws That Could Stop Other Kermit Gosnells

National   |   John Lomperis   |   May 17, 2013   |   1:58PM   |   Washington, DC

In early May, the trial of Kermit Gosnell was drawing to a close. Our nation was gripped by the revelations of how for years, this notorious abortionist had enjoyed free reign to do his bloody work in horrifically unsanitary, effectively unregulated conditions, resulting in the murder of a number of newly born-alive babies and one mother, along with the countless human beings similarly killed inside the womb.

Serious questions were being raised about what our legal regime and social culture of abortion-on-demand had unleashed, and the moral inconsistency being horrified by Gosnell’s crimes while supporting pre-birth abortion.

And the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) was not silent. Apparently figuring that the best defense is a good offence, the front group devoted to decrying even mild legal restrictions or moral disapprovals of abortion used the public’s attention on Gosnell’s assault on human life to bizarrely claim that the lack of abortion-encouraging public policies is to blame for Gosnell’s “house of horrors,” and to launch off-topic, unsubstantiated ad hominem attacks against the characters of those “religious extremists” who oppose abortion, while portraying a child’s life as not worth living if it would involve difficult poverty.

In fact, in a May 2 e-mail to supporters, RCRC declared “We are Outraged.”  But RCRC is not “outraged” by anything Kermit Gosnell did, by the barbaric mass-killing of innocent babies who RCRC has worked hard to dehumanize, or even by the unhealthy and unsafe conditions in which legal abortions are sometimes performed.

No, RCRC is “outraged” by two specific concerns: health and safety regulations for abortion clinics, and the lack of provision for the “God-given right” of every pregnant woman to have a friendly neighborhood abortion provider within her ZIP code.

In 2011, the Virginia state legislature passed a bill requiring clinics performing abortion surgeries to at least protect the lives and health of the mothers by meeting similar safety standards as hospitals. After an abortion clinic in Norfolk Virginia closed its deadly work rather than meet the costs of compliance, RCRC emailed supporters asking for outrage-driven donations.  Apparently, RCRC does not realize how bad it looks, post-Gosnell, to rush to defend setting up and running an abortion clinic without being able to afford meeting basic health and safety standards.

But the gay-activist man who leads the “religious” coalition makes clear that RCRC has a much more urgent priority than the very lives of precious children being fearfully and wonderfully knit together in their mother’s wombs (Psalm 139:13-14), or even than making every effort to protect the health safety of mothers who choose to abort.

As his e-mail explains, RCRC’s core commitment to “reproductive justice” means “ensur[ing] that every woman – regardless of her zipcode – has the God-given right to access” abortion. In other words, if parents have to drive a little further to get their child aborted, their human rights have been unacceptably violated.

Amidst RCRC’s loud, perennial protests dismissing the need for health and safety regulations of abortion clinics, even in the face of the Philadelphia house of horrors, it should be remembered that this is the same group who recently, without qualification, celebrated a day of appreciation for the work of “all the other brave abortion providers around the world” (which would presumably include Gosnell). Now in an awkward attempt to save face, RCRC’s chief has tried to distance his group from Gosnell by denouncing him as an “opportunistic” man “preying on women” in desperate situations.  Never mind that RCRC has long lambasted pro-lifers for very similarly describing unscrupulous abortionists.

The “religious” part of RCRC is little more than a cynical façade to try to undermine the pro-life movement in American society by portraying “the religious community” (whatever that means) as including a strong contingent of religious traditions that join RCRC in defending unrestrained violence against completely dehumanized unborn children and sex outside of man-woman marriage (including but not limited to homosexual practice).  But it is extremely unlikely that more than a very, very tiny number of the 20 million people it claims to speak for are aware of RCRC’s activities – and its defenders within those affiliated religious bodies work hard to keep it that way. Its board of directors has included abortionists like notorious partial-birth-abortion defender LeRoy Carhart, who apparently prefers spending his Sunday mornings performing abortions rather than going to church. RCRC’s funding has come largely from such secular sources as atheist George Soros’s Open Society Institute and the pornography-fueled Playboy Foundation.

The group’s public positions very demonstrably represent a rejection of the Scriptures and theological traditions of the Protestant churches who have rogue denominational agencies affiliated with RCRC.

The most out-of-place among RCRC’s affiliated religious bodies is the global United Methodist Church. In contrast to RCRC’s “outrage” over their being less abortion providers and fewer mothers getting abortions, the United Methodist Church’s flawed statement on abortion (which has been evolving in an increasingly pro-life direction since 1988) explicitly declares the denomination’s commitment to lowering abortion rates. A committee-endorsed proposal to finally sever that denomination’s ties with RCRC was expected to pass at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference. But a minority of pro-RCRC activists within the denomination adopted a Machiavellian strategy of cynically “running out the clock” to prevent that proposal from ever being considered by the full body of assembled delegates.

The full text of the RCRC e-mail is below:

From: Rev. Harry Knox, RCRC [mailto:[email protected]]

Sent: Thursday, May 02, 2013 1:48 PM

To: ******

Subject: Another Clinic Closes and We are Outraged

Dear John,
Are you outraged as we are about the closing of the Hillcrest Clinic in Norfolk, VA?

We are outraged that health clinic restrictions favor and codify one particular set of religious beliefs on issues of life, abortion and pregnancy. This dangerous precedent imposes one religious view on everyone in the Commonwealth of Virginia and denies individuals and families the right to make very personal healthcare decisions according to their own beliefs and values.

Over the past several months we at RCRC have been actively engaged in standing with abortion providers, activists and faith leaders in Virginia to stop clinic closures across the state.

Supporting RCRC’s uncompromising commitment to abortion care and reproductive health with a contribution today will enable us to stand strong and faithfully in the midst of right wing attacks on access to vital health care services for women and families nationwide.

At RCRC we believe that if there is no access to abortion care and comprehensive reproductive health services for women and families then there is no choice. Our faithful commitment to reproductive justice calls us to unite across faith traditions to ensure that every woman – regardless of her zipcode – has the God-given right to access all of the resources she needs to make decisions about her body and reproductive destiny. For RCRC’s official comments in support of the Hillcrest Clinic click here.

We are outraged that the Virginia licensing requirements for abortion providers have become an ideological crusade with no medical or scientific relationship to the health and safety of clinic patients. Hillcrest clinic has faithfully provided abortion care and reproductive health services to women and families for 40 years.  This clinic has survived constant threats to patients and staff, ongoing protests, arson and bombings but now, because of burdensome and ideological regulations passed in 2011, the clinic will be saddled with $500,000 in renovation costs and will have to shut their doors permanently.  We are outraged!

Support RCRC today by making a contribution and furthering our work towards reproductive justice.  We will continue to stand with abortion providers, clinic staff, and the women and families who access these vital and life-giving services. We need your help.



P.S. The Hillcrest Clinic is not alone: they are merely the first of many clinics in the Commonwealth of Virginia who are being forced to close under the 2011 abortion clinic licensing requirements.  Almost every state legislature in the country has already passed similar laws or is currently considering them.  Join us in fighting to keep clinics accessible in Virginia and in your state!

LifeNews Note: John Lomperis is the Director of United Methodist Action for the Institute on Religion and Democracy.  Connect with him on Twitter @JohnLomperis