Pro-Lifers Attack Pro-Life Group for Being Pro-Life

Opinion   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 6, 2013   |   3:22PM   |   Washington, DC

Pro-life organizations are used to attacks from pro-abortion organizations like NARAL and Planned Parenthood, but they’re not used to their friends and colleagues in the pro-life movement attacking them.

Yet, that’s exactly what is happening to the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) this week.

The National Right to Life Committee is a single issue pro-life group that focuses solely on protecting unborn children from abortion. There are hundreds of pro-life groups organized for the lone purposes of saving unborn children. Americans United for Life, the Susan B. Anthony List, Priests for Life, Live Action — the list of pro-life groups whose mission revolves solely around preventing the destruction of human life before birth is long and has been for decades.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with pro-life groups only focusing on pro-life issues. While there are clearly other important political issues ranging from the economy to foreign policy to other social issues, most pro-life people generally agree that nothing in the political arena is more important than ensuring that tiny, defenseless, innocent babies are protected from the brutality of abortion.

So when the Cleveland Right to Life organization decided to take on another political issue in its mission apart from the Right to Life of unborn babies, NRLC informed the group that it would no longer be officially affiliated with it because it doesn’t want its official subsidiary groups taking on other political issues.

There’s nothing wrong with Cleveland Right to Life deciding to expand its mission (in this case to defend traditional marriage) just as there are dozens of pro-life groups like the Family Research Council, Alliance Defending Freedom, Focus on the Family and many more that tackle other important issues in addition to pro-life issues. And there is nothing wrong with National Right to Life wanting its 50 state affiliates and thousands of local chapters to focus only on saving babies.

It’s a matter of taste and interests whether groups get involved with other issues apart from pro-life ones or not — not a reflection on whether they are more or less pro-life or Christian or what have you.

But one news report turned that decision into an attack on National Right to Life. It’s blaring headline reads, “National Right to Life Committee disowns Cleveland chapter for defending marriage.”

It turns out the headline is in error and that’s not the case as all. The Cleveland group disaffiliated itself by virtue of violating NRLC’s policy for its chapters to focus solely on saving babies and not get involved in other political issues.

The “news story,” which is largely a duplication of a press release from Cleveland Right to Life complaining about the disaffiliation, doesn’t quote anyone from National Right to Life in making that false assessment, forcing NRLC to use the comments section of the web site to reveal the truth about the private letter it sent to its chapter:

The mission of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) has been articulated since the inception of the organization — to protect the right to life of innocent human beings, including those jeopardized by legal abortion, by euthanasia, and by assisted suicide.

Recently, Cleveland Right to Life announced that it has embraced an advocacy agenda that includes issues beyond the right to life. Moreover, it promptly issued public criticisms of and implicit political threats against a U.S. Senator who has supported the right-to-life position on every vote that has come before the Senate, and who is a sponsor of major NRLC-backed bills — because the chapter disagrees with his position on a non-right-to-life issue.

By these actions, Cleveland Right to Life has violated National Right to Life policy, causing the chapter to disaffiliate itself from NRLC.

The story misrepresenting National Right to Life was pulled after it initially appeared yesterday and then it reappeared online today. It should be pulled in its entirety.

LifeNews asked NRLC for comment for this column, and NRLC officials declined. Why? Because the group has a history of not publicly attacking pro-life groups. LifeNews adheres to this policy as well and we have never allowed our web site to be a forum for pro-life people or groups attacking others.

UPDATE: NRLC sent LifeNews a more full statement:

National Right to Life, its fifty state affiliates, and more than 3,000 local chapters, are single-issue organizations existing to protect innocent human life from abortion, infanticide, assisted suicide, and euthanasia. In the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers observed that we are endowed “with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The right to life is the first and foremost of all human rights. It affects all other issues and without it, a person never gets the opportunity to exercise any other right. Simply put, without Life all other rights and issues are meaningless.

From time to time, people or organizations come along that encourage the right-to-life movement to take up the mantle of other issues by equating these issues with the paramount right to life.

The success the right-to-life movement has experienced over the past 40 years has depended on maintaining our single-issue focus on life. By focusing on the single issue of life, we have been able to bring together a broad base of people – who may disagree on other important issues in our country, but who are dedicated to ensuring that the protection of our laws are extended to the most vulnerable members of society: the unborn, the elderly, the medically dependent and persons with disabilities.

The right-to-life movement provides a voice to the voiceless. To abandon this single-issue focus would be to abandon those who have no voice. National Right to Life remains committed to its work of protecting innocent human life from abortion, infanticide, assisted suicide and euthanasia, and invites all pro-life people to join us in our work.

Though out the history of the pro-life movement, groups that take a single issue pro-life focus and those who combine pro-life issues with other pro-family issues have always respected one another. You won’t find Family Research Council attacking Americans United for Life. Priests for Life would never disparage Concerned Women for America for tackling multiple pro-family issues and vice versa.

That should be the case here. National Right to Life has chosen to singularly focus on ending abortion. Cleveland Right to Life believes it should add other political issues to its pro-life mission. Both groups have a right to make those prayerful, thought-out decisions about how best to make a difference without pro-life groups or “news” web sites attacking them and making them appear to be something they are not.

Friendly fire in the pro-life movement is not helpful. It doesn’t stop the Planned Parenthood agenda, it doesn’t promote the pro-life cause, it doesn’t stop abortions, and, for pro-life Christians, it’s certainly not Biblical.

Just as a football team has many players in different positions working together for the unified goal of scoring points and winning the game, the pro-life movement has different groups in different positions doing what they can to save babies. Let’s honor and respect those different ways of protecting human life without attacking one another.