The U.S. Supreme Court’s approval of a ban on the partial-birth abortion procedure drew praise from many Americans this week, including Georgia Right to Life spokesman Dan Becker. But his Bible-based goal is a little larger: no abortions, no exceptions. Not even for rape and incest.
The precedent-setting plan already is on track to be presented to voters as a constitutional amendment as early as next year, and abortion opponents say it could set the stage for the nationwide recognition of the unborn as legal “persons” deserving of constitutional protection – a wave launched by this week’s court opinion, the first ban on an abortion procedure since it was legalized.
The Georgia organization has taken a state where about 2 percent of the lawmakers held to the strict limits on abortion only seven years ago to one where such a constitutional plan is “within striking distance,” Becker told WND.
“The whole sanctity of life cause is based on Genesis 1:26-28, where it talks about man is created in the image of God, and has worth at all levels,” Becker said. “Hence, we are working at a state level for a paramount human life amendment to our Constitution.”
The plan was written by the Thomas More Law Center, which advocates for pro-life causes:
“The rights of every person shall be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life. The right to life is the paramount and most fundamental right of a person. With respect to the fundamental and inalienable rights of all persons guaranteed in this Constitution, the word ‘person’ applies to all human beings, irrespective of age, race, sex, health, function, or condition of dependency, including unborn children at every state of their biological development, including fertilization.”
“It is time that the citizens of Georgia be able to speak decisively to this most fundamental right,” said Caryl Swift, president of the organization. “When is a person a ‘person’ under the laws of our State and therefore entitled to protection under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Let’s let Georgians decide …”
Becker, the Georgia Right to Life vice president, said the proposal would allow pro-life advocates to reach two objectives. “It establishes and affirms in principle that Georgia is a ‘pro-life’ state that seeks to protect all human life from fertilization as a matter of constitutional law, and it provides a direct challenge to the central holding of Roe v. Wade.”
Justice Harry Blackmun, in the 1973 opinion in which the Supreme Court announced the constitutional right to abortion, noted that, “[If the] suggestion of personhood [for the unborn] is established, the [abortion rights] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.”
Becker told WND that’s the key, and since pro-life legislation in the state Senate already has been collecting about 39 votes, two more than would be needed to approve such a constitutional provision, and in the state House, the pro-life votes number about 116, just four shy of the needed number, the issue is within “striking distance.”
How did Georgia move from a state run by Democrats since Reconstruction to having a legislature filled with pro-life supporters and a governor’s office eager to sign legislation such as a strict parental notification law for abortions on minors, an unborn victims of violence act to enhance penalties when a pregnant woman is hurt and her unborn child also sustains injury, and a “Choose Life” license plate, all in just the last few years?
This year’s work is resulting in a requirement that mothers be given the option of looking at an ultrasound of their unborn child whenever that test is done. And don’t forget the non-destructive stem cell research requirement.
At the same time, abortions in the state have fallen 19 percent since 1990, while the population as increased 42 percent. The governor has taken a positively pro-life position, as has the lieutenant governor, a possible contender for the state’s top job in a coming election.
The answer is the Bible, Becker said.
“We have to take the position that aligning ourselves with God’s Word produces the most positive results,” he said.
He said pro-life advocates in the state of Michigan got the idea started, and Georgia has taken it on as its own. Now other states, including Colorado, are pursuing the strategy that abortion is abortion and the Bible doesn’t allow it.
“It’s because of the religious orientation of the majority of our organization,” Becker said. “We believe … that faith dictates that the Bible be the ultimate authority. We are attempting to align ourselves with God’s position on the sanctity of life issue.”
In a column published on WND, Colorado Right to Life President Brian Rohrbough, agreed.
“We know the commandment to end abortion comes from God, not from man. It’s been almost 40 years since abortion was legalized. For most of those years we’ve heard this same strategy of ‘doing some evil that good might come from it.’ Well it hasn’t. This failed strategy has never once protected or given personhood status to a single child,” he writes.
“We must honor God to end this slaughter,” he said.
Specifically, Becker said when Georgia’s organization made a change – eliminating the approval of exceptions for rape and incest – seven years ago, the state was typically pro-abortion. Only 2 percent of the state House could be considered reliable pro-life votes, he noted.
But he said something had to be done. While terrorists have killed about 3,000 people since 1990, abortions have killed 4,000 since yesterday, he said, and the state’s abortion death toll for 2004 was 32,708, equal to the entire student population of the University of Georgia.
So the organization changed its requirements, and began endorsing only political candidates who condemn abortion, including instances of rape and incest, a move mainstream pro-life organizations said would be fatal to their cause.
However, the results didn’t bear out negative forecasts:
- In 2,000, three quarters of all targeted House candidates endorsed under those restrictions won, with an average margin of victory of 29 percent. The election’s result was a gain of three pro-life state senators and four in the state House.
- In 2001, the group raised $400,000 for a television campaign reaching out to unwed mothers-to-be and watched as calls to crisis pregnancy centers skyrocketed. Also, every member of the executive office of the state Republican Party now was occupied by candidates who believe abortions should not be allowed for rape and incest.
- In 2002, more advertising to unwed mothers, and more calls. Abortions declined further. Sonny Perdue advocated against abortions, including for rape and incest, and became the first pro-life governor in Georgia since 1868. Fox News reported 5.85 percent of all voters chose Perdue solely because he’s pro-life, handing him a victory margin of 5.2 percent. Gain of three Senate seats, 14 in the House.
- In 2003, a media campaign ran for nine months, and the number of local chapters rose from 12 to 43.
- In 2004, abortions dropped 5.3 percent in 12 months after a full year of a media campaign. Now pro-life Republicans control the governor’s office, state Senate and state House.
- In 2005, the Woman’s Right to Know law passed after 15 years of battling. Removed loophole in Parental Notification law. Abortions dropped another 3 percent.
- And just last year, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act was passed, as was the Choose Life license plate. The state General Assembly was the only state law-making body to lose no pro-life seats in the election; in fact, the number was raised. Perdue was re-elected, pro-life advocate Casey Cagle was elected lieutenant governor. A media campaign brought in more calls to Georgia pregnancy centers (21,069) than in any other state.
“If we’re consistent with God’s position in His Word, we expect Him to fight our battles for us,” Becker said. “We’ve seen success after success, and we can’t claim that’s due to outstanding organization or increased funding, even though all of that’s true.
“We give God the glory, He is fighting the battles on our behalf,” Becker said.
He said this week’s Supreme Court opinion is important because it begins society on the path to recognize the unborn as people, and others agreed.
“This is an important step toward ensuring that all innocent human life is protected,” said Karen England, executive director of Capitol Resource Institute in California. “While we should certainly relish this victory, we must also continue the fight. There is still a lot to be done.”
Becker said such recognition will naturally follow if Christians elect candidates who are pro-life from conviction, not just political expediency. And a side effect is that such candidates are “right on a whole host of issues,” such as parental rights, school requirements and end-of-life decisions and not just on abortion.
When the harder stance was implemented, the mainstream press in Atlanta labeled pro-life supporters as “extremists,” he said.
“All we could do was say we know where the Word of God stands on this,” he told WND.
He said the organization’s short-term goals are to “place limits on evil without participating in it.” A longer-term goal is the recognition of the Bible’s values regarding sanctity of life.
“We believe that the ultimate goal for a pro-life state organization must be a Paramount Human Life Amendment,” the organization’s goals state. “Georgia seeks a constitutional amendment that not only establishes the ‘personhood’ of the fetus, but more importantly speaks to all areas of the sanctity of life cause.”
“We’re shooting for 2008,” Becker said.
Opponents, too, are recognizing the power behind the movement.
Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Leola Reis told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution she was unhappy with the influence of the pro-life movement on this year’s approval of the ultrasound requirement.
“Is Georgia Right to Life the new shadow government under the Gold Dome?” she asked. “They’re the single force behind this. They’re insisting this highly regulatory bill be passed.”
Where Reis saw obstacles, others saw open doors.
“Roe is no longer the dictator over the Supreme Court. This is a landmark ruling that slams the brakes on infanticide and the devaluing of human life. Partial Birth Abortion is a perverse practice that dresses up infanticide with a technicality,” said Rev. James Tonkowich, with the Institute on Religion and Democracy.
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