In an argument over tactics and alleged insubordination, the largest pro-life group in America has essentially fired its longtime Georgia affiliate and replaced it with a newly formed group started with the support of RedState founder Erick Erickson.
Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, said Georgia Right to Life had actively opposed National Right to Life’s “top-priority federal legislation, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and subsequently praised some House members who did in fact join with pro-abortion congressmen to vote against that landmark bill.”
Tobias also pointed out that Georgia Right to Life “praised a U.S. House member for not voting in favor of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), a bill to strengthen and expand prohibitions on federal funding of abortion.”
Georgia Right to Life President Dan Becker defended his group, saying, “It’s a tragedy that a pioneering, highly successful pro-life organization is considered unworthy to remain affiliated with National Right to Life.”
In recent years Georgia Right to Life has boasted that it has managed to get most Georgia political candidates to oppose abortion for any reason including rape and incest, a controversial position that tangled up Missouri Republican Todd Akin and doomed his candidacy for the US Senate. Becker, working with pro-life leader Rebecca Kiessling, who was conceived in rape, has led a national effort to get similar commitments from political candidates in other states.
Becker was incensed last month when the Susan B. Anthony List endorsed Georgia U.S. Senate candidate Karen Handel who – as a senior marketing executive with the Susan G. Komen Foundation – tried to get the breast cancer group to defund Planned Parenthood. However, she allows for the rape and incest exceptions.
For this and other transgressions, Becker has come under sustained criticism within Georgia, especially from Erickson who has long been calling for a new statewide pro-life group. In a column last year, Erickson called Becker’s group the “…the Westboro Baptist Church of the pro-life movement. Instead of saving souls, they’d rather stone those who are trying to save souls. We need a new pro-life group in Georgia.”
Peach State Pundit actually began calling Becker’s group “Georgia Right to Lie” because of charges he has made against candidate Handel.
Becker is also a national leader in the controversial “personhood” movement, an effort to claim legal personhood from the moment of conception for unborn children. Becker and his colleagues insist personhood would be the silver bullet that would cause the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and impose a national prohibition on abortion for any reason. Personhood efforts have lost repeatedly in state referenda, including twice in Colorado and in such stalwart pro-life states as South Dakota and Oklahoma. Critics point out that even Justice Antonin Scalia is not on board with personhood, let alone perennial abortion swing-vote Anthony Kennedy.
National Right to Life and most other pro-life groups are committed to eventually banning abortion for any reason, including rape and incest, but recognize the country is far from ready for that. In the meantime they intend to work for incremental advances in protecting unborn children. They also point out that rape and incest account for roughly 24,000, or less than 2% of all approximately 1.2 million, abortions performed annually in the United States.
The debate between the purists and incrementalists has long bedeviled the pro-life movement. This current split comes at a time when the incrementalists have wracked up a record number of legislative victories in the states. According to a report issued by NARAL Pro-Choice America, more pro-life bills have passed in the last two years than in the previous ten years combined.
Incrementalist efforts have led to the closing of a record number of abortion clinics including in the state of Texas where, according to the editor of the pro-abortion website RH Reality Check, the number of abortion clinics has declined since 2011 from 44 to 24 and is expected to drop to 6 when new laws come into effect.
National Right to Life, a federation of state pro-life groups, announced the replacement of Becker’s group with the Georgia Life Alliance.