Conflict in the antiabortion camp

Antiabortion activists are divided over the Supreme Court's decision on the "partial-birth" abortion ban.


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Tracy Clark-Flory
June 4, 2007 11:28PM (UTC)

Woo boy. There's a "highly visible rift" growing in the antiabortion movement, according to the Washington Post. In one corner is Broadsheet favorite James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family. In the other, a handful of antiabortion groups that disparage the recent Supreme Court decision to uphold the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act as "wicked."

Confused? Well, it seems the ruling has revived debate among antiabortion groups over whether to pursue gradual restrictions on abortion or an all-out ban. Dobson was quick to celebrate the Supreme Court decision as a win for the antiabortion camp, and a Focus on the Family spokesperson told the Post that the group is "sophisticated enough to know we're not going to win a total victory all at once." But a union of antiabortion groups sees things differently: They took out full-page newspaper ads calling the decision "more wicked than Roe." They also called out Dobson, saying he has "misled the Body of Christ about the ban, and now about the ruling itself."

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The ruling "will never save a single child," said Brian Rohrbough, president of Colorado Right to Life and one of the activists behind the ads, "because even though the justices say this one technique is mostly banned -- not completely banned -- there are lots of other techniques, and they even encourage abortionists to find less shocking means to kill late-term babies." Christian radio talk show host Rev. Bob Enyart, another activist behind the ads, told the Post that "the partial-birth abortion ban as a fundraising technique has brought in over a quarter of a billion dollars" for the antiabortion movement by misleading donors. The result, he says, is "the pro-life industry." That's right, as the Post puts it, they're "using rhetoric that they have reserved in the past for abortion clinics."

As exciting as this rift is -- seriously, break out the popcorn because I can't wait to see how this plays out -- it'd be wrong to buy in to the argument that the ban doesn't mark a serious success in the war on reproductive rights. But here's where the antiabortion groups have good reason to worry: The ruling has galvanized the pro-choice base -- in fact, Planned Parenthood reported "a serious bump" in donations following the decision.


Tracy Clark-Flory

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