National Group Boots Colorado Right to Life

Published June 13, 2007 by Colorado Springs Gazette.

Colorado Right to Life, which ran a full-page ad in The Gazette last month criticizing Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, was ousted Wednesday from the National Right to Life Committee.

Colorado Right to Life President Brian Rohrbough and the leaders of three other groups accused Dobson of mischaracterizing a recent Supreme Court ruling as a victory for abortion opponents.

Dobson, the ad charged, was “celebrating this evil ruling” and misleading abortion foes by praising the court’s upholding a ban on “partial birth” abortions. The ruling, they claimed, would only encourage doctors to find “less shocking” methods than the late-term abortions. Colorado Citizens for Life/Protecting Life Now will be recognized as the state affiliate, National Right to Life said in a statement Wednesday.

“Focus on the Family appreciates this swift action by the NLRC,” Carrie Gordon Earll, the Colorado Springs-based ministry’s senior director of issue analysis, said in a news release Wednesday. “It’s reassuring to know that a group of such prominence is willing to make a tough decision when its charter is challenged by a rogue and divisive group, such as the Colorado Right to Life.”

Leslie Hanks, vice president of Colorado Right to Life, said the state group had a more “confrontational” approach than the NRLC. “We’re discussing with another organization we feel better aligns with our perspective, and we intend to carry on,” Hanks said. She would not identify the other group.

The Rev. Bill Carmody, a Catholic priest who has led protests outside Planned Parenthood offices, said the split represents a difference in strategy, not goals.

“They have the attitude that if you’re not just like them, you’re not pro-life, and you can’t say that,” Carmody said of Colorado Right to Life. The disagreement over whether the ruling was a victory or defeat isn’t just local. “Obviously, this is a movement in turmoil,” said Carole Joffe, author and a sociology professor at the University of California, Davis, who has studied abortion politics for 30 years. “They didn’t do well in the last election; there’s no firm religious right candidate in the upcoming election.”

Some anti-abortion groups have begun broadening their issues to include poverty and the environment while others have kept their focus on fighting homosexuality and abortion, she said.

“This is a movement already under stress, so the infighting is an interesting, possibly quite significant, development,” Joffe said.

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