Rift Widens Between Anti-Abortion Activists

As the battle between anti-abortion activists and anti-abortion activists rages on, pro-choice activists have jumped into the fray.

This week the National Right to Life ousted its Colorado chapter over newspaper ads that attacked Focus on the Family founder James Dobson. On Thursday NARAL Colorado issued a statement that the schism merely reveals “a divide in strategy over how to deny women their fundamental right to make the personal, private decision to bear a child.”

But Bob Enyart, one of the original signers of the “Open Letter to James Dobson” that appeared three weeks ago in the Colorado Springs Gazette and Washington Times, maintains that the split in ideology is the result of Dobson and others embracing moral relativism.

And for hard-right Christians, those are heavy duty fighting words.

“The right wing believes in absolutes and the left believes in moral relativism, so when Christian leadership goes down the path of moral relativism, it’s devastating,” Enyart told Colorado Confidential.

“We’ve identified Focus on the Family as having [become] moral relativists, and the fact that Doctor Dobson has become a moral relativist, well it angers may many Christians to have that pointed out, but we have received many thanks too.”

At issue is the April ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that upholds a ban on so-called partial birth abortion. After the ruling, Dobson and leaders from many other groups, including the National Right to Life, the Christian Coalition, the American Family Association and the Family Research Council cheered the decision, and Dobson claimed that the lives of children would be saved.

However several other individuals and organizations condemned those who “celebrated this evil ruling” – and insist that Dobson’s declarative “victory” is false. The ruling did not, they say, include all medical procedures for third trimester abortions. And, Enyart insists the false claims are directly tied to a desire to justify more than a quarter of a billion dollars that the pro-life industry – groups like Focus on the Family – has generated over the past 15 years.

The cash, says Enyart, has been wasted.

“Millions of Christians have given money to the Partial Birth Abortion ban and up until now were never told they were misled,” said Enyart. “The ban has no authority to save even one child’s life.”

Enyart, who is pastor of Denver Bible Church and has a radio show, termed his efforts as intending to set Dobson and others straight. In addition to the text-heavy ads that appeared – which were labeled as an “Open letter to James Dobson” – Enyart says he and his associates are continuing to raise money to place ads in other newspapers and magazines.

In addition to Enyart and Colorado Right to Life president Brian Rohrbough, the letter to Dobson was signed by Operation Rescue director Flip Benham, Human Life International president Rev. Tom Euteneuer and Judie Brown, the president of American Life League.

“We will continue to spend money to get this message out to pro-life Christians that the pro-life movement has become a moral relativist fundraiser,” Enyart said. “We hope to provide leadership for pro-lifers to get back on track to provide leadership for the average pro-lifer to defend personhood and the life of the unborn.

“There’s a divide in the Christian community and we’re not sure that the other side has more love for Dobson. When a friend is going astray, you warn him.”

After the National Right to Life announced its decision to oust its Colorado chapter, Focus on the Family issued a statement indicating that the National Right to Life’s “swift action” was appreciated – and called the Colorado chapter “rogue and divisive.”

In a statement issued on June 14, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado underscored that, though the two warring groups’ strategies differ, they both ultimately want to deny a woman the right to choose – and access to health care.

“Those who respect a woman’s fundamental right to choose whether and when to have children will not passively wait for Colorado’s anti-choice minority to decide whether to use an all-or-nothing strategy or an incremental-attack approach to deny women access to critical health care,” said Kathryn Wittneben in the statement.

“Instead, we call on Coloradans who are genuine in their efforts to reduce the need for abortion to join us in advancing the health of Colorado women and their families by emphasizing prevention first in reproductive health care policies. This common-sense, common-ground approach is the best way to reduce unintended pregnancy, and thereby the need for abortion, in our state.”

Cara DeGette is a senior fellow at Colorado Confidential, and a columnist and contributing editor at the Colorado Springs Independent. E-mail her at cdegette@coloradoconfidential.com

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