Anti-Abortion Groups March On
On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are reminded that this decision not only protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose.
—Statement from President Barack Obama, January 22, 2009
Barack Obama promised Planned Parenthood that, “The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA).” If he keeps this promise, President Obama will press the reset button on the pro-life movement and reverse decades of legislation, regulations not built on the firm foundation of personhood, but misguided laws built on sand shifting in the political wind.
—Brian Rohrbough, President, American Right To Life
Despite the fact that much of the air was sucked out of Washington DC by the nearly two million people that personally witnessed the historic and inspirational inaugural of President Barack Obama (and the flurry of activities in his first 72 hours), the anti-abortion March For Life, an annual event held on January 22—marking the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision—drew tens of thousands and received a fair amount of media attention, albeit much of it in conservative outlets.
In a pre-march piece, the Washington Times’ Julia Duin called the mood among anti-abortion activists “grim.” “After all of the inauguration festivities have ended,” said the Rev. Arnold Culbreath, the urban outreach director of Protecting Black Life, “we have to deal with an aggressively pro-abortion administration in the White House and in crucial areas of government.”
While the anti-abortion movement may be decidedly dispirited over what they believe lies in store during the Obama administration, nevertheless, a number of groups took part in activities marking the anniversary, and others are planning a series of actions and longer-lasting campaigns.
The Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person hosted a forum of original commentary from a group of pro-life scholars and public policy experts who addressed the question of whether the pro-life movement has “failed.” (All commentaries are available on the Westchester Institute’s Web site.) On January 22, Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council organized its fourth annual “Blogs for Life” conference of pro-life bloggers, with special guests Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback and Washington Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
The Washington Times’ Duin also reported that Priests for Life sent out an “abortion manifesto,” a fundraising letter about the “54 objectives the abortion industry expects Obama to sign off on during his first 100 days in office.” Using words like “diabolical” to describe this document, national director Frank Pavone quotes Isaiah 6 to encourage readers to donate. (According to the Wall Street Journal, the list was a wish list of 15 objectives put forth by liberal and feminist groups.)
Jill Stanek’s BornAliveTruth and Operation Rescue were hoping to raise their profiles through a new anti-abortion docudrama that was scheduled for a free screening in DC on the eve of the Roe v. Wade anniversary. A new group called “40 Days for Life” announced plans for a 40-day campaign to end abortion, and The Susan B. Anthony List announced a campaign titled “Stop the Abortion Bailout! Advocacy Campaign.”
22 Weeks, an Anti-Abortion Docudrama
Promotional materials for the new anti-abortion film, 22 Weeks—a joint project of BornAliveTruth and Operation Rescue—declared that the film “tells the true story of a young woman locked in the bathroom of an abortion clinic after her aborted baby was born alive. It’s a film about decisions and the echoes they leave behind. The film includes the reenactment of an actual 911 call.” The film “confronts the outer reaches of one of the most controversial subjects of our time. It places the viewer on both sides of the spectrum and asks the chilling question, ‘What would you do?’”
A trailer for the film can be seen here.
Religion Dispatches had the opportunity to ask the filmmakers and its publicist, about 22 Weeks:
Religion Dispatches: Can you give me some specifics about the film?
Angel Manuel Soto, producer and director: The film is 28 minutes long with credits. 22 Weeks is a drama, but due to documenting true events in a dramatic way, some people call it a docudrama, but I would never say that it’s a documentary. It’s not meant to inform or educate. Rather, it is meant to impact, create awareness, and motivate people to be informed on their own and to study and raise questions. The film is directed and produced by me, in association with Empyrean Films and Eyekandy Studios. The movie cost less than $20,000 and the funding came from two sources that were moved by the script and the story.
RD: What do you hope to accomplish with the film?
AMS: First I would like to make a feature-length film of the story and also make other films, since it’s what I love to do. Secondly, I want to create an awareness that will motivate women to be informed more than what they think they are getting informed in these “pro-women” clinics. Stories like this could be avoided if something as simple as telling the truth would’ve taken place.
Jill Stank, executive director of BornAliveTruth.org: On behalf of BornAliveTruth.org, a co-sponsor of the film’s world premiere in Washington DC, we want to continue educating the American public about post-abortion infanticide: babies who survive their abortions and are medically neglected, as in the case of the abortion portrayed in 22 Weeks, or outright murdered, as in the case of the ongoing case in Hialeah, Florida.
RD: Will 22 Weeks be shown in theaters around the country?
Kristina Hernandez, the film’s publicist: The movie will be released on DVD and online starting January 21.
RD: Have there been any pre-premiere showings at churches or for film critics?
KH: Yes, the film was shown in Puerto Rico and will be shown in Washington DC and Orlando this week. Other screenings are being organized around the country.
40 Days for Life Campaign
“As the country marks the 36th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling that imposed abortion on the United States, as well as the inauguration of the most outspokenly pro-abortion president in American history, pro-life advocates in some 118 cities across 41 states—plus four Canadian provinces and even Australia—have great hope,” said Shawn Carney, spring campaign director for 40 Days for Life. “They’re all preparing to participate in simultaneous 40 Days for Life campaigns from February 25 through April 5.”
According to the group’s press release, “40 Days for Life”—which coincides with the Christian season of Lent—“consists of 40 days of prayer and fasting for an end to abortion, 40 days of constant, peaceful vigil outside abortion centers and Planned Parenthood offices and 40 days of active pro-life community outreach.”
Stop the Abortion Bailout! Advocacy Campaign
Marjorie Dannenfelser, the President of the Susan B. Anthony List, recently announced plans for the Stop the Abortion Bailout! advocacy campaign, which according to the group’s press release, aims to convince the Senate to preserve “federal abortion funding restrictions.” The campaign intends “to secure the 41 votes necessary to sustain a filibuster against measures promoting federal taxpayer funding of abortion.”
The Susan B. Anthony List, “a nationwide network” of over 150,000 Americans “dedicated to mobilizing, advancing, and representing pro-life women in politics,” played a prominent role opposing Barack Obama’s election.
Obama Should “Bring America Together” by Appointing Bush-Nominated Judges, says the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins
Apparently, having Pastor Rick Warren perform the invocation at his inauguration was not enough of a signal that President Barack Obama wants to bring America together. What would Obama have to do to prove that he, unlike President George W. Bush, is a uniter and not a divider? Here’s a suggestion from Tony Perkins, President of the Washington DC lobbying group Family Research Council: For starters, how about emulating Bush, who after he took office in 2000, re-nominated two of President Clinton’s choices for the federal court of appeals.
Now, writes Perkins in the January 13 edition of Tony Perkins’ Washington Update, Obama should “re-nominate” Peter Keisler to the DC Court of Appeals. According to Perkins, “The Senate failed to act on Keisler, though no one could come up with a reason to oppose him. He is a distinguished attorney, widely respected for his able service as Acting Attorney General. A graduate of Yale Law School, who was an officer with the Yale Law Journal, he clerked on the court to which he has been nominated.”
Perkins closes by asking: “Will President-elect Obama truly work ‘to bring America together,’ or were such promises just political rhetoric?”
Talk about political rhetoric!
You might think that the batch of articles insinuating that President Obama is surrounding himself with socialists and communists might have come from the fevered mind of the Reverend Fred Phelps and his Topeka, Kansas-based gang (made up of mostly his children and grandchildren). Or perhaps they could have been ripped from the pages of a disgruntled/delusional white supremacist blog/Web site. Neither!
In fact, they come from the keyboards over at Lou Sheldon’s shop, the long-lived Traditional Values Coalition.
So here’s a troika of recent stories from the TVC :
“Obamunist Nominee Gave U.S. Port To Communists”—How Leon Panetta, Obama’s appointee to head the CIA, “is the greatest gift Obama could give to Islamic terrorists around the globe”;
“‘Czars And The Obama Administration”—“These czars will be accountable to him alone and no one knows precisely how much power each of these individuals will wield over our nation’s policies during the next four years. They will impose Obamunism upon our nation.”— TVC Executive Director Andrea Lafferty;
and, “Obama’s ‘Hope’ Portrait To Hang In National Portrait Gallery”—a profile of Shepard Fairey and his “Soviet-style” art work which “were seen everywhere during the election campaign on posters, campaign stickers, and banners all over the United States…[and now] has been purchased by the Smithsonian U.S. National Portrait Gallery museum—thanks to a donation from Heather and Tony Podesta.” The Podestas are “identified only as ‘art collectors’ by the Associated Press,” but Tony is “really [a] far left activist who formerly ran the God-hating People for the American Way (PFAW), an anti-Christian group, that is still engaged in a relentless war against traditional values.” TVC also identifies Podesta as “the brother of John Podesta, who is Obama’s chief counsel in the White House. (John Podesta came from the Center for American Progress, a George Soros front group that pushes socialistic policies).”
Focus on the Family Sets Newsweek Straight
Generally speaking—and I am being very general here—unlike stories posted on Web sites and blogs, a controversial magazine story can linger in ways that the last guest at a party never even thought of. A buzzworthy magazine piece (especially when it’s a cover story) often gnaws away at readers. And while blog/Web posts contain within it the instantaneous possibility of going viral—these days, magazine pieces do as well—they’re mostly forgotten with the passing of a weekend.
The good folks at Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family are still reeling from the December 15 Newsweek cover story about same-sex marriage, and it has devoted a good chunk of the February issue of its Citizen magazine to “answer[ing] the most egregious attack yet on marriage and the Bible”; the article by Lisa Miller “deceptively entitled ‘Our Mutual Joy.’” Citizen’s cover depicts a partial view of the Newsweek cover, and it is headlined “Setting them Straight: Citizen answers Newsweek’s distortion of what the Bible says about marriage.”
In his introductory note, Tom Minnery, President of FotF, writes that Citizen invited a FotF posse, five “experts,” to respond to Miller’s “dishonest essay.” Responses to Newsweek come from Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and board member of FotF; C. Ben Mitchell, director of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity and associate professor of bioethics and contemporary culture at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois; Glenn Stanton, director of global strategic services for FotF and co-author of “Marriage on Trial”; Joe Dallas of the Dallas-based Genesis Counseling, and author of “The Gay Gospel? How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread the Bible”; and, Jim Tonkowich, of the Washington DC-based Institute on Religion and Democracy, and can be found here.
CPAC Rides Again: As the calendar whisks its way toward Super Bowl Sunday and the annual Oscar fest, another less celebrated but nevertheless significant event will be taking place: rev up your engines ’cause the annual CPAC conference is coming down the pike. This year, the 36th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)—a project of the American Conservative Union Foundation in association with Human Events and the Young America’s Foundation—will be held from February 26-28, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington DC. Contrary to some rumors, it will not be a wake, and we are assured that there will be no grief counseling available.
Instead, according to CPAC’s promotional materials, many of the usual suspects will be on hand—or at least as of this writing, have been invited to participate. If She shows up—and there is no reason to suspect that She would miss the opportunity given that She’s appeared nearly everywhere since the election—Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will be the belle of the ball. Mike Huckabee, not so much! Whither John McCain?
A Boom in Christian Films: The San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, a project of Vision Forum Ministries, recently announced that the winner of its fifth annual the “Best of Festival” Jubilee Award—with its $101,000 cash prize—was The Widow’s Might, a 101-minute film written and directed by 19-year-old John Moore of Kaufman, Texas, with David Heustis and Jeff Moreland serving as producers. The film is “a feature length comedy-adventure that tells the fictional story of how aspiring filmmakers came to the aid of an elderly widow who faced losing her home due to rising property taxes.”
According to a Festival Press Release, Fireproof, a film starring Kirk Cameron that explores a firefighter’s struggle to save his failing marriage—written, produced, and directed by Alex and Stephen Kendrick of Sherwood Pictures— won the top honor in the “Best Feature Film” category. The press release pointed out that Fireproof “was the highest-grossing independent film of 2008, with over $33 million in theater sales, beating out such films as Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona starring Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz, and Milk, starring Sean Penn.” (For more Festival award winners, see here.)
Training for the Long Run: Last week, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP), held its annual conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The theme of the gathering was “Training for the Long Run.” Although the “death penalty is in decline as evidenced by the fact that fewer death sentences are sought and obtained; there are fewer executions; and public support and confidence is waning,” NCADP recognizes that “high profile cases…raising serious questions about innocence, government misconduct, or unfairness have further undermined the public’s belief in the integrity of the system.”