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(Photo credit: Medical Advice)

By John Lomperis (@JohnLomperis)

In case you missed it, March 10 was National Abortion Provider Appreciation Day.

Yes, a special day to celebrate the work done by our friendly neighborhood abortionists.

The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), which enjoys official, unqualified endorsements from a collection of liberal Protestant, Jewish, Unitarian Universalist, and atheist/humanist groups, marked the holiday by e-mailing supporters a statement entitled “The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice Thanks and Blesses Abortion Providers.”

Most self-identified “pro-choicers” are driven by their God-given consciences to say that they are not comfortable with abortion, that they do not like abortion, and/or that they would support efforts to make abortions “rare.”

But such squeamishness is not for RCRC. According to this church-endorsed, atheist-funded interfaith group, religious leaders should celebrate the “holy work” (which has claimed the lives of over 55 million Americans since 1973), by thanking, blessing, and offering prayers of gratitude for the work of “abortion providers around the world.” After all, performing abortions is driven by “equal parts compassion and courage,” as well as, for many providers, “a deep religious faith,” RCRC assures us.

RCRC’s endorsers include four oldline Protestant denominations: the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Episcopal Church, and the United Church of Christ. While many members of each denomination have protested this affiliation, RCRC enjoys strong support from the liberal factions and denominational elites in all four.

Liberals within the United Methodist Church (my own denomination) openly celebrate how their Macchiavellian tactics prevented a proposal to sever the UMC’s ties with RCRC from ever coming to a vote at denomination’s 2012 General Conference. Observers on both sides believe that this proposal would have passed if delegates had not been forcibly prevented from voting on it, even despite the way in which the United Methodist bishops (with a couple of notable exceptions) have chosen to abdicate their responsibility of moral leadership.

The RCRC e-mail also promotes a video featuring an abortionist and RCRC board member, Dr. Willie Parker, accepting RCRC’s inaugural “Moody-Patterson Award for Leadership in Reproductive Justice.”  Throughout his speech, succinct propaganda from RCRC appears on the screen.

Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice email on abortion

As is typical for defenders of all abortions, there is disproportionate attention given to rare “hard cases” which account for only a tiny percentage of American abortions.

But the award recipient makes clear that his abortion business also includes many cases of simply “unplanned or unwanted pregnancies.” He defends his work by asking such questions as “Should the relatively innocent college girl who underestimates the power of alcohol and becomes pregnant during a casual date be punished to the degree of being forced to give up her college education and social standing, bringing untold hardships to her family?” or if a married woman who already had as many children as she wanted should “be punished” for contraceptive failure when raising an additional child would be financially challenging.

Meanwhile, creative, non-violent solutions to such challenging circumstances (including but not limited to adoption) are treated as unworthy of even a moment of consideration.

For the large portion of the human population whose conception was not planned, RCRC’s implied message seems clear: the value of your life is inherently lower than that of others. In fact, your being allowed to live is defined primarily as a “punishment” and a source of “untold hardships” for your family.

The statement from the “religious” front group gushingly claims that in the video, Parker “eloquently explained why providing abortion care is a part of his own spiritual life.” However, his speech actually makes no reference to God, scripture, or even to his personally adhering to any religion. The most religious part of his speech is when Parker approvingly quotes a statement from the Clergy Consultative Service praising abortionists for “living by the highest standards of religion and of the Hippocratic Oath” and then Parker goes on to recall “revering” that group’s founder, the late Rev. Howard Moody, a partial namesake of the award.  (RCRC’s rather broad use of the term “religion” would hardly exclude Ancient Near Eastern traditions mentioned in the Old Testament which practiced child sacrifice.) The Service was a forerunner to RCRC which helped mothers get abortions before it was decriminalized throughout the United States.

The citation of the Hippocratic Oath is rather odd, given how abortion is explicitly rejected in the classical version of that oath for doctors of Western medicine.

RCRC’s on-screen text dishonestly claims that “In the years before Roe v. Wade was decided [in 1973], it’s estimated that tens of thousands of women died each year due to unsafe abortions….” Abortion-defending activists have long been exposed for blatantly lying in inflating such statistics, but few put their exaggerations as high as RCRC’s asserted 20,000 – 100,000 maternal deaths every year.

The premature death of anyone is always tragic. But the truth is that there were actually only 39 maternal deaths from illegal abortions reported to the Center for Disease Control in 1972, less than the deaths from legal abortions.  Meanwhile, RCRC appears unconcerned over the many documented mothers who have died from legal abortions since 1973.

As an apparently deliberate rhetorical strategy, the speech and RCRC text repeatedly connect abortion to the words “compassion” and “care,” even framing the procedure itself as “abortion care.” In fact, Parker frames his work as so driven by compassion that his retort to questions about his comfort with personally performing abortions is that he is “uncomfortable at the number of abortions [he] failed to provide for the first 12 years of [his] practice.” Meanwhile, RCRC’s on-screen text also notes common “reproductive rights” talking points lamenting how the performance of abortion is not more widespread throughout the country.

Yet for all the talk of compassion and care, this abortion-appreciation presentation includes no hint of acknowledgement that abortions involve another human being besides the woman and the abortionist, let alone acknowledgement of the scars abortion leaves on surviving mothers, fathers, and siblings.

Two objective scientific facts are (1) that unborn children are indeed human and (2) that they are fundamentally distinct beings from their mothers, genetically and otherwise.  The question is if we will extend compassionate care to them.

But in RCRC’s dictionary, “compassion” and “care” are redefined to mean mercilessly drowning another human being in poison or cutting him to pieces, and taking great pains to avoid acknowledging he ever existed.

The 2003 book, Holy Abortion? A Theological Critique of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, carefully documents how the extremism of RCRC directly conflicts with the more nuanced (although sadly not strongly pro-life) positions of its four affiliated Protestant denominations. Since then, the Presbyterian Church (USA) has strengthened its opposition to late-term abortions while the United Methodist Church has inched in a more pro-life direction in several key incremental steps.

These denominations include countless faithful Christians who worship a God Who created each person in His own image, Who “fearfully and wonderfully” “knit [each person] together in [his or her] mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13-14), and Who personally became incarnate in the womb of a teenage girl whose own “social standing” and financial security were challenged by this unexpected (for Mary) pregnancy. They follow a Lord Whose welcoming of children, expanding the boundaries of “my neighbor,” and stressing the importance of our treatment of “the least of these” are certainly relevant to our treatment of naked, defenseless children whose lives are threatened.

These Christians’ faith is framed by a Bible whose core values such as self-sacrifice (in contrast to sacrificing the lives of others) could hardly be more opposed to RCRC’s worldview of treating your own financial stability, education, and “social standing” as not just valuable, but absolute idols to be defended at any cost, even the death of other human beings created in God’s own image. They reject RCRC’s insistence that one must choose between loving a mother or loving her child, recognizing and demonstrating that the love of God extends to all, including unexpectedly pregnant mothers, their unplanned children, and post-abortive women.

Yet the vast majority of members of these denominations are utterly unaware of the extremism or even existence of this “religious” group which claims to speak for them. Since such ignorance is crucial in dulling momentum for denominations revisiting their affiliations, RCRC likes to keep things this way.

[Update 2:04 PM EST: We have added the original RCRC email in question to the post. It was not previously included.]

John Lomperis directs UMAction at IRD. This blog post originally appeared on LifeNews.com. If you liked this post, visit IRD’s website to learn more about our programs and how you can support our work!