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FIRST-PERSON: A desperate letter from Planned Parenthood

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–My wife has worked as a pediatric nurse caring for children with severe physical and mental deficiencies for nearly a decade. On occasion I have visited her place of employment, and I’ve watched her reach through a maze of tubes and monitor wires to stroke an infant’s cheek or hand — often with more grace and compassion than that shown by the infant’s parents.

She rejoices with families who finally are able to take their children home, and she weeps with and grieves for other families when life ebbs from the children who have fought so courageously for it. Even if the children for whom she cares only live a few hours, they will have — at the very least — felt the gentle touch of love.

Imagine for a moment her bewilderment when she received a membership campaign letter from Planned Parenthood, an organization that champions “reproductive rights” — the choice to abort an unborn child because it will disrupt the lives of the two individuals responsible for its existence. She immediately responded to the letter asking to be removed from the organization’s mailing list.

Such items as this letter usually find their way to the trash can in swift fashion, but I asked her not to throw it away because the letter represents — better than any piece of literature I have ever read — just how I am perceived in today’s world.

The letter is like a football playbook that has fallen into the hands of the opposing team. Planned Parenthood wants to drive down the field and score with the American people. What are their plays? They might read something like this:

1. The outlandish accusation. All conservative Christians who agree with men like conservative commentator and president of Focus on the Family James Dobson are devils who detest personal liberty. Remind the public that if they don’t agree with these Christians, the Christians might just kill them. This play is intended to knock the opponent off-balance and is good for short yardage.

2. The negative label. If someone doesn’t agree with our liberal agenda, quickly declare that they are bigoted, uneducated, intolerant, extremist and hateful. While they spend time proving they aren’t, we’re still in business.

3. The financial redirect. Money is our real reason for killing these children. The more children we abort the more money we make. Since we can’t state our true feelings about money, always remember to say that we have the best interest of the women at heart. Remember that we are here to provide affordable reproductive planning and reduce the need for abortions. They’ll never catch on and you can keep running.

4. The “we care more than you.” If a Christian ever speaks to you about abortion, tell them that we are actually sparing the child from a life of rejection and hardship. Killing the child actually proves that we care more than they do.

5. The chicken little. Tell the public, “If these Christians succeed in outlawing abortion, the rest of our freedoms will be taken away by Christian Big Brother.” Simply put: the sky will fall.

6. The minority report. Tell the public that Christians who oppose abortion are a “fringe minority” and then overstate our level of support. Let’s say 80 — no, 90 — percent of Americans agree with us.

Planned Parenthood ran all six plays in the letter.

For example, I was surprised to read in the letter that Dobson is the leader of a “religious political extremist group” that has “invested millions to influence elections.”

Dobson, among the most articulate representatives of biblical family values today, is not an extremist. Nor is Pat Robertson, as the letter alleges. They are men who simply believe that God grants life and that the destruction of the unborn violates the most fundamental right of humanity and offends the Creator.

When my daughters were born, I opened my Bible to Psalm 139:14-16 and wrote their names, dates of birth, lengths and weights in the margin of the page. On numerous occasions I have returned to the passage to marvel at both the beauty of the text and its theological implications.

The psalmist, David, wrote of God’s intimate knowledge of his bones and kidneys and of his gentle care in “knitting” him together in his mother’s womb. God, he also wrote, had seen his “unformed substance” or, in Talmudic Hebrew, his “embryo.”

Most interestingly, God is described as having written in his book all the days ordained for the psalmist “before one of them came to be.” How much more does he care for those defenseless children unfortunate enough to be labeled “unintended pregnancies” by organizations such as Planned Parenthood?

Barrett Duke, of the research institute of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, references statistics indicating that more than 1.3 million abortions are performed each year in the United States mostly in the name of convenience.

Although Planned Parenthood claims to encourage “personal responsibility,” there is no greater irresponsible or self-centered action than the destruction of an “unintended” child.

Now, since I am a Christian who happens to believe that abortion should not occur, am I a member of an extremist group? No, I am not. According to Planned Parenthood, “All of these groups are politically astute, extremely well funded, and have a fanatical — often militant — approach to achieving their goals.”

“To some of these groups, this might mean bombing a clinic … blockading a door … harassing a patient … stalking a doctor,” the letter continues.

Such musings represent the desperate gasps of a wounded political and social agenda.

I have not advocated or participated in violence against clinics or doctors. I have not posted pictures of women entering abortion clinics on the Internet. I have never protested outside of a clinic. But I believe abortion is the destruction of a child made in the very image of God.

I, as a Christian, must promote — to borrow a phrase from President Bush — “a culture of life.” That means I must support abortion-alternative crisis pregnancy centers, laud abstinence until marriage as the only responsible method of family planning and pray that God will dissuade those in the abortion industry from killing what he has created.

I must also convince my brothers and sisters in Christ that we, as a church, are to be more than pro-birth. We must be pro-life and willing to accept the responsibility of caring for unwanted children.

If these actions earn me the titles of “fundamentalist,” “fanatic” and “radical,” then I will wear them as badges of honor.
Gregory Tomlin is news director at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

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