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Stand for Life launches with ERLC help

NASHVILLE (BP) — A new organization that grew out of an alliance of more than 100 pro-life groups has launched with a Southern Baptist entity providing a vital contribution.

Stand for Life became a separate organization at the start of 2023 with the purpose of uniting the pro-life movement to establish a culture that affirms every human being, including the preborn child, is made in the image of God. It also seeks to strengthen support for women who experience unexpected pregnancies.

The new organization will hold a private meeting of pro-life organizations Jan. 18-19 in Washington, D.C., in a change from its original plan to host a national conference on those dates.

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) provided leadership, as well as logistical and financial support, for the collection of pro-life groups in the early years before Stand for Life’s transition to an independent organization.

With the change, Elizabeth Graham, previously the ERLC’s vice president of operations and life initiatives, has become Stand for Life’s chief executive officer. Others who formerly worked in support of Stand for Life as ERLC staff members have also moved to the new organization.

Elizabeth Graham, previously the ERLC’s vice president of operations and life initiatives, addresses messengers to the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim. Graham recently became the CEO of Stand for Life, a new pro-life organization. BP file photo

In addition to the ERLC, Stand for Life’s “collective partners” are Alliance Defending Freedom, Embrace Grace, Heartbeat International, Human Coalition, Lifeline Children’s Services, Live Action and Save the Storks.

“Stand for Life has been years in the making, and we are excited it is launching now at this important moment in history,” Graham said in comments emailed to Baptist Press.

“We believe it is critical that we take a holistic view of what it means to be pro-life, created in the image of God, which means that every single life is cared for because they have inherent dignity, value and worth before and after birth,” she said. “We want to make abortion unthinkable and unnecessary in the hearts and minds of our culture, but we have to do that with love, compassion, understanding, empathy, engagement and tangible support.”

She “knew this was the next step God was calling me to take” when Stand for Life Founder Lauren McAfee approached her about helping start the alliance, Graham said. “I’ve always been passionate about cultivating a society that embraces a holistic view of life and affirms the inherent value of the preborn.

“The ERLC has been incredibly supportive of this next chapter in my life, and it’s been invaluable to the launch of Stand for Life as its own nonprofit – one that is already unifying, encouraging and equipping more than 100 pro-life organizations and leaders,” she said.

ERLC President Brent Leatherwood told BP, “When this idea was conceived several years ago within the ERLC, few could have imagined how it would blossom. I’m grateful for my former colleagues who helped take it from an idea to an initiative, and I am especially grateful for Elizabeth Graham because her leadership has now taken it to the next level – institution.

“Her skillset and gifting is exactly what is needed to lead Stand for Life into this new season,” he said by email. “And it is all the more appropriate as the pro-life movement begins a new chapter in the post-Roe moment. Elizabeth’s passion for saving lives, serving mothers and securing a better future for families is needed now as much as ever.”

Leatherwood added: “While the ERLC’s pro-life advocacy on behalf of our churches will continue, I can say, with confidence, it has only been enhanced by the tireless work of Elizabeth and her incredible team that is now charting their own path at Stand for Life.”

Stand for Life had planned a national conference on the occasion of what would have been the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. The U.S. Supreme Court overruled that 1973 opinion in June of last year, however, and returned the regulation of abortion to the states.

Stand for Life decided not to hold a public conference following “further consideration of our overall goals and objectives,” the organization said in a December statement.

“However, we will still create high-quality educational content from each of the scheduled speakers for release throughout the year,” according to Stand for Life’s statement. “It is our hope that these resources will better inform and inspire exponentially more people than we could have reached through a public gathering.”

Stand for Life will continue to endeavor for the church “to be the most relevant, safe and welcoming place for women and their preborn children in their time of need,” it said.

The new organization has produced a six-week study for churches on the image of God and human dignity. The yet-to-be-released curriculum will be for children, youth and adults.

A Stand for Life tour was held at a church and five seminary or university campuses in October and November to assist churches in serving women and their preborn children, to promote unity in the pro-life movement and to build momentum toward the planned conference.