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Anti-abortion groups criticize Dobson

AP PhotoLeaders of four anti-abortion groups have accused Dr. James Dobson, founder of the Focus on the Family, of misrepresenting a Supreme Court decision that upheld a ban on a controversial abortion technique.
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DENVER ” In an unusual public dispute, Colorado Right to Life and other anti-abortion groups on Wednesday accused Focus on the Family founder James Dobson of misrepresenting a Supreme Court decision that upheld a ban on a controversial abortion procedure.

But the executive director of National Right to Life quickly came to Dobson’s defense, saying “we’re in total disagreement” with the criticism from the state group.

Colorado Right to Life and three other groups placed a full-page ad in Wednesday’s editions of The Gazette newspaper in Colorado Springs, home base for Dobson’s conservative Christian ministry, saying Dobson had wrongly characterized the court’s April ruling as a victory for abortion foes.

The ad said the ruling will actually encourage medical professionals to find “less shocking” methods than the procedure that doctors usually call dilation and extraction but opponents call partial-birth abortion.

“Dr. Dobson, you mislead Christians claiming this ruling will ‘protect children.’ The court granted no authority to save the life of even a single child,” the ad said. It concluded by asking Dobson to “please repent.”

Focus on the Family spokeswoman Carrie Gordon Earll said the group has no plans to change its position on the ruling.

“We continue to believe that while it’s not all of what we’re looking for, it is a step in the right direction on several levels,” she said.

Such a public dispute among anti-abortion groups is uncommon, said Corwin Smidt, a political scientist at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., and director of the Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics.

“I’m surprised. Normally there’s been a united front in terms of these groups saying ‘we want to eliminate abortion,”‘ he said.

The ad, coupled with the death of Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell, may signify a shift in the religious rights’ unity and direction, Smidt said.

“It could be you could still get a great deal of cohesion with the right in 2008. But right now, we’re witnessing more ferment, more uncertainty, among Evangelicals and the Christian right,” he said.

Gordon Earll said she was not disappointed by the criticism.

“From time to time, people disagree, and most certainly criticism is part of being in leadership,” she said. “We make the best decisions we can and move on.”

Brian Rohrbough, president of Colorado Right to Life and one of the signers of the ad, said the state group is not controlled by the National Right to Life and in fact predates it.

“From a foundational point of view, we both believe abortion is wrong,” he said. “From a practical point of view, no one should be claiming this (Supreme Court ruling) is a pro-life victory.”

Rohrbough is the father of Daniel Rohrbough, a Columbine High School student who was killed in the April 20, 1999, massacre.

The letter was also signed by the Rev. Tom Euteneuer, president of Human Life International; Flip Benham, director of Operation Rescue/Operation Save America; Judie Brown, president of American Life League; and Bob Enyart, pastor of Denver Bible Church.


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