- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 23, 2007

DENVER (AP) — Pro-life leaders are accusing one of their own, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, of misrepresenting a Supreme Court decision that upheld a ban on partial-birth abortion.

In a full-page ad in yesterday’s editions of the Gazette newspaper in Colorado Springs, the heads of four pro-life groups and a leading Denver minister said Mr. Dobson wrongly characterized the court’s April ruling as a victory for abortion foes. The ad said the ruling will encourage medical professionals to find “less shocking” methods to perform late-term abortions.

“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, concluding by asking Mr. Dobson to “please repent.”

Carrie Gordon Earll, a spokeswoman for Mr. Dobson’s Colorado Springs-based ministry, said the group has no plans to change its position on the Supreme Court ruling.

“It is a step in the right direction on several levels,” she told the Associated Press.

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.”

The letter was signed by Brian Rohrbough, president of Colorado Right to Life; 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.

Mr. Rohrbough said he and other signers contacted Focus on the Family before the ad ran in hopes that the organization would change its position, but it did not.

After that, “we felt obligated to make [the letter] public,” he said.

Mrs. Gordon Earll said Focus on the Family had received a copy of the letter in advance but she was not aware of any phone calls or other conversations.

Such a public dispute among pro-life 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.

“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.

Mr. Dobson founded Focus on the Family in Arcadia, Calif., in 1977. It has grown to a 1,300-employee operation based in Colorado Springs, and says its radio shows and publications reach more than 200 million people worldwide.

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