Last week, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) held its annual meeting in Phoenix. If you’ve been following the news, you might be forgiven for thinking that Southern Baptists only addressed two topics last week: renewing our commitment to evangelism and the much-discussed resolution denouncing the “alt-right” and other forms of white supremacy. But as is the case with every annual meeting, far more happened than the bits that were emphasized by the media. One resolution in particular is worth noting, even though it has unfortunately garnered little attention outside the halls of the SBC annual meeting.
On Tuesday afternoon, Southern Baptists unanimously adopted a resolution calling for the defunding and investigation of Planned Parenthood. The resolution’s adoption was greeted with sustained applause and even a few cheers from the messengers. It was an important moment that demonstrates how committed the SBC has become to the sanctity of human life and the pro-life cause in the public square.
Like many Protestant denominations, Southern Baptists were ambivalent about abortion in the early days following Roe v. Wade. We even adopted several resolutions in the 1970s that affirmed the sanctity of human life while also acknowledging a woman’s right to have an abortion. But over the course of a decade, a growing number of Baptist pastors and laypeople became convinced that pre-born life is just as sacred as life after birth; therefore, at least most abortions constitute the murder of a human being created in God’s image. Countless Southern Baptists became active in the pro-life cause at the local level and many pastors and other denominational leaders became public spokespersons for the sanctity of human life.
Since 1980, Southern Baptists have adopted more than 40 resolutions that speak to the issue of abortion on some level, and at least seventeen resolutions focus primarily on the issue. Building on a consistent track record of pro-life advocacy, it was a good and God-honoring moment when Southern Baptists went on the record calling for the defunding and investigation of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States. The resolution mentions several reasons Planned Parenthood should be defunded and investigated.
- Planned Parenthood is responsible for over 300,000 abortions per year, and the number has grown in recent years
- Though the organization provides some legitimate healthcare services, such as cancer screenings, Planned Parenthood is primarily an abortion mill that generates considerable profits and receives significant funding from the federal government
- For two years, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) has been producing undercover videos that expose Planned Parenthood staff engaging in illegal practices such as harvesting fetal tissue and organs for profit
- The abortion industry has attempted to have CMP censured and has brought numerous lawsuits against the organization, despite the fact no credible evidence CMP has done anything except expose the actual words and actions of Planned Parenthood employees
- Both the U.S. House of Representatives Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives and the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee have made criminal referrals to the Department of Justice and the FBI related to illegal activities conducted by Planned Parenthood
- The House of Representatives voted to approve H.R. 3134, Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015, though the legislation has languished and Planned Parenthood has continued to receive federal funding
In response to these facts, Southern Baptists resolved to do the following:
- Reaffirm our commitment to the sanctity of human life
- Denounce the “immoral agenda and practices” of Planned Parenthood and its affiliates
- Urge Congress “to defund Planned Parenthood immediately and completely of all federal government support and that all state and local government funding that supports Planned Parenthood be withdrawn immediately and permanently”
- Urge the Department of Justice “to pursue criminal charges against Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates for their use of illegal abortion methods, trafficking in and profiting from the harvesting of unborn babies’ tissues and organs, and any other actions that may be in violation of federal law”
- Commend the ERLC for prioritizing the defunding of Planned Parenthood and tasked ERLC with distributing a copy of the resolution to the appropriate government leaders
The sanctity of all human life, including pre-born life, remains the single most pressing social justice issue of our day. Praise God that Southern Baptists are on the record calling for the defunding and investigation of Planned Parenthood, an organization that is at the very center of the abortion industry. If you want to know more about Planned Parenthood, including the recent controversies with the Center for Medical Progress, check out the following links:
- 10 Numbers You Should Know about Planned Parenthood
- 5 Facts about Planned Parenthood’s Congressional Testimony
- 9 Things You Should Know about Planned Parenthood Founder Margaret Sanger
- 10 Reasons Taxpayers Should Defund Planned Parenthood
- Planned Parenthood’s Most Misleading Statistic
- Why It’s So Difficult to Defund Planned Parenthood
The ERLC continues to make the pro-life cause a central plank of its Christian witness in the public square. Make plans now to join the ERLC and Focus on the Family for the Evangelicals for Life Conference in Washington, D.C., this coming January 18–20, 2018.