By / Jun 1

On May 25, the city council of Lebanon, Ohio, voted to ban abortion in its city limits. By a vote of 6 to 0, the council approved a measure that immediately outlawed abortion and declared the abortion pill to be contraband. One member of the council resigned from her position in protest before the meeting. The city of Lebanon, located north of Cincinnati, has 20,000 residents.

How did it come about? 

The measure came about when Lebanon citizen Joshua Beckmann brought the idea before Councilman Doug Shope. Beckmann wanted to see Lebanon become a sanctuary city for the unborn, joining 27 other cities and towns in Texas and Nebraska that have passed similar ordinances, which move beyond a resolution to more enforceable measures. Shope worked with pro-life organizations Created Equal in Columbus, Ohio, and Right to Life of East Texas, who helped him draft the ordinance. 

Beckmann spoke at the council meeting, sharing his story of being born in India into the lowest caste and subsequently adopted by an American family. He praised his birth mother for giving him life in a country in which he said over 15.6 million babies were aborted in 2017. Lamenting the fact that an unborn child’s chance of being born into poverty can be used to justify abortion, Beckmann testified to the value of all life. He then shared his gratitude with the council members, praising them for passing the measure on behalf of the unborn. 

Currently there are no abortion clinics in Lebanon. The city’s mayor, Amy Brewer, spoke on the measure, saying, “We are clearly saying in our community we do not think it is in our best interest to open a clinic or a hospital that does abortions. We are elected to make decisions based on what’s good for our community today.”

What does it entail? 

Language of the ordinance states, “It shall be unlawful for any person to procure or perform an abortion of any type and at any stage of pregnancy in the city of Lebanon, Ohio,” and, “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly aid or abet an abortion that occurs in the city of Lebanon, Ohio.” The measure makes it clear that forms of oral contraceptives and birth control devices are not included in the definition of abortion. Also exempt are acts done with the intent to “save the life or preserve the health of an unborn child,” or, “remove a dead, unborn child whose death was caused by accidental miscarriage, “ or, “remove an ectopic pregnancy.” There is also a narrow exception for cases in which the mother’s life is at risk.

In addition to outlawing abortion procedures, the ordinance declares abortion-inducing medication to be contraband, including “mifepristone, misoprostol, and any drug or medication that is used to terminate the life of an unborn child.” 

A violation of the ordinance is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to six months in jail and no more than $1,000 in fines. The pregnant woman who seeks an abortion is exempt from prosecution. 


Allie Frazier, spokeswoman for Ohio Right to Life, issued a statement commending the city council of Lebanon for their efforts and expressing the hope that more cities across Ohio will follow their lead: 

Ohio Right to Life applauds the Lebanon City Council for taking a bold stand to protect the most vulnerable in their community. Through this vote, the people of Lebanon have made their voices abundantly clear: Planned Parenthood isn’t welcome in our city. Lebanon’s commitment to life demonstrates what we already know: Ohio is pro-life. The victimization of women and children through abortion has no place in our communities.

In another statement in response to the ordinance, Kersha Deibel, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast Ohio Region, said:

Abortion services are already extremely difficult to access for people in Ohio, but these efforts are part of an aggressive, nationwide anti-abortion agenda to do one thing—ban abortion outright. It’s reprehensible. We will do everything we can to continue providing safe, legal abortion to the people in Ohio who need it—no matter what.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio is prepared to mount a legal challenge to the ordinance, according to their legal director, Freda Levenson, who stated, “This hyper-local strategy is another attempt by anti-abortion extremists to stigmatize and ban abortion in Ohio, by whatever means necessary.”

Meanwhile, the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative reports that other cities in Ohio are in the process of attempting to pass similar measures. 

By / May 21

In this episode, Josh, Lindsay, and Brent discuss Dr. Moore resignation from the ERLC along with his move to Christianity Today, views on masks guidance, the latest on Israel and Hamas, Texas signing a six-week abortion ban, and SCOTUS taking up Mississippi case. Lindsay gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content including Jordan Wootten with “How do we make sense of modern culture? An interview with Carl Trueman about The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self,” Ethan and Michaela Holsteen with “The importance of the church when dealing with disability and grief: How one family leaned into community after their child’s diagnosis with Cri du chat Syndrome,” and Jared Kennedy with “3 subtle sins to warn your kids about: Any why it matters when wrestling with sexual temptation.”

ERLC Content


  1. Russell Moore to Join Christianity Today to Lead New Public Theology Project
  2. Onward.
  3. Mask guidance
  4. Latest on Israel and Hamas
  5. Texas governor signs into law bill banning abortions at six weeks
  6. SCOTUS takes up MS case


 Connect with us on Twitter


  • Brave by Faith: In this realistic yet positive book, renowned Bible teacher Alistair Begg examines the first seven chapters of Daniel to show us how to live bravely, confidently, and obediently in an increasingly secular society. | Find out more about this book at
  • Every person has dignity and potential. But did you know that nearly 1 in 3 American adults has a criminal record? To learn more and sign up for the virtual Second Chance month visit
By / Apr 30

On Monday the governor of Oklahoma signed into law a bill that bars most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Then on Tuesday, the governor of Idaho signed a similar bill that contains a “trigger provision,” meaning it won’t go into effect unless a federal appeals court somewhere in the country upholds similar fetal heartbeat legislation from another state. These are the latest abortion restrictions to be passed in the U.S. that impose a gestational ban (i.e., a law that prohibits abortion after a specific point in pregnancy). 

What is “fetal heartbeat” legislation?

Fetal heartbeat legislation attempts to ban abortions within a state after the point where the heartbeat can be detected. By use of an ultrasound, the heartbeat of a child in the womb can routinely be detected as early as six to seven weeks after conception (in the eighth or ninth week of pregnancy, since doctors typically date pregnancy two weeks before fertilization). The result is that such laws effectively ban almost all abortions after the first two months of pregancy. 

Why is fetal heartbeat used as the criteria?

In the Roe v. Wade (1973) decision, the Supreme Court acknowledged that states may have a compelling interest in protecting fetal life. States that pass such legislation argue they have a compelling interest in protecting the life of an unborn human individual who has a high probability of being born.

More than 90% of pregnancies survive the first trimester if cardiac activity is detected in the gestational sac, while nearly 90% of in vitro pregnancies do not survive the first trimester where cardiac activity is not detected in the gestational sac. Fetal heartbeat, therefore, has become a key medical predictor that an unborn human individual will, if protected, remain alive until birth.

Which states have passed fetal heartbeat legislation?

North Dakota became the first state to pass a fetal heartbeat law in 2013. Since then similar bills have passed in 12 other states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah. 

Such bills have failed to pass in eight states: Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, South Carolina, Texas, and Wyoming. They have also been proposed or re-proposed after failing to pass in 11 states: Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.

A federal Heartbeat Protection Act was also proposed in Congress in 2017 and again in 2021.

What is the status of the legislation in the four states that passed fetal heartbeat laws?

Currently, all fetal heartbeat laws passed before this week have been blocked by the courts. Pro-life activists, however, are hopeful the laws will be a challenge the Supreme Court takes up and uses to either overturn Roe v. Wade or allow for broader restrictions on abortion.

Addendum: Judge allows 48-hour abortion waiting period to resume in Tennessee 

Last week, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the injunction against Tennessee’s 48-hour waiting period to obtain an abortion. As The Tennessean reports, “The law, which is now back in effect, requires a woman seeking an abortion first to be counseled by a doctor in-person and then wait at least 48 hours before returning for an abortion.” Because of this ruling from the Sixth Circuit, the Tennessee law will now remain in effect while the state appeals District Judge Bernard A. Friedman’s October 2020 ruling that deemed the mandatory waiting period for abortions to be unconstitutional.

By / Feb 24

The ERLC’s public policy advocacy includes supporting good legislation while also opposing bills that are harmful to the common good. Jeff and Chelsea welcome their friend Katie Glenn from Americans United for Life to discuss how the promotion of justice for life-affirming laws requires both.

Guest Biography

Katie Glenn serves as Government Affairs Counsel at Americans United for Life. Her work to enact pro-life laws at the state and federal level includes writing and testifing on all of AUL’s issue areas across the United States. She is an associate editor of Defending Life 2020, and plays an integral role in AUL’s growing advocacy in Latin America. Prior to AUL, she worked with legislators, faith leaders, and religious institutions to protect religious freedom for all Americans, while traveling across the country to assist in the legislative process. She graduated with honors from Tulane University and earned her Juris Doctor from the University Of Florida Levin College Of Law.

Resources from the Conversation

By / Feb 3

As we step into a new year, as well as a new administration in Washington, D.C., we want to join together to discuss this important moment in the pro-life movement. We believe that the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case which will occur in January of 2023 will mark a significant moment in time for the pro-life movement. We have a powerful opportunity now to begin 2021 discussing the future of the pro-life movement and begin casting a vision for the next three years—what we are calling the “Road to Roe50”.

This panel first aired during the ERLC’s Evangelicals for Life conference on Thursday, January 28, 2021.

This episode was sponsored by The Good Book Company, publisher of Being the Bad Guy by Stephen McAlpine.

Guest Biographies

Denise Harle serves as senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom. Denise focuses her litigation efforts on defending the First Amendment freedoms of pro-life health care professionals and pregnancy resource centers. She also works to defend pro-life legislation around the nation. Since joining ADF, Harle took the primary role in drafting the briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court in NIFLA v. Becerra, resulting in a free speech victory for California pro-life pregnancy centers.

Steven Aden serves as Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel for Americans United for Life. Aden is an experienced litigator, having appeared in court against Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry dozens of times and appointed by the attorneys general of six states to defend pro-life laws securing numerous victories.

Resources from the Conversation

By / Feb 2

Preceding the Biden presidency and the 117th Congress, conversation grew about the future of a policy known as the Hyde Amendment. While Hyde is one of many similar legal provisions that aim to prevent the abortion industry from accessing federal taxpayer dollars, such as the Dornan, Helms, and Siljander Amendments, its history and purpose is unique. The Hyde Amendment is especially worth considering for those in search for a way forward for our polarized nation.

What is the Hyde Amendment?

Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, abortion clinics were able to charge Medicaid for abortions. Three years later in 1976, Congressman Henry Hyde, a Republican from Illinois, responded by introducing a budget rider on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) appropriations bill to prevent Medicaid from covering the cost of abortion. This rider alleviated taxpayers from being financially responsible for something millions found to be a grave moral wrong.

The congressman’s rider was added as an amendment then and later expanded to the Indian Health Service, Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This annual appropriations policy became known as the “Hyde Amendment.”

Why does the Hyde Amendment still matter today?

An appropriations rider is not a permanent federal statute. Because Rep. Hyde attached the policy as a “rider” to the appropriations bill, it was only applicable for the money appropriated that year. The Hyde Amendment must therefore be attached to appropriations bills each year to be effective.

Has the Hyde Amendment ever been controversial? 

The policy has sustained a handful of challenges, yet its resiliency over the decades remains remarkable and instructive. The recent opposition to the amendment is new in popularity, but not in kind.

Its most serious challenge came in the 1980 case of Harris v. McRae, when a pregnant Medicaid recipient sued HHS. The Supreme Court held 5-4 that a woman’s freedom of choice regarding abortion did not also guarantee “a constitutional entitlement to the financial resources to avail herself of the full range of protected choices.”

As for its resiliency, on Capitol Hill, the amendment has passed every Congress with bipartisan votes, annually, for 44 years. At the White House, as Joe Carter wrote in another recent ERLC explainer about Hyde, every president since 1976, of which there have been three from each party, has supported it:

President Carter endorsed it during its challenge before the Supreme Court. Presidents Reagan and Bush also supported it from 1981 to 1993. President Bill Clinton campaigned against it in 1992, but continued to sign a slightly modified version of the Hyde Amendment into law each year. President Bush also supported it for all eight years of his term in office. President Barack Obama even used similar language in an executive order relating to the Affordable Care Act.

Why is the Hyde Amendment controversial today?

The abortion lobby is in search of a larger goal by aiming to overturn this area of American consensus—that the federal government should not pay for something of such grave moral disagreement. That this simple proposition carries with it nearly half a century of bipartisan support and majority support in polls is of little consequence for a lobby intent on reshaping cultural views on the issue.

This is part of a long effort by the abortion lobby to change the debate. The lobby’s journey in defending abortion has moved, as Alexandra DeSanctis wrote in 2019 at The Washington Post, from, abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare,” to “abortion is healthcare,” to “shout your abortion.” If abortion is just like any other healthcare procedure, following the new argument, then Medicaid should cover it too. This, then, gives abortion proponets an opportunity to make an economic argument for those who this healthcare program covers.

Every person is made in the image of God and the United States has a responsibility to reflect that truth in its laws.

The pro-life community would do well to take note of the ambition of this conscience shaping endeavour and its affect on the policy debate. The pursuit of justice must include both conscience persuasion and legal redress. 

How should Christians think about this policy?

A 2016 report by the Charlotte Lozier Institute estimates that the Hyde Amendment saves 60,000 preborn lives each year. As Christians understand human dignity begins at the moment of conception (Psalm 139:13), the protection of preborn children is paramount.

While many Christians see the pro-life value of saving preborn children from the abortion industry, there is another critical purpose to Hyde and other amendments like it.

Central to a Christian’s understanding of government is that government exists to secure rights granted by God. One of these inalienable rights is the freedom of conscience, not to be infringed by the state. These amendments protect Americans from violating their consciences by preventing taxpayer dollars from funding the abortion industry.

Why is the conscience objection to abortion unique?

It’s not. The conscience protections that these amendments offer are not the only conscience protections that exist. There are several other federal provisions that protect citizens from violating their consciences. Those who believe war is immoral can become conscientious objectors and the ministerial exemption exists to allow religious entities to hire based on their religious convictions. Federal law allows for conscience protections in a wide range of situations. 

Why is the Hyde Amendment needed today?

The Hyde Amendment represents a line of demarcation in the abortion debates in Washington. Such lines of consensus can be a lifeline for a country of deepening divisions in many other areas. We recognize that many of our neighbors disagree with us on abortion, and this has fostered a robust debate and conversation on the value and dignity of human life.

Yet, in making the argument against the Hyde Amendment, the abortion lobby seeks to steamroll the consciences of their fellow citizens by placing the federal government in direct fiscal responsibility for abortion. The ERLC will continue to stand athwart such efforts.

Preventing taxpayer dollars from abortion protects consciences, saves lives, and respects the freedom of Americans to seek to persuade one another without state-sanctioned conscience intrusion. Every person is made in the image of God and the United States has a responsibility to reflect that truth in its laws.

ERLC public policy intern Jackson McNeece contributed to this article.

By / Jan 29

Every January the March for Life rally brings thousands of people to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to “end abortion by uniting, educating, and mobilizing pro-life people in the public square.” This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the “heightened pressures that law enforcement officers and others are currently facing in and around the Capitol,” the event organizers have made the rally virtual and are encouraging pro-lifers to join by watching the broadcast online

The event brings in around 250,000 attendees each year, including tens of thousands of evangelicals. (In 2016 the annual Evangelicals For Life Conference began to coincide with the March for Life.) But when the original March began in 1974, abortion was still considered a “Roman Catholic issue.” 

For example, prior to the 1970s, many Southern Baptists either took no position on abortion or were accepting of legal abortion under certain conditions. A poll conducted by the Baptist Sunday School Board in 1970 found that 70% of SBC pastors supported abortion to protect the mental or physical health of the mother, 64% supported abortion in cases of fetal deformity, and 71% in cases of rape. In 1971, the leadership of the Christian Life Commission (which was later renamed ERLC) even supported a resolution—which was later adopted at the SBC annual meeting—that called upon Southern Baptists to “work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.”

Fortunately, there were still some leaders within evangelicalism who understood the necessity of protecting life in the womb. Although thousands of people helped launch the movement, there are three leaders who during the 1970 and 1980s had a particularly important influence on getting evangelicals to embrace the pro-life cause. 

Harold O.J. Brown

When abortion became legal throughtout the U.S., Harold O.J. Brown, a Harvard-trained theologian, historian, and philosopher, was working as an associate editor at Christianity Today in 1972. As WORLD magazine notes, “On Jan. 21, 1973, he joined some members of the American Medical Association and the Christian Legal Society in New York to discuss abortion and a strategy to combat it. The next day, the high court handed down its Roe v. Wade decision. Brown hurried home to write his magazine’s lead editorial.” 

“This decision runs counter not merely to the moral teachings of Christianity through the ages but also to the moral sense of the American people,” wrote Brown in that editorial

Three years later Brown left the magazine and founded the Christian Action Council, the first major U.S. evangelical pro-life organization, and became a contributor to newly established journal, The Human Life Review. The Christian Action Council would later adopt the name “Care Net,” and become one of the major networks for pregnancy resource centers

When Brown died in 2007, Michael Kruger, now the president of the Charlotte campus of Reformed Theological Seminary, said that Brown’s “most central place of influence is rightly considered the pro-life movement. He not only anticipated the problem before abortion was legalized, but he has been one of the great organizers of actions to deal with the problem.” 

C. Everett Koop

One of the men who joined Brown in founding the Christian Action Council was Dr. C. Everett Koop. Koop was a pioneer in pediatric surgery who invented many of the anesthetic and surgical techniques that are now used on neonates and infants. In 1956 he established the nation’s first neonatal surgical intensive care unit, and became the first editor of the Journal of Pediatric Surgery when it was founded in 1966.

Early in his career he became convinced that “abortion amounted to taking a sacrosanct human life.” This lead him in 1975 to wrote The Right to Live; the Right to Die: Famous Pediatric Surgeon Speaks Out on Abortion and Mercy Killing. The influence of Brown is apparent in this book, observes Matthew S. Miller. “Koop evidently kept Brown’s articles close at hand as he put his own thoughts to paper,” says Miller, “He quotes from Brown more than from any other source (other than the Bible), often whole paragraphs at a time.” 

In his memoir Koop says, “I aimed the book primarily at Christian readers, as I sought to awaken the evangelical community to a vital moral issue they were choosing to ignore.” The 120-page treatise would sell over 100,000 copies in its first year of publication, and another 100,000 in the years that followed. 

Koop’s pro-life activism caught the attention of newly-elected president Ronald Reagan, who nominated Koop to be U.S. Surgeon General in March 1981. When Reagan published his 1984 book on abortion—the only book to be published by a U.S. President while in office—the original version included an essay by Koop titled “The Slide to Auschwitz.” 

Francis Schaeffer

In 1950, Koop removed the appendix of a young girl named Priscilla, which sparked a lifelong friendship with the girl’s father, Francis Schaeffer. A few years later, Schaeffer would leave the U.S. to set up the ministry organization called L’Abri (“The Shelter”) in Switzerland. Harold O.J. Brown brought Schaeffer back to the states to give a series of lectures in Boston, including at Harvard. These lectures lead to Schaeffer and his wife Edith becoming well-known figures within evangelicalism. 

After the Roe decision in 1973, Schaeffer took up the cause of opposing abortion. In 1979, he partnered with Koop on Whatever Happened to the Human Race?, a project that included a five-part film series, a book, an activist handbook, and an international lecture tour. 

“In Washington, D.C., the series was screened by prominent politicians and opinion makers; churches across the country showed the series to their congregations,” noted PBS. “Thousands of evangelicals heard Schaeffer’s message and became persuaded that they had a duty—indeed, a moral obligation—to set aside their long-standing aversion to politics and step into the political arena.”

“It is difficult to overestimate the incredible impact that Francis Schaeffer and Dr. C. Everett Koop made on evangelical Christians in the latter third of the 20th century,” said Richard Land, former president of ERLC. “Everyone devoted to the pro-life cause owes an incalculable debt of gratitude to Francis Schaeffer and to Dr. C. Everett Koop.”