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Editor’s note: In an effort to help clarify the ongoing disagreement about the direction of the pro-life movement in Alaska, we asked Jim Minnery, of Alaska Family Action, and Pat Martin, of Alaska Right to Life, to explain why their organizations are at odds when it comes to advancing pro-life protections. The following was written by Jim Minnery. Click here to read Martin’s column.

For a moment in time, Alaskan physicians had to notify parents before performing an abortion on a minor. It was an incremental but important step we took in 2010 to protect parental rights and save unborn lives.

With more than 90,000 Alaskans supporting the effort, we became the first and only state to pass a parental involvement law through the initiative process. Ultimately, as expected, the Alaska Supreme Court, one of the most liberal in the country, threw out the will of the people and declared it unconstitutional.

During that brief time, however, when parents maintained their God-given right to oversee the health care of their minor children, there was a roughly 30% decrease in abortions on minors. It turns out that when parents and 15-year-olds talk through such a complicated and heart wrenching matters, young pre-born babies have a better shot at taking their first breath.

“…we do not endorse the all-or-nothing approach that Alaska Right to Life has engaged in for so long with so few results.”

Today, there are 10-year old Alaskans walking around in the warm August air. Maybe they just finished a shortened little league season or went dip-netting with their grandparents. They’re now preparing for third grade. These precious lives, each made in the image of Almighty God, were worth standing up for. They are living, breathing case studies of why Alaska Family Action has embraced an incrementalist approach to the most important civil rights issue of our time – protecting unborn lives from the horror of being aborted.

The number one thing that separates Alaska Family Action (AFA) from Alaska Right to Life (AKRTL) on the issue of abortion is that we firmly believe every life is priceless and is worth saving. We are not in the public policy arena to bloviate, pontificate or simply to agitate. We are called, as Proverbs 24:11 implores, to “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.”

While we absolutely and unapologetically support ending abortion legally and culturally, we do not endorse the all-or-nothing approach that Alaska Right to Life has engaged in for so long with so few results. There is a place for some of their efforts but impacting public policy is not one of them.

When it comes to actual policy, you have to promote the good as well as amend the bad.

Pat Martin, AKRTL’s current leader, has done his absolute best to alienate nearly every legislator in both chambers and on both sides of the political aisle. He has gone out of his way to castigate and disparage pro-life elected officials in a merciless fashion that has done more damage to our movement than any pro-choice legislator I have ever known. This year, he went so far as to say that Rep. David Eastman is the ONLY pro-life legislator in office. All the others are pro-choice. Think about that. I believe that statement is unhinged.

The call and cry for immediate abolition of abortion by AKRTL is certainly a necessary component of an overall strategy to move the ball toward the finish line. Life at Conception bills, although not politically achievable now in Alaska, are important reminders about how serious the issue is we are addressing.

A problem develops, however, when they are not just throwing Hail Marys but throwing punches at their teammates. Two current candidates up for election on Tuesday walking in lock step with Martin’s AKRTL are David Eastman and Christopher Kurka. AFA is opposing both and has endorsed their opponents, Jesse Sumner and Lynn Gattis, respectively.

Eastman and Kurka have opposed incremental approaches to protect unborn Alaskans every chance they’ve had. In their view, if you can’t save every person in a sinking ship, you let it sink. And you attack those who are going in to load people on the life raft. Simply put, that is not a prudent strategy to advance the pro-life cause. Prudence, according to C.S. Lewis, “means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it.”

When it comes to actual policy, you have to promote the good as well as amend the bad. The perfect good should not get in the way of the greatest good possible. Onward toward more victories.

The writer is president of Alaska Family Action.

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the Alaska Watchman.

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OPINION: Alaska Right to Life’s ‘all or nothing approach’ is ineffective

Jim Minnery
A lifelong Alaskan, Jim Minnery has served as the executive director of Alaska Family Council since its inception in 2006.