Matt C. Abbott
More pro-life (dis)unity: Is Randall Terry helping the pro-life movement?
By Matt C. Abbott
February 6, 2010

He's baaaaack. Actually, he's been back for a while now. Randall Terry, I mean.

Two things are certain regarding Terry: 1) He makes the news and 2) he doesn't have many supporters among pro-life leaders.

The first "thing" isn't necessarily a bad one. As long as Terry is in the news, abortion is in the news — and that's a good thing. As for the second "thing," it seems it has mainly to do with Terry's personality and methodology. He was heavily involved in the rescue movement back in the day, and from that time up until now, he's been quite the lightning rod.

I don't know Terry personally. In fact, I've never talked or corresponded with him. I did see him briefly some years ago at the March for Life, but that's it. Thus, I can judge only his news-making actions. Do such publicity stunts help the movement? I may get heat for saying this, but...I have mixed feelings about it. I don't necessarily agree with everything Terry has said or done, and yet, I can say the same thing about other pro-lifers. And they can say the same about me.

But Gregg Cunningham of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (warning: CBR's Web site features graphic material — not for the squeamish) is clear: He's no fan of Terry. In a recent press release, he even dared Terry to sue CBR.

Wrote Cunningham (excerpted; click here for the full release):

    'You chide me for not 'picking up the phone' to 'check the facts' before condemning your attempt to minimize the murder of George Tiller but what facts would have rebutted published newspaper photos of you displaying signs which argued that Scott Roeder's motives in killing George Tiller made his crime less than murder?

    'When you tell The New York Times (January 28, 2010, 'Doctor's Killer Puts Abortion on the Stand') that you are not 'condemning Mr. Roeder's actions,' you are expressing support for violence against abortionists.

    'When you tell The Wichita Eagle (January 30, 2010, 'Reactions to the Scott Roeder verdict from both sides of abortion debate') that 'If we condemn him [Roeder] too severely it undermines the premise of everything we stand for,' you are expressing support for violence against abortionists.

    'When you issue a press release (January 25, 2010) in which you say it is 'a farce' to 'pretend that this trial has nothing to do with child-killing by abortion,' you are suggesting that Mr. Roeder's murder of George Tiller was justified by George Tiller's abortion practice and you are expressing support for violence against abortionists....

    'When you argue that Scott Roeder's motivation for killing George Tiller entitles him to a slap-on-the-wrist sentence of less than five years in prison (the minimum sentence for voluntary manslaughter under Kansas law) you are trivializing premeditated murder and expressing support for violence against abortionists.

    'Against this background, your press conference claim that 'I don't even agree with what Scott Roeder did' is absurd. It is the sort of self-serving fig leaf which thoughtful listeners will rightly reject. You are either being intentionally deceptive or wildly negligent.

    'You have every right to bring discredit upon yourself and the organization you represent. But when your self-promotional excesses discredit the entire pro-life movement with reckless theatrics, it would be irresponsible for the rest of us to signal indifference, or worse, agreement, by our collective silence.

    'When you attempt to rationalize, justify, or minimize violence against abortionists, you don't speak for those of us who condemn anarchy without equivocation. Be assured that when you jeopardize the fragile progress we have all worked so hard to achieve, we will anathematize and isolate you.

    'There is much more I could say but to the extent that one believer can properly exempt another from the prohibition against lawsuits found in 1 Corinthians 6:1-8, I do so with this rebuttal. Sue me. ...'

Terry shot back (excerpted; click here for the full release):

    'Mr. Gregg Cunningham's articulate passion in his latest press release against me is admirable; however, passion and articulation are not substitutes for truth and logic. For the pro-life leaders and activists reading this, using Mr. Cunningham's words — and his silence — I will demonstrate that his foundation and conclusions are irreparably flawed to the point of absurdity; he turns his back on the babies and the Laws of God. You be the judge. I begin.

    'I declare — without equivocation — that God made the Laws of heaven and earth, and that innocent blood cries to Him from the ground for justice. (See Genesis 4: 9-11, 9: 6, Psalm 106: 37-42) When the blood of fifty million babies is crying to God from our sewers and landfills, it violently upends the equilibrium of the world. These unpunished crimes release forces of evil and bloodshed. As the Scriptures teach: God is not mocked; we reap what we sow. (See Galatians 6:7, 8)

    'I say again — without equivocation — that child killing itself is the vile, bloody fountain from which Tiller's death sprung. I said in my press release: '...we must not pretend that there is no connection between Mr. Tiller's shedding of innocent blood and Scott Roeder's act of violence against him...' I went on to say that Mr. Roeder deserved a fair trial, which would include the jury hearing how Tiller killed these innocent babies, mutilating their bodies, etc. Roeder's motive was a valid point of law that should have been brought before the jury.

    'But Mr. Cunningham and his Center for Bioethical Reform reject any connection between the babies Tiller murdered, and his slaying: (Feb. 1) ... CBR also applauded the conviction of Scott Roeder for the murder of abortionist George Tiller...(Feb. 2) CBR categorically condemns Mr. Terry's suggestion that any motive could have justified Mr. Roeder's murder of 'Dr.' Tiller.'

    'Mr. Cunningham's words resemble those of the arch child-killers, the N.O.W: 'The National Organization for Women commends the jury in the Scott Roeder trial for its swift guilty verdict and for not being fooled by the outrageous defense claim of justifiable terrorism.' When he sounds like baby-killers, something might be wrong.

    'But far worse — and take warning, pro-life Christian, for we are all being weighed in the balance at this moment — Mr. Cunningham dismisses the 'law of blood' laid down by God Himself. He scoffs: 'When you issue a press release in which you quote scripture which says in reference to George Tiller's murder, 'For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning' and that 'the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous' and that 'the Lord our God will bring other destructions upon them' and add 'their innocent blood cries to God ... for vengeance,' you are expressing support for violence against abortionists.'

    'No, I am not. But I am declaring — without fear of repercussion from men or angels — my support for the Laws of heaven, including the law of sowing and reaping. Does Mr. Cunningham deny sowing and reaping? Does he deny that the blood of babies cries out to God? Or is [he] too timid and politically correct to say....'

Ah, dueling press releases. How's that for pro-life unity?

I won't be surprised if I receive — and agree with — e-mails from (pro-life) opponents and supporters of Terry. Certain pro-lifers might even be critical of me for supporting him, for opposing him, or for just writing about the controversy.

Well, as they goes with the territory.

Catholic readers may be interested in the Boston Catholic Journal. Check it out.

© Matt C. Abbott


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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