Danedri Herbert, op-ed about Kansans for Life in KC Star – “Kansans for Life puts dollars and power over principle”

Published December 4, 2012.  Link to original article at Star.

Dec. 4

Danedri Herbert

Special to The Star

Kansans for Life is not interested solely in the life issue anymore, at least that’s how it appears from this back bench.

First, a little background: I am pro-life and I always have been.

When I was in junior high, my parents would give me a few bucks to go to the Johnson County Fair. While a significant portion of that allowance went to funnel cakes and carnival rides, some of it always found its way into the collection bowl at the Kansans for Life exhibit. When I voted for the first time at the age of 18, I carried Kansans for Life’s endorsements into the ballot box with me.

I’ll not do that again because the group appears to be more interested in power and control than defending unborn children.

My first clue should’ve been back in 2010, when Kansans for Life endorsed then Rep. Todd Tiahrt over then-Rep. Jerry Moran for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Both men boasted pro-life voting records, but Tiahrt won the group’s sole endorsement.

In a race in which there was little light between the two candidates, I based my vote for Tiahrt on Kansans for Life’s recommendation. Though Moran won the race, Tiahrt carried Johnson County, I believe in part, thanks to Kansans for Life.

Tiahrt was a more active member of the political group, so the endorsement was understandable.

What pro-life activists shouldn’t forgive, however, are the Kansans for Life political action committees’ actions during the August Republican primary. Specifically, the organization broke from its tradition of dual endorsements when two or more candidates were pro-life and from endorsing pro-life incumbents over newcomers. A break with tradition isn’t cause for serious debate within the pro-life movement, but what occurred next is:

Kansans for Life’s political action committee made robocalls informing voters that every candidate without the group’s endorsement was not pro-life. In many cases, the statements were false and slanderous.

On a personal note, my father was one example, but there are many others. For example, consider Rep. Trent LeDoux.

LeDoux is a Holton Republican who lost his re-election campaign in the August primary. LeDoux was a co-sponsor of personhood legislation that would’ve given unborn babies the same constitutional rights as any Kansan.

He is pro-life, but the personhood legislation was not Kansans for Life’s approach to the cause, according to Mary Kay Culp, the organization’s executive director.

“Strategically, we don’t agree with it,” Culp told the Topeka Capitol Journal in July.

For breaking with the group on a very pro-life piece of legislation, LeDoux was branded in those robocalls as not pro-life.

That’s simply not true.

But this is what Kansans for Life did across the state of Kansas last summer, and we in the pro-life movement should not let them get away with it in the future.

I have no doubt the candidates the group endorsed were pro-life, but an organization with such a righteous cause should not advance itself by damaging the reputations of people with impeccable pro-life credentials.

Writing this column makes me physically ill because I am willing to sacrifice my life, my money and my sacred honor for this cause.

In fact, I once called Kansans for Life asking to volunteer my time, but I was told by group officials that I do not possess the right “disposition” to assist in the cause.

I ask too many questions. I wanted to know why the organization wanted my money, but never my time.

I have come to believe Kansas for Life wants my money and not my time because the group wants power. I will not be controlled, and neither should you, dear pro-life activists. You are free to determine on your own which candidates are pro-life.

As for your money, Rep. LeDoux has a suggestion: He is now giving his extra pennies to a crisis pregnancy group in his rural area.

“Personally, I will be sending my money to organizations that make a difference in the lives of people who are dealing with these issues,” LeDoux said. “Organizations like that don’t sell their souls for dollars.

“They focus instead on helping people. To me, that’s much more important.”

Freelance columnist Danedri Herbert writes in this space once a month.