The president of National Right to Life's Ohio affiliate, Mike Gonidakis of Ohio Right to Life, also opposed the ouster of Georgia Right to Life. He said the airing of differences over rape and incest exceptions was harmful to the anti-abortion movement and suggested it would be wiser to focus on approaches that have broader public support, such as restricting late-term abortions.
"I struggle when I hear members of the pro-life community argue about rape and incest exceptions," he said. "I'm not saying give up on it, but let's fight the battles we can win."
Michael New, a political science professor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, said the anti-abortion movement could be harmed if friction worsened between those favoring an incremental approach and those with an absolutist outlook. "The risk is that when elected officials see a lot of intense disagreement among like-minded groups, they tend to sit back and do nothing," rather than alienate one faction or the other, New said.
Internationally, the campaign to increase abortion access for wartime rape victims has made some progress. Political leaders in Britain, Norway and the Netherlands have supported it, as has U.N Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who last year endorsed "access to safe emergency contraception and services for the termination of pregnancies resulting from rape."
Twice during 2013, the U.N. Security Council — including the United States — passed resolutions calling for a full range of sexual and reproductive health services to be made available to women victimized by sexual violence.
Although the word "abortion" did not appear in the text of the resolutions, it was clear that the procedure was at issue, as evidenced in the opposition expressed by the Vatican's U.N. observer, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt.
"The death of innocent unborn children only visits further violence on women already in difficulty," he said.