Open Letter to Dr. James Dobson


Dobson Thanks God for Brutally Wicked Ruling

High Court Creates New Partial Birth Abortion Technique
Focus on the Family Makes False Claims About PBA Ruling

We published this letter as full-page advertisements
in Human Events, the Washington Times, Colorado Springs Gazette,
Birmingham News, and other leading newspapers around the country
targeting the headquarter cities of specific leaders and ministries.
(Related: See our 2017 open letter to Trump in the Times.)

An Open Letter to Dr. James Dobson,

Signers include:

  • Brian Rohrbough, Colorado Right To Life (later, founding president, American RTL)
  • Rev. Tom Euteneuer, president, Human Life International
  • Flip Benham, director, Operation Rescue / O.S.A.
  • Judie Brown, president, American Life League
  • Ambassador Alan Keyes, Renew America

Dr. Dobson, we the undersigned grieve at your celebration of one of the most barbaric opinions ever issued by an American court. We plead with you to correct your misrep­resentation of the Gonzales v. Carhart Supreme Court ruling. You have led many people to trust in Jesus Christ, so it is with love and great sadness that we admonish you.

You wrote at that you applaud the "pro-life Justices" nominated to the court by our pro-life presidents. Focus on the Family stated, "the Supreme Court has affirmed the value of human life." But actually, these Justices concur optimist­ically on page 30 that, "The medical prof­ession [abortionists] may find different and less shocking methods to abort the fetus..." It is false for Focus on the Family to claim this ruling has any concern for the child; the Justices' real concern is to improve the public-relations image of the abortionist (please see for the ruling itself, and see our excerpts here).

The Justices you called "pro-life" did not "affirm" the life of the unborn but upheld a mere "regulatory" law "under the Commerce Clause" (p. 36). These Justices you misrepre­sent as "pro-life" actually suggest other ways for abortionists to kill the fully intact, late-term child to comply with their regulation, such as "an injection that kills the fetus" (p. 34). Dr. Dobson, imagine the horror yet to come now that our greatest Christian leaders are willing to call good evil, and evil good. Throughout the ruling, Justices Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito concur that both the partial-birth abortion (PBA) ban, and their ruling, allow the abor­tionist to deliver a late-term baby all the way up to the navel and then kill him (especially pp. 17-26). To actually violate this regulation (p. 17) "requires the fetus to be delivered until... any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother'" as in a standard breech (feet-first) abortion.

You "thank God for this victory that affirms the value of human life," but this vulgar ruling actually instructs on how to perform just another form of partial-birth abortion, just not "past the navel." And you celebrate this even though it affirms causing "the fetus to tear apart" (p. 4). The Justices build upon the late-term abortion procedure called dilation and evacuation, which this ruling repeatedly up­holds as remaining legal, stating (p. 21) that "D&E will often involve a physician pulling a ‘substantial portion' of a still living fetus, say, an arm or leg, into the [birth canal] prior to the death of the fetus." Then for the purpose of this current opinion, Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito, regarding a still living unborn child, ruled that (p. 22) "the removal of a small portion [‘say, an arm or leg'] of the fetus is not prohibited" and that's after the baby is pulled outside the mother as far as to his bellybutton (p. 22).

False Claims from Focus

Dr. Dobson, you mislead Christians claiming this ruling will "protect children." The court granted no authority to save the life of even a single child. You wrongly assert that this ruling finds, "no constitutional right to slay a healthy, nearly born baby by stabbing it in the back of the head and vacuuming out its brains, all without even anesthetizing the child." In truth, the "pro-life Justices" indicate repeatedly the abortionist can still do exactly that. The ruling even permits a textbook partial-birth abortion, if for example the mother is over "dilate[d]" (p. 24) and the baby, by "inadvertence," is delivered up to the neck as in typical PBA. Then the abortionist can kill him by "intact D&E" (p. 24), i.e., by partial-birth abortion, exactly in the cruel manner you have just described. An abortionist only needs to maintain that his original "intent" was to deliver the baby up to the navel before killing him. "If a living fetus is delivered past the critical point [the belly­button] by accident or inadvertence [and then killed] no crime has occurred" (p. 18).

Some of us learned that Focus on the Family staff was falsely informing supporters that this PBA ban has outlawed abortions in the third trimester, so we recorded our own call to 800-A-FAMILY, and posted online that call with Susan from your correspond­ence depart­ment. She told us that with this PBA ruling, "The U.S. Supreme Court made it illegal for women to have an abortion in the last trimester." Online at, we also document other pro-life media outlets misrep­resenting this vicious ruling. Following your example, many national ministries have spent years using the PBA ban to motivate financial donations, all the while misrepre­senting the legal effect of the ban. Today millions of Christians, including your own staff, have been deceived. As a member of the Evangelical Council For Financial Account­ability, Focus on the Family commits to adhere to the ECFA's Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship, which require at "7.1 Truth­fulness in Communication: All representations of fact... must be current, complete, and accu­rate. There must be no material... exag­ger­ations of fact or use of misleading... com­mun­i­cation which would tend to create a false impression or misunderstanding." Yet the court explicitly stated the PBA ban "does not on its face impose a substantial obstacle" to "late-term" abortion (p. 26). And since this ban cannot prevent a single abortion, of course, it imposes no obstacle, and neither does it "protect children" (your words) or ban "abortion in the last trimester" (words offered by some of your staff).

As the founder of Focus on the Family, you are responsible for the truth of your organiza­tion's statements. The truth is, there is nothing new with this ruling that is good, no precedent, no defense of life, only brutality and death.

More Wicked than Roe

Some pro-life leaders even admitted this ban would not save lives but that it would "keep the issue in the news," as your V.P. of Public Policy Tom Minnery has said. Others misrepre­sent excerpts from the ruling that sound en­courag­ing, e.g., "The government may... show its profound respect for the life within the woman" (p. 27). The Justices re­print this lip-service from the Casey ruling of 15 years earlier, but they show no such respect.

This wicked ruling trivializes the dreadful account of killing a child whose arms and legs are wiggling outside the mother, callously comparing our revulsion to our reaction to any medi­cal procedure, like being squeamish over getting stitches. The Justices quote (pp. 8-9) a sympathetic nurse and then an abortionist. "The baby's little fingers were clasping... his little feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors in the back of his head... the baby's arms jerked out..." Then from the abortionist: "For the staff to have to deal with a fetus that has ‘some viability to it, some movement of limbs, [is] always a difficult situation.'" And with grave wicked­ness, the "pro-life Justices" observe (p. 29): "some doctors may prefer not to disclose precise details of the means that will be used... Any number of patients facing imminent surgical procedures would prefer not to hear all details, lest the usual anxiety... become the more intense. This is likely the case with the abortion procedures here in issue."

Dr. Dobson, the court, including Roberts and Alito, trivializes the grotesque particulars of causing "the fetus to tear apart" (p. 4) by comparing that to getting queasy by talk of incisions, and you "applaud the court." You should be appalled.

Focus on the Family and many ministries celebrate this wicked ruling to justify the fifteen years of wasted effort. Pro-lifers gave tens of millions of dollars to the movement responding to countless fundraising pleas that mention the PBA ban. A major pro-life fund­raising firm told Colorado Right To Life's V.P. Leslie Hanks, "The PBA script gets the best results."

America has killed twenty million children during this long distraction, all in pursuit of a ban that from the beginning Never Had The Authority To Prevent Even A Single Abortion. Dr. Dobson, you and these other leaders needed to warn Christians of all this, but instead you joined together in calling evil good. Please stop foisting onto the church the falsehood that this gruesome ruling will "protect children." This decision, to use your word, is more "Naziesque" than the PBA it regulates.

This wicked ruling does not even prohibit aborting partially born children. It is not a ban, but a partial-birth abortion manual. These "pro-life Justices" give instructions on what can be called Navel Birth Abortion, only a four-inch variation from a textbook PBA. Steps from the ruling:

1) The abortionist may partially deliver the unborn child all the way to the bellybutton, but not "past the navel."
2) Then "a leg might be ripped off," etc. to "kill the fetus."
3) Or alternatively, "find... less shocking methods to abort..."

What a mockery of the goodwill of rank-and-file pro-lifers.

Dr. Dobson, in celebrating this evil ruling, you used the word "brutally" regarding PBA. The ruling itself speaks of brutality, but in the exact opposite sense that you used it. The Justices raise the likelihood that with this ruling, the fetus faces greater brutality. On page 30, the Justices note the objection "that the standard D&E is in some respects as brutal, if not more, than the intact D&E [PBA]." That is, standard late-term D&E abortion appears to be more cruel than PBA. And the Justices do not rebut that claim. Their interest is not to protect children, but to pro­mote the "integrity and ethics" (p. 27) of late-term abortion. The concern of these "pro-life Justices" has nothing to do with the brutal­ity against the child, but with improving "the public's perception" (p. 30) of late-term abor­tion. Focus on the Family should not hide this truth.

Incrementalism is fine; compromised incre­mentalism violates God's enduring command, Do not murder. When you compromise on this fundamental law, you undermine the pro-life goal of re-establishing the personhood of the child, and you cannot possibly foresee all the negative consequences. And now these kids will suffer more horrifically with this ruling than before, as we congratulate ourselves.

The court ruling you rejoice over, Dr. Dobson, results in the legal preference for "reasonable alternative procedures" (p. 33) for killing "late-term" children. These reason­able alternatives include "a leg might be ripped off the fetus," "friction causes the fetus to tear apart," "evacuating the fetus piece by piece continues," "10 to 15 passes with the forceps," "ripping it apart," "dismemberment" (pp. 4-6). And you "applaud the court." We rebuke you.

Beyond the children, your praise helps destroy the souls of these wicked Justices who no doubt take comfort in the approval of Christian leaders. You help them feel safe as they violate God's enduring command, Do not murder; and then with hubris, they demand that abortionists follow their new regulation of how to murder a child. We expect such evil from humanists. But for a Christian leader to give this false sense of security to judges and offi­cials at all levels of government is an affront to the holiness of God. They do not fear for their souls, but how is it that you do not warn them? How have you arrived at this place?

For more than a quarter century, the pro-life movement with your support, has adopted moral relativism and legal positivism, obsessing on process and overlooking funda­mental justice. You mourned a missed cloture vote in the Senate (FOTF, May 2005, "Gang of 14"), but celebrate an evil ruling that affirms "ripping... apart" children. Gonzales v. Carhart unequivocally affirms the "killing" of children as long as you follow its guidelines, and the pro-life movement cheers, for the ends now justify the means, and right and wrong have become negotiable. God did not design the Body of Christ to follow lawyers, talk show hosts, or anyone who puts politics ahead of righteousness. We want to follow your lead, Dr. Dobson, but not in the direction you now head. We want to follow the standard in the pledge you made before hundreds of thous­ands at the Rally for Life in Washington D.C. in 1990, to never support any effort that will intentionally "kill one innocent baby."

When you call these judges "pro-life," you dangerously redefine what that means. Far from asserting the personhood of the unborn, these Justices have only undermined the child's God-given right to life, and re-use their old anti-life phrase, "the fetus that may become a child" (p. 15). And the majority opinion is pleased that Congress did not use the term child, but fetus. In concurring, these Justices note that the Nebraska ban that was struck down described, "a living unborn child" and Congress respond­ed to the court in "material ways" including that it "adopts the phrase ‘delivers a living fetus,' ...instead of ‘deliver­ing... a living un­born child'" (p. 21).

Groups Celebrating this Evil Ruling

  1. National Right to Life: "applauds... ruling"
  2. Christian Coalition: "commends the five justices"
  3. Family Research Council: "Court no longer endorses... killing of innocent, partially-born babies"
  4. Priests for Life: "applauds the ruling"
  5. Concerned Women for America: "justice was served"
  6. Founder, Beverly LaHaye: "victory on behalf of innocent human life"
  7. President Wendy Wright: "Court... protect[s] babies from painful abortion"
  8. American Family Association: "reason has prevailed"
  9. U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: "welcomes [the] decision"
  10. D. James Kennedy's ministries: "enormously good news... for unborn children"
  11. Jay Sekulow and the ACLJ: "happy to report... a significant victory"
  12. Christian Law Association: "Court considered the welfare of the unborn child"
  13. Americans United for Life: "praises ruling"
  14. Focus on the Family: "We thank God for this victory that affirms the value of human life."

These follow your lead, Dr. Dobson as you "thank God for this victory that affirms the value of human life."

Knowing right from wrong, and telling the truth is vital always, but even more so when the lives of children hang in the balance. Yet, for many years you have misled the Body of Christ about the ban, and now about the ruling itself.

Leaders Condemning this Evil Ruling

  1. Amb. Alan Keyes Renew America (see his 30-sec video clip)
  2. Rev. Tom Euteneuer, Human Life International
  3. Judie Brown, American Life League
  4. John Archibold, founding member, AUL and Nat'l RTL
  5. Prof. Charles Rice, Notre Dame Law School
  6. Dr. Patrick Johnston,
  7. Jim Rudd, Covenant News
  8. Cliff Zarsky, Corpus Christi RTL
  9. Chris Mohr, on Board of Columbus RTL & Ohio RTL
  10. Erik Whittington, Rock for Life
  11. John Lofton, The American View
  12. Eric Guttormson,
  13. Brian Martin,
  14. Jim Anderson,
  15. Cal Zastrow, Michigan Citizens for Life
  16. Judie Zabik, Michigan Personhood Leader
  17. Matt Trewhella, Missionaries to the Preborn
  18. Brannon Howse, WorldviewTube, Christian Worldview Net
  19. David Brownlow, Life Support and LS Oregon
  20. Louis Wein, Ass't Mayor of NYC; NY Governor candidate 1990
  21. Steve Curtis, Former State Chair, Colorado Republican Party
  22. Julie Niccum, Wisconsin Personhood Leader
  23. Jo Scott, ProLife Colorado
  24. Gino Geraci, Calvary Chapel South Denver
  25. Bob Enyart, Denver Bible Church
  26. Chuck Baldwin, Crossroad Baptist Church
  27. Rev. Clennard Childress, L.E.A.R.N. &
  28. Flip Benham, Operation Rescue / OSA
  29. Brian Rohrbough, Colorado Right to Life
  30. Judge Roy Moore, Foundation for Moral Law

(Email office [at] (subject: Please%20add%20our%20ministry%20to%20the%20list%20of%20those%20condeming%20the%20PBA%20ruling) (CRTL to add your ministry) to this list of those condemning the ruling.)

Moral Relativism

Dr. Dobson, you have become a moral relativist and a legal positivist, along with virtually all the "pro-life" conservative judges put in office over the last quarter century. Justice Antonin Scalia said on Feb. 4, 2002 at a Pew Forum, "I will strike down Roe v. Wade, but I will also strike down a law that is the opposite of Roe v. Wade. ... One [side] wants no state to be able to prohibit abortion and the other one wants every state to have to prohibit abortion, and they're both wrong..." All Christians should grieve at this. No state, no subdivision of government whatsoever, has the authority to set up extermination camps, or abortion clinics. This wicked legal principle is not pro-life, it is pro-choice, by process. Dr. Dobson, you have joined Scalia and other heroes of the pro-life community, rejecting God's enduring com­mand, Do Not Murder, as the most fundamental and inviolable of all legal principles, preferring instead relativism based upon ever-changing "precedent."

On February 24, 2006, you wrote in re­sponse to these concerns that were posted at KGOV .com, and it grieves us to even repeat this, but you actually defended decisions of judges who rule to kill the innocent, as long as they bow to process. In 2000, federal judge Samuel Alito struck down New Jersey's partial-birth abortion ban and voted to keep PBA legal (Planned Parenthood vs. NJ), and you commended him for that ruling because he was merely following "the long-established prin­ciple" of "precedent." But there is an older legal precedent, Thou shall not murder, and when judges violate that standard, and do so on "principle," then the nation has become law­less. After World War II, the Allies convicted German judges whose defense for ruling to kill the innocent was that they had follow­ed precedent and the law. But moral relativism and legal positivism are no defense. And setting aside God's prohibition of murder is humanism. Over the years Dr. Dobson, you have slid to where you now advocate the legal theory of the defendants at Nuremberg.

On June 29, 2005 some of us in person gave a presentation to your V.P. Tom Minnery and your judicial analysts, warning emphatically against legal positivism and the mis­rep­resentations of the PBA ban. Two years ago in this same newspaper some of us published an open letter to you and we produced a DVD, Focus on the Strategy, to warn about legal positivism. And we were heartened that in 2006, you produced the excellent Truth Project in which Dr. Del Tackett, president of the Focus on the Family Institute, also warned specifically of legal positivism, cautioning that when "legal truth is based on the decision of the state," we have thrown off God's principles of justice as a foundation. But you have not heeded even your own ministry's warning. Our pro-life Christian leaders have turned the wicked humanist values of moral relativism and legal positivism into the greatest obligation of government, and so you defend rulings that uphold killing the innocent because you are a legal positivist. Many conservative lawyers grew up with an inclination toward Judeo-Christian morality and absolutes. They could have developed into defenders of life, but in­stead, now as judges they attack the only legal defense of the unborn, which is not based upon moral relativism, but upon personhood and the God-given right to life.

Online at you wrote, "President George W. Bush, the most pro-life President in United States history - has acted to protect children from the barbarity of partial birth abortion. I applaud the President for nominat­ing two pro-life Justices to [the] Court..." Dr. Dobson, you have perverted what it means to be pro-life. And you misled your supporters when you wrote, "We applaud the Court for joining President Bush and Congress in declar­ing that a civilized society must not condone such compassion­less and hideous acts against human beings." They did no such thing. And unless you repent, our Christian leaders may launch another 15-year destructive fundraiser, again under­mining the person­hood of the child, while twenty million more die.

Partial-birth abortion was one of the quickest ways to kill the baby, but it was also the most difficult to witness and contemplate, for the abortionist's staff, for the politician, and for society. Other more hideous late-term tech­niques are now legally preferred, although less visibly blatant, compared to a child killed once he is mostly outside his mother. This ban push­es the crime of late-term abortion back into the darkness of the womb, where it can lurk out of the public consciousness.

We ask you and your staff at Focus on the Family and all readers to do three things.

  1. Please take up the standard from your famous 1990 pledge and withhold support from any effort that would intentionally "kill one innocent baby."
  2. Learn to recognize and then oppose moral relativism in law, called legal positivism.
  3. Please go to Colorado and sign their pledge titled: 40 Years / 50 Million Dead / One Commitment

to never compromise on God's enduring com­mand, Do not murder.

"There is a way that seems right to a man," warns Proverbs 14:12, "but its end is the way of death." Please repent, Dr. Dobson.


  • Brian Rohrbough, president, Colorado Right to Life (later, president, American RTL)
  • Rev. Tom Euteneuer, president, Human Life International
  • Flip Benham, director, Operation Rescue / Operation Save America
  • Bob Enyart, pastor, Denver Bible Church
  • Judie Brown, president, American Life League
  • Ambassador Alan Keyes, Renew America (Dr. Keyes signed after the first letters were published)

(Here's the original newspaper layout of this ad.)