NECAC Forum: Brattleboro, VT, High School, April 18, 1986: “Silent Scream” and Planned Parenthood

John C. Rankin

The forum at Dartmouth College on January 22, 1986 (click here) came to pass after the sponsors could find no one willing to engage in a debate: “Abortion: A Collision of Two World Views.” Not long afterward, some friends in the Brattleboro, Vermont, area who had attended the Dartmouth forum, were interested in arranging a debate at their local high school. I wrote the director of Planned Parenthood in Brattleboro, making the invitation, and was amazed at how she came up with any reason possible to say no. The flyer was adapted from Dartmouth, with a different defined topic, and advertised in the Brattleboro area. About 100 people attended.




presenting The Silent Scream & Planned Parenthood’s Response

followed by an Open Forum where John C. Rankin, M.Div. will present

“Definitions of the Abortion Controversy”

all are invited to attend: those on favor legalized abortion, those who are uncertain, and those opposed

– questions will be taken from the floor –

Friday, April 18th — 7:30 p.m., Brattleboro High School


Definitions of the Abortion Controversy

At this forum, the following definitions will be explained in detail:

  1. Definition of having an open mind as the starting point for explaining any issue.
  2. A medically certain definition of conception.
  3. A medically certain definition of abortion.
  4. Abortion defined as the ultimate male chauvinism.
  5. Definition of the abortion controversy as a conflict between differing value systems.
  6. Definition of Christian ethics in the face of such an issue — it is the opposite of the “holier than thou” attitude.


John C. Rankin, M.Div., is the executive director of the New England Christian Action Council. He has addressed forums on this subject on many college campuses and other settings, and has participated in formal debate with leading advocates of legalized abortion.

At one such debate at the Harvard Medical School, a woman Unitarian-Universalist minister was representing the pro-choice side. She emphasized how grateful she was for the “calm tone” John established for the debate in his opening statement. Although most of the the audience of medical students were in favor of legalized abortion at the outset, the only “complaint” voiced about the evening was the lack of time for discussion afterwards (which was limited to one hour). In this forum, we hope you will expect and discover the same graciousness of spirit, as we struggle to address a most painful subject.

[New England Christian Action Council, 11 Pleasant Street, Gloucester, MA 01930 (617) 283-4575]


I know the local newspaper covered the event, and I am not sure if I have a copy somewhere in my files. I remember it as a normal forum — good questions from all angles, and the advance of a biblical pro-life ethic.

Afterward, a Christian woman approached me with two women friends, and said, “John, be careful. Women love you, because you respect them so much in addressing this debate.” Now, I became aware from the outset of pro-life ministry that women always responded well, because I hold in the highest esteem the goodness of men honoring fidelity in marriage, and chastity outside. Such men honor women as equals and complements in the image of God, and this is the opposite of the male chauvinism that governs the abortion mindset. I assured them that I was aware of what she was saying, that my own fidelity in marriage was as natural and strong as could be, and yes, it always has been across the decades to the present.