Presentation to Board of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, January 15, 1988

John C. Rankin

From the fall of 1983 when I started the New England Christian Action Council (NECAC), “biblically committed to protecting the unborn,” I immediately became involved with the Massachusetts Citizens for Life (MCFL) as well. I also served one year on their Board of Directors (which I rotated off afterward as the work was too much in concert with my NECAC work, yet staying involved). MCFL was overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, in a state that was at least 85 baptized Catholic as of the 1970s. And this was new to me in practical terms, having grown up in the Unitarian-Universalist fold as a boy in West Hartford, Connecticut, in the middle of the largest Jewish population in New England, where among the friends of my parents, most were Jewish, Protestant and secular. I remember some Roman Catholics, including some of my father’s fellow physicians, but in truth, as a boy I was about aware of that as I was of any religious or secular identity.

It was a delight to work with with MCFL, lovely people who cared deeply about women and their unborn. Yes, different theological angles, but I am always enriched by those who come from different perspectives than I, and too, more deeply yet, I focus on biblical ethics as a starting point in how I relate to all people, believers in Jesus as Lord, and others, alike all image-bearers of God. I had the privilege one year to give the annual Advent homily to the Board of Directors (40-50 people) in a Roman Catholic chapel, and to forge mutually embraced biblical ties.

In preparing for the 1988 ballot initiative for the Massachusetts election (click here and click here), I presented the Board my proposal for it on January 15, 1988, including a request for financial support, which they generously provided. Below is the outline of handwritten notes from which I spoke. I have no doubt it would have succeeded thus, apart from the opposition of the Attorney General in shutting it down by sheer muscle and one legal step we did not know we had to take, aided by the legal opposition to us by Planned Parenthood, the Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (CLUM) and the Boston Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW); and then, the remarkable spiritual warfare that immediate struck with fury as we submitted our petitions (click here).


  1. Multiple-choice precedent 1970 w/Vietnam (see articles referenced above).
  2. Legally non-binding status: a) moral authority — no legal challenges [to Roe].
  3. Multiple-choice: a) not “imposing” anything; b) only submitting the question as Roe v. Wade calls for (Blackmun’s language, first full democratic redress [envisioned here], 1981 [U.S.] Senate hearings; c) seizing high ground in language of choice; and d) we cannot be accused of being “anti-choice.”
  4. Requires positive answer — the one thing pro-aborts are not: a) they cannot call us negative.
  5. Exposes a house divided (Babel and Beelzebub); I’ve been in their midst.
  6. Puts Q smack in midst of presidential and senatorial campaigns (i.e., Dukakis, Kennedy, Kerry, Studds and Frank).
  7. Media as vultures to the carcass … a) thus — quality P/R campaign to bust false stereotypes; b) our demeanor key; c) brochure (example of Michigan Right to Life) + tv/radio/print — hit it head on.
  8. Galvinize, in other states too, for eventual HLA [Human Life Amendment]: a) moral authority must be gained prior to legal authority; b) experience on college campuses.