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National Right to Life Priest Talks Excommunication for Church Members Who Sign Petition to Abolish Abortion

Rena Schild /

“I told them I’d excommunicate anyone who signed that petition,” Father Dennis Day told a laughing congregation Sunday in regard to a petition to abolish abortion in the state of Idaho. “They don’t have any idea what that means or if that’s true, they have no idea,” he joked.

Abolitionists visited Saint Joseph Catholic Church where the National Right to Life treasurer serves as priest, in order to gather signatures for the petition.

“We’re not going to get this done unless people basically decide that it’s the right thing to do to establish equal protection under the law for the preborn and treat their murder just like we treat the murder of the born,” said Abolish Abortion Idaho representative Scott Herndon. “We came here this morning because we figured there are probably people here who agree with us, and we should try to get their signatures.”

Day, however, saw the abolitionists as he drove in and confronted them, saying “Where have you been for the last 43 years?!”

He later laughingly related this confrontation to his congregation, boasting of his 35 years on the board of National Right to Life and asking again “Where have they been? And then they come up with this cockamamie idea, and they think they’re going to solve it all… we’ve tried everything before. But they don’t want to hear that.”

Herndon agreed with Day that pro-life strategies have indeed been employed for 43 years, and that the failure of such strategies is one of the many reasons new strategies are required.

“It doesn’t really matter where I’ve been,” he said. “By submitting the petition to treat abortion as a capital crime, I am repenting where I wasn’t correct and doing what God would have us do. If you believe abortion is wrong, why is it wrong? If the answer is, ‘because it’s murder’, then our criminal laws should reflect that.”

“Right to Life Idaho and the National Right to Life Committee and most mainline pro-life groups oppose this whole idea. Because it’s a waste of time,” Day said from the pulpit. He explained that abolishing abortion as murder would never work because it would be struck down by the courts, and pre-emptively dismissed the abolitionist idea that when the courts are wrong, they should be ignored, by asserting “that’s not going to happen.”

Of course, abolitionists know that it very well could happen, since states like Colorado, Washington, and others have already chosen to ignore or defy federal laws regarding marijuana and immigration.

But Day’s opposition to the abolitionist measure is not strictly on pragmatic grounds. He told his congregation it was even more important to oppose the view that women who kill their children are guilty of murder.

“You see they would want to prosecute the woman too. Which has been the stereotype of pro-abortionists, saying pro-lifers want to do that,” he said. “And we have never been in favor of prosecuting women. We see the woman as the second victim. As the person in need of healing and help.”

“If abortion is not murder why is it wrong? If abortion is not murder, why is Dennis Day on the National Right to Life committee?” Herndon said in a video response. “Get rid of the Right to Life committee. Because if abortion isn’t murder then who cares if abortion exists? But if abortion is murder, then let’s treat it like murder. It’s kind of simple.”

He pointed out that this very inconsistency in pro-life thinking is what led to Footnote 54 in the Roe v. Wade decision, in which the Supreme Court noted that Texas was arguing for protection for preborn children under the Fourteenth Amendment, but had never prosecuted abortion as murder.

“Once it is first degree murder and every woman in the state knows it is first degree murder, how many will be able to say they didn’t know?” Herndon asked. “When you murder people in our society it is typically against the law unless the person being murdered is a preborn human being and the person who commits the murder is an abortionist or the mother who has allowed him to kill her child. Let’s establish equal protection under the law.”

This isn’t the first time a National Right to Life Representative has vocally opposed calling abortion murder or criminalizing it as such. In 2016 NRLC Vice President Tony Lauinger led the charge to stop an abolition bill from getting a hearing in the Oklahoma Senate.

Day mentioned Senator Dan Foreman, who recently introduced a bill to criminalize abortion in Idaho. “It didn’t even get printed. There’s absolutely no support for this,” he said.

He then opined that abolitionist time would be better spent elsewhere. “They could do education work, they could do public policy formation…” he then seemed to realize that public policy formation is precisely what the abolitionists are doing, and added, “other than this. They could work with groups that have done some good over the years but you know… they’re blind.”

Day then went on to preach a sermon about Jesus Christ, who said controversial things like “whatever you did not do for the least of these, My brothers, you did not do for Me,” and “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Jesus also once said, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.”

Abolitionists in Idaho continue to engage in educational efforts as well as public policy formation and the bold preaching of the Gospel in the face of their apathetic culture of death. You can learn more about their work at