The American Red Cross has put itself at the center of a heated debate by hosting a blood drive at a Columbus, Ohio, abortion facility. The controversy has raised questions regarding whether the group’s life-saving mission extends to life within the womb.
The Red Cross unquestionably stands as one of the most highly respected humanitarian assistance organizations in the world. Its efforts are responsible for bringing health, life and hope to individuals facing grave suffering and hardships. The Red Cross has a profound history of mobilizing both volunteers and donor generosity to unmatched levels, guided by the solemn mission to “prevent and alleviate human suffering.” However, that very mission is now being tested on the grounds of abortion.
The director of Columbus Right to Life, Ruth Yorston, was first to address the controversy stating, “Abortion is contrary to what [they] are supposed to do, which is to protect life.”
Brad Mattes, executive director of Life Issues Institute, immediately responded with concern. “Over the years I have donated more than three gallons of blood until a cancer diagnosis disqualified future donations. As the recipient of 10 various surgical procedures, I am acutely aware of the need for people to donate blood. So it’s especially disheartening to learn that such a reputable organization would partner with the abortion industry that kills the unborn and causes irrefutable harm to the mother’s health.”
Mattes then proceeded to reach out to the Red Cross for further comment and clarification. When questioned, Rodney Wilson, communications manager of Central Ohio Blood Services of the American Red Cross, stated that he was not aware abortion was among the services performed at the facility called Complete Healthcare for Women. Yet, just a simple internet search shows the group’s website openly publicizes that it offers both chemical (RU 486) and surgical abortion, including late-term dilation and evacuation procedures. After further questioning by Mattes, Wilson conceded, “We would see that as irrelevant,” citing the Red Cross’ principle of impartiality.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is guided by fundamental principles that include impartiality and neutrality. Those guidelines explicitly state that the Red Cross “may not take sides in hostilities or engage at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.”
Yet, the Red Cross has taken a stance on contentious issues in the past. In 2005, Chief Diversity Officer David Wilkens proclaimed, “It is my pleasure to announce that June will be recognized as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.” This led to a dispute with an employee who was fired after stating that he would not participate as it was contrary to his religious beliefs. In December 2011, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) made a stand on abortion by asserting, “[International] states must take measures to ensure that legal and safe abortion services are available, accessible and of good quality.”
Furthermore, by partnering with an abortionist the Red Cross defies one of the other fundamental principles of the IFRC: humanity. It says that the purpose of the Red Cross is “to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being.”
“The double standard is alarming,” said Mattes. “How can an organization who professes to protect human life, not only stand idly by, but devastatingly approve, the practice of abortion?” He concludes with a challenge for pro-lifers to contact the Red Cross and make their voices heard, stating, “They have to know this rests at the heart of their mission. And it is not something that’s just going to go away.” Individuals can direct their concerns to Christine Copper, Senior Director for the Central Ohio blood program, at 614-361-8135.
About Life Issues Institute: Life Issues Institute is dedicated to changing hearts and minds of millions of people through education, the foundation for pro-life political and legislative victories. For over 21 years, organizations and individuals around the world have depended upon Life Issues Institute to provide the latest pro-life information and effective tools to protect innocent human life from womb to tomb.