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COLUMN RIGHT / CHRIS GODFREY : If Anne Archer Can, Why Not Joe Gibbs? : In a new video, athletes against abortion speak from experience on the playing field and in life.

Chris Godfrey, a member of the New York Giants' 1987 Super Bowl championship team, is a 1993 J.D. candidate at the University of Notre Dame Law School. He and his wife, Daria, have four children

Redskins coach Joe Gibbs marveled at how his team took on “new life” recently to defeat the Vikings in the NFC wildcard game. Gibbs knows a lot about “new life,” and it’s not all on the field. Joining 11 players from last year’s Super Bowl, Gibbs stars in a new pro-life video, “Life . . . the Way of Champions.”

Like the six 1987 Super Bowl champion New York Giants players who shot a pro-life video in 1989, these athletes have joined in protecting the innocents’ right to life. No doubt pro-choice columnists will again cry foul, but before penalizing the players, they should take a closer look. Just as in a game where the referees fail to see the first punch thrown, there is another side to this abortion public-relations game.

Groups like Planned Parenthood have been “selling” abortions for a long time. They began more than 40 years ago, when Margaret Sanger recruited business people to make Planned Parenthood respectable. This image-consciousness continues today, using Anne Archer and other actresses for public relations.

Why should athletes be gagged while press plaudits are heaped on movie stars advancing President-elect Clinton’s abortion blitz? There is no principled distinction between the two groups other than their different messages. It seems the critics’ real beef is that the pro-abortion ox is being gored.

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Athletic contests are intensified versions of life itself. They demand virtues as important to the average fan as the display of athletic prowess. When Buffalo Bills Frank Reich and Don Beebe talk in the video about behaving responsibly and persevering in tough situations, they speak from experience, having just made NFL playoff history by overcoming a 32-point deficit to defeat the Houston Oilers.

It should be no surprise when an athlete’s sense of fair play leads him or her to protect the little guys from the big guys by taking a stand against abortion.

These athletes are not merely advertising; they are appealing to our higher natures. They are imploring us not to be fooled by so-called pro-choice slogans, but to think for ourselves. As Redskin Earnest Byner points out in the video: “Choices are good, we all like choices. But some choices are different from others. You never have the right to choose evil.”

Sadly, our country has avoided asking the necessary questions: “Is the child in the womb a living human being? If so, what justifies its being killed?” To avoid the implications of the resulting answers, we have replaced a healthy discussion with crude slogans and silence. The unchallenged pro-abortion public-relations campaign has been very successful.

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Pro-Life Athletes Inc. of Chatham, N.J., is responsible for the new video. In a month, the 12-minute video has gained wide distribution in schools and libraries and with community groups and crisis pregnancy centers in several states and Canada. Plans are under way to air it on network and cable television.

Perhaps the most effective words spoken in this video are spoken not by a man, but by the quietly remorseful Barbara Metzelaars, whose husband Pete is a Buffalo Bill. While the Bills worked a miracle comeback against the Oilers to advance in the playoffs, Barbara mourned the killing of her own unborn miracle. Hers is the honest, but often suppressed story of regret and pain that lies behind the unthinking call for “choice.”

Barbara Metzelaars’ courageous recounting of how she and her husband once mistakenly exercised the immoral option against life may do more to sideline abortion than the most renowned player on either side of this battle--even if the pro-abortion media pundits and the incoming Administration don’t want to hear it.


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