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Rand Paul Reintroduces Radical 'Personhood' Bill, Attempts To Sidestep Birth Control Controversy

Last week, Sen. Rand Paul reintroduced his “Life at Conception Act,” an attempt to ban all abortion by granting legal “personhood” to zygotes and fetuses from “the moment of fertilization,” all without needing a constitutional amendment or Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Paul has been a staunch backer of such personhood efforts despite once claiming that he didn’t support “changing any of the laws” on abortion “until the country is persuaded otherwise.”

The bill Paul introduced last week varies slightly from the one he first introduced in 2013, specifically stating that it shouldn’t be construed as “a prohibition on in vitro fertilization, or a prohibition on use of birth control or another means of preventing fertilization.” 

Personhood measures have been widely criticized for vague wording that could put legal birth control at risk, a concern that Paul appears to attempt to put at rest in the new bill. But that would all depend on what counts as protected birth control under the bill. Would IUDs, which could possibly prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg, be protected? What about the morning-after pill or hormonal contraception bills, which some anti-choice groups claim, with little evidence, could do the same thing? Some anti-choice activists claim that some or all of these constitute abortion, not birth control … notably the plaintiffs in the Hobby Lobby case, whose cause Paul enthusiastically supported.

It’s especially interesting that Paul attempts to avoid the growing controversy within the anti-abortion movement about in-vitro fertilization and the rights that should be granted to the excess frozen embryos that are often a byproduct of the process. It’s unclear if Paul is saying that embryos that are the result of in-vitro fertilization should not be granted the personhood rights that his bill would grant to all other embryos or if the bill would simply require that those embryos never be destroyed.

Both Paul’s 2013 bill and his 2016 version state that they shouldn’t “be construed to require the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child,” an important exemption because under such a law, ending a pregnancy at any stage would be the legal equivalent of murder. Already, an experiment in personhood-style laws in Alabama has led to the arrests of hundreds of women for using drugs while pregnant or otherwise contributing to the “chemical endangerment” of a fetus.

All of this, of course, is purely hypothetical at this point. Paul's bill is the product of a theory, which is controversial even within the anti-abortion movement, that there is a magic loophole in Roe v. Wade that would allow legal abortion to come tumbling down if Congress were simply to define fertilized eggs as “persons” under the law. Most likely, however, such a strategy would collapse in the courts: One prominent anti-choice attorney has called the personhood loophole an “urban legend.”

That’s not to say that Paul’s strategy doesn’t have support. His fellow Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has been talking up the personhood strategy on the campaign trail, saying that he would simply issue a decree as president that there would be “no more abortion” in America. Ted Cruz has quietly pledged to support personhood measures and said late last year that a personhood strategy to avoid Roe would “absolutely” work. Marco Rubio has hinted at a personhood strategy, but not explicitly embraced it.

Paul’s bill has six Senate cosponsors and a similar bill (without the exceptions for birth control and IVF) has 132 cosponsors in the House.

Cruz Pro-Life Coalition Leader: US Can't 'Survive Another 40 Years Of Roe v. Wade'

As we noted this morning, Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign has launched a new “Pro-Lifers for Cruz” coalition, led by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins along with 10 co-chairs, including radical anti-abortion activist Troy Newman. Another co-chair of the new coalition is anti-abortion filmmaker Jason Jones, who joined a call for coalition members today, where he warned that electing Cruz is essential because America can’t “survive another 40 years of Roe v. Wade.”

“You know, the right to life is the founding principle not only of this country but of our civilization,” Jones said on the call, “and we are fighting to preserve our nation for our posterity. We are fighting in a real way for our posterity. And I don’t believe our country can survive another 40 years of Roe v. Wade because Roe v. Wade undermines the idea that we are endowed by God with inalienable rights. We’ll see our religious freedom leave, we’re seeing that. We’ll see our economic freedom leave, we’re seeing that. We’ll see our political freedom leave, we’re seeing that with the most recent case with David Daleiden. So let’s fight to defend the pre-born child from the bounds of abortion, let’s fight for our republic, and let’s call everyone in Iowa and let’s expand this pro-life caucus.”

The loss of “political freedom” that he was referring to was the recent indictments brought against David Daleiden, who was accused of breaking laws in Texas when he and his Center for Medical Progress infiltrated Planned Parenthood, a project concocted with the help of Newman.

Schlafly & Pratt: Today’s Immigrants Have No 'Desire To Be American'

Eagle Forum’s Phyllis Schlafly and Gun Owners of America’s Larry Pratt have both opposed immigration reform on the grounds that new citizens will overwhelmingly vote Democratic and, in Pratt’s words, “vote to take away our guns.” So it was no surprise that when Schlafly joined Pratt on his radio show this weekend, the discussion eventually turned to how immigrants don’t understand America and so will never vote Republican.

Schlafly started things out by alleging that the political problems of conservatives stem from the fact that “we’ve taken in millions of people who have no concept of the whole idea of limited government” and who “don’t even know what it means or have a desire to be American.”

Pratt agreed that we are “bringing in people who have never had any tradition of, never been schooled in what it means to have a limited government” and that “folks coming abroad are all natural Democrats, they’re looking, as you say, for big government, that’s their whole idea of what government is about, it’s there to give them more and more things.”

He added that Democrats are “eagerly bringing in these immigrants who at best don’t have an idea of what it means to be an American if they were to become one and may well be terrorists.”

“You know, I have friends who came in long ago,” Schlafly said, “and they told me with pride that after they got off the boat at Ellis Island to immigrate, their parents would stand them up and say, ‘And now we’re in America and we’re going to be Americans and we’re going to learn English and we’re going to learn a whole new set of laws and this is our country now, we’re going to be American.’ But you don’t find these immigrants saying this today.”

Now, she said, “anybody can come, no matter how much you hate us, no matter how you have no concept about limited government and the rule of law and the things that we believe in.”

Pratt added that this problem was especially acute with Muslim immigrants because “they’re taught from the Koran, they’re taught to hate people like us, they’re taught to want to kill people like us, and to the extent that they don’t, that’s taqiyya, that’s just a temporary lying to get along until they are tactically and strategically in a position to strike.”

Ted Cruz Promotes Anti-Choice Activist Who Wants Abortion Doctors Executed

Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign launched a “Pro-Lifers for Cruz” coalition yesterday, which is to be chaired by the leader of an anti-gay hate group and a radical anti-choice activist who has written that a just society would execute abortion providers.

Tony Perkins, president of the virulently anti-gay Family Research Council, is to chair the group, while Troy Newman of Operation Rescue is one of its 10 co-chairs.

Stunningly, in its short biography of Newman, the Cruz campaign mentions that he is the author of a book called “Their Blood Cries Out”:

Troy Newman is the president of Operation Rescue, one of the leading pro-life Christian activist organizations in the nation and a founding board member for the Center for Medial Progress. He has been involved in the pro-life community for over 20 years, starting in 1991 as the Operation Rescue West president. He is also a published author, having written Their Blood Cries Out and his most recent book Abortion Free.

We have reviewed both “Abortion Free” and “Their Blood Cries Out” here at Right Wing Watch. In “Their Blood Cries Out,” written in 2000 and revised in 2003, Newman lays out the case for churches to oppose abortion rights, saying that by failing to follow what he says is the biblical response to abortion — executing abortion providers and treating women who have abortions as “murderers” — the country is mired in “bloodguilt” and is awaiting the judgment of God. In the meantime, Newman writes, the U.S. has experienced “warnings” from God about legal abortion, including the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

More recently, Newman has alleged that the drought in California is a result of that state’s liberal abortion laws:

Newman has recently gained prominence in the anti-choice movement thanks to his role in starting the Center for Medical Progress, the group behind a series of videos attacking Planned Parenthood. (The group’s leader, David Daleiden, is currently facing a felony indictment related to his attempt to infiltrate the health care provider.) Newman has said that the goal of the project was to “destroy” Planned Parenthood, part of his long campaign of harassment and intimidation against the group and other abortion providers.

Although he renounces extrajudicial violence against abortion providers, Newman has argued that the murderer of an abortion provider in Florida should have been able to argue that the act was justifiable homicide meant to “save the lives of the pre-born babies that were scheduled to be killed by abortion that day.” When another abortion provider died of leukemia, Newman put out a press release rejoicing in his death. Newman's second-in-command at Operation Rescue is Cheryl Sullenger, who spent time in federal prison in the 1980s for conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic.

Perkins, although he is most infamous for his over-the-top anti-gay activism, has similarly warned that God will judge America for legal abortion and implied that Christians who support abortion rights aren’t true believers.

Antigovernment Groups Warned Of 'Civil War' In Oregon. Now What?

As we wrote several weeks ago when a group of armed militia members took over a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, many antigovernment leaders were not on their side. This isn’t because these groups disagree with the occupiers’ cause — outrage at the arrests of two ranchers for arson on federal lands — but because they don’t have faith in the leadership of those who took over the building.

Now that eight of the occupiers — including their leader, Ammon Bundy —have been arrested and one has been killed in a clash with law enforcement, antigovernment groups are caught between a cause they agree with and a leader they don’t trust. These groups are obsessed with the idea of the federal government provoking a “civil war” with “patriots” like them, and they have been worried that they will now be forced to fight a civil war on behalf of Ammon Bundy.

Stewart Rhodes, head of the Oath Keepers, has from the beginning urged his followers to stay out of the Oregon standoff, but has nevertheless warned the government that “there will never again be a free Waco” and that any force against the occupiers could lead to a “bloody, brutal civil war.” Mike Vanderboegh, leader of the Three Percenters movement, similarly warned that Bundy and his allies had “written a check that they expect the rest of us to cash in our own blood in a ghastly civil war” and may have been infiltrated by federal "provacateurs" trying to provoke such a war.

These groups are, at least for now, sounding a note of caution.

The Pacific Patriots Network, an umbrella group of militia groups in the area, including members of the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, wrote in a press release last night that it was urging its members to “stand by” and that “[n]o mobilization of any kind is to take place until every piece of speculation and hearsay have been verified or dismissed.” It repeated that call today, writing that the group is “working on maintaining a calm presence in town and are still acting as a buffer between the Refuge and the FBI.”

A post on Vanderboegh’s blog yesterday that although the group “disagreed with Ammon Bundy's choice of targets, tactics, timing and ‘friends’ like the sociopath (and probable Fed provocateur) Ryan Payne” (Payne was one of those arrested yesterday with Bundy), the “Feds picked this fight.”

The post concludes ominiously: “We need more information and confirmation of what I have written, but it is apparent that the Feds are giving us all a choice.”

As the Anti-Defamation League’s Mark Pitcavage noted on Twitter, at this point the danger of backlash comes not from these larger groups but from rogue individuals who have been motivated by their ideology:

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, Harney County Sheriff David Ward, who has been a target of groups that believe he should have turned against the government and sided with Bundy, looked visibly shaken, saying that “it didn’t have to happen” and “there doesn’t have to be bloodshed in our community.”

Anti-Planned Parenthood Activist David Daleiden Gets Indicted, But The Anti-Choice Movement Still Feels Like It's Winning

In an interesting turn of events yesterday, a Texas grand jury that had been convened to investigate Planned Parenthood based on the claims of anti-abortion activist David Daleiden instead indicted Daleiden and a colleague on charges relating to their infiltration of the women’s health care organization.
 
In a statement responding to the charges, Daleiden called himself an "investigative journalist," something that he has been doing from the beginning of his project. In reality, Daleiden's "investigation" was rooted in a tradition of anti-abortion activists attempting to harass and intimidate abortion providers to prevent them from practicing, rather than a genuine effort to uncover the truth. In fact, one of Daleiden's associates at the radical anti-choice group Operation Rescue, which helped to get his project off the ground, said that Daleiden's goal going into the project was to “obtain prosecutions” of Planned Parenthood officials.
 
So far, Daleiden's attempt to "obtain prosecutions" has come up empty.
 
But pushing for the prosecution of Planned Parenthood officials was only part of Daleiden’s plan. In a statement following the indictment, Daleiden claimed that the “admissions” of Planned Parenthood were “captured on video for all the world to see.” Never mind that the videos show no such “admissions” of law-breaking. The point of the videos was not just to make a case to law enforcement, but to sway public opinion.
 
On a large scale, that hasn't been successful: One poll showed barely a flutter in the public’s views about Planned Parenthood between August and September of last year, in the height of the visibility of Daleiden’s videos. Planned Parenthood's favorability ratings had already dropped over the last two decades, Gallup found, but mostly among Republicans, a trend that the polling agency attributed to the growing “politicization of Planned Parenthood."
 
What Daleiden’s project has done is to galvanize support among those who were already opposed to abortion rights. Protests in front of Planned Parenthood offices, driven by the old guard of the anti-abortion “rescue” movement, expanded and multiplied, with the support of much more visible anti-choice groups. At this year’s March for Life, it was impossible to go five minutes without hearing a mention of Daleiden or his videos, with speaker after speaker saying that their movement finally had winning momentum. In the days leading up to the march, Daleiden crossed the city to speak to protesters holding gruesome signs outside a construction site for a new Planned Parenthood clinic; to talk with Americans United for Life lawyers working on strategies to restrict abortion rights; and to be prayed over by Russell Moore and Jim Daly, evangelical leaders who are trying to put a kinder, gentler face on their movement.
 
Speakers at nearly every event noted with hope that a bill defunding Planned Parenthood recently made it through a Republican Congress, allowing anti-choice activists to say that all they need now is to elect a president who would sign it.
 
Now that Daleiden is facing prosecution, he’s in the company of many fellow members of the “rescue” movement, which his work grew out of. Among those who protest outside of clinics, or try to infiltrate them, arrest and jail time for violation of what they see as unjust laws is a badge of honor. At a protest last week in front of a new Planned Parenthood that is being built in Washington, D.C., before Daleiden spoke, one “rescue” movement leader asked who there would be willing to “lay their body in front of the door” or “handcuff yourself to construction equipment” in order to stop the building from opening. Another touted the work of one of Daleiden’s mentors to train “a whole army of David Daleidens” to infiltrate Planned Parenthood clinics throughout the country.
 
Yesterday’s indictment is unlikely to dissuade these activists, who feel that they are on the cusp of a David-and-Goliath victory. In fact, at events connected to the March for Life last week, speakers expressed hope that a separate lawsuit against Daleiden by Planned Parenthood would instead turn up unflattering information about the women's health provider and land it in hot water instead. So far, the opposite has been true. But, to the anti-choice movement, that just makes Daleiden seem even more like David, closer than ever to slinging the winning shot.

Louie Gohmert: 'It's Time To Start Impeaching Judges' For Marriage Equality Ruling

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, said last week that “it’s time to start impeaching” Supreme Court justices in response to the Obergefell marriage equality ruling, which he called an “illegal decision” that amounted to the court declaring itself to be God.

In an interview with Florida talk radio host Joyce Kaufman on Friday, Gohmert falsely claimed that church-state separation decisions in the 1950s and 1960s mandated that “you can’t talk about God in schools and public places.” But, he said, the Supreme Court did something even worse with Obergefell.

“The Supreme Court said, ‘You know, we told you you couldn’t use ‘God,’ now here’s the new line: We’re God,’” he said. “‘We are your God. Forget what God, Moses, Jesus ever said, we are your God now, the five of us in the majority, you do as we tell you.’”

Gohmert went on to repeat his call for Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan to be impeached for participating in the decision after having performed legal same-sex marriages.

“We have two of them who had done same-sex marriages before they participated, they were disqualified, but they illegally participated, it’s an illegal decision, and it’s time to start impeaching judges and remove them from the Supreme Court,” he said.

Kaufman, for her part, seemed to say that Ginsburg and Kagan should have been disqualified for “being gay.”

Operation Save America: Terrorism Is God's Punishment For Legal Abortion

Operation Save America’s Rusty Lee Thomas has blamed the September 11 attacks on legal abortion in the U.S., so it’s only natural that he’s now saying that current terror threats, along with undocumented immigrants and big government, are all part of God’s punishment on America for legal abortion.

In a press release on Thursday, the eve of the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, Thomas declared that the “real danger” facing America is “God Himself” because He “will not be mocked” and will flatten America like Sodom if legal abortion isn’t stopped.

Operation Save America is what remains of the original anti-choice group called Operation Rescue. (The Operation Rescue that is currently operating was a rival group with similar goals and tactics.) Thomas took over as the head of Operation Save America after working for years alongside its former leader, Flip Benham, who was recently embraced by Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign.

From Thomas’ press release:

Listen to the concerns of 21st century Americans! Terror, Islamic Jihadists, Illegal Immigration, Out of Control Federal and State Governments, Economic Collapse, loss of retirement funds. But what's on God's heart? What is the real danger facing the home of the brave land of the free?

It is God Himself. He will not be mocked! What men and nations sow, they shall surely reap. We have sowed domestic terrorism in the womb and now face foreign terrorism from without.

Our nation is staggering under the weight of blood guiltiness. We have poured out gallons; hundreds and thousands of gallons throughout the streets and sewers of America. Nearly 60 million children made in the image of God have been slaughtered in our legal and federally protected abortion mills.

Even the gruesome videos of Planned Parenthood executives making light and laughing over the horror of selling little babies' body parts has made nary a ripple in the lakes of innocent blood shed defiling and polluting our land.

Abortion is not political, social or economic. It is a Gospel/Kingdom issue. It is the ancient evil of child sacrifice that is dressed up as a women's rights issue. Since 1973, our nation has accumulated a great debt of blood guilt and the bill is past due.

Is there any hope? Yes, it is found in the Lord we have spurned, His law that we have violated, and His salvation we have rejected to our own demise. 2 Chronicles 7:14 declares, "if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

If we meet God's conditions, He will heal our land. If not, we will go the way of every other nation that murdered their babies and paraded their sin like Sodom.

Gohmert: Clinton Backing Obama's Agenda Because Otherwise He'll Indict Her

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, has a theory as to why Hillary Clinton has been largely supporting President Obama’s policies and record on the campaign trail: because she knows that if she crosses him, she’ll be indicted.

Gohmert spoke yesterday with Alex Marlow on Breitbart News’ Sunday show on SiriusXM, where he insisted that as long as Clinton “doesn’t trash Obama, then she’s probably going to avoid indictment.”

Gohmert, who has been an enthusiastic proponent of the conspiracy theory that former CIA director David Petraeus was indicted for leaking classified information because he was about to expose information about the Benghazi attack, said that Clinton is probably facing a similar situation as Petraeus was.

“I know others who are saying, ‘Oh, it’s going to happen she’s going to be indicted,’” he said, “but look at Petraeus, they saw him as a threat, they’d been sitting on information about his affair for 10, 11 months or so, however long it’d been, and decided to use it right before he could destroy their scenario about the video causing Benghazi. So, I don’t know, just looking at the way this administration operates. If you’re on their side, you don’t get indicted. If you’re a threat to them, you get indicted.”

This prompted Marlow to bring up a theory of his own. “Did you notice what Hillary’s latest campaign tactic is, if you saw the latest debate, you know what she’s doing these days?” he asked. “She keeps backing Obama’s entire agenda. She keeps saying what his success has been.”

“Exactly,” Gohmert responded. “Why do you think that is?”

“Well, I’m starting to think, maybe all these rumors flying that she could be indicted, and I’d always thought that it wasn’t a chance, but maybe she’s thinking, ‘Well, we’d better make sure,’” Marlow said.

“Yeah, well, I mean, I think if she becomes a threat then she gets indicted like Petraeus was,” Gohmert responded. “You know, they’ve got the evidence, if they want to use it, then they can. But they obviously look the other way if you’re helping them, if you’re intimidating voters that may be Republican at a polling place then you walk, despite the laws you violate. It’s what this administration has done. They support those that help them even when they’re breaking the law.”

(Gohmert’s mention of people getting away with “intimidating voters” is a reference to the overblown, Fox News-driven New Black Panther Party scandal .)

Supreme Court Rejects Attempt At Restrictive Six-Week Abortion Ban

There has long been a debate raging within the anti-abortion movement between those who have mapped out a careful strategy to slowly chip away at Roe v. Wade through incremental restrictions on abortion and those who want to launch legal broadsides against abortion rights in the hopes that one will take Roe down once and for all.

The incrementalists will have their big day in court on March 2, when the Supreme Court hears arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, a challenge to a set of laws in Texas that seeks to cut off access to legal abortion even as the procedure remains legal. Whole Woman’s Health is the culmination of a decades-long strategy by groups like Americans United for Life to choke off abortion access by creating unnecessary regulations on clinics. These groups are also hoping to get the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe in the form of laws banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, just before when the court has said that abortion bans are legal.

But those who want to find a silver bullet to end abortion rights completely just had a day in court too … and it didn’t go well for them.

The Supreme Court today declined to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling that struck down North Dakota’s “fetal heartbeat” law, which would have banned abortion at about six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know that they are pregnant. The law was clearly unconstitutional — one prominent anti-choice lawyer has called such efforts “futile” — but North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said that it was an “attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade.”

The boundaries of Roe v. Wade, it turns out, however much they may be weakened by incremental restrictions, still prevent banning almost all abortions.

Yet today’s rejection is unlikely to halt the efforts of “heartbeat bill” crusaders, the most prominent of whom is Religious Right activist Janet Porter, who is currently running for the legislature in her home state of Ohio in an effort to push such a bill through.

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