Georgia Right to Life

Infighting Among Anti-Choice Groups Intensifies With Personhood Trademark Feud

The effort of hardline “personhood” groups to break free of an anti-choice movement they see as too compromising is hitting a roadblock as the two major groups advocating fetal personhood are now feuding with each other .

The conservative website Z Politics printed an email this week from Personhood USA, the group that brought radical “personhood” initiatives to states like Colorado and Mississippi, announcing that it has cut ties with a new group, the National Personhood Alliance (NPA), which was founded this year by the disgruntled former Georgia chapter of the National Right to Life Committee. NPA hoped to bring together activists who believe that the strategy of groups such as NRLC to chip away at abortion rights doesn't go far enough, pledging to instead enact personhood laws that would give legal rights to zygotes.

Personhood USA initially supported the new group, as did its national spokeswoman Rebecca Kiessling, and Z Politics reports that NPA’s founder, Dan Becker, “initially gained support from Personhood USA by suggesting that the two groups work alongside one another as counterparts.” In fact, NPA is billing its first convention next month as “the founding coalition of two new national groups seeking to give voice to the pro-life battle of the 21st century.”

But the good feelings apparently didn’t last long, as Personhood USA is now accusing Becker and NPA of “trying to replace Personhood USA by using our structures and Intellectual property” — including copying its logo — and “violating Personhood USA’s trademark of Personhood.” (For what it’s worth, the only official “personhood” trademark we could find in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s database belongs to Becker’s group).

Personhood USA’s email also hints at possible legal action.

After much prayer and deliberation, the Personhood USA board is deeply sadden to inform you, that Personhood USA will not be participating in the new National Personhood Alliance.

From everything Dan Becker had told us about his vision of NPA while he was in our employment. We had great hopes that it would be a complement to the Personhood movement, a counterpart to Personhood USA. Instead it appears that National Personhood Alliance is trying to replace Personhood USA by using our structures and Intellectual property.

NPA has incorporated in Georgia as a 501c4 under the name “Personhood Inc.” and will be doing business as “Personhood”, Violating Personhood USA’s trademark of Personhood. In addition, the emails and documents we have seen indicate that they intended to use our logos, branding, and intellectual property.

One of the main concerns here is duplication of focus and confusion among all grassroots supporters.

When we contacted Dan and asked that NPA stop using our logos and name, he agreed to stop using our logos and to allow us to preview any new logos before they are implemented, but he has refused to un-incorporate Personhood Inc. and suggested we enter into arbitration.

We have worked for years developing our branding. We are known as Personhood, PersonhoodUSA, Personhood Education, Personhood PAC & have invested in promoting Personhood(insert your state). We do not want to fight over a name, but we do feel if a separate virtually identical organization is started it will hurt the movement.

We want to honor God and protect all innocent life. We want to see the movement grow and branch off in new directions. We want abortion to be abolished. We want to fight abortion, not each other.

All we ask of NPA is to create it’s own logos, names, and branding without using ours, and ask that they keep NPA as it was presented to us: a separate organization with unique purpose created to build the movement. Not a divisive, confusing organization meant to compete with Personhood USA.

Anti-Choice Activist Who Clashed With National Right To Life Over Gay Rights To Head Rival Group

A new anti-choice organization meant to be an even more extreme version of the National Right to Life Committee has picked its first president — and they chose someone who embodies the growing schism within the anti-choice movement.

The National Personhood Alliance, which was formed last month by a disaffected former Georgia affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee, announced last week that it had named Molly Smith, president of Cleveland Right to Life, as its first leader.

Cleveland Right to Life caused a stir in the anti-choice movement last year when it vowed to oppose the reelection of Sen. Rob Portman, an abortion rights opponent, because of his support for marriage equality. This prompted National Right to Life president Carol Tobias to send Smith a letter informing her that her chapter could no longer be affiliated with the national group because it “embraced an advocacy agenda that includes issues beyond the right to life.” Smith then fought back, blasting National Right to Life for distancing itself from anti-gay politics in order to keep the support of Sen. Portman.

The most prominent split in the anti-choice movement is about the strategy of allowing rape and incest exemptions to abortion bans — National Right to Life has supported bills that include exemptions, arguing that such bills are better than no legislation at all, while the National Personhood Alliance’s members oppose any hint of compromise in abortion bills.

But Smith’s appointment as the new group’s president highlights the larger divide within the movement. As the anti-choice movement’s leaders get savvier about pushing their message to a wider audience in ways meant to appear more moderate (pushing for “health” regulations that close clinics rather than picketing them, for instance), they are inciting a backlash among those who see anti-choice activism as an integral part of a larger war.

Leaving the issue of LGBT rights alone is a smart strategic decision for leading anti-choice groups, as is the willingness to accept “compromises” like rape exceptions. But by rejecting this kinder, gentler makeover of the movement, the National Personhood Alliance reminds us of what is still at the heart of the opposition to abortion rights.

Spurned Georgia Group Launching Even More Extreme Rival To National Right To Life Committee

A no-compromise anti-choice group that was recently ousted as National Right to Life Committee’s Georgia affiliate is launching a new, even more extreme national group to compete with NRLC.

In April, we wrote about the drama in Georgia, where an upstart group backed by pundit Erick Erickson succeeded in booting Georgia Right to Life from its spot in the NRLC. Their feud was over not ideology, but strategy. NRLC and Erickson backed a 20-week abortion ban in the House that included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest; Georgia Right to Life and other hardline groups said that those exemptions made the bill unacceptable:

While all the major anti-choice groups share the same goal — criminalizing all abortions under nearly all circumstances — they differ in how to go about reaching that goal in a post-Roe v. Wade world. This came to a boil last year, when the House voted on a bill banning all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. At the last minute, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor added rape and incest exemptions to the bill after the legislation’s chief sponsor, Trent Franks, stoked controversy when he said “ the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low .” The addition of rape and incest exceptions then caused the anti-choice movement to split.

National Right to Life supported the revised bill and included the vote on its congressional scorecard . But Georgia Right to Life, then the state affiliate of NRLC, opposed the revised bill because of its rape and incest exceptions and urged House members to “vote against this shameful legislation.” Two Georgia Republicans, including Rep. Paul Broun, who is now running for Senate, crossed party lines to vote against the bill, siding with Georgia Right to Life.

One of the loudest critics of Georgia Right to Life’s insubordination was Georgia-based conservative pundit Erick Erickson, who called the group the “Westboro Baptist Church of the pro-life movement.” A few weeks ago, a new group with Erickson on its board sprung up with the goal of replacing Georgia Right to Life as the official state affiliate of NRLC. And this weekend, they succeeded, as NRLC cut ties with Georgia Right to Life and took on Erickson’s group, Georgia Life Alliance, in its place.

Today, Georgia Right to Life struck back, announcing that it is forming the National Personhood Alliance, a new network of state-level groups that that support the no-compromise strategy. In a press release announcing the move, Georgia Right to Life President Daniel Becker takes a clear swipe at National Right to Life: “Compromise is not possible. This is not like roads or highways or agricultural subsidies; when we compromise - someone dies."

"The focus of NPA will differ from most national pro-life groups," Becker said. "The general consensus of many in the movement is that it's time for a fresh strategy for ending the disregard for innocent human life. We intend to be 'standard-bearers' as opposed to 'king-makers'. This will require the application, politically and legislatively, of a higher standard than is currently embraced by most national pro-life groups today."

Becker said, "There has been an overwhelming call from many within the movement to form a new national pro-life group which will represent us on Capitol Hill."

The new organization will be officially formed at a convention to be held in Atlanta, GA on October 10th and 11th. Representatives of existing pro-life organizations and leaders from across the country are invited. Attendees who affirm the founding charter will begin the process of electing a national board of directors representing each state.

"The pro-life movement is more than 40 years old," Becker said. "From its inception in the late 1960's, the focus has primarily been on ending abortion. Our concern must be expanded to encompass the dignity and value of each human being at any developmental stage through natural death.

"To achieve that goal, we must ensure that our strategies are consistent with our policies and objectives. Compromise is not possible. This is not like roads or highways or agricultural subsidies; when we compromise - someone dies."

Keith Mason, Personhood USA President: "Personhood USA looks forward to working with emerging groups like the National Personhood Alliance who share our commitment to never compromise on the lives of pre-born babies."

The new National Personhood Alliance has the support of Personhood USA and claims to have allied groups in 17 states. It has also racked up endorsements from Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, talk show host Steve Deace, and a number of anti-choice activists.

Personhood USA Joins Battle Over Anti-Choice Leadership In Georgia

The radical anti-choice group Personhood USA has waded into the very public battle over the anti-choice movement’s strategy that is playing out in Georgia.

Over the weekend, a long-running feud among abortion-rights opponents broke into a full civil war when the National Right to Life Committee, the nation’s largest anti-choice group, cut its ties with Georgia Right to Life because of the Georgia group’s hardline, no-compromise strategy.

While all the major anti-choice groups share the same goal – criminalizing all abortions under nearly all circumstances – they differ in how to go about reaching that goal in a post-Roe v. Wade world. This came to a boil last year, when the House voted on a bill banning all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. At the last minute, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor added rape and incest exemptions to the bill after the legislation’s chief sponsor, Trent Franks, stoked controversy when he said “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.” The addition of rape and incest exceptions then caused the anti-choice movement to split.

National Right to Life supported the revised bill and included the vote on its congressional scorecard. But Georgia Right to Life, then the state affiliate of NRLC, opposed the revised bill because of its rape and incest exceptions and urged House members to “vote against this shameful legislation.” Two Georgia Republicans, including Rep. Paul Broun, who is now running for Senate, crossed party lines to vote against the bill, siding with Georgia Right to Life.

One of the loudest critics of Georgia Right to Life’s insubordination was Georgia-based conservative pundit Erick Erickson, who called the group the “Westboro Baptist Church of the pro-life movement.” A few weeks ago, a new group with Erickson on its board sprung up with the goal of replacing Georgia Right to Life as the official state affiliate of NRLC. And this weekend, they succeeded, as NRLC cut ties with Georgia Right to Life and took on Erickson’s group, Georgia Life Alliance, in its place.

NRLC’s decision has served to further split the anti-choice movement. Yesterday, Personhood USA – the group behind radical “personhood” laws – waded into the fight, with its president Keith Mason issuing an open letter to NRLC saying that he was “shocked” by the group’s decision and giving it an ultimatum: “We can have no conflict between us unless it is you who abandon our common aim to protect every human being's right to life. Only then will we part ways.”

National Right to Life,

What does it mean to be pro-life? Is it about protecting every innocent human being or about getting good marks on the NRLC scorecard? I was shocked when I read your decision to revoke affiliation with Georgia Right to Life.

….

It's time to decide what our standard is as a movement. If being pro-life is about getting good marks on the NRLC scorecard and voting the party line, like Eric Cantor, then we will continue to enable political opportunists who have no interest in ending abortion. If it is about protecting the lives and inherent dignity of every unborn child -- Personhood -- then we will praise statesmen who adhere to that standard rather than reprimanding them. That was the standard set by the GOP platform and the legislative agenda endorsed in President Ronald Reagan's Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation.

We are not enemies, but friends. We ought not be enemies, for we are allied in the same great struggle for human dignity. We seek unity with you toward that end. It is in your hands to decide which standard to follow. We can have no conflict between us unless it is you who abandon our common aim to protect every human being's right to life. Only then will we part ways. I ask you to reconsider your commitment to our movement's singular purpose and beg you to rededicate yourselves to protecting and defending Personhood for all, no matter the cost.

UPDATE (4/1/14): The personhood group American Right to Life, which makes no secret of its disdain for NRLC, has also  come out to defend Georgia Right to Life, writing in a press release that NRLC have "lost the vision for victory" and "ruined the term" "pro-life."

New Erick Erickson-Backed Group Ousts Hardline Anti-Choice Org In Georgia

Last week, we wrote about the infighting among anti-choice groups – between those that will settle for nothing short of banning abortion with no exceptions and those that are willing to take a more incremental approach to the same goal – that’s bubbling to the surface in contentious GOP Senate primaries in Kentucky and Georgia.

Georgia’s feud is particularly dramatic: Georgia Right to Life, the state affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee, broke with the national group last year when it opposed a federal 20-week abortion ban that the national group supported, refusing to endorse the legislation because it included exceptions for rape and incest.

Republican congressman and Senate candidate Paul Broun sided with the state group and voted against the ban because of the rape and incest exceptions; his fellow representatives Jack Kingston and Phil Gingrey, who are also running for the Senate seat, sided with the national group and voted for the ban. Former Susan G. Komen executive Karen Handel, another leading Senate contender, also supports rape exceptions to abortion bans.

Georgia Right to Life’s open split with National Right to Life over the 20-week abortion ban drew the ire of Macon-based conservative pundit Erick Erickson, who called the hardline Georgia group “the Westboro Baptist Church of the pro-life movement” and declared, “we need a new pro-life group in Georgia.”

Enter Georgia Life Alliance, a brand new anti-choice group that mysteriously sprung up a few weeks ago with the goal of taking Georgia Right to Life’s spot as the state affiliate of National Right to Life. Erickson quickly acknowledged that he was involved in the new organization and would be on its board.

And this weekend, Erickson completed his coup, as National Right to Life announced that it was ending its relationship with Georgia Right to Life and taking on Georgia Life Alliance as its new affiliate. In a press release, the national organization blamed the split on Georgia Right to Life's insubordination and defended its legislative strategy, claiming it “has helped save millions of lives.”

In short, by its own actions, Georgia Right to Life ruptured its relationship with National Right to Life.

National Right to Life and its affiliates seek to restore legal protection for all unborn children from the moment of their conception. Until the Supreme Court allows broad protections for unborn children, we work to protect as many children as possible by passing the strongest possible laws at the state and federal level. That legislative strategy has helped save millions of lives – and continues to save lives today.

Georgia Right to Life then lashed out in return, calling the national group’s decision a “tragedy”:

“It’s a tragedy that a pioneering, highly successful pro-life organization is considered unworthy to remain affiliated with National Right to Life (NRLC),” Becker said. “It’s especially hard to understand, since GRTL has accomplished so much.”

Meanwhile, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Daniel Malloy caught up with Broun, who chided National Right to Life and said he wished everyone in the anti-choice movement would just get along:

“I’m saddened that those of us that believe in life are fighting amongst ourselves. We ought to be fighting to protect the lives of unborn children instead of quibbling about differences of opinion of strategy. I’m honored that Georgia Right to Life has endorsed my candidacy for U.S. Senate. …

“I know that Georgia Right to Life has been at the forefront in the state of Georgia fighting for life. What National Right to Life did is I think unfortunate for the people who have been involved with Georgia Right to Life for a long period of time.”

Anti-Choice Infighting Disrupts Georgia, Colorado Senate Races

In an echo of the electoral battle between Tea Party groups and the establishment GOP, Senate candidates in Colorado and Georgia are being caught up in a long-simmering conflict between purists and pragmatists in the anti-choice movement.

Rep. Cory Gardner of Colorado attracted national attention yesterday when he announced that he was reversing his previous support for radical and wildly unpopular anti-choice “personhood” laws. Personhood USA, the primary group pushing such laws, promptly responded with a press release declaring that "Cory Gardner has betrayed the Republican Party, his pro-life voters, and most importantly, unborn babies in Colorado” and (hilariously) insisting that Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election because he didn’t get behind personhood.

Now, the anti-choice site Life News is citing the Susan B. Anthony List's endorsement of Gardner in his previous congressional race to attack Personhood USA, accusing them of trying to sabotage the race. Reporter Steven Erkelt writes:

Unlike Harry Reid and his friends who control the Senate, Cory Gardner will give the pro-life movement another vote and the potential to actually pass legislation that will stop abortions and abortion funding. At a critical time when the rest of the pro-life movement is working in unison to win control of the Senate and stop abortion, Personhood USA should stop misleading pro-lifers about our pro-life candidates.

Meanwhile, in Georgia, anti-choice groups are also engaged in a public spat on strategy, linked to a contentious Republican Senate primary.

A brand new group called Georgia Life Alliance is reportedly challenging Georgia Right to Life, a prominent state anti-choice lobbying group that subscribes to the “all-or-nothing” strategy, for its spot representing Georgia within National Right to Life.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jim Galloway writes that the public feud between the Georgia groups “has everything to do with the U.S. Senate race,” in which anti-choice absolutist Rep. Paul Broun is vying with Karen Handel, an anti-choice crusader who nevertheless supports legal exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of a pregnant woman – and has been endorsed by the Susan B. Anthony List .

There’s an assumption in these quarters that this has everything to do with the U.S. Senate race. U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Athens, is prominently featured on the current GRTL website, praised for his endorsement of the organization’s aggressive approach – which some critics have described as all-or-nothing.

Likewise, the group’s antipathy toward former secretary of state Karen Handel dates to the 2010 race for governor and beyond.

The major point of contention: The National Right to Life organization allows for exceptions to abortion bans in cases of rape and incest. GRTL does not, and has insisted that no politician who endorses those exceptions can be considered pro-life.

Last June, Broun voted against a “fetal pain” abortion bill backed by House Republicans that would ban abortions after a fetus is 20 weeks old. He and Georgia Right to Life blanched when House Republican leaders inserted exceptions for rape and incest.

The vote last year on the national 20-week abortion ban pitted National Right to Life, which supported the ban even though it contained rape and incest exceptions, against Georgia Right to Life, which sided with Broun in saying it didn’t go far enough, and subsequently endorsed him for Senate.

Two other Georgia representatives in the race, Rep. Phil Gingrey and Rep. Jack Kingston, sided with the national group voted for the bill with the rape and incest exceptions, with Kingston saying, “As we live in this post Roe v. Wade world, the reality is that we have to play chess, not checkers."

In response to Georgia Right for Life’s breaking of ranks on the 20-week bill, RedState blogger Erick Erickson called for the formation of a rival Georgia group, a wish that has apparently come true this week.

UPDATE (3/27/14): Surprise, surprise: It turns out that Erickson was involved in the creation of Georgia Life Alliance, and will be on its board

CORRECTION: This post has been updated to clarify that Life News was citing Susan B. Anthony List's endorsement of Cory Gardner in a previous race.

Right Wing Leftovers - 3/10/14

  • Glenn Beck is tired of politics and vows to focus on re-shaping the culture by making movies and blah, blah, blah.
  • This is an actual article on The Daily Caller: "5 guys who hit on your girlfriend at CPAC in front of you."
  • For some reason, Richard Viguerie conducted his own independent straw poll at CPAC which ended up showing pretty much the same results as the official CPAC straw poll.
  • Mark Driscoll’s church is now saying that its successful effort to buy up copies of his book in order to get it on the bestseller list was an "unwise strategy" that it will never do again.
  • Finally, Georgia Right to Life is attacking the Susan B. Anthony List for endorsing Karen Handel because she "believes that some pre-born babies can be killed based on their manner of conception."

Bachmann, Gingrich and Santorum to Participate in Forum hosted by Radical Anti-Choice Activists

Republican presidential candidiates Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have signed on for a “Presidential Pro-Life Forum” hosted by Personhood USA and moderated by Iowa conservative radio personality Steve Deace. The three candidates along with Rick Perry have already announced their support for personhood laws.

Personhood USA wants abortion and even common forms of birth control banned without exception, and personhood laws may even outlaw in-vitro fertilization and the treatment of problem pregnancies. The group launched unsuccessful referendums in Colorado and Mississippi, and has characterized President Obama as the “Angel of Death” and likened opponents to Nazis.

The other organizations listed as hosts of the forum are just as radical, if not more so.

The Call is led by Lou Engle, who has claimed that legal abortion may lead to civil war and is responsible for the Joplin tornado. Engle has also used his The Call prayer rally to bolster Ugandan legislation that would criminalize and in some cases give the death penalty for homosexuals. Moreover, Engle has compared gay rights to Nazism, advocated for Seven Mountains dominionism, and said that both gays and Muslims are demonic.

Another organization hosting the forum is the Oak Initiative, a project of South Carolina pastor Rick Joyner, who has argued that God will imminently destroy California, Hurricane Katrina was God’s judgment for homosexuality, “extremist Islam” is God’s judgment for “perversions” and “abortions,” and that very soon “God’s judgment is going to come upon Hollywood.” Joyner also believes that President Obama may be a Muslim and that Muslims are trying to take control of Michigan, school textbooks and Christianity. Like Engle, Joyner is a proponent of Seven Mountains dominionism.

Both Engle and Joyner are closely affiliated with the New Apostolic Reformation, which believes that God is raising up modern day apostles and prophets, and another cosponsor, the Freedom Federation, includes the NAR groups Generals International, led by the self-proclaimed prophet Cindy Jacobs, and Harvest International Ministries of self-proclaimed apostle Che Ahn.

Three Republican candidates for the nation’s high office including Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Senator Rick Santorum, and Speaker Newt Gingrich have confirmed their participation in the Presidential Pro-Life Forum on Tuesday, December 27, from 8:00 to 9:30 pm CST. The national tele-town hall and radio simulcast will be hosted by Personhood USA and their partner organizations: National Hispanic Christian Leadership Coalition, Liberty Counsel, Bott Radio Network, Freedom Federation, Frederick Douglass Foundation, Champion the Vote, Oak Initiative, The Call, Georgia Right to Life, Rock for Life, and Iowa Right to Life. An invitation has been extended to the remaining GOP presidential candidates.

The 90-minute pro-life tele-town hall will feature the candidates discussing their views on the rights of the preborn and other issues of great importance to pro-life voters. Pro-life groups around the nation are inviting their members to attend. Callers will have an opportunity to ask questions via email and give instant feedback to thoughts and ideas shared.

Nationally-syndicated radio host Steve Deace, whose influence in the Iowa Caucuses has been highlighted by numerous national media outlets, will broadcast the event live on his Salem Network program. Last week, four candidates, Bachmann, Santorum, Gingrich, and Gov. Rick Perry, signed Personhood USA’s Personhood Republican Candidate Pledge, declaring their intentions to stand with President Ronald Reagan in supporting “the unalienable personhood of every American, from the moment of conception until natural death.”

“We’re pleased to see the candidates standing for the rights of every person to live, love, and be loved. The time has come to end the 40-year reign of the abortion industry, once and for all,” said Keith Mason, President of Personhood USA. “This is an opportunity for everyone who understands that ‘all men are created equal’ to hear from the candidates their plans to recognize the most fundamental rights of every human being, no matter their age. Come, take advantage of this interactive and important event, and be a voice for the voiceless.”
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