Keith Mason

The Next Personhood Battle: South Carolina?

Personhood USA, the group that has pushed fetal personhood measures in states including Colorado, Mississippi and North Dakota, told supporters in an email today that its next target will be South Carolina.

The group’s president, Keith Mason, boasted to supporters of the “victory” of a nonbinding resolution supporting a personhood amendment on last year’s Republican primary ballot in South Carolina. He did not specify if the group will be advocating for a state-level ballot initiative or a legislative approach, or both. A personhood amendment currently pending in the state legislature is sponsored by Lee Bright, who was a Tea Party-supported U.S. Senate candidate in 2014.

The recent failures of state-level personhood measures led former Personhood USA official Gualberto Garcia Jones to declare last year that the strategy was “dead for now.” Evidently, Mason disagrees.

Right now, Friend, we need your help to publicly launch our South Carolina initiative.

  • We've identified 250,000 pro-life voters in South Carolina that we want to activate to support personhood, and vote in upcoming primaries and elections.
  • This initiative follows on the heels of a personhood victory this summer, in which 79% of South Carolina GOP primary voters called for a personhood amendment to the state constitution. Right now, there's personhood legislation in the state legislature that needs our support!
  • South Carolina is a vital state in the lead up to 2016. We need to engage and activate the pro-life voters we've identified so that they turn out to support pro-life candidates!

The Personhood Movement: Regrouping After Defeat: Part 4

This is the fourth post in a RWW series on the reemergence of the fetal personhood movement and what it means for the future of abortion rights in the U.S.

Part 1: The Personhood Movement: Where It Comes From And What It Means For The Future Of Choice
Part 2: The Personhood Movement: Internal Battles Go Public
Part 3: The Personhood Movement: Undermining Roe In The Courts

Last week, the Republican Party was forced into yet another uncomfortable public conversation about abortion and rape.

The House GOP, enjoying a strengthened majority after the 2014 elections, announced that on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, it would hold a vote on a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a top priority of groups like National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and Americans United for Life (AUL), which see it as a legislative key to toppling Roe v. Wade.

The night before the House was set to vote on the bill, GOP leaders pulled it from the floor, citing concerns by Republican women that a clause exempting rape survivors from the ban would require survivors to first report their assault to the police — a stipulation that they argued would prevent women from reporting rapes and would be politically unpopular.

Some anti-choice groups, however, had already stated that they would not support the bill — because they believed that the rape exception violated the principles of the anti-choice movement by exempting some women from abortion prohibitions.

In fact, less than two years earlier, the addition of the rape exemption to the bill had caused an acrimonious public split in the anti-choice movement, leading to the formation of the newest group advocating for a “personhood” strategy to end legal abortion.

The 2013 bill, proposed by Republican Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, included only an exception for abortions that would save the life of pregnant women. But in a committee hearing on the bill, Franks caused an uproar when he defended his bill by claiming that rape rarely results in pregnancy anyway. House Republicans, facing another outrageous comment about rape from one of their own, quickly added a rape exception to the bill, put a female cosponsor, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, in charge of the floor debate, and pushed it through the House.

The day before the vote, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) sent members of Congress a letter calling the Franks bill, which was based on its own model legislation, “the most important single piece of pro-life legislation to come before the House since the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act was enacted, a full decade ago.”

The group told members of Congress that it would go after them if they voted against the bill, even if they opposed it because they thought the legislation did not go far enough to ban abortion: “NRLC will regard a vote against this legislation, no matter what justification is offered, as a vote to allow unlimited abortion in the sixth month or later — and that is the way it will be reported in our scorecard of key right-to-life roll calls of the 113th Congress, and in subsequent communications from National Right to Life to grassroots pro-life citizens in every state.”

Major anti-choice groups including the Susan B. Anthony List and Americans United for Life also applauded the vote.

But Daniel Becker, head of National Right to Life’s Georgia affiliate, was not pleased. In the days after Republicans added a rape exception to the bill, Becker worked the phones, urging House Republicans from his state to oppose the “shameful” watered-down legislation. His efforts convinced two Georgia Republicans, Rep. Paul Broun and Rep. Rob Woodall, to buck their party and the major anti-choice groups and vote against the bill. Georgia Right to Life then endorsed Broun in his unsuccessful campaign to win the GOP nomination for an open U.S. Senate seat.

NRLC was livid and, true to its word, sent out a press release the next day singling out Broun and Woodall for their no votes.

Also furious was a prominent NRLC ally in Georgia, conservative pundit Erick Erickson. The day that the House approved the 20-week ban, Erickson wrote a scathing blog post calling Becker’s group “the Westboro Baptist Church of the pro-life movement.”

“Instead of saving souls, they’d rather stone those who are trying to save souls,” Erickson wrote. He called for the formation of a new anti-abortion group in Georgia to replace Becker’s as NRLC's state affiliate.

Several months later, in time for an upcoming meeting of NRLC’s board, Erickson founded his own group, Georgia Life Alliance. He then asked the national group to disaffiliate itself from Georgia Right to Life and take his group on as its official state chapter. NRLC's board happily complied, saying that Becker’s group had “ruptured its relationship” with them with its defiance on the Franks bill.

It didn’t take long for Becker to strike back. Fewer than three months later, Georgia Right to Life announced that it was forming the National Personhood Alliance, a new national organization of anti-abortion rights groups committed to a “no exceptions” strategy. In a press release announcing the group’s formation, he laid out the alliance’s philosophy, including a thinly veiled attack on NRLC. “Compromise is not possible,” he wrote. “This is not like roads or highways or agricultural subsidies; when we compromise — someone dies.”

The group later renamed itself the "Personhood Alliance."

In a policy paper in June, Jay Rogers of Personhood Florida laid out the new alliance’s strategy. It would not oppose incremental measures like the 20-week ban, but it would oppose any measure that “identifies a class of human beings that we may kill with impunity.” That is, it would only support efforts to restrict abortion rights that contain no exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of the pregnant woman.

Becker announced that the group’s interim president would be another anti-choice activist who had broken ranks with National Right to Life over strategy — in this case, over LGBT rights. Molly Smith, the president of Cleveland Right to Life, had earned a rebuke from NRLC when she said her group would oppose the reelection of Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman after he came out in favor of marriage equality, citing his openly gay son. NRLC blasted Smith for opposing the staunchly anti-choice senator and taking on “an advocacy agenda that includes issues beyond the right to life.”

The new Personhood Alliance won early endorsements from prominent Religious Right activist Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, popular conservative talk show host Steve Deace, and the Irish anti-abortion organization Life Institute.

But it also displayed ties to more fringe activists, boasting of an endorsement from infamous abortion clinic agitator Rusty Lee Thomas of Operation Save America, who blames the September 11 attacks on legal abortion. Jay Rogers, who wrote Personhood Alliance’s manifesto, is a longtime ally of Operation Save America who once assisted the group by administering a website showing the locations of Florida abortion providers’ private homes.

Another founding member of Personhood Alliance was Les Riley, who spearheaded Mississippi’s failed personhood amendment in 2011. Riley is a one-time blogger for a group that advocates Christian secession from the U.S. and a current officer with the theocratic Mississippi Constitution Party. Georgia’s Constitution Party also sponsored a booth at the Personhood Alliance’s convention.

Becker himself has a history on the more radical, confrontational fringes of the anti-abortion movement. In 1992, while running for a House seat in Georgia, Becker gained national attention when he helped pioneer the strategy of using an election-law loophole to run graphic anti-abortion ads on primetime television.

Personhood Alliance hasn't only set itself up against the rest of the anti-choice movement; it's directly competing with the group that brought personhood back in to the national political conversation.

In 2007, 19-year-old Colorado activist Kristi Burton teamed up with attorney Mark Meuser to push for a ballot measure defining “person” in Colorado law as beginning “from the moment of fertilization.” Keith Mason, another young activist who as an anti-choice missionary for Operation Rescue had driven a truck covered with pictures of aborted fetuses, joined the effort. Soon after the Colorado ballot initiative failed in 2008, he joined with Cal Zastrow, another veteran of the radical anti-choice “rescue movement” to found Personhood USA.

Personhood USA has raised the profile of the personhood movement by backing state-level ballot initiatives and legislation modeled on Kristi Burton’s. None of the group's measures has become law, but the political battles they cause have drawn national attention to the personhood movement’s goals.

In 2010, Mason’s group led the effort to again place a personhood measure on the Colorado ballot, eventually garnering just 29 percent of the vote (a slight uptick from 27 percent in 2008).

Following that loss, the group announced a “50 state strategy” to launch a personhood ballot petition in every state. The group focused its organizing on Mississippi, where an amendment made it onto the 2011 ballot but was rejected by 55 percent of voters after a strong pro-choice campaign centered on exposing the risk the amendment posed to legal birth control. In 2012, the group tried again in Colorado, but failed to gather enough signatures to get a personhood amendment on the ballot. The same year, a personhood bill in Virginia was passed by the state House but defeated in the Senate. In 2014, it got measures on the ballot in Colorado and North Dakota, both of which failed by wide margins.

As it expanded its mission, Personhood USA’s fundraising boomed. According to tax returns, in 2009 the group brought in just $52,000. In 2010, it raised $264,000. In 2011, when it was fighting in Mississippi, it brought in $1.5 million. But after the Mississippi defeat, the group’s fundraising faltered, falling to $1.1 million in 2012. The funding of the group’s nonpolitical arm, Personhood Education, however, continues to expand, going from $94,000 in 2010 to $373,000 in 2011 and $438,000 in 2012. In the process, it built a database of a reported 7 million supporters.

Despite its electoral setbacks, the group continues to have national ambitions: in 2012 it hosted a presidential candidates’ forum in Iowa attended by four Republican candidates. In what can be seen as another sign of the group’s success in raising the profile of the issue, in 2012 the Republican Party added to its platform support for a federal constitutional amendment banning abortion and endorsing “legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”

Personhood USA has also quietly become involved in international efforts to restrict abortion rights. In its 2012 tax return, the group’s political arm reported a $400,000 grant to an unnamed recipient in Europe, representing more than one third of its total spending for the year. When Buzzfeed’s Lester Feder asked Mason who and what the grant went toward, Mason declined to comment. In 2014, Personhood USA’s Josh Craddock was granted consultative status at the United Nations, where he participated in the December, 2014, “Transatlantic Summit” of anti-choice, anti-LGBT advocates from around the world. The same year, Mason was scheduled to participate in an international social conservative forum at the Kremlin in Moscow. In January 2015, a Personhood USA representative reported having delivered a presentation at the U.K. parliament.

Personhood USA initially supported the Personhood Alliance and backed Becker — a former Personhood USA employee — in his battle against NRLC. But in September 2014, Personhood USA announced that it was cutting ties with Becker, accusing him of “trying to replace Personhood USA by using our structures and intellectual property” including the word “personhood.”

But it isn't just the right to the word "personhood" that divides the two groups; they also differ sharply and publicly on strategy.

When Becker launched his group, he took with him Gualberto Garcia Jones, a top Personhood USA official and key thinker in the personhood movement, who says he drafted the failed Colorado personhood initiatives in 2010 and 2014. A few weeks later, after statewide personhood ballot initiatives promoted by Personhood USA in North Dakota and Colorado went down in flames, Garcia Jones wrote an op-ed for LifeSiteNews explaining that while he had hoped to see those measures succeed, he believed that “the statewide personhood ballot measure is dead for now.” This was a direct repudiation of the strategy of Personhood USA’s strategy of introducing these measures or legislative alternatives in all 50 states.

Garcia Jones wrote that the struggling movement needed to engage in “asymmetrical tactics” by pushing through municipal personhood measures in rural areas where the movement can “control the battlefield”:

These initial years of the personhood movement have taught us a lot. I believe that we now know how to fight to win against Planned Parenthood. And the key is being able to control the battleground.

When you look at electoral maps of the country, it is readily evident that majorities in almost every metropolitan area of the country are opposed to our worldview. These metropolitan areas are also the major media centers and accumulate large percentages of the voting population in every state.

Right now, fighting the abortion industry at the state level is akin to having lined up a battalion of colonists against the well-trained and well armed redcoats. We need to start engaging in more asymmetrical tactics, and this means engaging the enemy in municipalities and counties that we know we control.

This can be done at the legislative and political level, as Georgia Right to Life and other groups have done by the endorsement of state officials, or it can be done by engaging in municipal ballot measures.

Jones noted that such municipal ordinances could affect the “many [local] powers that touch upon the personhood of the preborn, from local health and building codes to local law enforcement such as child abuse prevention.” And he hopes that, in the long run, municipal-level victories could lead to greater things. Becker has told blogger Jill Stanek that he hopes municipal measures will provoke legal battles that will accellerate a reconsideration of abortion rights in the courts.

Personhood USA, meanwhile, took credit for the municipal resolutions strategy and said it supported it, but noted that its state-level activism had been successful in mobilizing the grassroots and as an "educational tool that simultaneously provides a pro-life standard for lobbying and candidate endorsements."

Will the personhood movement’s strategy work?

Polling shows that the level of support for abortion rights in the U.S. depends on how you ask the question. And Gallup has found that Americans are pretty much evenly split between those who call themselves “pro-life” and those who choose the label “pro-choice.” But behind the labels is an entirely different picture. A large majority of Americans believe that abortion should be legal under all or some circumstances; only 21 percent want the procedure to be completely banned. Similarly, Pew found in 2013 that only three-in-ten respondents favored overturning Roe v. Wade.

These numbers don’t bode well for the personhood movement. Voters in states as conservative as Mississippi and North Dakota have been turned off by personhood’s clear goal of banning abortion in all circumstances as well as the threat it poses to contraception and fertility treatments.

At the same time, the more successful anti-choice groups have managed to work within current public opinion to push through scores of state-level measures restricting access to abortion in an effort to slowly undermine Roe. These measures, many based on model legislation from Americans United for Life, restrict abortion access by such means as imposing waiting periods for women seeking care, requiring hospital “admitting privileges” for abortion providers and then banning public hospitals from providing such agreements; or even regulating the width of the hallways in clinics.

The Guttmacher Institute has calculated that between 2011 and 2014, states enacted 231 abortion restrictions, meaning that half of all reproductive-age U.S. women now live in a state that the Institute categorizes as “hostile” or “extremely hostile” to abortion rights — all without passing outright bans on abortion or establishing fetal “personhood.” The anti-choice group Operation Rescue, which keeps detailed records on abortion providers in its effort to shut them down, reports that the number of surgical abortion clinics in the country has dropped by 75 percent since 1991, with 47 such clinics closing permanently in 2014. This can be partly attributed to the increased frequency of medication abortion, a practice that anti-choice groups are targeting with new restrictions. In 2005, even before the closures of the last few years, 87 percent of U.S. counties had no abortion provider.

Even as voters reject moves to ban abortion outright, anti-choice groups have found less resistance to this strategy of chipping away at abortion rights with the same goal. This contrast played out in the 2014 election, when voters in Colorado and North Dakota rejected personhood measures when they were clearly told could end legal abortion, while voters in Tennessee approved a measure giving the state government sweeping new powers to curtail abortion rights without outright ending abortion rights.

In fact, by loudly proclaiming its end goal, the personhood movement may be inadvertently helping the incrementalists who are using a different strategy to achieve the same ends. By proudly embracing the no-compromise extremes of the anti-choice agenda, the personhood movement has allowed the incrementalists to portray themselves as the political center, giving them cover for a successful campaign to undermine the right to choose. In 2014, Americans United for Life president Charmaine Yoest told Time, “Most people want to see abortion restricted in some way, even if they don’t call themselves pro-life … We’re the ones occupying the middle ground.” She might not be able to make that statement if the personhood movement was not loudly and proudly occupying the absolutist, no-compromise stance that her group believes to be too politically risky.

Even as the personhood movement provides political cover to groups like AUL, it also serves as an ever-present reminder of the goals of the anti-choice movement as a whole. While the more visible anti-choice groups may find a total, immediate ban on legal abortion politically unfeasible, the personhood movement is a constant reminder that this is what they want to achieve — one way or another.

Personhood Group Thanks Joni Ernst For Sticking With Them On Toxic Issue

Personhood USA is not used to electoral victories.

On Tuesday, the Colorado-based group failed for the third time to pass a ballot measure granting legal rights to zygotes in its home state. It consoled itself that at least the measure — whose scope had been somewhat narrowed in an effort to attract voters — lost less badly than it had in the past.

Adding insult to injury, Colorado’s successful Republican Senate candidate, Cory Gardner, had renounced his support for the amendment and started lying about the fact that he was still supporting a similar measure in the U.S. House, causing Personhood USA’s head, Keith Mason, to joke about dressing up as someone stabbed in the back by Gardner for Halloween.

But the group did find one thing to be very happy about this week. In a press release that serves as a barely veiled dig at Gardner, Personhood USA congratulates successful Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst “for defending personhood during [a] principled Senate victory.” After falsely claiming in a debate that a state-level personhood bill she supported wouldn’t actually do anything but instead was just a symbolic “statement,” Ernst later confirmed that she would in fact support a federal-level personhood bill.

Personhood USA cites Ernst’s support for their cause to encourage Republican presidential candidates vying to win the Iowa caucuses to embrace similarly radical anti-choice stands:

"Joni Ernst didn't just say she was pro-life, she actually had the courage to act pro-life," said Keith Mason, President of Personhood USA. "After all, supporting personhood rights for the unborn is what it means to be pro-life. By doubling down on her support for personhood and energizing her pro-life base, she was able to win her race by a wide margin."

Ernst's victory sends a clear message to potential Republican presidential candidates who want to win the Iowa caucuses. In June, a personhood resolution on the South Carolina GOP ballot won by a landslide with 79% support from voters.

"Republican presidential candidates campaigning in Iowa and South Carolina should pay attention to the grassroots majority who want a candidate that acts pro-life," Mason continued. "Ernst's margin of victory is further confirmation that courageous integrity and fidelity to core pro-life values are a winning combination. While some other candidates narrowly eked by after turning their backs on their pro-life constituencies, Ernst's unapologetic strategy reaped major dividends."

Ernst will hardly be alone as a personhood champion in Congress. A personhood bill sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul currently has 21 cosponsors in the Senate and a House bill has 132 cosponsors…including Gardner.

Personhood Leader's Halloween Costume: Stabbed In The Back By Cory Gardner

When he launched his bid for U.S. Senate, Colorado Republican Rep. Cory Gardner dropped his previous support for his state’s radical anti-choice “personhood” amendment like a hot potato and has since been attempting to deny that he is sponsoring a similar bill at the federal level, saying that the bill does not exist.

This flip-flopping and evasion has brought Garner criticism from abortion rights advocates, but has also alienated his former allies in the “personhood” movement.

Jennifer Mason, the communications director for the Colorado-based Personhood USA, chalked up Gardner’s inconsistent stand on personhood to “bad political advice”: “Obviously [Gardner's] a victim of some bad political advice, there’s no reason for him to pull local support while he’s still 100 percent behind the federal amendment. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Then, Colorado reporter Jason Salzman wrote yesterday about a Halloween Twitter exchange he had with Keith Mason, the head of Personhood USA and Jennifer's husband, in which Mason declared that his “costume this year is a knife in my back” inscribed with Gardner’s initials:

 

Sadly, there are no pictures.

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."

'This Is A Very Big Deal': Glenn Beck, Personhood USA, And Justina Pelletier

The other day we noted that, after months of coverage by Glenn Beck, the case of Justina Pelletier had suddenly exploded into a full-fledged Religious Right campaign this week, with Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver signing on as the family's new attorney while Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition (who was deeply involved in the Terri Schiavo case) began serving as a family's spokesman.

On top of that, Personhood USA has also gotten involved and is set to begin running television ads about the case on Fox News beginning today. The ads were put together by a right-wing media firm called Rapid Response TV on behalf of Personhood USA with funding provided by the same unnamed billionaire benefactor who has been bankrolling this entire campaign.

For technical legal reasons, the ads are being run by something called Revolution PAC, but as Rapid Response TV's president Bryan Hartong told Beck yesterday on his radio show, "the understanding is that anything that comes out of this is going to Personhood," meaning that all the names gathered or money raised will be handled by Personhood USA.

As Beck's The Blaze reported today, Personhood USA has also organized a call-in campaign to the Massachusetts court officials about the case:

A human rights group says it has organized people to make hundreds of calls to court officials asking them to “release Justina Pelletier,” the Connecticut teen at the center of an ongoing, high-profile custody battle.

Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA, said more than 500 calls have been made so far to the office of the Suffolk County Juvenile Court, which is overseeing the Pelletier case. The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families took custody of the 15-year-old last year after doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital disagreed with her parents and another doctor’s diagnosis.

If the name of Keith Mason or his Personhood organization seem familiar to readers here, it is probably because he was the "manager of the Yes on 62 Campaign" back in 2010, which was the failed effort to pass a constitutional amendment in Colorado that would have granted "personhood" from the moment of fertilization in order to completely outlaw abortion and some forms of birth control.

The campaign was most remarkable for the ad campaigns that Personhood ran in support of the amendment, including comparing supporters of legal abortion to Nazis and even running a radio ad featuring a "fomer slave" who compared abortion to slavery:

I'm George Stevens and I'm a person. I was held as property as a child. Even before my birth I was called a slave in an America you wouldn't recognize. But folks like you helped me escape North to freedom and in 1864, I joined the infantry to fight for my country. I fought so all slaves would be recognized as persons, not property. And we won.

But today in Colorado, there are still people called property - children - just like I was. And that America you thought you wouldn't recognize is all around you and these children are being killed.

This November, vote "yes" on Amendment 62. Amendment 62 declares unborn children persons, not property. And that's the America I fought for.

So visit PersonhoodColorado.com and in November, vote "yes" on 62. It's the right thing to do.

Amazingly, that was not even the most radical ad the organization ran during the campaign, producing one that literally likened President Obama to the Angel of Death:

As Beck declared on his radio broadcast yesterday, "this is a very big deal" not only because Justina's life and health at stake, but Beck thinks that this case is also the key to stopping things like Common Core and progressivism in general once and for all.

"Thank you Lord," Beck said. "Quite honestly, thank you Lord for this Justina case because maybe perhaps this is a blessing because we will all wake up and we'll be able to stop it before it's too late":

Leading Anti-Choice Activist says Romney 'Did The Same Thing' as Obama on Contraception

Personhood USA president Keith Mason spoke to Janet Mefferd on Monday to cast doubt on Romney’s record on reproductive rights and stem-cell research, addressing Romney’s consistency, or lack thereof, on abortion rights and stem-cell research, role in health care reform in Massachusetts, and views on mandating hospitals to distribute emergency contraceptive pills. “At the end of the day, I don’t believe he is pro-life,” Mason said, arguing that Romney’s move on contraception coverage was no different from the Obama administration’s stance:

Mefferd: When you look at his record back in Massachusetts, he talks about a pro-life conversion but it is very confusing I think for a lot of pro-lifers to look at what he did in Massachusetts and feel totally comfortable with where he actually stands versus what he says. Where do you come down on his pro-life record in Massachusetts and where he stands now?

Mason: At the end of the day, I don’t believe he is pro-life. I guess I could be blunt; I could go through a list. We have RomneyCare as a starter, in Romney Care he used his veto powers in eight different ways but he didn’t use those veto powers to veto the $50 co-pay abortions that are within RomneyCare. Then after that even in 2004 we have a bill that he says he had a pro-life conversion so he vetoed a bill against embryonic stem-cell research and then he signed a bill later allowing for stem-cell research by embryos leftover from IVF clinics. That’s not that convincing to me either.

As far as the morning after pill goes, we have a bill that he vetoed, which is part of his pro-life conversion, he used it sort of for his credentials, for expanded access to the morning after pill. But then just three months later he signed a bill that even expanded it even farther than that, than it was being implemented at the time. Then even against his legal team’s advice he signed an executive order mandating that Catholic hospitals distribute the morning-after pill. With all these rallies, which I’ll participated on the 8th with religious freedom sort of to send the message to the Obama administration to not trample on that, the guy that we’re supposed to rally around sort of did the same thing.

As William Saletan points out in a Slate article documenting Romney’s constantly changing story about his “conversion” on the abortion issue, Romney claims to have stopped supporting abortion rights after he was troubled by a meeting regarding the ethics of embryo research, but after coming out against reproductive choice he continued to favor research on surplus IVF embryos. And despite Romney’s assertion that “every time as governor” he “came down on the side of life,” he said in a 2005 interview (after his supposed change of views) that he would veto any bill about abortion, “whether it’s pro-life or pro-choice.”

The Massachusetts-based Catholic Action League criticized Romney for enforcing his private counsel’s opinion mandating that Catholic hospitals distribute emergency contraceptive pills, claiming, “The injury to the conscience rights of Catholic hospitals was not done so much so much by the church’s ideological enemies on the Left but by the Romney administration.” Later, Romney said he personally supported his counsel’s view. During the presidential campaign, however, Romney described the Obama administration’s opposition to exempting health workers from distributing contraceptives as part of “an assault on religion unlike anything we have seen.”

 

Santorum Accepts, Romney Declines Invitation to Religious Right Forum Hosted by Gingrich Campaign Co-Chair

To the surprise of nobody, Mitt Romney is ignoring an invitation to participate in the presidential candidate forum at Liberty Counsel’s Florida Awake! conference on Saturday. So far, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have accepted the invitation, while Ron Paul respectfully declined because he will be outside of Florida at the time. Romney has already skipped the Thanksgiving Family Forum in Iowa and two Personhood USA forums, and his decision to skip the Liberty Counsel debate earned him a rebuke from Personhood USA, even though Romney at one point endorsed the group’s extreme anti-choice legislation. The slam from Personhood USA, a cosponsor of the forum, implied that he wouldn’t be a strong opponent of abortion rights:

Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senator Rick Santorum are confirmed to participate in Florida Awake! Congressman Ron Paul regretfully declined, as he is not scheduled to be campaigning in Florida at that time. The event is already sold out, with over 1800 tickets reserved.

Governor Romney, again expressly invited, has again neglected to notify organizers of his willingness or disinclination to participate.

"Following President Obama's statement celebrating the Roe v. Wade decision -- effectively celebrating the deliberate killing of 54 million innocent American citizens -- Personhood USA recognizes the urgency of ensuring that we know where our candidates stand," stated Keith Mason, President of Personhood USA. "We need a president who values life, and will defend the innocent in word and in deed. We certainly don't need a candidate who cares nothing for the Sanctity of Life, nor one who will join President Obama in celebrating the deaths of millions.'

But Romney may have a not terrible reason for skipping the forum led by Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver, as Staver is Co-Chair of the Gingrich Faith Leaders Coalition. Staver endorsed Gingrich earlier this month, calling him the “clear choice for conservatives.”

While Romney’s decision to not participate is nothing new, it is far more bizarre that Santorum would accept the invitation to a forum hosted and moderated by a Gingrich campaign leader.

Bachmann to Personhood USA: Ending Abortion 'Is What I Would Literally Die For'

It is remarkable to realize how, in just a few years and despite repeated losses, the "personhood" movement has gone from a fringe effort that had no support to a central part of the Republican presidential primary.

When the first personhood effort in Colorado got trounced at the polls in 2008, anti-choice groups ranging from National Right to Life and Americans United for Life to the Eagle Forum all refused to support these sorts of amendments.

But this year nearly the entire Religious Right movement got behind the personhood effort in Mississippi ... which likewise failed miserably.  Nonetheless, the movement vows to press forward and has even managed to get nearly all of the leading Republican presidential candidates to sign a pledge promising to support both state and federal personhood amendments.

Last night, Personhood USA and a gaggle of Religious Right anti-choice groups hosted a "Pro-life Tele-Town Hall and Radio Simulcast" that featured Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Perry being interviewed by Iowa radio show host Steve Deace and Personhood USA's Keith Mason.

Each candidate received roughly ten minutes to proclaim their anti-choice bona fides and assure those listening that, if elected, they would do everything in their power to outlaw abortion. Rick Santorum even went so far as to declare that presidential candidates should not even be saying they "believe" life begins at conception because it is not a belief, it is a scientific fact:

I want to make sure that everybody understands that when politicians say "I believe life begins at conception," that is conceding ground. And the ground that we concede is by using the term "believe." Life beginning at conception is not a belief, it is not an article of faith, it is an article of fact. It's a biological fact that life, in fact, begins as conception and we need to begin to understand that we have to use language that is consistent with what the truth is. 

While each of the candidates used the call as an opportunity to highlight their anti-abortion views and agenda, none of the candidates could hold a candle to Michele Bachmann, who made it quite clear that outlawing abortion has been her life's work ... one she is willing to die to see happen:

I want everyone to know that I recognize and respect the dignity of every human life from conception until natural death. This is not a check the box thing for me; this is the core of my conviction, this is what I would literally die for. We have a moral obligation to defend other people and the reason for that is because each human being is made in the image of likeness of a holy God.

Some of the most elegant words about life came to us from the Declaration of Independence and ti says that God has given us our right to life, and we know that President Obama has a war on the family.

What we need to do to end Roe v. Wade and end that horrible holocaust in the United States of life is to pass the Personhood Amendment. I am the first person to sign Personhood USA's pledge, and I am proud to say that, to define life from the moment of conception. We don't have to wait for the Supreme Court; we can be involved in this ourselves and I am thrilled to have signed the Personhood Amendment.

As President of the United States, I won't just talk this talk, I won't relegate pro-lifers to the corner and pat them on the head, I will actually do something about it and I will veto any congressional attempt to provide federal funding of abortion. That's why I led 40,000 Americans to the United States capitol to block Obamacare.

I'm 55, since I've been 19 I've been very active in the pro-life movement. I get it. This isn't a check the box issue for me; this is life itself. The one thing we can't get wrong in this election is the life issue. Too many times we have been relegated to the corner - I will not, as president I will actively pursue the personhood legislation.

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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