There have been several layers of lies that have grown out of the smear campaign that anti-choice groups are currently waging against Planned Parenthood.
The first is the baseless allegation found in the heavily edited tapes that activists calling themselves the Center for Medical Progress have been slowly releasing: That Planned Parenthood violated federal laws by profiting from its voluntary fetal tissue donation program. (Or, in CMP’s words, is “selling aborted baby parts for profit.”)
Those allegations do not hold water. CMP’s videos edited out many instances of Planned Parenthood employees making clear that the organization does not profit from fetal tissue donated to medical research. Several states launched investigations into Planned Parenthood after the videos were released, and every investigation to conclude so far has found no wrongdoing.
The next layer of lie is the claim that Planned Parenthood participates in fetal tissue research in order to turn a profit. This claim, rooted in the anti-choice movement’s years-long campaign to frame abortion providers as a money-hungry “industry” is completely absurd, especially given that just two of the organization’s 59 affiliates and just one percent of its clinics offer patients the opportunity to donate fetal tissue to research.
But the third lie, the truly astounding whopper, is that Planned Parenthood only offers abortions in order to sell fetal tissue for profit. Although this is the thought process that the Center for Medical Progress seems to hope that people will follow, only the farthest-right of the anti-choice fringe has put it into so many words.
Alveda King of Priests for Life alleged that Planned Parenthood makes “a lot of money” by using birth control to give women breast cancer and coercing women to have abortions so they can sell the fetal tissue. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, made a similar claim when he suggested that Planned Parenthood opposes the 20-week abortion ban that was blocked in the Senate today because they can profit more off of fetuses in later stages of development: “This suggests why they may have been opposed to bans such as this, these five-month bans, because the longer the pregnancy goes, the more valuable the parts.”
But yesterday, Marco Rubio, Republican senator from Florida and supposedly “establishment” presidential candidate, gave this completely absurd idea a new platform when he claimed on an Iowa TV news program that women are “pushed into abortions so that those tissues can be harvested and sold for a profit”:
Yes, not only does Rubio think that women who choose to terminate pregancies are “pushed into” it, but that the providers who are supposedly doing the pushing are doing it solely to protect a nonexistant fetal-tissue racket.
That’s something that we expect to hear from the farthest fringes of the anti-choice movement, not from a presidential candidate.
At last night’s GOP debate, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz both advocated for adding Rosa Parks’ picture to U.S. currency, with Rubio saying she should be on the $10 bill and Cruz saying that she should be on the $20 bill. Donald Trump also liked the idea of putting Rosa Parks on the $10 bill, but said he would probably choose his daughter, Ivanka, for the honor.
Many conservatives have attempted to whitewash Parks’ legacy, like those of other civil rights leaders, claiming that Parks was simply a woman who was too tired to get up from her seat on a segregated bus.
These GOP leaders may not realize that Parks was actually a political activist for the very same movements that have in recent years become targets of Republican ire.
Parks was an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for more than a decade before she helped to instigate the Montgomery bus boycott, and was a leading member of the group’s local chapter by the time she refused to give up her seat on the bus. “Contrary to the folkloric accounts of her civil rights role, Mrs. Parks was not too tired to move from her seat,” the NAACP points out. “Rather, she had been a knowledgeable NAACP stalwart for many years, and gave the organization the incident it needed to move against segregation in the unreconstructed heart of the Confederacy, Montgomery, AL. Mrs. Parks headed the Youth Division of the Montgomery NAACP branch for years.”
Parks also served on the board of a group that Cruz, Rubio and Trump have roundly denounced: Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders, Parks supported Planned Parenthood, the bête noire of today’s GOP.
Parks received training at the trade unionist Highlander Research and Education Center and attended meetings of the Communist Party, and she and her husband both worked with party members involved in the Scottsboro case. She backed King’s Poor People’s Campaign, which called for full employment and guaranteed income.
Danielle McGuire notes that Parks “worked to secure ‘Black Power,’ fought for open housing and against police brutality, railed against the war in Vietnam, and campaigned for George McGovern.” The New York Times adds more details: “Supporting U.A.W. Local 600, calling Malcolm X her hero, visiting a Black Panther school in Oakland, opposing American involvement in Vietnam and attending the Million Man March at the invitation of Louis Farrakhan, she collaborated with left-wingers and Black Power advocates.”
Today, an activist like Rosa Parks would be at the very center of Glenn Beck’s blackboard.
If you are a presidential candidate, you spend a lot of time talking to people in Iowa. And if you’re a Republican, that means a lot of time on Iowa conservative radio, including popular programs hosted by right-wing activists Steve Deace and Jan Mickelson.
The fact that Deace and Mickelson have long histories of extreme rhetoric has not dissuaded Republican candidates from joining their shows. But Mickelson just upped the ante with comments he made on his program today.
Media Matters caught Mickelson proposing that undocumented immigrants in Iowa become “property of the state” and pressed into hard labor. When a listener called in to point out that Mickelson’s proposal “sounds like slavery,” Mickelson asked, “Well, what’s wrong with slavery?” Undocumented immigrants, he went on to say, are the ones who are enslaving American citizens:
It will be interesting to see if any of the GOP candidates who have been on Mickelson’s radio program recently — which, according to Media Matters’ count, includes Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal — repudiate his remarks.
But the fact is that if these candidates were concerned about Mickelson’s rhetoric, they should have stopped going on his show long ago.
When Graham appeared on his program in June, Mickelson declared his allegiance to the Confederacy, as Graham scrambled to distance himself:
Mickelson has also backed Jim Crow-type voting laws.
Today’s comments are hardly Mickelson’s first foray into anti-immigrant extremism either. He has proposed barring undocumented children from public schools and said that if someone has a Hispanic name and is involved with the police, “I assume you’re not here legally.” After an interview with anti-immigrant activist Ann Corcoran, Mickelson promised to press every candidate he had on his show to oppose the U.S. resettlement of refugees from war-torn Muslim countries, which he said was an “act of jihad.” When he asked Rand Paul about it, Paul said the U.S. shouldn’t resettle Iraqi refugees because “we won the war.”
Mickelson’s anti-gay activism includes calling AIDS an “invention” of God to punish homosexuality and agreeing with former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad on the issue of homosexuality.
The Iowa talk radio host also enjoys promoting fringe right-wing conspiracy theories. Mickelson helped to bring the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theory into the GOP mainstream, asking Paul on his program about the supposed federal plan to take over Texas .
And just last week, Mickelson was getting Rep. Steve King to entertain the conspiracy theory that a botched EPA mine cleanup in Colorado was a deliberate plan to pollute a river to create a Superfund site:
Republican candidates may try to avoid Mickelson’s show after today. But given their track record, we somehow doubt that they will.
Sen. Marco Rubio called into Glenn Beck's radio program today and reiterated his position that abortion ought to be outlawed, including in cases of rape or incest, predicting that within 100 years, people will look back on legal abortion with disbelief.
"I believe a human being is entitled to life, irrespective of the circumstances in which that human being was conceived and so forth," the Florida Republican said. "Now I recognize that other people don't hold that view and in order to save lives in this country, I have supported bills that had to have exceptions in them, and I know a lot of people who are pro-life but support exceptions because they feel it goes too far."
"I personally feel very, very strongly that every human life is entitled to the protection of our laws," he continued. "If we as a society start deciding which lives we're going to protect and which lives we're not, we've put ourselves on a very slippery, dangerous slope. I actually think in a hundred years or so, or less, future generations are going to look back at this time in history and say that it's really unbelievable that so many unborn human beings, their lives were ended simply because they didn't have a birth certificate, couldn't hire a lawyer, didn't vote, or we couldn't see them yet."
Mike Huckabee’s statement on Sunday that he thinks a 10-year-old Paraguayan girl who became pregnant after being raped by her stepfather should have been denied access to abortion was no gaffe or fluke. In fact, Huckabee was expressing a belief shared by many of his fellow Republican presidential candidates and by the anti-choice establishment.
Even “mainstream” candidates Scott and Marco Rubio came out forcefully against rape exceptions in this month’s GOP presidential debate, with Walker also clarifying that he would not allow abortions that would save the lives of pregnant women.
Major anti-choice groups agree. The head of the Susan B. Anthony List, which has sponsored trainings to teach candidates how to speak about the abortion issue, decried rape exceptions as “abominable” and “completely intellectually dishonest,” and only supports them as a means to the end of passing legislation criminalizing abortion. Similarly, the National Right to Life Committee went after GOP congresswomen who undermined an anti-choice bill earlier this year because they thought its rape exception was much too narrow.
While Huckabee wants to bring Paraguay’s harsh abortion policies to America by granting constitutional protections to zygotes (the same plan proposed by Rand Paul) and possibly sending federal agents to raid abortion clinics, the Guttmacher Institute points out that “highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates.”
Indeed, the World Health Organization recorded [PDF] nearly 3,000,000 unsafe abortions taking place in South America in 2008, or 32 per 1,000 child-bearing aged women, even though abortion is banned in most South American countries. While there is no evidence that laws banning abortions eliminate the procedure, such restrictive laws are associated with maternal death and complications.
In last week’s GOP presidential debate, Mike Huckabee made an explicit argument in favor of radical fetal personhood laws, claiming that Congress could pass a law granting rights to fertilized eggs and fetuses under the 14th and Fifth Amendments, thus criminalizing all abortion and possibly common forms of birth control in one fell swoop.
But one of Huckabee’s fellow candidates made a very similar comment, which has received less attention because he did not explicitly acknowledge the personhood movement. Here’s what Marco Rubio said when Fox News’ Megyn Kelly asked about his support for abortion bans that have contained exceptions for survivors of rape and incest, a deal-breaker for personhood proponents:
Kelly: You don’t favor a rape and incest exception?
Rubio: I have never said that. And I have never advocated that. What I have advocated is that we pass law in this country that says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection. In fact, I think that law already exists. It is called the Constitution of the United States.
And let me go further. I believe that every single human being is entitled to the protection of our laws, whether they can vote or not. Whether they can speak or not. Whether they can hire a lawyer or not. Whether they have a birth certificate or not. And I think future generations will look back at this history of our country and call us barbarians for murdering millions of babies who we never gave them a chance to live.
As Katie McDonough at Fusion pointed out, Rubio’s answer was a “roundabout” personhood argument.
By saying that the Constitution already entitles fertilized eggs and fetuses to “the protection of our laws” and that Congress merely needs to “pass a law” stating that “says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection,” Rubio seems to be arguing for a personhood bill such as that proposed by fellow GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul in the Senate. (Personhood proponents believe that there is a loophole in Roe v. Wade that allows a ban on all abortions and some common forms of birth control to be accomplished legislatively, rather than through a constitutional amendment.)
However, Rubio did not sign on as a cosponsor of Paul’s bill. And the Florida senator has supported abortion bans containing rape and incest exceptions, although he clarified after the debate he did so out of political necessity, not because he supports such exceptions.
Even anti-choice activists are unclear about what Rubio meant in his answer to Kelly. The Christian Post thinks that Rubio was taking the same position on Personhood as Huckabee. Personhood USA, the group behind state-level personhood ballot measures, was more skeptical, writing that while Rubio expressed a “noble sentiment,” he must “repent” for supporting laws containing rape and incest exceptions and “will have to clarify” his position.
What is clear is that Rubio’s answer was calculated to appeal to radical anti-choice activists without being immediately off-putting to viewers who are terrified of fetal personhood laws. Beyond that, he should be asked to clarify what his position on personhood really is.
As the leading Republican presidential candidates prepare to take the stage on Thursday for the first official presidential debate, we know that they all share a common goal of promoting an far-right agenda in the White House.
We don’t expect to get much clarity on the Republicans’ extreme positions on Thursday. But if we had the chance to moderate the debate, here’s some of the questions we’d ask each of the candidates:
In a speech to the National Right to Life Committee’s convention in New Orleans this morning, Sen. Marco Rubio called Roe v. Wade a “historically and egregiously flawed” decision and vowed to fight abortion rights “at home and around the world”
“My pledge to you is this: If you help send me to that place, I will never forget this place,” he said.
He went on to compare the fight against abortion rights to the battles for abolition, civil rights and women’s suffrage: “Sometimes in contemporary American life, we come to believe that all the great causes are over, that the past generation fought all the important battles: abolition, the Civil Rights Movement, women’s suffrage. But it’s not true. In fact, one of the most important battles is the one that you are engaged in now.”
This piece by People For the American Way Political Coordinator Carlos A. Sanchez originally appeared in Fox News Latino.
Even as a diverse coalition of Americans unite around the principle that voting rights are an essential American principle that needs to be protected, the Republican Party remains firmly committed to doing the opposite. Their continued push for policies that make it more difficult for people to vote disproportionately affects minority and young voters.
Republicans – including leading Presidential candidates – have for years been pushing initiatives that make it harder to vote. Jeb Bush supports states’ efforts to enact voter ID laws, and as governor, he restricted early voting and infamously purged 12,000 eligible voters before the 2000 presidential election. Marco Rubio asked, “What’s the big deal?” with voter ID laws. Scott Walker enacted what has been described as “one of the most restrictive voter ID laws in the country.”
Voter ID laws systematically target Latinos’ and other minorities’ ability to vote. In 2012, measures to restrict voting could have affected over 10 million Latino voters. A Brennan Center for Justice study reported, “In Colorado, Florida, and Virginia, the number of eligible Latino citizens that could be affected by these barriers exceeds the margin of victory in each of those states during the 2008 presidential election.”
And it’s no accident that these laws disproportionately affect Latinos. A separate study from last year found “a solid link between legislator support for voter ID laws and bias toward Latino voters, as measured in their responses to constituent e-mails.” And yet another study that was released earlier this year found that even in states without voter ID laws, Latinos were targeted: “Election officials themselves also appear to be biased against minority voters, and Latinos in particular. For example, poll workers are more likely to ask minority voters to show identification, including in states without voter identification laws.”
Some Republicans have explicitly made known their intentions of suppressing Latino and African-American voters in order to win elections. Over 30 years ago, ALEC-founder and co-founder of the Heritage Foundation Paul Weyrich spoke plainly: “I don’t want everybody to vote…As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” Republican after Republican has continued in his footsteps: An Ohio GOP County Chair stated he supports limits on early voting because, “I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban – read African-American – voter-turnout machine.” Pennsylvania House Speaker Mike Turzai believed voter ID laws would “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” Former GOP Precinct Chair Don Yelton used the “n” word as he tried to deny that a voter ID law in North Carolina was racist (and he explained that “the law is going to kick the Democrats in the butt”). Conservative activist and notoriously anti-immigrant Phyllis Schlafly said, “The reduction in the number of days allowed for early voting is particularly important because early voting plays a major role in Obama’s ground game.” Schlafly’s Eagle Forum endorsed Marco Rubio in his run for Senate (here’s a lovely picture of the two of them) and applauded Scott Walker for his opposition to legal immigration.
The Republican response to the growing power of minority voters could not be clearer: shut them out of the election process. Under the guise of fighting voter fraud, despite a striking absence of evidence that fraud exists, Republican-led chambers across our nation have moved in concert to restrict access through the polls for political reasons. It’s that simple.
What’s even more upsetting is to hear a group who claims to represent the best interests of a community choose to ignore the facts in favor of their funder’s agenda. Daniel Garza, executive director of the Libre Iniative, said he’s fine with voter ID laws and that he doesn’t think Republicans are trying to suppress the Latino vote. Libre is a Koch-funded GOP shadow group that time and again turns its back on the Latino community – for example, Libre supported Republican candidates who opposed immigration reform in 2014. Garza’s support for voter ID laws is yet another instance of him and Republicans supporting a policy that’s devastating to Latinos.
It’s time for the Republican Party to end their campaign against voting rights—and for people like Daniel Garza to stop giving them cover when they do it.
Carlos A. Sanchez is the Coordinator of Political Campaigns for People For the American Way.
The Faith and Freedom Coalition, the Religious Right group led by disgraced right-wing lobbyist Ralph Reed, is holding its annual “Road to Majority” conference next week. Nearly every Republican presidential candidate has signed up for the event, and today, the FFC announced that Ohio Gov. John Kasich will be addressing the conservative summit.
Kasich recently made waves by tapping John Weaver and Fred Davis, two veterans of John McCain’s 2008 campaign, to work for his increasingly likely campaign for president.
The conference is cosponsored by radical right-wing groups such as Concerned Women for America, the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family & Property and the World Congress of Families, and will feature speeches from Religious Right favorites such as Reps. Steve King and Louie Gohmert, Fox News pundit Todd Starnes, Christian Broadcasting Network “reporter” David Brody, pastor Jim Garlow, rabbi Daniel Lapin and activists like Phyllis Schlafly, Lila Rose and Gary Bauer.
Clearly, no right-wing activist is too radical or corrupt for Republican presidential candidates to embrace, which is why Kasich, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham and Carly Fiorina have no qualms about attending this event organized by someone like Reed.
Reed is best known for his involvement in the Jack Abramoff scandal, where he organized a Christian Coalition anti-gambling campaign in Alabama with the help of secretive funding from Mississippi tribes that owned casinos – who just so happened to be Abramoff’s clients that didn’t want business competition from the neighboring state. Reed denied knowing the source of the funding, even though investigators uncovered emails from Abramoff asking Reed to send invoices for approval from a Mississippi tribe which controlled major gaming interests. Abramoff later said that Reed “didn't want it out that he was getting gambling money,” adding that Reed was “a tap dancer and constantly just asking for money.”
Marco Rubio was the subject of a fawning profile on today’s edition of “The 700 Club,” in which host Pat Robertson hailed the GOP presidential candidate as “the Democrats’ worst nightmare.”
In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody, Rubio warned that gay marriage represents “a real and present danger” to America because gay rights advocates are bent on labeling any anti-gay messages, including those from churches, as “hate speech.”
“We are at the water’s edge of the argument that mainstream Christian teaching is hate speech because today we’ve reached the point in our society where if you do not support same-sex marriage, you are labeled a homophobe and a hater,” Rubio said. “So what’s the next step after that? After they’re done going after individuals, the next step is to argue that the teachings of mainstream Christianity, the catechism of the Catholic Church, is hate speech. That’s a real and present danger.”
During a previous CBN interview, Rubio criticized gay marriage supporters for trying to sway the Supreme Court with “a ridiculous and absurd reading of the U.S. Constitution.”