Trent Franks

Trump Names 'Pro-Life Advisory Council' In Attempt To Reassure Anti-Choice Movement

Donald Trump’s campaign has given the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody a sneak peek at the members of a “pro-life advisory council” that the candidate is set to introduce today. Earlier this month, Trump sent a letter to “pro-life leaders” laying out a number of promises that he would make to their movement and announcing that Marjorie Dannenfelser, the head of the anti-choice electoral group Susan B. Anthony List, would spearhead the new anti-abortion coalition for his campaign.

Trump has given the anti-abortion movement some serious heartburn during his campaign as he’s continually reshaped his position on the issue and bungled their talking points, including at one point saying that women should face “some form of punishment” for abortion if the procedure is recriminalized. But since earning the Republican nomination, he’s started to win over many skeptical anti-abortion leaders with promises to appoint Supreme Court justices who share their views and to help them dismantle Planned Parenthood.

Brody writes that the full list released today “may indeed give comfort to those remaining evangelicals who are having a tough time making their way to the voting booth this Election Cycle.” Indeed, while Trump has attempted to say different things about abortion rights to different audiences, this new coalition shows that he is ready to go all-in with a movement that ultimately wants to ban the procedure without exception.

On the new list of Trump’s anti-choice allies are a number of legislators who have taken the lead on fighting abortion rights in Congress, including Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who led the House select committee investigating Planned Parenthood, Rep. Diane Black, Rep. Trent Franks and Rep. Chris Smith. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is on the list, as is Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin.

Also joining the new coalition are Religious Right activists including Tony Perkins and Ken Blackwell of the Family Research Council; Gary BauerRalph Reed; the American Principles Project’s Frank Cannon; Bill Dallas of United in Purpose; Concerned Women for America’s Penny Nance; C-FAM’s Austin Ruse; and Ed Martin, head of the late Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, who is apparently sympathetic to many of Trump’s views.

The list also includes anti-abortion activists Day Gardner of the National Black Pro-Life Union, Kristan Hawkins of Students for LifeAlveda King and Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, and former Americans United for Life president Charmaine Yoest, who now works for Bauer’s American Values.

Dannenfelser has made no secret of the fact that she eventually wants to ban abortion without exception (except for a narrow exemption for saving a woman’s life) and her group opposes some common forms of birth control, claiming that they cause abortions. Many of the activists in Trump’s new coalition have similarly extreme views and are confident that Trump will let them have their way.

Ruse, who works at the United Nations to attempt to stop the adoption of language friendly to LGBT equality and reproductive rights, has declared, for instance, that “comprehensive sexuality education” is “a phrase created in the pits of hell by wicked individuals who wanted to undermine the family and ultimately destroy any institution that stands between the family and the state.” After meeting with Trump earlier this year, Ruse said that the GOP candidate “doesn’t care about” reproductive rights and therefore will “let our side do exactly what we want to do.”

Others have presented different reasons for supporting Trump. Priests for Life’s Pavone, who has said that legal abortion is worse than terrorism, has been somewhat lukewarm about Trump but has argued that Trump’s promises on abortion overcome any other faults he might have.

In response to a caller to a Catholic radio program who said that Trump’s stances on things like nuclear warfare and going after the families of suspected terrorists aren’t exactly pro-life, Pavone said that the potential of Trump dropping an atomic bomb is less dangerous than the certainty of Hillary Clinton continuing the “raging holocaust” of legal abortion. On another radio program, Pavone argued that it is more important that a candidate be “right on abortion” than on “poverty, immigration, war and peace, homelessness [and] health care.”

Pavone, after Trump said he supported punishing women who have abortions, floated the possibility of legal punishments for abortion “accomplices,” such as the person who brings a woman to a clinic.

Pavone’s Priests for Life colleague, Alveda King, also has some extreme views on reproductive rights, including alleging that “chemicals and things” in birth control make women infertile and that Planned Parenthood gives women contraception in order to give them breast cancer.

Other activists in Trump’s coalition have been leaders of the effort to chip away at abortion access by attempting to regulate abortion providers out of existence. When Yoest was at Americans United for Life, she was at the forefront of what she called this “stealth strategy” of “trench warfare and gaining ground under the radar.”

Rep. Trent Franks: Civil War Started Because 'The Left Was So Committed' To Slavery

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., compared legal abortion to slavery on Friday, insisting that it was in fact “the left” in America that started the Civil War because “the left was so committed” to slavery.

Franks made the remarks while speaking with Everett Piper, the president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, who was guest-hosting the Family Research Council’s “Washington Watch” program.

When Piper asked Franks about President Obama’s opposition to so-called “born-alive” bills that are a favorite of anti-choice activists, Franks responded that the president “knows that if this country ever wakes up and realizes that we’re in the center storm of the greatest human genocide in the history of humanity, what we’re doing to unborn children and newborn children, that there won’t be a Democrat left standing in the northern hemisphere… in an election, that is, if there’s ever a realization of what the Democrat Party has stood for.”

“It’s so sad, because we’re just not students of history, Doctor,” he continued. “You know, the left gets very angry when we use the slavery parallel, but the parallel is so profoundly appropriate. Because the Supreme Court said in Dred Scott that the slave was not a person, that they were chattel, and you could do whatever you want.

“And there were a group of people, they called them Republicans, they began to coalesce as a new party, that said, no, these slaves are children of God and we as Americans stand for the notion that we’re all created equal and that includes slaves. And we stood up for them and the left was so committed to it that it precipitated a bloody civil war and we ended up shooting ourselves to doll rags. That’s how committed an irrational conclusion can become when there is an investment of these kinds of political proportions in a certain narrative.”

Franks is far from the first conservative politician to conveniently forget the history of the last half century to declare that today’s Democrats are the party of slavery and Jim Crow.

Rep. Trent Franks: If Clinton Is Elected, 'The Constitution Is Lost'

Rep. Trent Franks, Republican of Arizona, had a dire message for American voters this weekend, declaring in an interview with Breitbart News’ radio program that if Hillary Clinton is elected president, the Constitution will be lost, possibly forever.

Franks spoke with Breitbart’s Matt Boyle at the Values Voter Summit, the annual Religious Right conference hosted by the Family Research Council, in an interview that was aired on Sunday.

“Well, I know that listeners to any political program are used to hearing political hyperbole,” Franks told Boyle. “I understand that and I know that it’s hard sometimes to take so-called politicians seriously. But I have the privilege of chairing a Constitution subcommittee in the Congress, and I can tell you with everything in me that if Hillary Clinton becomes president, she will appoint at least probably three Supreme Court justices and undermine this Constitution to the extent that it will essentially be vitiated and abrogated for a generation or more. I can’t express to you how serious that is. This generation could be the ones that lose the Constitution either for the next 30 years or maybe forever. And so this November is going to tell that story.”

Franks said that if Trump picks Supreme Court nominees from the list that he has put forward, which was shaped by conservative groups, then “we have a chance to save this country.”

“If Mrs. Clinton, on the other hand, appoints the Supreme Court justices, the Constitution is lost,” he said. “Let me say that again: If she does it, the Constitution is lost and my children and yours will face a completely different future than they otherwise would have and the greatest republic in the history of the world has become perhaps just on the track of another European socialist experiment.”

Franks effusively praised Trump’s speech to the Values Voter Summit, saying, “I believe if every Christian, for that matter every really committed American, could have heard this speech they would have become a committed, irrevocable supporter of Donald Trump.”

He also warned that terrorists around the world will be celebrating if Clinton is elected.

“If Hillary Clinton becomes president, we ought to all start sleeping with the lights on because national security will be at grave risk,” he said. “I don’t know how to express it in any stronger terms. If she becomes president, terrorists the world over will celebrate. Their celebration will make the one at the DNC look like a slumber party. This is that significant.”

Trent Franks: Every Study Shows Same-Sex Couples Don't Make Good Parents

Last week, Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., stopped by the Family Research Council’s “Washington Watch” radio program to discuss the recent fight in the House of Representatives over LGBT nondiscrimination rules for federal contractors.

Franks linked the issue to the debate over marriage equality, claiming that “all of the research shows” that children of opposite-sex parents perform better “on every measureable metric” than those raised by same-sex couples.

“There is no doubt whatsoever that whether it’s caused by divorce or lack of marriage or same-sex marriage, whatever it is, whenever a child is not in a mother-father family, traditional family, they have some odds stacked against them in many areas.”

This, of course, is not true.

The congressman then falsely claimed that LGBT rights advocates are trying to force pastors to officiate same-sex couples’ weddings and prohibit speech critical of marriage equality, adding that “the so-called tolerant left are the most intolerant people that I know of.”

Franks, who once called President Obama an “enemy of humanity” and criticized gay marriage as a threat to the survival of society, lectured LGBT rights supporters to be more “kind and decent and respectful.”

Franks also told Perkins that liberals use “vitriolic” and “emotional” rhetoric because they know their ideas “would not survive the test of reality.”

“They can’t have a reasoned discussion because most of their positions simply collapse under the weight of reason,” he said.

Trump To Speak At Event Honoring Birther Publisher Joseph Farah

Donald Trump may not spend as much time talking about President Obama’s birth certificate now that he’s the Republican presidential frontrunner, but that doesn’t meant that he’s given up his birther sympathies.

The far-right outlet WorldNetDaily reported over the weekend that Trump and his fellow GOP candidate Mike Huckabee are both confirmed to speak at the Western Center for Journalism’s Western Conservative Conference in Scottsdale in March, at which Rush Limbaugh will present Joseph Farah, the founder of the Western Center and of WND, with the center’s “Hero of Freedom Award.” An invitation says that Trump will deliver the keynote address at the event, which is being co-chaired by Arizona Republican Reps. Matt Salmon and Paul Gosar and will also feature Rep. Trent Franks.

Farah, along with WND “reporter” Jerome Corsi, has been one of the most enthusiastic pushers of the birther myth, writing as recently as this month that Trump was right to call Obama’s birth certificate a “fake” and wondering if the promise of a payout late in life might prompt Obama to finally reveal the truth behind his “eligibility scam.”

Back in 2011, Farah credited Trump with raising the profile of Corsi’s book, “Where’s the Birth Certificate?” (published by WND), which debuted on the best seller list shortly after President Obama publicly released a copy of his birth certificate. Even after Obama made the certificate public, Farah said he was suspicious of its authenticity and added that even if it was authentic, Obama could be ineligible for the presidency anyway since his father was born abroad. (Farah quickly forgot his concerns when the Canadian-born Ted Cruz, who also has one foreign-born parent, started talking about running for president.)

You could argue that WorldNetDaily was a precursor to the Trump era, as the site became a place where the Republican establishment mingled with wild conspiracy theories and racist fearmongering. Along with the birther story, WND helped drive the Jade Helm 15 panic and has run stories alleging that Obama is building “FEMA concentration camps,” is planning the next Holocaust and wears a secret Muslim wedding ring. The outlet has entertained claims that gay men were behind the Holocaust and once ran a six-part series arguing that soy turns kids gay. WND frequently fuels racial panic, such as with an article it published on its front page yesterday with the banner headline “Coming To Your Suburb: The Ghettos. Thanks, Obama!” At the same time, the outlet frequently interviews GOP members of Congress and has published articles written by presidential candidates.

The Western Conservative Conference will also feature another prominent birther, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was honored at last year’s event with a roast full of racist jokes.

Rep. Trent Franks: Prepare For Judgment For Legal Abortion, Like 'Altars Of Baal'

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., was Family Research Council President Tony Perkins’ guest on his “Washington Watch” program on Saturday, where he warned that continued legal abortion “rivals almost anything that happened on the altars of Baal” and will lead to God’s judgment on liberals and on America as a whole.

“As a nation, we are accountable for what we know,” Perkins said, “and we do know now, without excuse, what Planned Parenthood is doing. I tremble for my nation, for this country, to move forward in choosing the wrong path when we now know what is happening in these abortion clinics across the nation.”

“You know, for some reason, and I don’t understand it,” Franks said, “all through history, God has always done His part, but He’s required us to do ours. And He ultimately wins the battle, but what happens in history is oftentimes directly reflective of man’s responsibility or irresponsibility. And for some reason, we are created to be responsible and to listen to God’s foundational precepts. And when we don’t, it brings great suffering on us and upon those we love and upon the greater human family. And right now, you are so right, we have seen the evil of Planned Parenthood and the murder of these little children that rivals almost anything that happened on the altars of Baal. And if we don’t, as a nation, say, ‘No, we reject that,’ I’m afraid we’ll bring great sorrow upon all of us.”

Franks went on to warn pro-choice liberals that if they believe in God, they should be “trembling.”

“You know, I have absolutely every conviction that God is on His throne and He’s going to prevail here,” Franks said. “But in human terms, if Christians and people of good will and people who have a respect for their fellow human beings don’t begin to assert themselves soon, the barbarians are going to overrun the gates.”

“I really fear for” pro-choice people, he said. “Because there are two questions I would ask the left: What if these really are babies? And what if there really is a God? Those are things that if I had to ask in their position, there would be great trembling in my life if I held their position.”

Trent Franks: Legal Abortion 'The Worst Human Rights Atrocity' In US History

Today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing on what the committee’s Republican leadership called “the horrific abortion practices at the nation’s largest abortion provider” was supposed to amplify the Center for Medical Progress’ recent smear campaign against Planned Parenthood. But seeing as neither a representative from Planned Parenthood nor from the Center for Medical Progress was invited to testify, it turned into a catch-all discussion of various efforts to turn back reproductive rights.

Rep. Trent Franks, the Arizona Republican, used his time at the hearing to call for the defunding of Planned Parenthood and to push his 20-week abortion ban, which passed in the House earlier this year.

Franks said that legal abortion after 20 weeks — a point at which only a tiny percentage of abortions take place — is “the worst human rights atrocity in the history of the United States,” claiming that many fetuses aborted after 20 weeks “cried and screamed as they died, but because it was amniotic fluid going over the vocal chords instead of air, we couldn’t hear them.”

“What is so liberating about brutally and painfully dismembering living, helpless little human babies?” he asked.

Claiming that he was “protecting these little babies and their mothers” against the “evil acts” of legal abortion and Planned Parenthood, Franks declared, “The sands of time should blow over this Capitol dome before we give Planned Parenthood another dime of taxpayer money.”

House Judiciary Committee Investigates Planned Parenthood But Still Refuses To Hold VRA Hearing

The Committee is putting its commitment to this far-right smear campaign ahead of its commitment to democracy. As they take up Planned Parenthood, Congress is more than two years past due in restoring what the Voting Rights Act lost in 2013 through the Supreme Court's damaging Shelby County v. Holder decision. They should instead be holding a hearing on the Voting Rights Advancement Act.
PFAW

Trent Franks: Defund Planned Parenthood Or America Will Collapse

Rep. Trent Franks appeared on yesterday’s edition of “Washington Watch” to discuss the GOP’s campaign to defund Planned Parenthood, telling host Tony Perkins that the debate represents a fight for the very survival of America.

Claiming that Americans have become “desensitized” to the “horror from Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry” to “a degree that I think threatens the survival or the necessity of the survival of America,” the Arizona Republican said Congress must defund Planned Parenthood in order to “honor the founding fathers’ dream.”

Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, said he agreed with the congressman, saying that the Planned Parenthood fight has come at a pivotal moment in history as the discredited smear videos have exposed “the evil and immorality of the abortion industry.”

Trent Franks: Constitution Is 'The Greatest Gospel Outreach The World Has Ever Known'

Televangelist and "Holy Laughter" preacher Rodney Howard-Browne is once again holding a week-long revival meeting in Washington, D.C., called "Celebrate America," featuring Religious Right activists and Republican members of Congress.

Rep. Trent Franks spoke last night through an interpreter to a largely Hispanic audience, begging them to elect more Christians to office because the purpose of the Constitution and the United States is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.

"If America is to be saved, she will be saved by those who have been saved," the Arizona Republican said. "I'm crying out to you the best way I know how as someone who is in the seat of power in the United States Congress, please send more people that hold Christ in their hearts to the Congress."

Franks went on to say that the Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide "was lost years earlier when we elected presidents that would appoint people who had no respect for the United States Constitution."

"Today, there are four people on the United States Supreme Court that revere the Constitution," he said. "There are four the revile it and there's one that doesn't know his name half of the time."

The Constitution now hangs by a thread, Franks warned, and if it falls "the greatest Gospel outreach the world has ever known will be gone" and that is why the audience must "do everything that you possibly can to make sure that the leaders in Washington are leaders that honor God."

Trent Franks: Democrats Who Vote Against 20-Week Abortion Ban Will Go To Their Graves Regretting It

Rep. Trent Franks, who has been leading the effort to outlaw abortion after 20 weeks, was a guest on "WallBuilders Live" today, where he declared that Democrats who vote against this legislation will go to their graves regretting their votes.

After acknowledging that the legislation will likely be vetoed by President Obama, the Arizona Republican fumed that Obama has "vitiated and completely undermined any claim that he has for any compassion for the innocent or the helpless."

Franks then declared that the results of the vote on this legislation in the House of Representatives would be "considered thoughtfully in history and really even in councils of eternity itself" and asserted that those who dared to vote against it would rue the day.

"I think that when those legislators who voted 'no' on this bill lay their head down on the pillow of the nursing home," Franks said, "and look back and realize that they missed one of the greatest opportunities that they ever had to affirm the miracle of life and the importance of protecting those who can't protect themselves, which was their purpose for being in Congress but they just didn't realize it":

Trent Franks: 20-Week Abortion Ban Will Make Americans Realize Legal Abortion Is Like Slavery

In an interview with the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins this weekend, Rep. Trent Franks acknowledged that his 20-week abortion ban, which passed in the House last week, is meant to “completely undermine” Roe v. Wade, and hoped that it would help Americans “realize that as a country, we’ve been here before,” when “African Americans were considered property.”

Franks, an Arizona Republican, lamented that the bill that passed last week included a limited exception for survivors of rape and incest. The exception was first added to the bill in 2013 after Franks implied in a hearing that rape rarely results in pregnancy; a planned vote on the bill in January was scuttled after a group of Republican women raised concerns that the rape exception required women to report assaults to the police. After months of negotiations, the reporting requirement was removed from the bill but a 48-hour waiting period and other hurdles were restored in its place.

“Now, many of your listeners, including this one, Tony, would do everything that we could to protect all unborn children, and the only thing that we would ever say should be an exception to taking the life of a child would be to save another life, which is, you know, a very, very unusual situation,” Franks told Perkins.

But, he added, including the exceptions was all in service of the larger goal of launching a legal attack to undermine Roe v. Wade and making Americans realize that legal abortion is like slavery.

“But the point is, if we protect these children, now we begin to really examine, once again, the development and the humanity and the pain-capable nature of these children to where I think it gives us a chance to completely undermine the Roe v. Wade structure and to realize that as a country, we’ve been here before,” he said.

“We were here, African Americans were considered property, and somehow we rose up as a nation and turned back that evil. And now by the grace of God we’re going to turn back the evil of killing little children before they’re born.”

Franks has previously insisted that African Americans were better off under slavery than with legal abortion.
 

Trent Franks: Obama Allowing 'Jihad To Put Their Finger On The Nuclear Button'

On yesterday’s edition of “Washington Watch,” Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., accused President Obama of letting Iran develop a nuclear weapon, allowing “the potential of jihad to put their finger on the nuclear button.”

Franks said that the U.S. must show unequivocal support for Israel if the country launches an attack on Iran because “Israel is on the cutting edge of standing up to this global monstrosity called jihad.”

“There comes a time when Israel will not be able to reach from the air, without some ground forces, some of the potential facilities that could come into being and if they don’t do it at the right time, it may be essentially too late for them to reach that, so they’re in an extremely difficult circumstance,” Franks said.

“All I can say is that if America lets Israel down, America will be letting America down and America will be letting the world down.” Franks continued: “I sometimes do not have the intellectual wattage to overcome the bewilderment in my heart when an American president stands by and lets Israel, our most vital ally in the world, be threatened by a dangerous, hellish regime like exists in Iran today and allows the potential of jihad to put their finger on the nuclear button. It is a disgrace that literally defies description in the English language.”

Trent Franks: 'All Future Generations Will Suffer' If Obama Causes Netanyahu's Defeat

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., stopped by the Family Research Council radio program “Washington Watch” yesterday to discuss the Israeli election with FRC President Tony Perkins. Franks, despite once criticizing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government for approving public funding to cover abortions, all but endorsed Netanyahu’s campaign, telling Perkins that “all future generations will suffer” if he does not remain prime minister.

After Perkins told Franks that “we need to be praying” that Netanyahu retains his post as prime minister, the congressman worried that uninformed, naive voters would back Netanyahu’s opponents, just like American voters who supported President Obama.

“Keep in mind that I suppose a lot of us never would have believed that this country would have elected Barack Obama,” Franks said. “I have said that Barack Obama is not the real problem, it’s the amalgamation of the totally uninformed or totally self-focused that would elect such a man to be president, and for us to do it twice shocked the world. Keep it mind there are some of those same dangerous naivetés in Israel too and they may elect a leader that does not understand the danger of a nuclear Iran the way Bibi Netanyahu does and this is a big deal and, as you say, we better pray.”

Perkins stated that Israel may not survive an electoral defeat of Netanyahu and pushed discredited claims that the Obama administration is directly funding the prime minister’s opponents, leading Franks to warn that “if Bibi Netanyahu loses and it turns out that this president had any part in it, it’s another unprecedented moment in history where all future generations will suffer to some extent because of it.”

Franks said that he is incensed that “this president continues to insult [Israel] over and over again,” adding that he believes Obama’s presidency is a danger to the world.

“I want to you to know, I a long time ago had to let go of my personal feelings towards a president that would so casually dismiss the truth and the Constitution, but now I am starting to be afraid for my country with this man at the helm because I’m concerned that this kind of duplicity and this kind of arrogance is dangerous for this country and my children’s future,” he said.

Sen. Rand Paul And GOP Congressmen Appear In New Trailer For Anti-Gay Documentary

Last week, we noted that fringe Religious Right activist Janet Porter was readying the release of a new anti-gay documentary she produced called "Light Wins: How To Overcome The Criminalization Of Christianity" that was reported to feature a variety of members of Congress and Republican presidential hopefuls.

At the time, there were only two clips from the movie available and the only political figure shown in either was Mike Huckabee. Today, Porter released another preview of her film, which contains footage of interviews she conducted with several anti-gay activists as well as with Rep. Louie Gohmert, Rep. Tim Huelskamp, Rep. Trent Franks, and Sen. Rand Paul, all attacking the Supreme Court for striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and for threatening to utterly destroy the institution of marriage entirely by legalizing gay marriage:

Trent Franks: Withdrawal Of Abortion Ban 'One Of The Great Disappointments In My Life'

Last month, on the eve of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, House Republican leaders canceled a planned vote on a national 20-week abortion ban after Republican women and moderates objected to a provision that would have exempted rape survivors only if they filed a police report on their assault.

In an interview with Janet Parshall on Wednesday, the bill’s author, Rep. Trent Franks, said that the cancellation of the vote was “one of the great disappointments in my life.”

Pinning the change of plans on a “certain group within” the GOP, he lamented, “it’s always the water inside the ship that sinks it.”

Franks, who originally introduced the bill with no exceptions except to save the life of the pregnant woman,told Parshall that he objected to the rape exception in the first place because “none of us have any control over how we’re conceived.” He added that the reporting requirement shouldn't be a problem because after 20 weeks of pregnancy “most of the questions about sexual assault and all those other questions have been answered long before then.”

According to Eagle Forum, Franks told the group last year that "If I die and Roe v. Wade stands ... I will die a failure."

Earlier in the interview, Franks linked legal abortion in the U.S. with the brutal murder of a Jordanian pilot by the so-called Islamic State, saying, “Whether it’s the Jordanian pilot, whether it’s terrorism, all of the tragedies of the world, generally, are traced back to a lack of compassion for our fellow human beings, a lack of commitment to our fellow human beings.”

“If we don’t have the courage or the will as a country to protect the most innocent of all  children, these little pain-capable unborn babies — if we don’t have the courage to protect them, I am afraid that we will never have the courage or the will to protect any kind of liberty of any sort for this country or for anyone,” he said.

Republican Leaders Join Anti-Gay Extremists For Insane Documentary

Is the government about to ban Christianity and turn it into a criminal offense? According to one documentary, the answer is 'yes' because the gay rights movement is determined to outlaw the practice of Christianity.

As Kyle reported, the “documentary” will include appearances from Sen. Rand Paul and former Gov. Mike Huckabee, both likely presidential candidates.

Reps. Trent Franks, Louie Gohmert, Steve King and Tim Huelskamp also make appearances, joining the likes of creationist leader Ken Ham, discredited pseudo-historian David Barton and even “ex-homosexuals.”

Scott Lively, the Religious Right activist who pushed for laws criminalizing homosexuality in Uganda and banning pro-gay-rights speech in Russia, is also a featured guest. Not only does Lively believe that Obama is the Antichrist and claim that gay wedding songs caused Noah’s flood, but he even wrote a book, The Pink Swastika, blaming gay people for the Holocaust.

The documentary is the brainchild of Janet Porter, a former talk radio host who runs the group Faith 2 Action and the social media outlet FreedomBook (formerly known as ReaganBook).

Porter once co-chaired Huckabee’s Faith and Values Coalition during his 2008 presidential campaign and the former Arkansas governor once remarked that “there are two Janet’s that I answer to: my wife Janet and Janet Porter.” Most recently, she has dedicated her time to passing an anti-choice law, known as the Heartbeat Bill, in Ohio which would criminalize abortion even before many women know they are pregnant. Several GOP leaders, including Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich, have endorsed her bill.

Porter has built quite a reputation for claiming that President Obama is set to literally imprison, starve and murder his political opponents and that the gay rights movement will destroy freedom as we know it.

Porter’s remarks on LGBT people include:

  • Claimed that pastors who won’t perform same-sex marriages will be “carried off into jail” in states with marriage equality laws.
  • Blamed gay rights for Noah’s Flood in a column entitled: “How Same-Sex Marriage Points To End Of The World.”
  • Claimed Jason Collins’ decision to come out of the closet will endanger freedom. 

That’s not all, as she has also:

  • Warned that President Obama will use the Swine flu to “round up American citizens” and throw them in “FEMA concentration camps.”
  • Wondered if former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson is the Antichrist.

GOP Presidential Hopefuls And Members Of Congress Appear In New Anti-Gay 'Documentary'

Update: Porter has also released a trailer featuring Rand Paul and several GOP congressmen.

Today, Faith 2 Action's Janet Porter sent out an email to activists excitedly announcing that she is finishing up editing a new anti-gay documentary that she intends to release at the National Religious Broadcaster's Convention in Nashville at the end of this month.

Porter, who was a longtime Religious Right activist and radio host until she lost her program due to her increasing radicalism only to re-emerge as an anti-abortion activist and right-wing social media entrepreneur, has brought together a who's who of hardline anti-gay activists, members of Congress, and presidential hopefuls for her film entitled "Light Wins: How To Overcome The Criminalization Of Christianity."

Among the participants are Rep. Steve King, Rep. Trent Franks, Rep. Louie Gohmert, Rep. Tim Huelskamp, Sen. Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, David Barton, James Dobson, Mat Staver, Phyllis Schlafly, Scott Lively, Alveda King, Brian Camenker, Frank Pavone, Robert Knight, John Stemberger, and, of course, Porter herself, who can been seen walking around in the woods with a lantern, warning that gay activists are seeking to turn Christians into criminals:

Porter released a separate preview of the film today, featuring a clip in which she blasts the Boy Scouts for having "needlessly caved to a dark sexual agenda" by allowing gay Scouts to join the organization while Knight and Stemberger warn that, as a result, the Boy Scouts will soon face "homosexual scandals" just like Penn State and the Catholic Church:

While it might come as a bit of a surprise to see someone like Rand Paul listed as appearing in this documentary, Mike Huckabee's participation should come as no surprise at all, as he has had close ties to Porter for years, even having named her as co-chair of his Faith and Family Values Coalition when he ran for president in 2008.

Predictably, Huckabee has nothing but praise for Porter's film:

"Light Wins" reveals the frightening trend not to simply ignore Christian believers, but to rid society of us altogether. This ground breaking, eye opening film will awaken viewers to the fact that being a spectator is no longer an option. One will be part of the solution or part of the problem, and I hope this riveting documentary will cause believers to take notice."

For more info on Porter's long history of making insane claims, see this round-up.

Anti-Choice Women's Groups Reportedly Pushed For Rape Reporting Requirement In Abortion Ban

Earlier this week, the National Review posted an audio recording of a call that a constituent of Rep. Renee Ellmers made to the North Carolina Republican’s office about her role in delaying a vote on a national 20-week abortion ban, which reveals, among other things, that prominent anti-choice women’s groups pushed for a requirement that rape survivors file police reports before being allowed an exemption from the ban.

Ellmers and other Republican women and moderates had objected to a provision that exempted rape survivors only if they first reported the assault to the police, warning that it could become a political liability for Republicans. In response, the GOP leadership withdrew the bill on the eve of a planned vote to work out what Sen. Lindsey Graham later called “this definitional problem with rape.”

In the call posted by National Review, an Ellmers staffer explains in frank detail the political machinations behind the wording of the rape exception and the ultimate withdrawal of the bill.

As we have noted, an earlier version of the bill sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks and approved by the House Judiciary Committee in 2013 included no rape exception at all. But after what the Ellmers staff called a “huge communications error” from Franks, when he suggested that rape rarely results in pregnancy, Republican leaders quietly snuck in a rape exception to the bill before putting it up for a vote on the House floor.

The Ellmers staffer revealed that prominent anti-choice women’s groups, including the Susan B. Anthony List and Concerned Women for America, objected to the rape exception and were instrumental in getting GOP leaders to modify it to include the reporting requirement.

These groups, the staffer said, told Republicans, “well, if you’re going to make an exception for rape and incest, it’s going to have to be reported to law enforcement officials.”

The staffer told the constituent that the rape exception was bad policy because it puts the federal government in the position of “identifying what is an is not rape”… and creates a “loophole” by which she alleged women would lie to law enforcement about being raped in order to access legal abortion.

The conversation starts at about the 3:00 mark in this video:

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.

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