In the spring of 2014, the city council in Houston, Texas, passed an Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) that banned discrimination in housing and employment based on, among other things, sexual orientation and gender identity. That did not sit well with anti-LGBT activists in the city, who set about collecting signatures in an effort to place the ordinance on the ballot in the next election so that voters could repeal it.
When the signatures were submitted for verification, city officials declared that organizers had not gathered enough valid signatures and rejected the effort to place the ordinance on the ballot. In response, organizers sued the city and, as part of the lawsuit, attorneys for Houston subpoenaed "all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession" from a handful of pastors who had been deeply involved in the effort to repeal the ordinance.
Those are the facts of what happened ... but that is not the story that Texas-based right-wing activist and pseudo-historian David Barton told last week when he spoke at Charis Bible College.
In Barton's telling, Houston passed a nondiscrimination ordinance and then used it to persecute Christian pastors by demanding that they hand over all of their sermons, emails and social media posts so that government officials could scour them to see if anyone was criticizing homosexuality.
Nondiscrimination ordinances that protect sexual orientation and gender identity, Barton said, are unnecessary and designed solely to "attack biblical principles" and persecute Christians.
"When this ordinance was passed in Houston," Barton said, "Houston passed this ordinance and they said, 'Now pastors, we want to see your sermons. We have subpoenaed your sermons, we want to see if you're saying anything bad about homosexuality or homosexuals, because if you are, you're in trouble.' And so, with this NDO, it wasn't to protect the groups from discrimination, it was to go after Christians who were saying God has a moral standard of right and wrong and homosexuality is not right."
"We find the NDO being used to attack Christian pastors," Barton claimed. "They subpoenaed them and said, 'We want 16 forms of your communication, we want to see every text you've done, we want to see every email you've done, every Twitter, every Facebook, every social media of any kind; 16 different forms, we've subpoenaed them all.'"
Pastors are now "subject to civil action" in cities that have passed nondiscrimination ordinances, Barton falsely claimed:
This a perfect example of why Barton's claims about history cannot be trusted since, as we have noted before, if he cannot be relied upon to accurately recount recent events that anyone with access to Google can easily check and verify, why should anyone trust anything that he says about complex events from early American history?
The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins interviewed Rep. Louie Gohmert yesterday about reports, which turned out to be erroneous, that the man who shot five people in a Washington state mall last weekend had voted three times despite not being a citizen. Gohmert was positively jubilant about the false report, saying that it was “the perfect evidence” to contradict “liberal judges” who say that there is no widespread voting by noncitizens.
Gohmert, a Texas Republican, then linked the story to efforts to pass criminal justice reform legislation, claiming that Democrats are relying on the votes of “felons,” “people that can't speak English”—who he claimed are unable to follow the news—and undocumented immigrants in order to win elections.
“But, you know, what does it say about your party if you want felons to vote and you want people who don’t speak English to vote and you want people that are here illegally to vote?” he asked. “If your platform will only get voted into office by those people—felons, people that can’t speak English and haven’t been able to follow personally what’s actually going on in politics without getting an interpretation, and those who are illegally here, show no regard for the law—I would think you’d need to think about changing your platform.”
The congressman added that the Washington shooter “seems to be a big fan of Hillary Clinton,” which shows who “the Democrat drones” are.
Perkins responded that the Obama administration is “trying to basically flood the zone” with “Syrian refugees and others” in order to help Democrats.
“Exactly,” Gohmert replied. “And they know which party will be most helpful to them who have no regard for the law.”
People who have served time for felonies are in fact allowed to vote in many states, thanks to bipartisan efforts to restore their voting rights. While most naturalized citizens are required to pass an English test, in many cases election materials are translated for those with less English proficiency. However, Democrats are not allowing undocumented immigrants to vote without obtaining citizenship, as Gohmert asserts.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, claimed yesterday that the reason the Obama administration killed al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, in a drone strike in 2011 was that if they had captured him alive he “would have sung about all the different people he worked with in the administration.”
Gohmert told radio host Howie Carr that the Obama administration has let Muslim Brotherhood groups tied to radicals in on national security decisions, which he said shows that “we always feed the dogs that are trained to bite us.”
He clarified that he wasn’t “saying that Muslims are dogs,” citing his own Muslim friends like “hero” Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
He then got onto the subject of what Carr called “anchor babies” and al-Awlaki.
“Al-Awlaki, his parents were from Yemen, they came to the U.S. on a college visa, had al-Awlaki, took him back to Yemen, taught him to hate America,” he said. “And that’s why they couldn’t keep this terrorist al-Awlaki from coming in. And I think one of the reasons they needed to blow him up with a drone strike is if he’d ever been caught, arrested, he would have sung about all the different people he worked with in the administration.”
As evidence of al-Awlaki’s supposed ties with the Obama White House, Gohmert cited photos of a prayer service al-Awlaki led on Capitol Hill early on in the Bush administration.
Donald Trump has started what he seems to think is outreach to African American voters by delivering a speech to “inner city” voters in a mostly white suburb of Milwaukee and repeatedly asking African American voters what they “have to lose” since they have “no health care, no education, no anything.”
One person applauding Trump’s efforts is Republican Rep. Ted Poe of Texas, who told San Antonio radio host Joe Pags on Saturday that Trump will make voters of color start “actually evaluating the difference” between the two parties, while Hillary Clinton just wants “to keep people more on government dependence because then she assumes she’ll get their vote.”
When Pags asked if Trump’s is the “right tactic” for reaching out to African American voters, Poe replied that it is.
“I believe that it is,” he said. “And he is exactly correct about that because of the facts that have come out, especially the last eight years, the number of people in the United States that are more and more dependent on the federal government. So I think that it will work, I really do believe that it will work and Democrats cannot just assume that minorities will vote for the Democrat Party this year because they’re actually evaluating the difference between the two. And Hillary Clinton does want to keep people more on government dependence because then she assumes she’ll get their vote.”
“And she can control them,” Pags added, claiming that Clinton is thinking “if I can keep you dependent on me, then I’m going to say, ‘Hey, remember, I gave you the food and I gave you that Section 8 and I gave you that free bike and that free phone, don’t forget us when you get to the polling place.’”
On his radio program today, Glenn Beck declared that America is now out of options and speeding toward inevitable destruction and advised his audience to "pack your crap and move to Texas ... before we close the northern border."
Beck raised alarms about the fact that retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn has been mentioned as possible vice presidential running mate for Donald Trump, saying that it's a sign that Trump thinks that "real civil unrest is coming and he needs to have somebody who has the experience of law and order" advising him.
"I told you these things were coming," Beck said, adding that turning to God is the nation's only option at this point but that nobody wants to hear that.
Citing an incident in which Black Lives Matters protesters and counter-protesters in Dallas embraced one another over the weekend, Beck said it was proof that "there's still a God culture here" and so people should hurry up and move to Texas.
"I told you to move to Texas for a reason," he said, "you're seeing that. I told you when things go to hell in a hand basket, you want to be around like-minded people. You're seeing that. Look at the difference between the shooting of six cops in Dallas and what happened in Dallas and what's happening today in Dallas compared to what happened in Ferguson and Baltimore. You're losing time. Pack your crap and move to Texas ... before we close the northern border."
The reactions from anti-abortion groups to the Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt have started pouring in. Most repeat the claim that the Texas law in question, which was meant to regulate the majority of the state’s abortion providers out of existence, was in fact an honest attempt to protect women’s health and stand up to unscrupulous providers. A few linked the decision to the upcoming presidential election, urging voters to elect a president who will nominate justices hostile to Roe v. Wade, as Donald Trump has promised he will do.
Americans United For Life, the legal architect of many TRAP laws, including the one in Texas, said that the law was meant to “protect women from a dangerous and greedy abortion industry” and repeated the increasingly common anti-choice talking point that legal abortion providers are the true “back alley”:
“Women lost today as the Supreme Court sides with the abortion industry, putting profits over women’s health and safety by opposing life-saving regulations and medically endorsed standards of patient care. Sadly, the commonsense laws that protect women in real, full service healthcare centers won’t be in effect in Texas abortion clinics, but Americans United for Life will continue to fight – in legislatures and in the courts – to protect women from a dangerous and greedy abortion industry,” said AUL Acting President and Senior Counsel Clarke Forsythe. …
“In striking down these commonsense requirements, the Supreme Court has essentially accepted the abortion industry’s argument that it should be allowed to keep its profits high and patient care standards low,” said Forsythe. “It inexplicably turned a blind eye to what it has repeatedly held since Roe v. Wade: states may regulate the provision of abortion to protect maternal health. This ruling endangers women nationwide as health and safety standards are at risk.”
“Today’s abortion clinics are the true ‘back alleys’ of abortion mythology,” noted Denise Burke, Vice President of Legal Affairs at AUL. “They consistently operate in the ‘red light district’ of American medicine where the problem of substandard abortion providers is longstanding and pervasive. The fight against this public health crisis will continue, despite today’s ruling.”
Stephen Aden of the Religious Right legal group Alliance Defending Freedom linked the law to Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortion provider who was found guilty of a number of crimes related to a squalid clinic he ran, claiming that Texas’ law was “clearly designed to protect the health and safety of women in the wake of the Kermit Gosnell Scandal”:
“Abortionists shouldn’t be given a free pass to elude medical requirements that everyone else is required to follow. We are disappointed that the Supreme Court has ruled against a law so clearly designed to protect the health and safety of women in the wake of the Kermit Gosnell scandal. The law’s requirements were commonsense protections that ensured the maximum amount of protection for women, who deserve to have their well-being treated by government as a higher priority than the bottom line of abortionists. Any abortion facilities that don’t meet basic health and safety standards are not facilities that anyone should want to remain open.”
The Family Research Council similarly claimed that the Supreme Court decision “gives the abortion industry a free pass,” ridiculously claiming that abortion providers face less stringent regulation than hair salons and restaurants:
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released the following statement:
"The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down H.B. 2 undermines the health and safety of vulnerable women. This decision is a loss for women and gives the abortion industry a free pass. The need to regulate abortion facilities is necessary to protect women against cut-and-run abortionists at shoddy abortion facilities. Mandating basic and necessary health and safety standards such as trained staff, corridors that could accommodate a stretcher in case of emergency, admitting privileges to a hospital, and up-to-date fire, sanitation, and safety codes should be beyond the politics of abortion. When abortion facilities are not held to the same standards as other facilities, women’s lives are endangered. In 2011 alone, 26,500 women experienced abortion-related complications, and close to 3,200 women required post-abortion hospitalization. Hair and nail salons, public pools, restaurants, and tanning centers must meet basic health and safety standards—shouldn’t abortion facilities? Abortion facilities cannot be exempt from following basic health standards.
"While the need to protect the health and safety of women failed to remain at the forefront of the Supreme Court's decision, we will continue our work to protect women and children from the predatory abortion industry,” Perkins concluded.
FRC’s Arina Grossu, Director of the Center for Human Dignity, released the following statement:
“One cannot be pro-woman and stand for the substandard facilities that many abortion centers operate which risk women’s lives. Striking down abortion facility regulations leaves the door open for continued and rampant disregard for women’s health and safety. Status-quo is not good enough," concluded Grossu.
Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver also claimed that the Supreme Court was siding with abortion clinics’ bottom lines over the health of women:
“How foolish a decision by the Supreme Court to strike down common sense regulations regarding health and safety,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “They expect us to believe their opinion is based on the Constitution? It certainly is not. This is a sad day and another dark chapter in the history of America. Women should not be relegated to substandard facilities in order to save abortion providers a few dollars.”
The Susan B. Anthony List, which acts as the political arm of the anti-choice movement, turned the conversation to the election, while never quite mentioning Trump by name:
“Today’s tragic decision by the Court means that Texas women will not be protected from the unsanitary conditions and even Gosnell-like horrors that permeate the abortion industry,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, referencing the 2013 trial of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, currently serving a life sentence for murdering babies after botched, late-term abortions, and for the negligent death of one mother, Karnamaya Mongar.
“The abortion industry cannot be trusted to regulate itself and they know it. That’s why they fought tooth and nail against common-sense health and safety standards and requirements for abortionists to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. We have documented page after page of incidents of abuse, negligence, and brutality since 2008. This decision means the filth and exploitation will continue unchecked.
“The stakes for the 2016 election could not be higher. The next president will be tasked with selecting Justice Antonin Scalia’s replacement and up to three others. We must elect a pro-life president and safeguard today’s pro-life majorities in the House and Senate. Only with a pro-life Congress and White House can we begin to address the havoc wrought by the Supreme Court on America’s unborn children and their mothers.”
Frank Pavone of Priests for Life also linked the decision to the election:
The Supreme Court is now the Supreme Medical Board, setting its own standards for patient care in the United States. This decision is an outrageous usurpation of legislative power and it only underscores the critical importance of electing a President who will nominate -- and Senators who will confirm -- justices to the Supreme Court who will adjudicate, not write the law.
As did Tim Head, the executive director of Ralph Reed’s group, the Faith and Freedom Coalition:
“The U.S. Supreme Court once again failed to protect the rights, health and safety of women and unborn children today in its Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision. Texas and many other states have enacted common sense laws that protect the rights of the unborn and the health and safety of thousands of women subjected to the horrific conditions of abortion clinics across the country, and its shameful that the Supreme Court overturned these safeguards. The Court’s failure today is another example of the urgency to elect a pro-life President in November who will be responsible for filling the enormous vacancy left by Justice Scalia’s passing and possibly fill other seats on the Court. The pro-life community must also unite to elect legislators across the country who will work to protect women and unborn children.”
Fox commentator Todd Starnes referenced the need for the anti-choice movement to ensure ideological purity among judges, even those nominated by Republican presidents:
Justice Kennedy sided against the unborn -- a justice appointed by a Republican president.— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) June 27, 2016
Russell Moore, the policy head of the Southern Baptist Convention, meanwhile, filmed a video outside the Supreme Court in which he claimed that the “sad and pathetic ruling that essentially leaves the abortion industry unregulated in a kind of wild west, laissez faire sort of situation in the state of Texas that we wouldn’t allow for any other industry.”
Christians, he said, “need to be standing up for our vulnerable unborn neighbors and their vulnerable mothers.”
A 5-3 majority of the Supreme Court today struck down parts of a sweeping anti-choice law passed in Texas in 2013. The case dealt with the law’s targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) provisions that created burdensome and unnecessary regulations on clinics that would have forced the vast majority of the state’s providers to close. The law not only threatened Texas women’s access to safe and legal abortion, but was a calculated assault on Roe v. Wade and was the product of decades of anti-choice efforts to undermine the decision without overturning it.
From the beginning, the law’s proponents claimed that these regulations were simply meant to protect women’s health, though they often did a pretty bad job of staying on message. During oral arguments in the case, for instance, the state’s solicitor general argued that women burdened by Texas’ law could simply drive over the border to New Mexico, which does not have the same regulations, undermining the whole argument that the idea was to protect women’s health.
And already, the law is proving to be actually detrimental women’s health: One study found that since the law’s passage, hundreds of thousands of women in Texas “have tried to self-induce their abortions without medical assistance, making it more common in Texas than in other parts of the U.S.”
As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in her concurrence to the decision, “it is beyond rational belief that H. B. 2 could genuinely protect the health of women, and certain that the law would simply make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions.”
It’s hardly been a secret within the anti-abortion movement that the Texas law was meant to cut off access to abortion rather than to shut down unsafe clinics.
At a Pro-Life Women’s Conference in Dallas this weekend, many speakers alluded to the spate of TRAP laws across the country, including the one in Texas, as a sign that their movement was winning. In one revealing exchange during a panel about anti-abortion politics, Texas anti-abortion activist Carolyn Cline held up a brick that she said she had gotten from a pastor friend who told her it was “the last brick in the lot” of a facility that had been closed by HB2, prompting enthusiastic applause.
Moments later, Arina Grossu, who works on anti-abortion issues for the Family Research Council, argued that pro-choicers should support laws like HB2 because they are meant to protect “women’s health and safety” while at the same time portraying it as a sign that the movement to end legal abortion is winning.
Mark Crutcher, the Texas anti-abortion activist who inspired David Daleiden’s “baby parts” smear campaign against Planned Parenthood, discussed on his “Life Talk TV” program on Monday the issue of dangerous illegal abortions that that can be the result of laws banning abortion or restricting access.
The very day that an Indiana court heard an appeal in the case of Purvi Patel, a woman who faces decades in prison for what prosecutors claim was a self-induced abortion that caused her to show up at a hospital with severe blood loss, Crutcher and his colleague Renee Hobbs dismissed concerns that women without access to legal abortion will seek out dangerous alternatives, saying that if they do, it’s all the fault of pro-choicers.
“If abortion were outlawed today and next week a bunch of women died from coat hanger abortions, those coat hangers would have been in the hands of pro-choice people, not pro-life people,” Crutcher said.
He said that he used to present a bizarre argument when debating pro-choice people: “I’d say, I’ll tell you what, we can solve the coat hanger abortion thing right now and here’s how we’ll do it. I will get every pro-lifer in the country to sign an agreement that they will never do a coat hanger abortion if you will get every pro-abort in the country to say that they’ll never do coat hanger abortions.”
“The fact is,” he said, “if women wind up dying — every women that has ever died in an abortion, every woman that was ever was raped in an abortion clinic, was killed by a pro-abort or raped by a pro-abort. Why are we responsible for that?”
“So if you don’t like coat-hanger abortions, don’t do abortions,” he concluded.
Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, praised his state’s leaders yesterday for refusing to comply with an Obama administration directive on facilities access for trans students in public schools, saying that “it’s time for an all-out rebellion against this absolute tyranny of the Obama administration.” He added that business interests pressuring lawmakers not to enact anti-LGBT measures are a greater “threat to freedom of religion in America” than ISIS.
Jeffress, a key Religious Right ally to Donald Trump, discussed the topic yesterday with Fox News commentator Todd Starnes, who was guest-hosting the Family Research Council’s “Washington Watch” program.
Jeffress said that the U.S. needed to admit that “we are a country based on the Judeo-Christian foundation, and whether you’re Jewish or Christian, I mean, we believe that gender is something that is assigned by God.”
Recognition of transgender rights, he said, means that “we are headed toward chaos,” adding that “at the root of this is society’s rebellion against the plan of God, that’s what this is all about.”
Jeffress and Starnes praised Texas officials’ resistance to the administration’s directive, with Jeffress noting that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick “often” worships at his church when he’s in Dallas.
“I think they’re going to stand firm on this and I hope that every governor of every state will have the guts to do that,” Jeffress said. “I think it’s time for an all-out rebellion against this absolute tyranny of the Obama administration.”
When Starnes noted that Mississippi has announced that it will comply with the administration guidelines, Jeffress laid the blame on the Chamber of Commerce and business interests, which he said were a greater threat to American liberties than ISIS.
“It comes down to money, Todd, that’s what it’s about,” he said. “And when states are being faced with the loss of business, they tend to fold real quickly. And I’ve said often that the greatest threat to freedom of religion in America is not ISIS, it’s the Chamber of Commerce. I mean, it’s the businesses that say to our representatives, ‘Oh, don’t pass laws like that, don’t pass these religious freedom laws because people will interpret that as anti-gay and we’ll lose business.’”
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, a prominent endorser of Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, warned last month that if the next president allows any sort of path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the United States, “the republic will be lost” because new citizens won’t understand the “responsibility to be properly educated before you vote” and thus will “vote for whoever will give them the most welfare.”
Gohmert made the comments in a March 31 interview with Baltimore talk radio hosts Sean Casey and Frank Luber.
Casey asked Gohmert about a Center for Immigration Studies report that he said showed that the “immigrant population in the United States is now at 61 million” (in fact, the CIS number alsoincluded the American-born children of immigrants) and whether that means that Texas could go the way of California and turn “into a blue state.”
Gohmert agreed, saying that while Republican Gov. Pete Wilson is often blamed for turning California Latino voters off from the GOP by pushing a draconian anti-immigrant ballot measure, the state’s political shift was actually the result of Ronald Reagan being “tricked into signing an amnesty bill and all the sudden you had 2 to 4 million Democratic voters.”
“So if we get a president that decides to do any kind of amnesty, then the republic will be lost,” he said. “Because you cannot give people the rights without them being educated to the responsibilities. If they come into this country and they don’t understand there’s a responsibility to be properly educated before you vote, then they’re going to vote for whoever will give them the most welfare, and we’re on our way to bankruptcy already, that will help push us over the edge.”
In an interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) with Robert Vandervoort, the former leader of an Illinois white nationalist organization who now runs the English-only advocacy group ProEnglish, Rep. Brian Babin claimed that a law declaring English to be the official language of the U.S. is necessary because “people are literally dying because of political correctness in this nation today.”
Babin, the Texas Republican who is a leading House advocate against refugee resettlement and is sponsoring a bill that would suspend the U.S. refugee resettlement program, is a cosponsor of a bill that would make English the official language of the U.S.
In the interview at CPAC this month, Vandervoort asked Babin about the English-only bill’s prospects in Congress, which Babin said would depend on the upcoming election and whether voters elect “conservative, patriotic folks” who “have the courage to stand up against the powers that impose political correctness on us.” The refugee program and the “wide-open borders,” he said, mean that “people are literally dying because of political correctness in this nation today”:
You know what, it’s going to depend on the election. I have said more than one time, this election cycle, this presidential election, is the most important, significant election of our lifetimes. And I know we hear that every cycle; this time it’s true. If we can get some conservative, patriotic folks who are not afraid of, have the courage to stand up against the powers that impose political correctness on us. Because people are literally dying because of political correctness in this nation today, with our refugee program, with our visa program, with wide-open borders. And so I think that having an official language of English would be a huge step in correcting that problem.
The comments start about 3 minutes into ProEnglish’s video:
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, said yesterday that Congress should move to impeach President Obama if he uses executive authority to close the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying that such a move could risk “the destruction of the American public and our way of life.” He also accused Obama and European leaders of playing Tiddlywinks — which he called “Twiddlywinks” — with radical Islamists.
“He’s wanting to put the wellbeing and the safety and lives of the American public at risk just so he can try to play politics and give Guantanamo back,” Gohmert told Virginia talk radio host John Fredericks. “But I’m telling you, that will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. If he ends up trying to give away Guantanamo, he cannot do that legally, it would be illegally [sic] for him to do that, and if he pulls that, we’ve got to get a new president before the end of the year.”
When Fredericks asked Gohmert if this means he’d “start impeachment hearings” against the president, Gohmert said it did, adding that Guantanamo is “one of the better prisons I’ve ever seen.”
“I don’t know what else we can do,” he said. “He is putting the lives and safety of the American public at risk, at dramatic risk, by trying to shut down a facility where there’s never been a single waterboarding incident, there has never been any type of torture whatsoever — I’ve toured a lot of prisons, it’s one of the better prisons I’ve ever seen — and I don’t know what else we can do if he’s that willing to put the destruction of the American public and our way of life at that kind of risk. What else do you do, John? I don’t know.”
Early in the interview, Gohmert claimed that Obama’s Middle East strategy was to “punish” Egypt and the Kurds and “refuse to recognize that the Muslim Brotherhood is our enemy” and instead “get advice from the Muslim Brotherhood on how to fight radical Islam.”
“Some of us understand what we’re up against,” he said, “but, unfortunately, the leadership in this administration and the leadership in places like Germany and France still want to play Twiddlywinks [sic] with radical Islam and do wink and a nod and say, ‘We’re so much smarter than everybody else, we understand that if we just are really sweet to people that want to kill us and take our countries away, then everything will work out fine.”
As early as 1990, attorney Walter Dellinger, who went on to serve in the Clinton administration, was warning that the emerging strategy of setting up obstacles to abortion access would push women to obtain abortions later in their pregnancies, a more expensive and less safe procedure. These supposed “compromise” measures, he noted, were at the same time sometimes coupled with calls to cut off legal abortion during the second trimester of pregnancy. Dellinger wrote in The American Prospect:
To enact in the United States laws that simply prohibit abortions after twelve or eighteen weeks would constitute a strange and cruel response to the issue of late abortions. In this country, legislative deadlines for abortion would co-exist with access regulations designed to prevent women from being able to meet the deadline. No state truly concerned about either the increased maternal health risks or the moral implications of late abortions should consider the coercive step of prohibiting second trimester abortions while simultaneously pursuing policies that cause abortion to be delayed. … Bans on funding for abortions, shutting off access to public hospitals, parental consent/ judicial bypass laws, and testing requirements all fall into this category. Legislators who are troubled in principle by late abortions should support instead measures ensuring that every woman who wants to terminate a pregnancy can do so as early and as safely as possible.
Fast forward to late last year, when a study showed that exactly that had happened after Texas implemented its restrictive new law:
A new report released by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project — a research group based at the University of Texas at Austin that’s been tracking the state’s reproductive health policy over the past four years — finds that recent clinic shutdowns have greatly limited access to timely abortions statewide. In some cases, women had to wait nearly a month to be seen. In others, clinics had to turn women away, since they had no available appointment slots open.
As wait time to get an abortion increases, the estimated proportion of abortions performed in the second trimester increases. These later surgical abortions, although safe, are associated with a higher risk of complications and are significantly more costly to women than an earlier medical abortion. And even staunch abortion opponents are more opposed to late-term abortions compared to earlier procedures, citing the scientifically disputed theory that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks gestation.
At today’s arguments in Whole Women’s health, Justice Anthony Kennedy hinted at this issue, according to the Wall Street Journal’s early reports:
Justice Kennedy ends the string of questions from the women justices.
He notes that drug-induced abortions are up nationwide, but down in Texas, where the number of surgical abortions is up since the state enacted its law. He wondered whether such an impact was “medically wise.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg similarly called out Texas’ solicitor general for undermining his own claim that the state’s regulations were meant to protect women’s health:
Justice Ginsburg asks: How many women will be located more than 100 miles from a clinic? Mr. Keller makes reference to a 25% number, but says that number is high because it doesn’t take into account some women close to clinics in New Mexico.
That’s odd, Justice Ginsburg says. She wonders why Texas would consider those New Mexico clinics an option, given that they wouldn’t meet the standards set forth in the state law. If your argument is right, New Mexico is “not a way out” for Texas, the justice tells Mr. Keller.
Even as the anti-choice movement is pushing restrictive regulations that, as the Texas study showed, drive women to seek abortions later in their pregnancy, it is championing measures at the state and federal level that would cut off legal abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy, partway through the second trimester.
Of course, the anti-choice movement is focusing on these two strategies because they believe they can pass muster in the courts and in public opinion in a way that the ultimate goal — an outright ban on abortion — would not. But what is left is not a regime that protects women’s health, as proponents of Texas’ law claim, but one that makes it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, for women to obtain an abortion, which has been their ultimate goal all along.
Rep. Louie Gohmert called into Glenn Beck's radio program today to beg listeners to donate to his re-election campaign so that he can fight back against attacks that he's a "clown" and an embarrassment to the state of Texas.
Gohmert is facing a serious primary challenge from rancher Simon Winston, who donated a large sum of money to his own campaign and is running with the message that Congress has become a circus and "Louie Gohmert is one of the main clowns."
The Texas Republican revealed that because he "had done so well in prior elections" and never faced a primary challenge before, he didn't see a need to maintain a large campaign war chest, which is now coming back to haunt him since his opponent has dumped several hundred thousand dollars into a campaign to defeat him.
Gohmert's main opponent, he said, "is a self-funder and his motto is, 'Congress is a circus and Gohmert's the biggest clown and he's an embarrassment.'"
"And the problem is if people say that enough," Gohmert stated, "then it's possible some seeds could stick and start growing, so we have got to be up on television [and] radio. You can't let those things go ... There is a point [where] you have to defend yourself and that's what I'm having to do so anybody who can help by going to Gohmert.com — it's G-o-h-m-e-r-t dot com — I'd really appreciate it."
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, has endorsed his fellow Texas Republican Ted Cruz’s bid for the presidency, but he had some words of admiration for Donald Trump in an interview today with “Breitbart News Daily,” saying that the GOP frontrunner has “taken on political correctness” and “even the pope, for heaven’s sakes.”
Gohmert warned that “at some point” Trump’s attacks on the pope and others will become an “Achilles’ heel,” but the congressman took the opportunity to criticize the pope for believing in climate change.
He criticized the pope for “saying that the number-one problem is climate change and that he can’t see that socialism, anywhere it’s ever been done, it’s always led to, you know, just a totalitarian government.”
“When everybody’s in heaven, socialism will be great,” he told the program’s host, Steven Bannon, “but in this world it’s never worked, it requires totalitarian government, it requires giving up your freedoms, your freedom of speech and religion and all these things. So it’s amazing to see a pope who’s saying let’s all get behind the thing that always destroys freedom of religion.”
“I also noticed, Steven, that it seems like when you hear somebody say over and over again that climate change is our biggest problem, they don’t know that climate has been changing a lot worse over all the millennia of mankind,” Gohmert said. “In fact, I asked a witness, hey, is it as warm as it was back when Leif Erickson and the Norse came across to Greenland and had all those farms in Greenland? He said, it’s never gotten anywhere close to being that warm since then. Do we have any idea what kind of internal combustion engines they were using back then that was causing all this climate change?”
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, said last week that “it’s time to start impeaching” Supreme Court justices in response to the Obergefell marriage equality ruling, which he called an “illegal decision” that amounted to the court declaring itself to be God.
In an interview with Florida talk radio host Joyce Kaufman on Friday, Gohmert falsely claimed that church-state separation decisions in the 1950s and 1960s mandated that “you can’t talk about God in schools and public places.” But, he said, the Supreme Court did something even worse with Obergefell.
“The Supreme Court said, ‘You know, we told you you couldn’t use ‘God,’ now here’s the new line: We’re God,’” he said. “‘We are your God. Forget what God, Moses, Jesus ever said, we are your God now, the five of us in the majority, you do as we tell you.’”
Gohmert went on to repeat his call for Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan to be impeached for participating in the decision after having performed legal same-sex marriages.
“We have two of them who had done same-sex marriages before they participated, they were disqualified, but they illegally participated, it’s an illegal decision, and it’s time to start impeaching judges and remove them from the Supreme Court,” he said.
Kaufman, for her part, seemed to say that Ginsburg and Kagan should have been disqualified for “being gay.”
Every year, Republican activist and Religious Right pseudo-historian David Barton gathers conservative state legislators at a “ProFamily Legislator’s Conference” to learn about model legislation along with “current public policy issues in a manner that honors our Judeo-Christian heritage and the vision of our Founding Fathers.”
At last year's conference in November, one of the speakers at Barton’s conference was Cynthia Dunbar, a former member of the Texas State Board of Education who has admitted that her goal on the board was to correct a “biblically illiterate society.” Dunbar, who now works at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, was named a Virginia state co-chair of Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign last month, aligning her further with Barton, who chairs a pro-Cruz super PAC.
In her speech at Barton’s conference, which Barton broadcast on his “Wallbuilders Live” program last week, Dunbar urged legislators to get involved in education in order to stop the “deception of the seed” by “our socialized education system.”
“I believe it’s a crucial issue for several reasons,” she said. “One, it’s what I call the seed policy, if you think about it, every major social issue you’re encountering as legislators actually directs back to what it talks about it in Genesis, ‘if I would put enmity between you and the seed of the woman.’ Because what happens, what is abortion? Abortion is the destruction of the seed. What is homosexuality? It is the prevention of the seed. And what is education? It is potential deception of the seed.”
“And so when we have 88 to 90 percent, which is approximately the number of the students that are being educated within our socialized education system, effectively indoctrinating our children with our own tax dollars, guess what?” she asked. “We lose every other issue. We lose life, we lose marriage, we lose all of it. So I think this is the linchpin issue.”
Dunbar also put in a plug for teaching public school kids Barton’s signature spin on American history, saying that the “brilliant” Barton had discovered that “94 percent of the quotes of the founding fathers” were “either directly or indirectly” related to the Bible.
“One of my favorite historians, brilliant, brilliant man, says that 94 percent of the quotes of the founding fathers contemporaneous to our nation’s founding were either directly or indirectly from holy scripture,” she declared. “We know what that means when we say ‘directly,’ they’re quoting scripture. What does it mean when we say ‘indirectly’? They were quoting men who were quoting scripture.”
Unsurprisingly, this Barton “fact” — which also turns up in a book written by Dunbar — is the product of some of Barton’s trademark misinterpretation topped off by some fuzzy math .
At an Iowa campaign stop with influential Religious Right activist James Dobson yesterday, Sen. Ted Cruz warned that people of faith have consented to “allow nonbelievers to elect our leaders,” and now a “secular agenda” bent on doing away with the Ten Commandments and stifling religious liberty is on the rise.
Cruz repeated to the audience in Winterset, Iowa, his insistence that an atheist would be unfit to be president , saying, “If you don’t begin every day on your knees asking God for His wisdom and support, I don’t believe you’re fit to do this job.”
He also repeated his assertion that Republicans lost the last two presidential elections because millions of evangelicals stayed at home. “I believe the key to winning in 2016 is very simple,” he said. “We have to bring back to the polls the millions of conservatives who stayed home, we have to awaken and energize the body of Christ.”
“You know,” he said, “we look at our federal government now, and we have a federal government that is waging a war on life, a war on marriage, a war on religious liberty. We have a federal government that is advancing a secular agenda that puts the ability of Bible-believing Christians to live our faith more and more in jeopardy and that is appeasing radical Islamic terrorism, in fact refuses even to acknowledge its name. And if you look at the federal government, you might say, ‘Why do we have government attacking life, attacking marriage, attacking faith, attacking religious liberty?’ Well, is it any wonder, when a majority of believers are staying home? If we allow nonbelievers to elect our leaders, we shouldn’t be surprised when our government doesn’t reflect our values.”
Cruz also doubled down on his criticism of the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling , calling both it and the King v. Burwell ruling preserving the Affordable Care Act “fundamentally illegitimate” and “lawless.” He warned that if Hillary Clinton were to become president, the Supreme Court would “tear down our constitutional liberties fundamentally” by ruling against Ten Commandments monuments on public grounds and reversing the Heller decision, which found an individual right to bear arms. (When Cruz said that this meant “the government can make it a felony for you to own a firearm and protect your family,” an audience member yelled out, “Come and take it!”)
Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council who recently endorsed Cruz, also said he was very impressed by the candidate’s wife, Heidi Cruz, saying that “there has never in American history been a pro-life first lady” and that with her we “have a chance to get one this time.”
The Iowa conservative blog Caffeinated Thoughts recorded the event. Cruz and Dobson discuss prayer about 2 minutes into the video; the “missing” evangelical vote about 6 minutes in; the Supreme court around 13 minutes in; and Heidi Cruz about 24 minutes in.