Anti-Choice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hobby Lobby: 'Closely Held' Does Not Mean 'Mom and Pop'

In the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby, the Court held for the first time ever that a for-profit corporation counts as a “person” under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and that a “closely held” corporation basically shares the religious exercise rights of its owners.  This leads American law into a treacherous minefield, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg made clear in her dissent.

It’s worth pointing out, as Justice Ginsberg also noted, “’Closely held’ is not synonymous with ‘small.’” Hobby Lobby is a massive corporation employing some 13,000 people, but there are other closely held companies that are much larger. In a footnote, Ginsberg mentions family-owned Mars, Inc. and closely held Cargill, which are both among the largest five private companies in the country. Guess which is number two? Koch industries, with $115 billion in revenue and 60,000 employees. Brothers David and Charles Koch reportedly own 84 percent. Rounding out the top five private companies are Dell and Bechtel. Those five companies employ more than 436,000 people. What religious claims might their owners find useful to make in undermining laws that protect their workers?

PFAW Foundation

National Right To Life Speaker: Contraception And Abortion Are The Real War On Women, And They Come From 'The Pit of Hell'

The National Right To Life Convention kicked off this morning with a panel discussion featuring National Review Online editor Kathryn Jean Lopez, anti-choice activist Dr. Jean Garton, and radio host and crisis pregnancy center director Joy Pinto.

All three, along with National Right to Life president Carol Tobias, who introduced the panel, struck back against the “War on Women” label that has been used for legislative assaults on abortion rights, contraception access, equal pay, and domestic violence protections.

Pinto — who runs a crisis pregnancy center in Birmingham, Alabama, which, like many such centers appears to misleading claim to offer medical consulting for women considering an abortion — argued that the “real war on women” consists of legal abortion and access to contraception, particularly emergency contraception.

She added that this “war on women” came from the “pit of hell” and implied that women who have abortions are like Eve eating the forbidden fruit in the hopes of eternal life: "It's the same lie. It's the same war."

Personhood Bills So Toxic Cory Gardner Is Desperately Trying To Deny He's Sponsoring One

Earlier this week, a coalition of extreme anti-choice groups launched a national alliance to compete with the anti-choice behemoth National Right to Life Committee. The new group is angry that National Right to Life has backed abortion bans that contain exemptions for rape survivors and that it opposes radical “personhood” measures, which would not only criminalize abortion but also certain forms of birth control.

While National Right to Life supports sweeping abortion bans in principle, the group has a purely strategic reason for taking these stances —both personhood and no-exceptions abortion bans are incredibly unpopular.

Which is why Rep. Cory Gardner of Colorado, now the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, is desperately trying to claim that he no longer supports personhood measures, releasing this bizarre new ad trying to reassure voters that he did indeed flip-flop on the issue:

Steve Benen points out that Gardner isn’t even telling the truth about his own flip-flopping, as he is still a cosponsor of a national personhood bill in the House:

The congressman, for example, claims he’s “changed his mind about Personhood.” In reality, Gardner has announced, “In the state of Colorado, the Personhood Initiative I do not support.” But in Washington, Gardner isstill, as of this morning, a co-sponsor of federal Personhood legislation.

Politicians aren’t supposed to say they’ve changed their mind about Personhood if they haven’t actually changed their mind about Personhood.

Also in the ad, Gardner said he reversed course – even though he didn’t – “after I learned more information.” That, too, is an odd claim. Gardner is effectively positioning himself as a politician who decides to restrict women’s rights first, then gets information about his plan second. This is an awkward sales pitch for a statewide candidate to make.

And finally, Gardner said he flip-flopped – even though he didn’t – because he “listened” to the people of Colorado. But that’s also demonstrably wrong. After Coloradoans voted against Personhood, Gardner ignored them and pushed another Personhood measure. When that failed, Gardner ignored Coloradoans again and pushed for a federal Personhood measure. That’s not listening to the people; it’s the opposite.

He later tried to kinda sorta reverse course, but by all appearances, the only people the congressman was “listening” to were Republican pollsters.

Meanwhile, Personhood USA, which has backed the formation of the new national alliance, is furious at Gardner for pretending to change his mind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'If America Laughs At This, America Is Beyond Redemption': The Right Reacts To Abortion Comedy 'Obvious Child'

Last week, I saw a screening of “Obvious Child,” the new rom-com starring Jenny Slate in which the main character gets an abortion and makes some dark jokes about it and, surprise, ends up okay.

A couple of the questions at the Q&A following the screening with Slate and the film’s director Gillian Robespierre were about the anti-choice reaction to the film. A few days before the film hit wide release, there hadn’t been much, except for a few initial whimpers of dissent when the film screened at Sundance.

But that’s starting to change as anti-choice groups get wind of the movie and find it to be promoting “evil” and putting America “beyond redemption.”

Arina Grossu of the Family Research Council told the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal this week that she was “appalled that the evil of abortion is now the subject of a ‘romantic comedy.’ “

Arina Grossu, director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council, told The Daily Signal that she is “appalled that the evil of abortion is now the subject of a ‘romantic comedy.’

Grossu, who has not yet seen the film, has a different take.

“The movie attempts to gloss over the gravity of abortion,” she said. “But no amount of acting or short-lived laughs can take away the reality that abortion is a grave moral evil that kills one person and wounds the other.”

Jillian Kay Melchior, writing in the National Review Online, bashes the film formaking such a difficult physical and metaphysical decision into a cheap joke, with dead babies as the punchline.”

Obvious Child is kind of funny sometimes but not that funny — which is not the film’s main problem. Obvious Child is reprehensible because, through tasteless and unsubtle humor, it trivializes something that’s of grave importance for pro-choice and pro-life women alike.

Robespierre does no favor to women by making such a difficult physical and metaphysical decision into a cheap joke, with dead babies as the punchline. In trivializing abortion so radically, she infantilizes women and undermines the feminism she purports to endorse.

LifeSiteNews went with sarcasm: “Finally, a movie that presents the murder of an innocent as the laugh riot it is!”

“Has Hollywood hit a new low?”asked the Daily Caller.

And Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center took the long view, warning, “If America laughs at this, America is beyond redemption.”

The feminist film critics can exhale now. Someone has finally concocted their dream movie: an "abortion comedy." Because apparently nothing sounds funnier than an unplanned one-night stand and a courageous destruction of God's most beautiful and most innocent creation.

It's called "Obvious Child." Feminist lingo sells this monstrosity.

Rolling Stone magazine described one scene of allegedly hilarious "empowerment" between female characters. "You're going to kill it," Donna's best friend Nellie says before a standup comedy set the night before her abortion. "Tomorrow I am," Donna replies, and "the two unravel in sheepish giggles.

If America laughs at this, America is beyond redemption.

Of course, to sell the movie, they oddly claim this abortion-advocating movie doesn't have an agenda. "Our film is not an agenda movie in any way," Slate told Rolling Stone. "The whole point is that women have this procedure, and they should have it safely, and it's a part of life. It doesn't have to be this giant obelisk sticking out." That is not an agenda, no siree.

A little murder is a part of life. A little life matters not at all.

Feminists like these movie-makers don't see a moral dilemma. They see abortion as a natural part of the daily grind. You wake up, you get an abortion, you have a cheeseburger. The critics call this a "refreshing matter-of-factness" about abortion.

It can also be described as feminist nihilism. The selfishness and autonomy of the woman is paramount, and the accidental baby is just cannon fodder. When the murder of the innocents is celebrated as comedy, civil society is destroyed.

Of course, with the exception of Melchior, none of these critics seem to have actually seen the movie that Bozell claims will destroy America.

The Wilks Brothers: Fracking Sugar Daddies For The Far Right

Last June, presidential hopefuls Rand Paul and Ted Cruz traveled to Iowa for an event convened by David Lane, a political operative who uses pastors to mobilize conservative Christian voters. 

Lane is a Christian-nation extremist who believes the Bible should be a primary textbook in America’s public schools, and that any politician who disagrees should be voted out. Lane’s events are usually closed to the media, but he has given special access to the Christian Broadcasting Network’s sympathetic David Brody.  Brody’s coverage of the Iowa event included short video clips of comments by brothers Farris and Dan Wilks, who were identified only as members of Lane’s Pastors and Pews group.

CBN’s Brody reported, “The Wilks brothers worry that America’s declining morals will especially hurt the younger generation, so they’re using the riches that the Lord has blessed them with to back specific goals.”  One of those goals may be David Lane’s insistence that politicians make the Bible a primary textbook in public schools. 

Here’s Dan Wilks speaking to Brody: “I just think we have to make people aware, you know, and bring the Bible back into the school, and start teaching our kids at a younger age, and, uh, you know, and focus on the younger generation.”  And here’s Farris: “They’re being taught the other ideas, the gay agenda, every day out in the world so we have to stand up and explain to them that that’s not real, that’s not proper, it’s not right.”

That was the first time we had heard of the billionaire Wilks brothers, who have become generous donors to right-wing politicians and Republican Party committees.  While both Farris and Dan have given to conservative groups and candidates, it is older brother Farris whose foundation has become a source of massive donations to Religious Right groups and to the Koch brothers’ political network. Farris also funds a network of “pregnancy centers” that refuse, on principle, to talk to single women about contraception (married women need to check with their husband and pastor).

Like David Barton, Farris thinks conservative economics are grounded in the Bible. Like Mitt Romney, he says people shouldn’t vote for politicians who promise “free this, free that.” Like any number of Religious Right leaders, he saw Barack Obama’s re-election as a harbinger of the End Times and he believes God will punish America for embracing homosexuality. Unlike all of them, he’s on the list of the world’s richest people.

They’re Fracking Billionaires!

Dan and Farris Wilks became successful working in and then running the masonry business that was started by their father; they have now turned the company over to the next generation of Wilks men.  But Dan and Farris really hit the big time when they got in on the ground floor with fracking, the controversial natural gas drilling technique that has boomed over the past decade. 

The fracking boom has produced a surge in wealthy Texans. In 2002, the Wilks brothers created Frac Tech, which produced equipment used in fracking, or in industry parlance, “well stimulation services.”  In May 2011, Dan and Farris sold Frac Tech to a group of investors led by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund for $3.5 billion. Their share was reportedly 68% of that total, and they showed up on the 2011 Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans with an estimated net worth of $1.4 billion each.  The most recent Forbes list put their estimated wealth at $1.5 billion each. (In our gilded age, that puts them near the bottom of the Forbes 400, and barely gets them into the top 40 in Texas. But you can still do an awful lot with $3 billion.)

The Wilks brothers have gone on a land-buying spree out West, amassing huge holdings in Montana, Idaho, Texas, Kansas, and Colorado.  In December 2012, the Billings Gazette reported that they had amassed more than 276,000 acres in Montana, or more than 430 square miles; more recent reports say they own more than 301,300 acres in the state.  Among their purchases was the historic 62,000-acre N Bar Ranch, which had been listed for $45 million. 

The brothers reportedly started building an airstrip that summer across from the N Bar Ranch headquarters to make travel to their property on their 18-passenger corporate jet a little easier. The Wilks brothers have proposed a land swap with the Bureau of Land Management to consolidate their holdings; last month their attorney said they were “blindsided” when BLM said it would not trade the 2,700-acre Durfee Hills after hunters complained about losing access to the land and its elk.

In January 2013, they bought a nearly 18,000-acre ranch in Idaho, which brought their total in that state to almost 36,000 acres.  In 2011, Farris was reported to have paid $16 million for what was then the most expensive ski-accessible home in the history of Snowmass Village, Colorado. 

An Aspen newspaper reported in 2012 that Dan owned two homes in Aspen, one worth $8.3 million and another worth $4.9 million. At the end of 2012 they bought the Advancial Tower, a 17-story skyscraper in Dallas reportedly appraised at $16.25 million. And last August, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that the Wilks brothers had bought 122 acres of land in a business park in Southlake, Texas. Farris also reportedly paid to have a “world class” recording studio installed in his 20,000-square-foot home and to have his church’s audio-visual system similarly upgraded.

Members of the Wilks family have been philanthropists in their hometown over the years, funding, for example, a community center and mobile emergency command post for local fire departments.   More recently they have distributing their wealth in support of right-wing causes and conservative politicians. According to Forbes, Dan has six children, Farris has 11.

A(nother) Foundation for the Far Right

The Wilks brothers and their wives have stashed a sizeable chunk of money in charitable foundations: Farris and his wife Joann created The Thirteen Foundation, while Dan and his wife Staci started Heavenly Father’s Foundation. The Thirteen Foundation has become a major funder to Religious Right organizations and to right-wing political outfits that are part of the Koch brother’s network.

In 2011, Farris and Joann each put $50 million into The Thirteen Foundation, and they started writing huge checks. In 2011 and 2012, the last year for which giving records are publicly available, the foundation gave away more than $17 million. Here’s where much of it went:  

Media Revolution Ministries (Online for Life)                             $2,242,857

American Majority Inc                                                               $2,114,100

State Policy Networks                                                              $1,526,125

Focus on the Family                                                                 $1,400,000

Franklin Center for Gov't and Public Integrity                          $1,309,775

Life Dynamics Inc.                                                                    $1,275,000                  

Liberty Counsel                                                                        $1,000,000

Heritage Foundation                                                                   $700,000

Family Research Council                                                              $530,000

Texas Right to Life Committee Education Fund                           $310,000

Texas Home School Coalition                                                      $250,000

Heartbeat International                                                              $197,000

Wallbuilders Presentations, Inc                                                    $85,000

National Institute of Marriage                                                       $75,000

These gifts amount to a massive infusion of funds into some of the most aggressive right-wing organizations that are fighting legal equality for LGBT people, access to contraception and abortion services for women, and promoting the Tea Party’s vision of a federal government that is constitutionally forbidden from protecting American workers, consumers, and communities by regulating corporate behavior. 

American Majority, the Franklin Center, the Heritage Foundation, and the State Policy Networks are all part of the Koch brothers’ right-wing political network, promoting policy attacks on public employees and their unions, outsourcing public resources for private profit, privatization of public education, and more:

  • The Franklin Center, closely allied to the American Legislative Exchange Council and other right-wing groups, produces and supports ideological advocacy sites that that it pretends is “nonpartisan” journalism.
  • American Majority trains and supports Tea Party activist networks.
  • The Heritage Foundation is a right-wing propaganda behemoth masquerading as a think tank. It promotes Religious Right social conservatism and Tea Party anti-government ideology, arguing that the two are “indivisible.”
  • The State Policy Network comprises mini-Heritage Foundations – right-wing “think tanks” at the state level that work closely with ALEC and right-wing lawmakers.

The Thirteen Foundation’s gifts are a boon to some of the most extreme Religious Right groups in the country. Among the recipients:

  • The Liberty Counsel, a legal advocacy group affiliated with Liberty University, is home to right-wing legal activist Mat Staver and the increasingly unhinged Matt Barber. Liberty Counsel promotes extreme anti-Obama and anti-gay rhetoric, warning that the country is descending into religious tyranny and on the verge of revolution.  Staver and Barber support laws criminalizing homosexuality and call the Obama administration’s opposition to such laws in other countries “immoral.”
  • The Family Research Council, designated an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, hosts the annual Values Voter Summit, the annual family reunion for far-right religious and political groups and right-wing politicians. FRC and its leader Tony Perkins oppose equality for LGBT Americans and promote the myth of anti-Christian persecution in the U.S.
  • Wallbuilders promotes the historical revisionism of “historian” David Barton, whose claims have been widely discredited but who remains influential within the Religious Right and the GOP. In addition to his “Christian Nation” history, Barton argues that the Bible opposes the minimum wage, progressive taxation, capital gains taxes, the estate tax, and unions and collective bargaining.

See the section on the War on Women below for information about anti-choice organizations on the list. Other gifts supported Prime Time Christian Broadcasting, Inc., which runs God’s Learning Channel, “a satellite network dedicated to bringing the gospel of the kingdom into the entire world and teaching everyone about the Torah and the true roots of Christianity“; the Wounded Warrior Project; and a number of local churches that seem to be affiliated with the church at which Farris is an elder. One gift that seems like an outlier was $50,000 to the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, which funds legal services for the poor, advocates for immigration reform, and filed a lawsuit on behalf of a binational same-sex couple.

Farris’s brother Dan and his wife Staci each gave $55 million to their Heavenly Father’s Foundation, according to the group’s 2011 990 form. That year the foundation reported $110 million in income but only $309,000 in disbursements, mostly to the Mountain Top Church in their hometown of Cisco ($287,000) with smaller amounts to a pregnancy center called the Open Door ($20,000) and to the American Diabetes Association ($2,000).

Its 2012 contributions were primarily to several churches but also included ministries that provide meals to the poor, a five-year pledge to a local domestic violence crisis center, $20,000 to the Open Door pregnancy center, $1.7 million to a drug and alcohol treatment center whose 30th anniversary celebration in May featured Mike Huckabee, and intriguingly, $100,000 to the Eastland County District Attorney’s office to cover “budget shortage.”

Of course, individual contributions that Wilks family members make to advocacy organizations are not publicly reported.

In Politics, Paying to Play

The Wilks brothers made a bit of a splash in Montana when it was revealed that they were the top donors to 2012 Republican legislative candidates in the state.  A February 2013 report by the National Institute on Money in State Politics found that Dan and Farris Wilks and their wives “donated to more than 70 candidates, all Republicans, and generally gave the maximum contribution allowed by law to legislative candidates, $160 for a general election.”

The report said that 70 percent of Republican legislators got contributions from the Wilkses. (AP noted that all bills aimed at regulating fracking in the 2011 legislature were killed by Republican-led committees.) According to the Institute, 64 of the state-level candidates they supported won – 63 legislators and Attorney General Tim Fox.

The Wilkses also gave heavily to Dennis Rehberg, a former Republican U.S. congressman from Montana who gave up his seat to mount an unsuccessful challenge against Sen. Jon Tester in 2012, and to Steven Daines, the Republican who won the House seat vacated by Rehberg and who is now running to for U.S. Senate. 

Collectively, Dan and Farris and their wives gave the Rehberg and Daines campaigns each $10,000 in 2012, with another $37,500 going to the Rehberg Victory Committee, a joint fundraising committee that funneled money to Rehberg’s campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Farris and Joann have together given $10,400 toward Steve Daines’s 2014 reelection.

Their political giving has not been limited to Montana.  In Texas, according to state campaign finance records, the brothers each gave $25,000 to Texans for Rick Perry in 2012.  Farris also gave $2,500 to State Rep. Stefani Carter, the first Republican African American woman to serve in the state House; Farris and Joann also gave $5,000 to the failed Supreme Court campaign of Steve Smith. 

Last year, Perry announced he would not run for a fourth term as governor.  Earlier this year, state Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for governor, reported nearly $31,000 in in-kind contributions from Farris and Dan for use of an airplane. Farris also gave $1,000 in January to the Texas Home School Coalition PAC.

This year, in the election for California’s 44th Assembly District, Dan, Staci, and Farris Wilks have given thousands to the campaign of Rob McCoy, a conservative evangelical pastor who is also backed by Rand Paul, Rick Perry, and Mike Huckabee. In the June 3 primary, the Wilks-backed McCoy came in second place to Democrat Jacqui Irwin, a City Councilwoman from Thousand Oaks, beating the more moderate Republican candidate, businessman Mario de la Piedra. Irwin and McCoy will face off in the general election.

During the 2012 election cycle, according to the Federal Election Commission’s database, the brothers and their wives together contributed $125,000 to the Romney Victory Committee, a joint fundraising committee benefitting the Romney campaign and the Republican Party. 

Joann also contributed $25,000 to the Faith Family Freedom Fund, a “soft money” fund run by a former Family Research Council executive and housed in FRC’s Washington, DC building. The fund makes independent expenditures for or against candidates; in 2012 it spent in support of Todd Akin, George Allen, Steve King, and other right-wing candidates, and against Claire McCaskill, Tim Kaine, Barack Obama, and other Democratic candidates.

In 2011, Farris gave the National Republican Congressional Committee $2,500, and he gave $7,600 to the National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund between 2010 and 2012. In 2010 Farris gave Nevada Senate candidate and Tea Party darling Sharron Angle $1000 and in 2008 he gave $2,500 to the McCain-Palin Victory Committee.

Wilks and the War on Women

As Kate Sheppard reported last August for Mother Jones, The Thirteen Foundation’s 2011 gift to Life Dynamics, a Texas-based anti-abortion group, funded a campaign to mass-mail DVDs to lawyers encouraging them to sue abortion clinics into oblivion.  Crooks and Liars blogger Karoli has noted that Life Dynamics “actively engages in espionage against organizations serving women” and operates campaigns to harass doctors who perform abortions. 

The more than $2 million that The Thirteen Foundation gave to Media Revolution Ministries in 2012 allowed for a vast expansion of the group, which had only an $80,000 budget the year before. The group, also known as Online for Life, says it “implements cutting-edge Internet and traditional marketing outreaches to connect with abortion-determined women and men.” In other words, they try to “intercept” women who search for abortion information and send them to anti-choice “pregnancy centers.”  

Those funds may have been used to help “pregnancy centers” buy ads on search terms like “abortion clinics” to “intercept” women who went online.  NARAL Pro-Choice America cited Online for Life’s Google ads  when it announced in April that  its investigations had led Google to take down ads from crisis pregnancy centers that violated the search engine’s rules against deceptive advertising.

The Thirteen Foundation also gave $450,000 in 2011 to Care Net, a network of Christian “pregnancy centers” whose “standards of affiliation” include this requirement:

The pregnancy center does not recommend, provide, or refer single women for contraceptives. (Married women seeking contraceptive information should be urged to seek counsel, along with their husbands, from their pastor and physician.).

The Wilks are also backers of Open Door, a local Christian “crisis pregnancy center” to which the Thirteen Foundation gave more than $90,000 in 2012. Farris and Joann have also been benefactors of Texas Right to Life.

The Wilks Worldview

With the exception of the brief interaction with CBN’s David Brody, the Wilks brothers have generally been media-shy. But the worldview of Farris, the older of the two brothers, whose foundation is backing the Religious Right and Tea Party movements, is quite clearly revealed in the sermons he preaches.

In addition to his business ventures, Farris, the older brother, is also a pastor at the church founded by his father, The Assembly of Yahweh (7th Day).  The church’s doctrine seems to be an amalgam based on the elder Wilks’ anachronistic interpretations of the Bible. It combines biblical literalism with a heavy emphasis on the Old Testament: The church celebrates its Sabbath on Saturday, follows the dietary rules laid down in Leviticus, and celebrates Jewish holidays but not “the religious holidays of the Gentiles,” which include “Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, White Sunday, Good Friday, and Halloween.”  (I had to look up White Sunday, which is a traditional Samoan holiday. There’s a significant Samoan community in Texas).  Women may not speak during worship.

The church’s doctrinal points align with the Religious Right on many policy issues.  Abortion is “murder,” including pregnancies resulting from rape and incest. Homosexuality is “a serious crime – a very grievous sin.”

A number of Farris Wilks’ sermons can be heard through his church’s website.  Back in November 2012, he was pretty despondent about the re-election of Barack Obama:  “I do believe that our country died that Tuesday night, to all that’s honorable, that’s good, that’s ambitious, and that has justice. The old way of life that we will take care of ourselves, we will be self-sufficient as much as we are able, the pride in pulling your own weight, or paddling your own canoe.”  The sermon includes small-government quotes from Thomas Jefferson, anti-socialist quotes from Winston Churchill, and a bootstraps approach to poverty. “The best way to get out of poverty is to go to work,” he says. “That is one of the simplest ways to make it go away.”

Wilks said he was “refreshed” by biblical texts about the End Times, speculating that the election went the way it did “because maybe it’s time to wrap up some things, maybe it’s time to move on to the next one thousand years.”  And he warned of persecution against Christians:

I will tell you now that you need to be ready for a little bit more scoffing and ridicule than maybe we’ve experienced in the past, because I think not only us but the Christian community at large is coming under attack, not only in America but throughout the world.  We see it on the late night talk shows. One man in particular. And some time you think, man, it would almost be nice if the judgment would happen so we can see what would happen to those people. …for the things they are saying, which are so vulgar and violent against Yahweh…his mercy must be inexhaustible to put up with that…

Several months later, after his participation in the David Lane event in Iowa, Wilks was feeling motivated to do more to impact the future of America.  In a July 2, 2013, sermon he referred to claims made by discredited Religious Right “historian” David Barton about the country’s founders and Barton’s assertion that many of our laws come from the scriptures.  And in a sermon he described as a “study of Sodom and Gomorrah,” he laid out his belief that the country is facing a clear choice:

As most of you probably know by now, we are in a battle for our society. Will we follow the secular religion of man, him being supreme, and evolving, or will we submit to Elohim, who has the right to give us laws and commandments to follow since he is the one who created us? Who is in charge? Is it man, or is it our creator?

He read scripture passages that referred to the story of God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in what he said was punishment for “base and demented” sexual practices, the tolerance of which in America “could bring about the end of our nation.” He warned that allowing same-sex couples to get married would soon lead to bestiality being promoted and accepted. “I do believe we live in a nation that will start to vomit some of its people out,” he warned.  After reading a passage from Isaiah in which the land and its inhabitants are cursed for their depravity, he said:

I fear that that is where we are as a nation. We have been in the blessed part of our nation, but I think we’re coming to the point now…we’re going to reap what we have sown, and what we have sown has not been good…what it says here, that the earth lies polluted under its inhabitants. Think of all the murder that has happened in this country….all the babies that have been murdered…think of all the perversions in the realm of sexual perversion of all kinds…all the breaking of Yahweh’s covenant….and so you recognize that at some point Yahweh’s going to say it’s time to wrap up… it’s time to move on to a kingdom of people that want to serve me, that want to be redeemed, that want salvation…we have to draw some lines in the sand for ourselves….

He also mocked environmentalism and the effort to save certain animals or the polar caps.  “We didn’t create the Earth so how can we save it?”  When you realize that Yahweh is in control, “it’s much simpler,” he says. “You can turn over some of those responsibilities to him.” Maybe the melting of polar ice is us “getting a little scorched here” as a message from God.

Later last summer he returned to the Sodom and Gomorrah theme, denouncing the gay pride movement as an example of lust and defiance of authority described in the Bible. “What we’re fighting against today is not a sexual revolution particular to our own enlightened age, but it’s a return to pre-Christian pagan sexual immorality or perversion.”

And Farris sounded like the most extreme anti-gay Religious Right leaders in portraying gay people as child predators: 

If we all took on this lifestyle, all humanity would perish in one generation…So this lifestyle is a predatorial lifestyle in that they need your children and straight people having kids to fulfill their sexual habits. They can’t do it by their self. They want your children….But we’re in a war for our children. They want your children. So what will you teach your children? A strong family is the last defense.

And, he said, they won’t stop, predicting that pedophilia and bestiality will soon be legal.

Just before Christmas he preached on spiritual apathy in America. He warned that apathy is closing church doors in America just as liberalism and secularism. He railed against people forgetting the Sabbath and spending too much time on entertainment. He warned that God would lift his “mantle of protection” against the U.S. because it is no longer protecting the family.

Earlier this year, Farris preached on “Government That We Can Believe In.”  In that sermon, he proclaimed that he loves America but that all nations fail at some point. The founding fathers did a good job, but the nation’s cornerstones are now crumbling: “It’s because of the lack of morality, the lack of continuity of one like belief in our heavenly father – those are the things that are bringing our nation to its knees.”

But this sermon focused less on sexual immorality and more on the threat of socialism. Yahweh, he preached, is “someone who respects private ownership” and the Torah is “set up on the free enterprise system.”

He said “there are only two basic ideas in the whole world” – and those are free enterprise and socialism. The U.S., he warned, is “inching closer to socialism.” You either have more government or more freedom; the more money taken from you in taxes, the fewer choices you have in life. He acknowledged that he has a “personal stake” in this, saying he pays a “huge amount” in taxes.

He urged congregants not to vote for politicians who promise “free this, free that,” saying that would lead us to become one of the poor nations of the world. “Yahweh never intended for us as a people to be afraid and reliant on government.”

An Answer to Prayer?

Televangelist James Robison recently told participants in a Tea Party Unity conference call that he is praying for a merger of the Tea Party and the Religious Right.  It’s enough to make one wonder where Robison has been for the past few years.  There has always been a overlap between the Tea Party and the Religious Right movements.  And since the early days of the anti-Obama Tea Party organizing, right-wing strategists like Ralph Reed and Rick Scarborough have been trying to more fully merge the organizing energies of the two movements into an electoral machine. 

Groups like the Family Research Council and Heritage Foundation have worked hard to limit the influence of libertarians in the conservative movement by portraying social and economic conservatism as “indivisible,” while Republican activists like “historian” David Barton have claimed that there is a biblical underpinning for the far-right’s anti-tax, anti-regulation, anti-government agenda.

Maybe the miracle Robison was really looking for was a big pile of cash to fund his next project. In which case, the answer to his prayers might be found in the person of Farris Wilks, preacher, right-wing activist, and billionaire.

The Ten Commandments And The 4,300-Year-Old Dinosaur: Michael Peroutka's Web Of Christian-Nation Influence

Two weeks ago, the Creation Museum — the anti-evolution themepark run by the advocacy group Answers in Genesis — received a huge gift: a $1 million dinosaur skeleton meant to help the museum illustrate its belief that dinosaurs were part of the original creation 6,000 years ago and coexisted with humans until well after Noah’s flood.

The benefactor that gave the museum Ebenezer the Allosaurus was the Elizabeth Streb Peroutka Foundation, a family foundation run by Maryland-based right-wing activists and brothers Michael and Stephen Peroutka and Michael’s daughter Elizabeth. Observers immediately noted that this dinosaur came with some contemporary human baggage: Michael Peroutka is an extreme right-wing activist who is a frequent supporter and former board member of the neo-Confederate League of the South and who believes that the Union’s victory in the Civil War brought on all of America’s ills, including “homo-sodomite unmarriage.”

But the Peroutkas’ influence extends far beyond fringe anti-gay, neo-Confederate activism and providing a real-life dinosaur to illustrate made-up science. Through a set of debt-collection businesses, the Peroutkas finance a host of anti-choice groups and promote a troubling Christian-Nation ideology in Maryland and throughout the country. Michael Peroutka, a 2004 Constitution Party candidate for president, is also largely self-financing his campaign for local office in Anne Arundel County.

Michael Peroutka runs the Institute on the Constitution, an “educational” group through which he promotes his Christian Reconstructionist viewpoint that “the function of civil government is to obey God and to enforce God’s law” — that is, Peroutka’s idea of what constitutes God’s law. Peroutka, for instance, claims that there are no such thing as “civil rights” enforceable by the government, because “rights come from God.”

The Institute on the Constitution, according to the group’s website, is “sponsored” by and shares an address with Peroutka and Peroutka, the debt-collection firm Michael runs with his brother Stephen, who was also a  co-founder of the Institute.

It’s through the law firm and its debt-buying arm, Pasadena Recievables, that the Peroutka brothers finance the Elizabeth Streb Peroutka Foundation, which is named after their mother.

From its founding in 2003 through 2012, the last year for which tax records are available, the family’s foundation has been almost entirely financed by grants from the Peroutkas' pair of debt-collection businesses, along with investment income and a few personal donations from Michael and Stephen. Together, the family and its businesses have put $5.2 million into the foundation over nine years.

Its biggest asset, until now, has been the Allosaurus.

Ebenezer the Allosaurus was originally dug up in 2002 by a team of homeschoolers led by a conservative Christian family from Florida that ran a business providing anti-evolution excavation adventures. Also leading that expedition was Doug Phillips, a leader of the anti-feminist Quiverfull movement, who is now facing charges of sexual battery and assault against a young follower.

From the moment the bones were found, their discoverers vowed to keep them out of the hands of scientists, who estimate that the Allosaurus lived roughly 150 million years ago. “I am sure the evolutionists would love to get their hands on these bones," Phillips said at the time. “Who can blame them. It is like a gold mine for paleontologists.”

Peroutka cited those fears at the Creation Museum unveiling last month, when he told of how he came to purchase Ebenezer. He was determined to keep the dinosaur out of the hands of “anyone with a ‘millions of years’ mindset,” he said, and to keep it under the guardianship of those who believe the skeleton is just 4,300 years old:

While snatching the dinosaur from the evolutionists has been the Peroutka family foundation’s priciest project, Michael explained in his remarks at the museum that the foundation was “primarily intended to offer financial aid to groups who were dedicated to ending the holocaust of abortion.”

Of $3.6 million in grants that the Peroutka Foundation has dispensed over nine years, about one-quarter — $920,000 — has gone to the National Pro-Life Action Center, an anti-choice lobbying group chaired by Stephen Peroutka. (The Center is one of a tangled web of right-wing organizations run out of the same office in Washington). Stephen Peroutka was also the founder of National Pro-Life Radio, a network run out of the same building as the brothers’ law office that aired shows from anti-choice activists including Janet Porter, Jay Sekulow, Frank Pavone, Jesse Lee Peterson, and both Peroutka brothers.

The foundation has heaped much of its largesse on Maryland-based abortion clinic protest groups and crisis pregnancy centers, including contributing a total of $236,000 to the Baltimore-based abortion clinic protest group Defend Life, perhaps most infamous for organizing a protest outside the middle school attended by the daughter of an abortion provider’s landlord.

And although anti-choice groups have received the bulk of the foundation’s grants, it has also taken on some other causes close to Michael Peroutka’s heart.

Most notably, the foundation has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to groups associated with Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, one of the nation’s loudest proponents of Christian Reconstructionist ideology, who shot to fame in 2003 when he was ousted from his original position on the state supreme court for refusing to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments from his courthouse.

In 2004, after the far-right Constitution Party failed to recruit Moore to run for president, Peroutka took his place as the party’s candidate. That same year, the Peroutka Foundation spent $120,000 bankrolling Moore’s nationwide speaking tour “regarding morality and the Ten Commandments” and gave $12,000 to the National Coalition to Restore the Constitution, a group that organized rallies backing Moore in an effort drum up support for a measure preventing federal courts from hearing many church-state separation cases .

In addition, the Peroutka Foundation has contributed a quarter of a million dollars to the Foundation for Moral Law, the group that Moore ran before returning to the Alabama Supreme Court, and which is now run by Moore’s wife. Under Moore’s leadership, the Foundation for Moral Law hosted a neo-Confederate “secession day” event, and the group employs John Eidsmoe, a Michelle Bachmann mentor who has white supremacist ties. One of Moore's activities at the group was representing protesters who had disrupted a Hindu opening prayer in the U.S. Senate. “It's a shame that not one U.S. Senator stood up to defend a tradition that goes back to the very first Continental Congress of acknowledging the one true God of the Holy Scriptures," he lamented.

In 2007 and 2008, the Peroutka Foundation contributed $60,000 to Moore’s now-defunct Coalition to Restore America. In the summer of 2007, Moore spoke at a conference in Maryland organized by Peroutka, where, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, “he and a string of far-right activists peddled ‘Christian nation’ rhetoric, bashed Islam, belittled American culture and the federal government and displayed an alarming affinity for the neo-Confederate states’ rights cause.” Also speaking at the conference were Eidsmoe and Gordon Klingenschmitt, the former Navy chaplain who now supplies the world with an endless supply of YouTube rants about gay “demonic spirits.” At the end of the day, everyone gathered under a Confederate flag to dedicate part of the Peroutkas’ land as “Judge Roy Moore Field.”

In 2011, the Institute on the Constitution presented Moore with an award for “choosing to obey God, and acknowledging Him both in word and in deed, regardless of the consequences” and resisting “a government which thought it was God.”

The next year, when Moore successfully ran to reclaim his seat on the state supreme court, Peroutka provided the bulk of his campaign chest.

The affinity between Moore and Peroutka extends to the issue of evolution. Moore contends that the theory of evolution is incompatible with the Constitution; Peroutka insists the “promotion of evolution is an act of disloyalty to America”:

While anti-choice groups and Moore have been the biggest recipients of the Peroutka Foundation’s generosity — at least until Ebenezer moved into the Creation Museum — the foundation has also offered smaller grants to a smattering of extremist ministries and Confederate history enthusiasts.

The Foundation has given $24,000 over six years to Pass the Salt, the ministry of unhinged anti-gay extremist “Coach” Dave Daubenmire (the one who complained last year that he was "sick and tired of being sodomized by the left"). In 2012, it gave a $6,000 grant to “You Can Run By You Cannot Hide,” the ministry of Bachmann acolyte Bradlee Dean, who travels to unsuspecting public schools to give disturbing anti-gay “seminars.”

Since 2006, the foundation has given an annual $1,000 grant to restoring a Confederate cemetery in Maryland, a project organized by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group that has cozied up to the racist extremists in its ranks. In 2004, it donated $2,250 to a Confederate reenactment troop for "education of the public as to the causes of the War between the States."

The Peroutkas are also frequent donors to state and local campaigns. According to Center for Responsive Politics data, Michael, Stephen and Stephen’s wife Deborah  contributed $35,900 to their congressman, Rep. Andy Harris, between 2007 and 2011.

Not the least of the beneficiaries is Michael Peroutka himself, who has lent $30,000 to his own campaign for Anne Arundel County Council, about half of the $62,000 he has raised so far. His political ambitions may continue to run higher — it was rumored that he considered running for state attorney general this year before setting his sights on the county council.

Peroutka’s web of influence shows that he is more than, as one libertarian scholar put it, a "wackypants anti-gay crusader.” Peroutka's activism and  philanthropy illuminate the connections between the Creationist movement, the Christian-Nation philosophy of people like Judge Moore, anti-choice agitators, fringe anti-gay extremists like Daubenmire and Klingenschmitt, and the network of Confederate nostalgists that can never quite hide its racist roots. All are striving for a biblical and constitutional purism that exists only in the minds of those who adhere to it, and a return to an imagined past where dinosaurs stowed away on Noah’s ark, the Constitution mandated an exclusively Christian nation, and the Civil War didn't turn out quite right.

Research contributed by Ian Silverstone

Rafael Cruz Blames End Of School-Sponsored Prayer For Crime, Teen Pregnancy

Rafael Cruz, the father of Sen. Ted Cruz, spoke at yesterday’s Family Research Council Watchmen on the Wall conference, where he made the case for the conservative pastors in the audience to throw themselves into politics.

Cruz argued that the First Amendment “in no way, shape or form” prevents “the church from having an influence on every area of society, as we should.”

“The church should be influencing the media, should be influencing arts and entertainment, sports, education, business and, yes, government,” he added, just so happening to list five of the seven pillars of Seven Mountains Dominionism.

To illustrate this, Cruz listed various instances where he claims the “church remained silent”: the 1963 ruling eliminating government-sponsored prayer in schools, because of which, he claimed, “teen pregnancy skyrocketed and violent crime skyrocketed”; Roe v. Wade; and the Supreme Court’s decision striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which he said led to the “erosion of the traditional family.”

“The question is, how long are we going to remain silent?” he said. “But the more important question is, will God hold us accountable for our silence?”

In Response To Uganda Documentary, IHOP Says It's 'Not Involved' in Politics

“God Loves Uganda,” a documentary about American evangelical involvement in inflaming anti-gay sentiment in that country, made its debut at last year’s Sundance Festival and reached a broader audience through this week’s broadcast on public television. The attention from this week’s broadcast has provoked a response from the International House of Prayer (IHOP).

Filmmaker Ross Williams was given extensive access to IHOP leaders, including evangelist Lou Engle, who believes Uganda has a special prophetic destiny.  The documentary includes footage of Engle at a rally with supporters of the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Act, where he tells the crowd he was “called” to encourage the Ugandan church for standing up for “righteousness” in the face of international pressure to drop the bill.  IHOP now says it has never supported the anti-gay law.

Charisma Magazine’s Jennifer LeClaire writes that IHOP and Lou Engle are being “falsely accused of ‘demonizing’ homosexuals in Uganda.” IHOP’s response says that while it believes all sex outside of the marriage of one man and one woman is sinful, “We honor the dignity and rights of all whose opinion differs from ours” and that IHOP is “open to civil dialogue and mutual respect.” The filmmakers, says IHOP, “pursued a deceptive means to achieve a hateful, polarizing result.”

In fact, Engle is a remarkably polarizing figure who has frequently describes those who disagree with him on abortion and marriage as being in league with Satan in a confrontation between good an evil. “God Loves Uganda” includes footage of Engle’s pro-Prop. 8 rally in California at which he warned that allowing same-sex couples to get married would unleash “sexual insanity” and a spirit “more demonic than Islam.” In 2011, he organized an event in Detroit that was pitched to local pastors as a unity event for people of faith to pray for Detroit’s economy when its actual purpose was to “invade Dearborn” and convert followers of “demonic” Islam to Christianity.

Perhaps the most laughable statement in IHOP’s response is this:

Our primary mandate as an organization is prayer and humanitarian action; it is not political. We are not involved in U.S. politics, let alone politics in another nation.

Not involved in US politics? Where do we begin?

Lou Engle, an IHOP co-founder, is a dominionist who believes the church’s role is to “rule history with God.”

"The church’s vocation is to rule history with God...The same authority that has been given to Christ Jesus for overwhelming conquering and dominion has been given to the saints of the most high....We’re God’s rulers upon the earth...We will govern over kings and judges will have to submit...We’re called to rule! To change history! To be co-regents with God!"

Engle has been intensely involved in US politics, hosting “The Call” prayer rallies in election years to denounce legal abortion and politicians that support it. He worked hard to mobilize support for anti-gay Proposition 8 in California.

In 2008 he passionately opposed the election of Barack Obama and declared that by choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate, McCain had “gone to war for America, for our families, and for our children. And this war, we cannot afford to lose.”

In 2009, Engle introduced Rep. Michele Bachmann and asked her to lead a prayer at an anti-health-care-reform “prayercast” organized by the Family Research Council.

More recently IHOP and its leader Mike Bickel were at the center of organizing dominionist leaders to put on “The Awakening,” a 2011 prayer rally that served as the launch of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s 2012 presidential campaign. Bickel served as the event’s MC. The head of IHOP’s Tallahassee branch, Pam Oslen, was on the Perry campaign’s Florida leadership team.

Right-Wing Activists Urge Catholic Church To Deny Communion To Pro-Choice Politicians

Dozens of anti-choice activists meeting in Rome this week are urging Catholic bishops to deny communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

Speaking at the International Pro-Life Conference in Rome, the American Catholic leader Cardinal Raymond Burke renewed his call for bishops to deny communion to pro-choice politicians. Fifty-two activists joined the cause, signing a petition asking “the Bishops of the Catholic Church to withhold Holy Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy towards those same politicians.”

Among the American signers of the declaration were Preston Noell, director of Tradition, Family and Property, Marie Meaney of Heartbeat International, Joseph Meaney of Human Life International (the group that spawned the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, and which organized the Rome conference), “conceived in rape” activist Rebecca Kiessling, Dawn Eskew of Personhood New York, Michael Hichborn of the American Life League, Carlos Polo of the Population Research Institute, and Bernice and Brian Follett of The Life Foundation. Also signing the petition was Luis Losada of CitizenGo, a Spanish organization whose board includes National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown.

The declaration reads in part:

WHEREAS Catholic politicians who support abortion are already in grave sin, and in receiving Holy Communion their sin is compounded by sacrilege;

WHEREAS by being given Holy Communion such Catholic politicians may well believe that they are spiritually healthy and thus not in need of any remedy;

WHEREAS distributing Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians causes scandal to the rest of the faithful in that they come to believe that support for abortion is not too serious a sin, and thus undermines pro-life work;

WHEREAS being refused Holy Communion is an effective wake-up call to return to an authentic life of faith;

WHEREAS it is unmerciful to allow our brothers living in obstinate public sin to languish there without warning;

We the undersigned ask the Bishops of the Catholic Church to withhold Holy Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy towards those same politicians.

Iowa GOP Senate Candidates Vow To Block Judges Who Won't Follow 'Biblical' Law

The Iowa-based Religious Right group The Family Leader held a forum for Republican US Senate candidates on Friday, at which the group’s view that “God instituted government” figured heavily. In fact, nearly every candidate at the debate vowed that if they were to be elected to the Senate they would block federal judicial nominees who do not follow what they perceive as “natural law” or a “biblical view of justice.”

Bob Vander Plaats, head of The Family Leader, opened the forum by declaring, “At The Family Leader, we believe God has three institutions: It would be the church, the family, and government.”

He warned that policies such as legal abortion and marriage equality would cause God to cease blessing the country. “As we have a culture that runs further and further from God’s principles, His precepts, from God’s heart, it’s only natural consequences that we’re going to suffer,” he said.

“You cannot run away from the heart of God and expect God to bless the country," he concluded.

Several of the candidates echoed this theme during the forum. When moderator Erick Erickson, the right-wing pundit, asked the candidates what criteria they would look for in confirming federal judges, three out of four said they would demand faith in God or adherence to “natural law.”

Sam Clovis, a college professor and retired Air Force colonel, answered that he has  “a very firm litmus test” on judges: “Can that judge…explain to me natural law and natural rights?”

Joni Ernst, who is currently a state senator, agreed, adding that federal judges should understand that the Constitution and all of our laws “did come from God” and that senators should “make sure that any decisions that they have made in the past are decisions that fit within that criteria.”

Former federal prosecutor Matt Whitaker argued that neither Clovis’ nor Ernst’s answer had gone “far enough.” He said that he would demand that federal judicial nominees be “people of faith” and “have a biblical view of justice.”

“As long as they have that worldview, then they’ll be a good judge,” he said. “And if they have a secular worldview, where this is all we have here on earth, then I’m going to be very concerned about how they judge.”

This all must have been very pleasing to Vander Plaats, who in 2010 orchestrated the ousting of Iowa Supreme Court justices who had ruled in favor of marriage equality, and who has repeatedly insisted that marriage equality is unconstitutional because it "goes against" the Bible and the "law of nature."

Glenn Grothman Tried To Remove Woman's Life Exception From Abortion Ban, Make Women Report 'Forcible Rape' Before Obtaining Care

Glenn Grothman, a Republican Wisconsin state senator who is currently running for the US House seat being vacated by Rep. Tom Petri, says he opposes equal pay measures because he thinks “money is more important for men,” believes women’s equality amounts to a “war on men,” and once tried to classify single parenting as child abuse.

It comes as no surprise, then, to learn that Grothman has some Todd-Akin-style anti-choice politics in his past. While serving as a state assemblyman in 1997, Grothman tried – and failed – to remove language from a “partial birth” abortion ban that would have granted an exception for abortions that would save the life of a pregnant woman. That is, Grothman wanted to make it a felony punishable by life in prison for a doctor to save a woman's life by performing a certain kind of abortion.

Grothman sponsored another, successful bill in 1996 that forced women seeking abortions to undergo a 24-hour waiting period, at the time among the longest in the country, and to require doctors to read an anti-choice script to women seeking abortions. When the state senate added a rape and incest exemption to the bill, Grothman arranged to limit the exemption to cases of what he called “forcible rape” and added language that forced the rape survivor to file a police report before being allowed to skip the waiting period.

David Callender of The Capital Times reported on April 25, 1997 that Wisconsin anti-choice groups were split over whether a bill making it a felony to perform a “partial birth” abortion should exempt procedures that would save a woman’s life. One anti-choice group claimed that the exception left “things wide open for the abortionists.” Grothman, then a state assemblyman, stepped in and said he would offer an amendment to remove the life-saving exception:

A bill to ban partial-birth abortions in Wisconsin is causing a major rift among many of the state's most active anti-abortion groups.

The bill would charge doctors with a Class A felony for performing the procedure, which could mean life in prison for offenders.

That's OK with both groups, but they are bitterly divided over an exemption in the bill that would allow doctors to perform the procedure in order to save the mother's life.

Groups such as Wisconsin Right to Life and the Wisconsin Catholic Conference support the exemption. They contend the exception is needed for the bill to pass constitutional muster as well as to insure political support among lawmakers who generally support abortion rights.

On Thursday, the Assembly Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee approved the bill -- with the exemption -- by a 12-2 vote, with the opposition coming from Madison Democratic Reps. Tammy Baldwin and David Travis. The bill will likely come before the Assembly during the May floor period.

But a leading anti-abortion lawmaker, Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, said he will probably introduce an amendment that would delete the mother's life exception.

That deletion is being sought by Pro-Life Wisconsin, the Pro-Life Coalition, Collegians Activated to Liberate Life, and other conservative anti-abortion groups that identify themselves as ``100 percent pro-life.''

Without the change, "this bill leaves things wide open for the abortionists,'' said Dave Ostendorf, a spokesman for the Pro-Life Coalition.

True to his word, Grothman did offer an amendment that would remove the exemption that allowed a doctor to perform a “partial birth” abortion if it would save the life of the pregnant woman. Grothman’s amendment was eventually withdrawn without being put to a vote, but not before the extremism of his anti-choice positions was put on display.

In the other case, Grothman was the primary sponsor of a bill imposing a waiting period for women seeking an abortion and requiring abortion providers to read an anti-choice script to women seeking care, which at the time was one of the toughest in the nation. Grothman justified the bill by saying, “In many cases, women are looking for someone to talk them out of it,” and claiming that many women “have been badgered into [abortions] by their husbands and boyfriends,” according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

“The purpose of this bill is to be sensitive to women,'' he said, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

John Nichols of The Capital Times summarized the bill in July, 1995:

The so-called "Woman's Right to Know'' bill would, if passed, require a physician to meet in person twice with a woman seeking an abortion before performing the procedure. During those meetings, the doctor would be required to offer the woman an ultrasound reading, a fetal heartbeat report and photographs showing the development of a fetus.

The doctor would also be required to describe the abortion procedure in graphic detail and detail possible risks -- even though there is no requirement that the doctor inform the woman of the risks of carrying a pregnancy to term. The doctor would even have to provide information about risks not proven to exist.

The doctor would also have to conclude not only that the woman has been fully informed, but also that her decision to have the abortion is completely voluntary -- even though a physician would have no way of knowing whether this is so. Doctors could be punished legally for failing to do so.

The state assembly passed Grothman’s bill without excemptions for rape and incest survivors. Grothman claimed that in cases of incest, “These women above all, need this extra protection.” He added, “We're victimizing women not to provide them with information at this time," according to the La Crosse Tribune.

After the state senate added a rape and incest exemption to the bill, Grothman introduced an amendment limiting the exemption to cases of what he called “forcible rape” – excluding statutory rape of minors – and allowing rape survivors to skip the 24-hour waiting period only if they could confirm to the doctor that they had first filed a police report. The amendment added the same reporting requirement for pregnancy in the case of incest involving a minor, but added a two-hour waiting period.

The assembly approved the bill with Grothman’s changes and Gov. Tommy Thompson signed it.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted that an earlier Grothman amendment, which was initially passed, but then replaced once legislators realized what it contained, “would have required doctors to wait until a formal criminal complaint was filed before granting an abortion in cases of rape and incest” meaning that survivors would have to “wait weeks, instead of one day, to get an abortion.”

Anti-Choice Infighting Escalates In Kentucky Senate Race

Last month, we reported that the infighting in the anti-choice movement has gone public in Kentucky, where the National Right to Life Committee and its Kentucky affiliate are endorsing incumbent Mitch McConnell, and a small fringe group called Northern Kentucky Right to Life is endorsing his Tea Party challenger, Matt Bevin.

Like in the similarbattle playing out in Georgia, the issue is whether anti-choice politicians should vote for abortion restrictions that include exemptions for pregnancies that result from rape or incest. National Right to Life and its allies, while they oppose rape and incest exemptions, are willing to support bills that contain them if that’s the only way the bills can pass. The more hardline groups, like Northern Kentucky Right to Life and the national Personhood USA, oppose any bill that contains such exemptions.

McConnell has called for the Senate to pass a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, already passed by the House, that contains a rape exemption. Bevin, meanwhile, filled out a questionnaire from the Northern Kentucky group agreeing to its hardline anti-choice, anti-contraception demands.

This has caused some confusion in Kentucky, as Bevin has touted the endorsement of Northern Kentucky Right to Life, and National Right to Life and Kentucky Right to Life have scrambled to clarify that they are not affiliated with the Northern Kentucky group and in fact support McConnell.

Now, according to National Right to Life, Bevin is sending around a mailer that “questions the pro-life convictions” of McConnell, citing Bevin’s endorsement by the Northern Kentucky group. NRLC is furious, and is blaming Bevin for playing into the hands of pro-choice groups:

Today, leaders of National Right to Life and Kentucky Right to Life sharply criticized a mailer sent to Kentucky voters by Matt Bevin’s campaign, which questioned Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s strong commitment to the pro-life cause.

Both National Right to Life and Kentucky Right to Life reaffirmed their unwavering support of Sen. McConnell for re-election in a joint statement last month.

“Matt Bevin is trying to mislead pro-life voters,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “No U.S. senator has done more for unborn children than Mitch McConnell.”

Both Tobias and Montgomery reiterated that endorsements made by the organization Northern Kentucky Right to Life (which Bevin cites in the mailer) do not represent National Right to Life or Kentucky Right to Life. Northern Kentucky Right to Life is not affiliated with either National Right to Life, the oldest and largest national pro-life organization in the country, or Kentucky Right to Life, the state affiliate of National Right to Life and the oldest and largest statewide pro-life organization in the Bluegrass State.

In Misleading UN Testimony, FRC & C-FAM Claim 'Legalizing Abortion Endangers The Lives Of Women'

Yesterday, Wendy Wright, the vice president for government relations at the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), posted a story on the group’s blog about an upcoming meeting on combating the practice of child sacrifice in Uganda. Wright, of course, thinks that the practice of kidnapping children to be sacrificed in ritual murder is “terribly close” to the work of abortion providers:

Uganda will host a conference this fall to create a plan to combat child sacrifice. Attacks have risen recently as the country’s economy is booming. People are hiring experienced [witch] doctors to kill children, believing it will bring health and wealth.

Sound familiar? It’s terribly close to the claim that abortion will improve women’s health and prospects for the future.

So it’s no surprise that when Wright delivered testimony to a UN commission Tuesday on behalf of C-FAM, the Family Research Council and the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians, she used any number of misleading and false arguments to urge the UN to fight for maternal health in a way that does not include access to legal abortion.

In her speech to the Commission on Population and Development, Wright downplayed the danger and frequency of illegal abortions, misled about the risks of legal procedures, and denied a link between the criminalization of abortion and unsafe procedures. She even argued that “legalizing abortion actually endangers the lives of women.”

After recommending a number of ways to improve maternal health worldwide, Wright moved onto claiming that legalizing abortion actually endangers women.

There is no quick fix here. And legalizing abortion will not improve maternal health. Mortality from abortion, estimated at less than 15 percent of all causes of maternal death, decreases proportionately with all other causes of maternal death if the right improvements to maternal health care are made, regardless of the legal status of abortion.

This means that complications from abortions, whether legal or not, can only be dealt with through adequate investments in maternal health care. Making abortion legal does not improve maternal health in any way. It only makes it safer for the abortionist. It does not make it any safer to the mother or her unborn child.

Ireland and Chile, which have highly restrictive abortion laws, are world leaders in maternal health, with lower maternal mortality rates than the United States and other wealthy countries. Legalizing abortion actually endangers the lives of women by exposing them to health risks they would not encounter if they were to carry their pregnancies to term.

In fact, as Guttmacher reports [pdf], “there is clear evidence that restrictive abortion laws are associated with a high incidence of unsafe abortion and its health consequences, and abortions in these settings contribute substantially to maternal illness and death.” The group estimates that 47,000 women die each year as a result of unsafe abortion and notes that restrictive abortion laws do not reduce the number of women obtaining abortions.

Wright’s citation of Ireland and Chile as places with low maternal mortality rates despite restrictive abortion laws is also misleading. Data on the incidence of unsafe abortion in Chile is disputed and women in Ireland commonly travel to England, where abortion is legal, to obtain the procedure.

Wright then cited false, misleading, and disputed statistics to claim that it is actually legal abortion that is dangerous.

Abortions often result in immediate complications, like massive bleeding, infection and death – even in countries where elective abortion is legal. In the United States, abortions carried out after five months of pregnancy are more likely to result in the death of the mother than carrying the pregnancy to term.

Over 130 studies show that elective abortion results in an increased risk of pre-term birth in subsequent pregnancies. Women who abort have a greater risk of depression and suicide, as compared to women who give birth.

While Wright claims that “abortions often result in immediate complications,” even in countries where the procedure is legal, in fact surgical abortion conducted under proper conditions is one of the safest medical procedures. She then cites the risks of very late-term abortions, which constitute only one percent of the abortions performed in the United States.

Wright's claim that abortion leads to “a greater risk of depression and suicide” is also false. And while a study last year did find that there was a link in the past between repeated abortions and the risk of preterm birth, it also found that “with modern procedures the danger has all but vanished.”

Personhood USA Joins Battle Over Anti-Choice Leadership In Georgia

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Right to Life,

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

….

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

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

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

Ginni Thomas And Lila Rose Discuss Cultural 'Erosion,' 'Natural Law,' 'Tyrant' In White House

Anti-choice activist Lila Rose of Live Action was Ginni Thomas’ guest this week on her Daily Caller interview show, where the two discussed how to fix the “erosion” of American culture and return to “natural law.”

Thomas, a Tea Party activist who is married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, asked Rose, “Years from now when history books are written about this culture, what are they going to see, and how do we stop the erosion?”

The Live Action founder responded, “Years from now, when history books are written about our culture, what I pray, and what I believe they will say is that we wandered from our founding principles, but we came right back and we embraced them more boldly than ever before.”

She went on to reject the idea of secular government, warning that it leads to human rights abuses, and to call President Obama a “tyrant.”

“Secular is somehow saying there’s no God, there’s no higher power, there’s no higher law,” she said. “You can’t say that because then when you have a tyrant in power – which you often, sadly, do – and I believe there’s aspects of tyranny in who you have in power now – then whole groups of people, their rights are not respected, their rights are not protected and you have human rights abuses.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Bevin Takes Radical Anti-Contraception Stance To Win Endorsement From Fringe Anti-Choice Group

Yesterday, we noted that a long-simmering feud in the anti-choice movement – between extremists who will accept no legislation short of banning all abortions and anti-choice pragmatists who advocate a more incremental approach to toward the same goal – has bubbled to the surface in GOP Senate primaries in Colorado and Georgia.

Today we learn that a similar public feud is taking place in Kentucky, where National Right to Life and its state affiliate Kentucky Right to Life have endorsed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, while a smaller, more extreme group – with a deceptively similar name – is backing McConnell’s Tea Party primary challenger Matt Bevin, who has promised the group that he would take radical anti-choice and anti-contraception positions.

National Right to Life and Kentucky Right to Life sent out a press release yesterday to “reaffirm” their endorsement of McConnell and to make clear that Northern Kentucky Right to Life, the group that endorsed Bevin, “is not affiliated” with either group. “Pro-life voters need to come together to re-elect pro-life Sen. Mitch McConnell and defeat pro-abortion Alison Lundergan Grimes,” pleaded Kentucky Right to Life director Margie Montgomery.

But Bevin’s campaign has been pushing the Northern Kentucky group’s endorsement hard.

Bevin landed the endorsement last week after he gave “100 percent pro-life answers” to the group’s candidate questionnaire. Although we couldn’t find a copy of Bevin’s answers, a version of the questionnaire posted by another candidate shows that in order to earn a 100 percent rating, Bevin would have agreed to support a radical “personhood” amendment to the US Constitution (which could ban some common types of birth control), support legislation making it “a criminal offence to perform, to assist with, or to pay for an abortion on another” with the only exception being to save the life of the pregnant woman, to impose an anti-choice litmus test on judicial nominees, and even to work to prohibit Medicaid funding for standard birth control pills.

When the Louisville Courier-Journal asked Bevin’s campaign about the anti-contraception position, they dodged, answering: "Matt stands in lock step with conservatives who oppose all use of taxpayer money for abortion."

Northern Kentucky Right to Life takes a strong stance against contraception access: one recent newsletter from the group features an article called “The Pill Kills," and another calls abortion and contraception part of a “massive Ponzi scheme” to undermine the economy.

Bevin welcomed and touted the Northern Kentucky group’s endorsement, saying “It is such an honor to receive the endorsement of the Northern Kentucky Right to Life. This stalwart group has a long history of fighting tirelessly for life in Kentucky, and I’m grateful to have their support. It is encouraging to see our campaign’s pro-life, pro-family, and limited government message grow across the state.”

But Bevin’s extremism doesn’t mean that McConnell is a moderate on reproductive rights. Instead, McConnell’s a great ally of the larger national groups that are taking a more incremental approach to gradually erode the right to choose. So, while Bevin’s promised to support a Personhood amendment – which is radical but has very little chance of going anywhere – McConnell led his party to support a measure that would have allowed any employer to deny their employees birth control coverage in their health care plans.

Not to mention the fact that Northern Kentucky Right to Life already has a senator in its court. In 2010, Sen. Rand Paul also answered “yes” to every question on the group’s questionnaire, and earlier this month he introduced a “fetal personhood” bill to outlaw all abortions.

Former Komen Exec Karen Handel Fundraising Off Planned Parenthood Debacle

Remember two years ago when the Susan G. Komen For the Cure foundation abruptly dropped its grants to a Planned Parenthood breast-cancer screening program, setting off a national outcry, and prompting the resignation of the Komen official reportedly behind the decision?

The fallout of the debacle is still hurting Komen, which recently reported a 22 percent drop in income over the past year. But the decision to cut off grants to Planned Parenthood seems to be paying off for one person: Karen Handel, the former Komen vice president who was widelyreported to have been the driving force behind split.

Now running for Senate in Georgia, Handel has released a campaign video touting her role in severing Planned Parenthood from Komen and fighting back against the “left-wing groups” and “liberal media” that criticized her.

Back when the news first broke that Komen had dumped Planned Parenthood, Handel denied that the decision was motivated at all by her anti-choice politics, despite reports from sources in the organization that said she manipulated its rules to cast Planned Parenthood out.

The campaign video has a different take, framing Handel as an anti-choice crusader caught in a David vs. Goliath struggle. “As a strong believer in the sanctity of life, Karen Handel had to make a decision: keep quiet in the face of the liberal onslaught, or stand by her convictions,” the video announces.

In speeches and interviews, Handel has made the Planned Parenthood showdown a centerpiece of her biography. She even paved the way for her Senate run by releasing a book calling Planned Parenthood “thugs” and “bullies.”

Whatever Handel’s motivations or role in the Komen/Planned Parenthood split, the whole episode seems to be working out pretty well for her. The decision that Handel advocated for might have left Komen struggling financially, but Handel herself now has the perfect story to prove her status as an anti-choice activist martyred by the liberal media.

Share this page: Facebook Twitter Digg SU Digg Delicious