Anti-Choice

Rand Paul Hypes Personhood Bill Because 'The Time To Grovel Before The Supreme Court Is Over'

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., sent out a fundraising appeal for the National Pro-Life Alliance, an anti-abortion “personhood” group today, seeking contributions to help the group pressure members of Congress to cosponsor Paul’s Life at Conception Act, which seeks to bypass the Supreme Court in order to ban all abortions.

Many “personhood” advocates, including Paul, believe that there is a magic loophole in Roe v. Wade that would allow Congress to declare fertilized eggs to be persons under the 14th Amendment, thereby banning all abortion without the need for a Supreme Court ruling or constitutional amendment overturning Roe. (Many leading anti-choice legal strategists, while they share the ultimate goal of criminalizing all abortion, are skeptical of this plan.) In the most recent version of his bill, Paul tries to allay concerns that granting legal rights to zygotes could outlaw some forms of birth control and in-vitro fertilization, although it’s not clear how effective his attempts at carve out exceptions would be.

Paul has publicly taken several contradictory positions on abortion rights, claiming at one point that abortion laws should not be changed and at another that the Life at Conception Act is merely meant to “drive the debate about when life begins.” However, in his email to anti-choice activists, he is very explicit that the goal of the bill is to enact a national ban on abortion without exceptions.

He writes in today’s email from the National Pro-Life Alliance that the “time to grovel before the Supreme Court is over” and that his bill could “end abortion using the Constitution instead of amending it.”

Excerpts from Paul’s email:

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling forced abortion-on-demand down our nation’s throat.

And each year in our nation, 1.6 million innocent babies are slaughtered for the mere crime of being born.

I suspect that like me, you would sacrifice whatever it takes to see this slaughter of unborn babies end NOW.

Yet you were not one of the tens of thousands of Americans who responded to my prior appeal.

I think I know why...

You probably doubted that anything could be done to reverse the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade and the resulting slaughter.

You want hard proof that there truly is an approach that can end abortion-on-demand in our lifetime.

Having lost hope, many in the pro-life movement have felt limited to protecting a life here and there — passing some limited law to slightly control abortion in the more outrageous cases.

But it always seems that we come back to tiptoeing around the Supreme Court, hoping they won’t be offended.

Well I have good news for you:

The time to grovel before the Supreme Court is over.

Working from what the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade, pro-life lawmakers can pass a Life at Conception Act and end abortion using the Constitution instead of amending it.

That is why it's so urgent you sign the petition to your Senators and Congressman that I will link to in a moment.

Thanks to the results of the last election, you and I are in a better than ever position to force an up or down roll call vote on the Life at Conception Act.

And your petition will help do just that.

Signing the Life at Conception Act petition will help break through the opposition clinging to abortion-on-demand and ultimately win a vote on this life-saving bill to overturn Roe v. Wade.

A Life at Conception Act declares unborn children "persons" as defined by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, entitled to legal protection.

This is the one thing the Supreme Court admitted in Roe v. Wade that would cause the case for legal abortion to "collapse."

When the Supreme Court handed down its now-infamous Roe v. Wade decision, it did so based on a new, previously undefined "right of privacy" which it "discovered" in so-called "emanations" of "penumbrae" of the Constitution.

Of course, as constitutional law it was a disaster.

But never once did the Supreme Court declare abortion itself to be a constitutional right.

But this simple, logical and obviously right legislation will not become law without a fight.

And that's where your help is critical .

You see, it will be a tough fight, but I believe with your signed petition it is one we can win.

By turning up the heat through a massive, national, grass-roots campaign in this session of Congress, one of two things will happen.

If you and other pro-life activists pour on enough pressure, pro-lifers can force politicians from both parties who were elected on pro-life platforms to make good on their promises and ultimately win passage of this bill.

But even if a Life at Conception Act doesn't pass immediately, the public attention will send another crew of radical abortionists down to defeat in the 2016 elections .

Either way, the unborn win... unless you do nothing.

SBA List Goes After GOP Congresswoman Who Raised Concerns About Rape Survivors

The Susan B. Anthony List, which serves as the electoral arm of the anti-abortion movement and is particularly focused on electing anti-choice women, is for the first time endorsing a male candidate over an anti-choice woman in a Republican primary, backing Rep. George Holding against Rep. Renee Ellmers in a recently redrawn congressional district in North Carolina.

The anti-choice movement turned on Ellmers back in January 2015 when she led a group of anti-abortion Republicans who objected at the last minute to a provision in a 20-week abortion ban that would have exempted rape survivors from the ban only if they first reported their rape to law enforcement.

Ellmers said at the time that the reporting requirement was “completely unrealistic” and “further victimized the victims of rape,” also suggesting that including it could feed into pro-choice criticisms of Republicans.

The objections of Ellmers and her allies caused the bill to be pulled from consideration right before a vote that was scheduled to coincide with the March for Life and the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, frustrating and embarrassing anti-choice leaders who consider the legislation to be their top priority on Capitol Hill.

Anti-choice groups immediatelyvowed to exact revenge. Although the movement was slow to jump into the primary race, anti-choice activists successfully lobbied to keep Ellmers off a select committee investigating Planned Parenthood and in March National Right to Life Committee endorsed her opponent, Holding.

Now, Susan B. Anthony List’s Marjorie Dannenfelser tells Roll Call, her group will work to defeat Ellmers because “You’re not really an effective political organization if you can’t respond to the derailment of your number one priority.”

Yes, the anti-choice movement was angry about the optics of Ellmers’ move to derail the 20-week ban. And they can’t be thrilled that she was an early endorser of Donald Trump back when Dannenfelser and others were urging the GOP to pick literally anyone else . But the issue it comes down to is a rape exception. The Susan B. Anthony List and its allies are now punishing a congresswoman who agrees with their policy priorities simply because she publicly mentioned the impact that one of their bills might have on rape survivors.

Anti-Abortion Leader Compares Presidential Election To Choice Between Killing 10 People And 100

Father Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life, is one of the anti-abortion leaders who have reluctantly come around to Donald Trump now that he is the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, saying last week that for abortion rights opponents, the choice between Trump and a Democrat is a choice “between doubt and certainty.”

Pavone explained his thinking more in an interview Tuesday on Ave Maria Radio, saying that he reminds people who are having doubts about voting for Trump about the importance of Supreme Court nominations and presents them with an utterly depressing analogy:

Here’s the analogy I’ve been using for folks to consider: It’s like being on a runaway train. Let’s presume, it’s an odd situation, but let’s presume that you’re at the controls of a runaway train. And the train cannot be stopped and you know that at the end of the track it’s going to do damage, so you can’t stop the train. But supposed the only thing you could do is to switch the track that the train is on so that at the end of Track A it’s going to kill 10 people and at the end of Track B it’s going to kill 100 people. Now, you don’t want to kill anybody. Nobody wants to kill anybody. But you can’t stop the train.

So, what are you going to do? Are you going to say, ‘Oh, I’m not going to do anything’? Or are you going to do your best to switch it to the track where it’s going to do less damage. Now, some people say, ‘I don’t want to kill 10 people and I don’t want to kill 100 people, so I’m not going to do anything.’ Yeah, but if the train is on the track, then, to do the more damage, don’t you share responsibility for not doing something to try to minimize the damage?

This is not the choice between the lesser of two evils: We don’t choose evil at all. It’s a choice to limit evil. And the choice to limit evil is a good.

He added that according to the catechism, voting is “morally obligatory.”

Religious Right Leaders Head To Republic Of Georgia For 'Pro-Family' Attacks On West

The World Congress of Families, a global network of organizations that oppose LGBT equality and legal access to abortion, will hold its annual summit in Tbilisi, capital of the former Soviet republic of Georgia, beginning on Sunday, May 15. Over the next several days, American Religious Right activists will meet with their counterparts from around the world to share and plan strategies for resisting and rolling back women’s and LGBT rights — often lumped together with opposition to sex education under the banner of fighting “gender ideology.”

This year’s summit is likely to feature a particular focus on siding with Putin’s Russia and the Orthodox Church as defenders of “Christian civilization” against a secular, decadent West. Georgia, which joined the Council of Europe in 1999, is front and center in what many of these activists see as a civilizational battle. Last October the EU and Council of Europe recommended policy changes to strengthen human rights protections in Georgia; the action plan to achieve them was launched this week. Back in 2014, with the encouragement of the EU, Georgia adopted a sweeping nondiscrimination law, which infuriated people like the WCF summit’s chair, businessman and philanthropist Levan Vasadze, who called the law part of “an international agenda” to “destroy the family.”

An anti-Western quote from Vasadze has been featured on the WCF home page this week:

The West is attacking our Christian culture with atheism, new forms of socialism and sexual radicalism — worse than what we saw during the last 25 years when we were part of the Soviet empire. This is why we need you to come to Tbilisi and work with us.

A WCF regional conference in Tbilisi in 2014 released a declaration criticizing Georgia’s adoption of the Law on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination, calling the law “an unnatural and an artificial imposition of pseudo-morality upon Georgian traditional society.” The declaration is a screed against such nondiscrimination laws, saying they “lead to serious discrimination of people respective traditional moral and family values, especially Christians, and to the massive human rights violations.” More from the declaration:

We believe that pseudo-values connected with promotion of “sexual diversity” and favoring different kinds of immoral and perverse sexual behaviors, are harmful for the society and have nothing to do with the real foundational values of humanity and with the genuine and universally recognized human rights. They are contradicting the values and teachings of major great religions of our planet. These pseudo-values are designed to destroy the institution of the family, moral and spiritual foundations of the society and to drive human beings into solitude and enslavement to vulgar materialism and lust. Family statistics in Western Europe as well as unprecedented levels of debt for western population, alarming rise of consumption of anti-depressants, addictive medicaments as well as narcotics, rampant child violence and rising suicide rates are a vivid proof of that. To our despair, Western Europe in particular and western culture in general, seem now to be on the path to self-destruction through family demise and moral degradation.

That theme was helpfully echoed this week by the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), which ran a story titled, “Western Invasion: Inside Georgia’s Battle Against the Gay Agenda.” The story quotes Vasadze promoting “selective Westernization” and saying, “the opening must not happen at the expense of Georgia’s faith and family values.” Adds Vasadze:

“If you think indecent, radically sexual behavior is what you want to do — that's your choice. But if I think that this is an embarrassing sin, I want to remain a society which is allowed to say that …The frontline of that war is no longer found on the geographic map of this planet," he warned. "The frontline of this war is in every living room and in every bedroom where your wife and my wife and our children sleep.”

Pat Robertson, the televangelist and CBN founder, responded to the story by saying “the fact that the European Union and the U.S. is trying to impose this lifestyle on a little country like Georgia that wants to stay Orthodox is incredible.”

The CBN story aligns nicely with themes in anti-Western propaganda in Georgia, which is the focus of a report by The Media Development Foundation, a project of the United Nations Association of Georgia with the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development. The report finds that “anti-Western rhetoric is often applied in xenophobic and homophobic contexts and it is associated with unjustified fears, which is an accompanying process of modernization.” Another theme portrays the West as “a fighter against Orthodox Christianity.”

Another recent report on Russian influence on Georgian media and NGOs examines groups such as the Young Political Scientists’ Club, an initiative of the Eurasian Institute, noting that the group uses nationalist anti-Europe and anti-gay statements by clergy to promote anti-Western sentiments. The group declared that violence following the 2013 IDAHOT celebration, in which gay-rights marchers were attacked by Orthodox priests and their supporters, was the result of “western provocation.”  At the time, Patriarch Ilia, the leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church, distanced himself from the violence but said of the IDAHOT event, “It’s something that should not be propagandized.” One of the pro-Russian media outlets examined in the report is Patriot TV, founded in 2015, which “is based on the authentic Georgian traditions, useful for the future generation of our country. A television which serves the purpose of Georgian, ethical ideas and not anti-Christian, sodomite propaganda which, unfortunately, floods our media space.”

At last year’s WCF in Salt Lake City, the Mormon Church had a visible role, with an opening keynote featuring Russell Ballard, a high-ranking elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The WCF summit in Georgia, the first in a predominantly Orthodox country, will include a similar address from Patriarch Ilia II, the country’s popular Orthodox Church leader. Ilia has designated May 17 — which will be celebrated around the world as the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia — as “A Day to Strengthen Families and Honor Parents.”

In Utah, the Sutherland Institute served as WCF’s local organizing partner; this year that role is being played by the Georgian Demographic Society XXI, founded and chaired by Vasadze, who appears to play a role in Georgia somewhat similar to the one played in Russia by Konstantin Malofeev, the Putin ally who funds Russian Orthodox Church ventures. The Vasadze bio posted on the summit’s website touts his role in defending “traditional society,” saying he is “the author of an October petition signed by 36 prominent Georgian intellectuals protesting a report by the EU’s Special Advisor on Human Rights, which criticized the nation’s treatment of so-called sexual minorities.”

The speakers’ list for this year’s World Congress of Families is, as usual, a who’s who of global anti-choice and anti-LGBT culture warriors, including many of the same people who spoke at the last WCF summit.

American speakers include, in addition to the WCF’s Doug Clark, Allan Carson, Don Feder and Larry Jacobs:

Other Americans speaking include Justin Murff of the Christian Broadcasting Network; Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute; Fr. Josiah Trenham, member of the secretariat of the U.S. Assembly of Orthodox Bishops; Gregory Johnson, a board member of the National Association of Evangelicals; and Christopher Carmouche from GrasstopsUSA.

Prominent Europeans include:

  • Marion Maréchal Le Pen, granddaughter of far-right French politician and National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen and niece of the party’s current president Marine Le Pen;
  • Ignacio Arsuaga of Spain, founder of CitizenGo and HazteOir, groups meant to help European cultural conservatives deploy online organizing techniques in Europe’s current culture wars;
  • Luca Volonte, chairman of Italy’s Novae Terrae Foundation and an anti-gay and anti-choice activist, who was honored at last year’s World Congress of Families gathering;
  • Gabriele Kuby, a German sociologist engaged in battling “gender ideology” and author of The Global Sexual Revolution: The Destruction of Freedom in the Name of Freedom”;
  • Katalin Novak, Hungary’s Minister of State for Family and Youth Affairs;
  • and Antoni Szymański, member of the Polish Senate.

Russians scheduled to speak include:

Also speaking will be Theresa Okafor, WCF’s Nigeria-based African representative, who supports repressive anti-LGBT legislation in Africa and suggested that gay-rights activists are involved in a conspiracy with terrorist group Boko Haram to “silence Christians” and who was honored at last year’s summit.

 

Anti-Abortion Extremist Troy Newman Backs Trump

Troy Newman, the head of Operation Rescue and a driving force behind last year’s series of videos smearing Planned Parenthood, writes today that although Donald Trump “has said and done many things that most Christians would find despicable,” he will vote for him — although not formally endorse him — in the presidential election.

Newman caused some controversy when he was tapped as a leader of an anti-choice coalition on Ted Cruz’s campaign. The anti-choice activist, who has built his career around harassing abortion providers, once wrote that the government has a biblical responsibility to execute abortion providers and had linked legal abortion in the U.S. to the 9/11 attacks, AIDS and the drought in California.

Newman explains his support for Trump using a “pithy acronym” that includes his hope that Trump will “take back the Supreme Court” from one that has “mandated that we purchase a health care product, marry homosexuals, and is now poised to strike down common sense abortion laws” and his admiration for Trump’s “nationalistic fervor.”

As we have been reporting, anti-abortion leaders who previously criticized Trump have been gradually falling in line behind the candidate.

To explain my reasoning, I’ve created a pithy acronym out of Trump’s name. These are the reasons I can vote for Trump, and against Hillary Clinton.

T ake back the Supreme Court. In order for this country to survive, we must dial back the Supremes. In just the last few years the Court has mandated that we purchase a health care product, marry homosexuals, and is now poised to strike down common sense abortion laws. Hillary has promised more of the same; Trump has promised the opposite. So, Trump wins the SCOTUS vote.

R emove and Replace. Trump has pledged to remove and replace the Abortion Cartel Bailout AKA ObamaCare, and the countless bad laws created by Obama and far-left enablers in Congress. Hillary will absolutely maintain and further them.

U ndo! Undo it all. I know Obama ran on “change.” I say change it back! Undo all that “change” and bring America back to some form of sanity. Undo the HHS mandates on abortion subsidies. Undo the EPA mandates that are crippling businesses. Undo the countless, and dare I say illegal, executive orders made by Obama. Trump has a mind to do this.

M ake America Great Again. Trump’s nationalistic fervor is appealing. And, I have to admit I like it. Pro-life legislation will help put America back on track. Obama has been making terrible deals all over the world, and the good ol’ U-S-of-A gets the short end of the stick every time. That must stop. Together, we can make America great again – but not under Hillary. Never under Hillary.

P rosecute Planned Parenthood. We have helped expose the dreadful practice of harvesting and selling baby body parts for a large profit. It’s high time these people are taken off the Federal welfare dole, and Trump, for what it’s worth, has promised to prosecute these monsters. Yes, sir, I’ll take that too. Hillary, on the other hand, we already know is Cecile Richards’ BFF. Absolutely nothing doing if she wins.

These are my five very pragmatic reasons why I can vote FOR Donald Trump and AGAINST Hillary Clinton. I know these reasons don’t take into account whether or not Trump is saved, if he is a good father, or even if he is totally honest in his business deals. But, at least he knows how to make money and balance a checkbook. Something Hillary Clinton has never done.

Phil Robertson: God May Punish America As We 'Priss Around And Parade Our Perversion'

Phil Robertson, controversial patriarch of the “Duck Dynasty” family, joined Breitbart’s Stephen K. Bannon on his radio program this morning to discuss a new documentary that Bannon directed exploring Robertson’s views on everything from the Holocaust to Kim Kardashian West.

Robertson told Bannon that he hopes the movie will “change the hearts of some people” since the United States is “swimming in a sea of depravity” and risks the wrath of God.

“Depravity has become mainstream,” he said. “Murder is mainstream, we slaughter our own children, we priss around and parade our perversion. It’s being done in front of our very eyes. I mean, depravity, literally, and I never thought I’d see it in my lifetime, but it has literally become mainstream.”

Citing a quote from Thomas Jefferson, Robertson warned, “His wrath is coming.”

Robertson, who endorsed Ted Cruz for president, said that he wasn’t yet sure about Donald Trump but that he was sure that a Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders presidency would lead us “further down into the abyss.”

“So basically I’m calling the United States of America, beginning with the government, they need to just repent, turn back to God and heed the warnings of our founding fathers,” he said. “I think there is a chance. I don’t think there will be a chance with people like Hillary Clinton on the other side or Bernie Sanders. We just go further down into the abyss. But I don’t know about Donald Trump, he seems to be the one that the people have elected.”

Anti-Choice Leader Who Said Trump Mistreated Women Now Making The 'Case For Trump'

The leaders of the movement against abortion rights have, in recent years, been making a concerted effort to portray their movement as “pro-woman,” from devising a legal strategy that disguises anti-choice restrictions as protections for “women’s health,” to counseling Republican candidates on how not to talk about rape, to giving this year’s March for Life the theme “Pro-life and Pro-woman Go Hand in Hand.”

One of the leaders of this strategy is Marjorie Dannenfelser, the head of the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that takes its name from the historically dubious claim that the women’s suffrage crusader was a “pro-life feminist.”

Dannenfelser and her fellow anti-choice leaders were not thrilled, then, with the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, who has a long record of making disparaging and demeaning statements about women, not to mention the fact that he has blown up the anti-choice movement's carefully constructed talking points and publicly discussed changing the Republican Party’s platform position on abortion.

In an open letter to Iowa voters in January, Dannenfelser and handful of other anti-choice movement leaders urged Republicans to pick “anyone but Donald Trump,” writing that they did not trust the candidate to pick Supreme Court justices to their liking, and also saying that they were “disgusted” by his record of making “disparaging public comments to and about many women:

Moreover, as women, we are disgusted by Mr. Trump’s treatment of individuals, women, in particular. He has impugned the dignity of women, most notably Megyn Kelly, he mocked and bullied Carly Fiorina, and has through the years made disparaging public comments to and about many women. Further, Mr. Trump has profited from the exploitation of women in his Atlantic City casino hotel which boasted of the first strip club casino in the country.

America will only be a great nation when we have leaders of strong character who will defend both unborn children and the dignity of women. We cannot trust Donald Trump to do either. Therefore we urge our fellow citizens to support an alternative candidate.

When, in March, Trump said that there should be “some form of punishment” for women who have abortions if the procedure is outlawed, Dannenfelser scrambled to do damage control. When Trump said just days later that he didn’t actually want to change any abortion laws, Dannenfelser declared, “He has completely contradicted himself. If this is his position, he has just disqualified himself as the GOP nominee.”

Dannenfelser enthusiastically backed Carly Fiorina’s presidential bid, rejoicing when Ted Cruz picked her as his running mate in the final days of his faltering campaign.

But all of Trump’s egregious statements about women and his flip-flopping on abortion rights aren’t stopping Dannenfelser from lining up behind him now that he is the presumptive GOP nominee.

Dannenfelser praised Trump last week for hiring a top adviser who has the trust of anti-choice activists. And today in Townhall she writes a column called “The Pro-life Case for Trump,” in which she says it’s time to “reexamine what we know about Mr. Trump” and praises the “very specific pro-life commitments” that he has made on the campaign trail,” including backing a 20-week abortion ban, saying he would defund Planned Parenthood and promising to nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. (Never mind that Trump has backtracked and equivocated on many of these positions, as Dannenfelser herself has noted in the past.)

“As we move into the general election,” Dannenfelser writes, “Susan B. Anthony List is already diligently working to engage with voters and expose Hillary Clinton’s extremism, confident that the American people will reject her radical abortion agenda at the ballot box. We believe Mr. Trump, who has already taken strong positions on the life issue throughout the primary campaign, will join us on offense.”

It’s not an endorsement, but it’s a pretty warm statement from someone who has previously said she was “disgusted” by Trump’s treatment of women and said he had “disqualified himself” with his flip-flops. Dannenfelser’s group has clearly decided that it’s worth teaming up with the notoriously misogynistic Trump in the hope that he will hand them the Supreme Court that they want. But that may make it a little harder to sell the idea that their anti-choice activism is all in pursuit of a pro-woman, feminist vision.

GOP Lawmaker Calls Pregnancy God's 'Silver Lining' For Rape

The Missouri House of Representatives gave preliminary approval on Tuesday to a measure that would place a constitutional amendment on the state’s ballot giving full legal rights to “unborn human children at every stage of biological development.” Such personhood amendments not only aim to criminalize nearly all abortions, but also jeopardize some common forms of birth control.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Mike Moon, previously introduced a similar measure that he called the “All Lives Matter Act” and has said he approaches the abortion issue as “a former embryo.”

Moon recently made national headlines when he called for a special legislative session to stop “the potential Islamization of Missouri.” In 2014, he joined an attempt to impeach the state’s Democratic governor, Jay Nixon, for allowing gay couples married in other states to file joint tax returns.

But Moon is far from alone. One of his fellow Republican state legislators, Rep. Tila Hubrecht, reportedly defended the personhood measure’s lack of an exception for rape survivors by saying that pregnancy can be the “silver lining” of a rape:

Democratic opponents in the House said if enshrined in the Missouri Constitution, the measure would ban abortion, including in cases of rape, incest and in which the life of the mother is at risk. Democrats also said it could bar contraception, which some Republicans disputed.

"Do you believe that it's just or compassionate to force a woman who's been raped to have the child of the man who raped her?" said Kansas City Democratic Rep. Lauren Arthur.

Dexter Republican Rep. Tila Hubrecht said she asked her doctor "to save the baby, no matter the cost" before she received an emergency cesarean section. She also said she's met people conceived by rape and that "there's a reason for their life."

"Sometimes bad things happen, and they're horrible things," she said. "But sometimes God can give us a silver lining through the birth of a child."

Anti-Abortion Activists Begin To Fall In Line Behind Donald Trump

UPDATED

In January, as Iowans prepared to cast their votes in the first-in-the-nation caucuses, several women leaders in the anti-abortion movement wrote an open letter urging Republicans in the state to “support anyone but Donald Trump.”

The activists, including Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser and Concerned Women for America CEO Penny Nance, wrote that Trump “cannot be trusted” to advance their anti-abortion policy goals or to nominate Supreme Court justices who would vote to reverse Roe v. Wade. They went on to describe his record of “disparaging” remarks about women:

Moreover, as women, we are disgusted by Mr. Trump’s treatment of individuals, women, in particular. He has impugned the dignity of women, most notably Megyn Kelly, he mocked and bullied Carly Fiorina, and has through the years made disparaging public comments to and about many women. Further, Mr. Trump has profited from the exploitation of women in his Atlantic City casino hotel which boasted of the first strip club casino in the country.

America will only be a great nation when we have leaders of strong character who will defend both unborn children and the dignity of women. We cannot trust Donald Trump to do either. Therefore we urge our fellow citizens to support an alternative candidate.

Trump further angered anti-choice leaders when he strayed far from the movement’s carefully scripted talking points and suggested that if abortion is outlawed, there would have to be “some sort of punishment” for women who seek the procedure illegally. It didn’t help when Trump proceeded to change his position on the matter several times over the following few days, including at one point saying that he doesn’t want to change abortion laws, and then declared a few weeks later that he wanted the GOP to change its platform to support abortion rights for women who have been raped or whose life is at risk.

Now, as Trump becomes the presumptive Republican nominee, the anti-choice movement has to decide whether to take its chances with him.

Nance, sounding distraught, told a radio interviewer this morning that a third party presidential candidacy was out of the question and that the choice was between Trump and a “devastating” Hillary Clinton presidency.

Dannenfelser, who once said that Trump “disqualified himself as the GOP nominee” when he said that the abortion laws “are set” and “we have to leave it that way,” signaled that she was ready to pivot her message yesterday when she wrote a blog post praising Trump for making “a huge pro-life hire” in John Mashburn, a former staffer to North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis and someone whom Dannenfelser described as an ally to the anti-abortion movement.

“Congratulations on your new hire, Mr. Trump,” Dannenfelser wrote. “If elected, no doubt John Mashburn will serve you well as you fulfill your campaign promises to defund Planned Parenthood, advance and sign into law the popular Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and appoint Justices to the bench who will protect and defend the Constitution.”

Mashburn has previously worked for right-wing groups including the American Civil Rights Union and the Carleson Center for Public Policy.

In the end, the game for anti-choice groups comes down to the Supreme Court. A coalition of leading groups have unified behind a campaign pressuring Republican senators to keep up their blockade of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. Just yesterday, the Susan B. Anthony List, CWA and Iowa Right to Life delivered a petition to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, urging him to continue to refuse to hold hearings on a Supreme Court nominee until the next president is sworn in.

Their hope, it seems, is that a candidate they are “disgusted” by and “cannot trust” will win the presidency and at least give them a Supreme Court pick who will advance their agenda.

And while Trump is the candidate whom they have repeatedly painted as a worst-case scenario, these activists must be relieved that he has outsourced the duty of selecting future Supreme Court justices to the anti-choice Heritage Foundation.

UPDATE 5/5/16: The Washington Times reports that the Susan B. Anthony List and Priests for Life will both be supporting Trump. Priests for Life's Frank Pavone explained that when it comes to the Supreme Court, "the difference here is between doubt and certainty.”

Between Mr. Trump and likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton — the only presidential candidate ever endorsed by Planned Parenthood — Father Frank Pavone says the decision is easy.

Fr. Pavone said his group will work to convince pro-life activists to support Mr. Trump in the general election.

“Withholding support [from Mr. Trump] at this point is in effect support for Hillary,” he said. “Sometimes people might feel like, ‘I feel better in my conscience because I didn’t cast a vote for him and I didn’t cast a vote for Hillary either.’ [But] you can influence the election by not voting.”

Mallory Quigley, director of communications for the Susan B. Anthony List, said her group will also support Mr. Trump, citing his campaign promise to defund Planned Parenthood and support for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks of fertilization.

“I think achieving these goals would be a huge accomplishment, bigger than any pro-life advancement that we’ve seen in our lifetime,” Ms. Quigley said, adding, “We’re expecting Trump to be a man of his word and follow through, just as he would on any issue.”

Clarke Forsythe, acting president and senior counsel for Americans United for Life, would not commit to supporting Mr. Trump in the general election, but said supporting Mrs. Clinton — whose position on abortion he compared to the North Korea regime’s — is untenable.

Mr. Forsythe said in a statement that AUL “will be carefully and closely watching Donald Trump between now and election day, to see whether he lays out pro-life policies as well as to learn what his recommendations will be for the GOP party platform.”

...

But following the death of former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Fr. Pavone said Mr. Trump is now the pro-life movement’s last, best hope of retaining a majority on the bench.

When it comes to the Supreme Court, Donald Trump has mentioned Scalia as a model,” he said. “Well, that’s music to our ears, naturally. We know what we’re going to get with Hillary. Even if people have doubts about what kind of people Donald Trump would nominate, the difference here is between doubt and certainty.”

Fr. Pavone said Mr. Trump is not the ideal pro-life candidate, but added that a healthy dose of pragmatism is necessary in any election.

“You don’t compromise on your goals or your principles,” he said. “At the same time, you look at the situation and you say, ‘How far can we go in these circumstances?’ Well, either one or the other is going to be president, so we want the better of the two.”

“We know 100 percent where Hillary Clinton stands,” Ms. Quigley noted. “She supports abortion up until the moment of birth for any reason. She has yet to name a single instance in which she would stand in and protect the life of the child, even sex-selection abortions, abortions for disability, up until the very moment of birth.

“We’ve made the judgment that this is what we need to do.”

Right-Wing Lawyer Urges Governors To Enforce Abortion Bans In Defiance Of Roe

Herb Titus, a Christian Reconstructionist attorney and longtime lawyer for Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, spoke to a radical anti-abortion conference last month, where he called on governors and other state officials to defy Roe v. Wade and enforce prohibitions on abortions in their states.

Titus gave a Skype interview to Arizona pastor Jeff Durbin, which Durbin played at a conference he hosted in April called “#EndAbortionNow,” at which speakers — all male — urged elected officials to ignore the federal courts and enforce criminal penalties for abortion. Also speaking at the conference were Matt Trewhella, a signer of the infamous 1993 “defensive action statement” justifying violence against abortion providers; Rusty Thomas of the anti-abortion, anti-LGBT group Operation Save America; and Joel McDurmon, a Christian Reconstructionist who has advocated the death penalty for homosexuality and who shared a conference stage last year with Sen. Ted Cruz.

Durbin and Titus discussed what should be done about states that still have criminal prohibitions on abortion on their books that aren’t being enforced because of Roe v. Wade, agreeing that those prohibitions are still valid if state officials would be brave enough to enforce them.

“You’re dealing with two different courts,” Titus said. “The court of public opinion, it’s very important to disabuse people thinking that Roe v. Wade legalized abortion. That’s impossible. That’s impossible. The court can’t make straight what God has made crooked, they can’t deny to a baby the full protection of laws prohibiting homicide, it just simply isn’t true. So the rhetoric we engage in is very, very important or otherwise people would think that we’re challenging a legal rule. No, we’re not, we’re challenging a rule that is based upon illegitimate statement of facts and assumption of law.”

He added that “lower magistrates” such as governors and attorneys general must “interpose” themselves to prevent the enforcement of an unjust court decision and instead continue to enforce their state’s unconstitutional abortion bans.

“The governors of states in today’s political climate are very reluctant to interpose between the people of the state and of the Congress or of the court,” he said, “and there has to be a cultivation amongst the lower magistrates, such as governors and attorneys general, to recognize that they have a moral and legal obligation to stand on the law and not just hide behind the skirts of the court that has decided a case in the wrong way.”

“It’s extremely important for the states to step up to the plate and get back to the business of protecting innocent life and not allow the federal courts to push them around,” he added.

Ex-Judge Points Out Legal Flaws Of Fetal 'Personhood'

As we explored in a report on the fetal “personhood” movement a few years ago, the effort to outlaw all abortion (and possibly some forms of birth control) by giving full constitutional rights to zygotes could result in any number of unintended consequences.

In a column yesterday in the Montgomery Advertiser, Vanzetta Penn McPherson, a retired federal magistrate judge, poked holes in a recent Alabama personhood proposal that died in the state House last week.

If embryos and fetuses are declared to be legal persons, she asks, would they be entitled to congressional representation? To welfare benefits? To get their drivers’ license nine months early?

1. Since the date of each conception is uncertain and the government is the custodian of birth records: (a) Should the government assign a date of conception to determine the prenatal child’s true birthdate? (b) At delivery, will the average prenatal child already be nine months old? (c) Should parents count prenatal children on census and employment forms? (d) Should the legislature count prenatal children in the redistricting process?

2. For families: (a) Since DNA tests can prove paternity, should a father’s child support obligation begin at conception, when life begins? (b) Would a pregnant woman who is dependent on welfare be entitled to government benefits for her embryo? (c) Would a pregnant mother who is dependent on welfare be entitled to additional government benefits for her embryo?

3. Rights and Responsibilities: (a) Would a fetus, who is also a person, be entitled to an equal share of a parent’s or grandparent’s bequest to “children” or “grandchildren”? (b)Would the presence of a fetus, who is entitled to equal protection of the law, prevent the imposition of a lawful prison sentence upon a pregnant woman? (c) Would the presence of a fetus, who is entitled to equal protection of the law, cause the release of a female inmate who became pregnant? (d) To secure entitlement to rights that are triggered by age, should we award driver’s licenses (at 16), permit persons to vote (at 18), and permit persons to drink alcohol (at 21), based on “birth at conception?” (e) If so, will the presumption of “birth at conception” apply only to prenatal children “living” at the time the amendment passes? (f) Or will the presumption of “birth at conception” also apply to everyone, since everyone was once an embryo, thus allowing adults to advance their entitlement to retirement, and other state benefits? (g) When a prenatal child dies of natural causes before delivery, may its parents collect the proceeds of a life insurance policy they secured shortly after conception?

Even aside from the clearly unconstitutional attack on Roe v. Wade, these are issues that the courts would have to work out if “personhood” were to become law.

At least two states besides Alabama are currently considering “personhood” measures.

Abortion Rights Leaders Call On Cruz To Dump Extremist Anti-Choice Adviser

We reported earlier this year that Sen. Ted Cruz had signaled his support for the extremist fringes of the anti-abortion movement by naming Troy Newman, the head of the notorious protest group Operation Rescue who has written that God is punishing America for failing to execute abortion providers, as a national co-chair of a his presidential campaign’s “Pro-Lifers for Cruz” coalition.

Now, as Cruz appears to be attempting to win over women voters with his pick of Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential running mate, the leaders of People For the American Way, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and NARAL Pro-Choice America are urging Cruz to fire Newman from his campaign.

In an open letter to Cruz, the leaders write:

While there are a number of coalition members whose records raise serious concerns, Troy Newman’s history of violent rhetoric and harassment toward women’s health providers is truly beyond the pale.

Newman, the president of Operation Rescue, has written that the U.S. government has a responsibility to execute abortion providers. He has said that a woman who has sought an abortion should be considered a “murderer” and a “contract killer.” Newman has claimed that a man who killed an abortion provider should have been allowed to argue that the killing was “justifiable defensive action.” Newman and his staff have harassed individual women’s clinic workers at their homes, at restaurants and coffee shops, and throughout their communities in an attempt to make them quit their jobs. Newman’s closest associate at Operation Rescue, Cheryl Sullenger, has spent time in federal prison for conspiracy to bomb an abortion clinic.

Especially in an environment where anti-women’s health violence is on the rise, Newman’s extremism and violent rhetoric should be condemned, not given a platform by a major presidential campaign. A report released this month by the National Abortion Federation on threats and violence against abortion providers noted a “dramatic increase in hate speech and internet harassment, death threats, attempted murder, and murder” in 2015, coinciding with the distribution of smear videos intended to demonize providers — videos which Newman was a driving force behind. No patient or provider should have to fear for their life in order to seek or give critical medical care.

We wrote extensively about Newman’s background and views in a report last year linked to his role in creating the Center for Medical Progress’ smear videos about Planned Parenthood.

Rachel Maddow covered Cruz’s embrace of Newman in an extensive segment in November:

AUL: Stall Supreme Court Nominee To 'Roll Back Roe v. Wade'

Anti-choice groups have made no secret of the fact that they are pressuring Senate Republicans to continue their blockade of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, in the hope that a Republican-nominated justice will vote to undo Roe v. Wade.

Americans United for Life, the group that shapes the anti-choice movement’s legal strategy, made this argument explicitly in an email today asking members to pressure their senators to keep up the blockade of Garland.

Clarke Forsythe, the group’s acting president, claims in the email that the “only reason abortion advocates are pushing this nomination is to roll back the pro-life gains in courts and legislatures across the country” and promises that “the right Supreme Court” will roll back Roe.

AUL is one of a number of anti-choice groups, including the Susan B. Anthony List, Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, Priests for Life, the clinic protest group Pro-Life Action League and David Daleiden’s attorneys at Life Legal Defense Foundation, who have launched a website targeting Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, urging them to continue to stall Garland’s nomination.

Forsythe writes, under the subject line “You Have the Power to Help Roll Back Roe v. Wade”:

Dear Friend,

Do you believe Roe v. Wade can be rolled back? At Americans United for Life, we know that the answer is YES … with the right Supreme Court.

For more than 40 years, we pro-life Americans have been working to overturn the destructiveness of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the twin cases that brought incredible devastation to mothers and their unborn children, making both vulnerable to the profiteering of a greedy abortion industry. With the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court hangs in the balance today, making it vital that NO appointment to the high court occur until after the voters weigh in on Election Day. You can help make that happen.

Please click here to contact your U.S. Senators, telling them to wait until after the election to deal with the opening on the Supreme Court.

All that AUL has been working for since 1971 is at stake in President Obama’s attempt to put a fifth pro-abortion justice on the Supreme Court. Don't let them crush democracy on the abortion issue for another two or three decades. No president has been more firmly committed to the abortion industry than Barack Obama, making his pick for the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland, the wrong choice to be added to the fragile balance in a fractured court.

Please click here to contact your U.S. Senators now.

Judge Garland is President Obama’s pro-abortion pick to tempt some Republicans to act now to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. But it’s important to remember that President Obama, Vice President Biden and even Sen. Chuck Schumer, all urged the Senate to hold the line against Supreme Court picks late in a president’s term. The only reason abortion advocates are pushing this nomination is to roll back the pro-life gains in courts and legislatures across the country.

Please contact your Senators today, asking them to let Americans have a voice in deciding the future of the Supreme Court, through their choice of leadership. Click here to contact them now, and please forward this to friends and family so that we all can have a voice in whether all people are welcomed in life and protected in law.

With so many Justices on the Supreme Court nearing retirement, the time is now to let your Senators know that it matters to you who sits on the nation’s Supreme Court.

Thank you for standing with Americans United for Life at this important time. We can make a difference.

Sincerely,

Clarke Forsythe,
Acting President & Senior Counsel
Americans United for Life

Pavone: Cecile Richards Speaking At Georgetown Like Inviting ISIS, Drug Dealers Or The Mob

Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, spoke at Georgetown University yesterday at the invitation of a student group, an event that was not welcomed by the Washington Archdiocese or the conservative Cardinal Newman Society.

Also displeased with the Catholic school’s welcoming of Richards was Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, who said on a Catholic radio program on Tuesday that inviting Richards was the equivalent of trying to “understand terrorism” by inviting “representatives of ISIS” to campus or inviting “the biggest mobsters to come in because we have to understand both sides of the debate about organized crime.”

In an interview with Teresa Tomeo on Ave Maria Radio’s “Catholic Connection,” Pavone blasted Georgetown for “adding to confusion, contention and division within the church on the most important issue of our day,” asking if there are “no better speakers in the world to stimulate the intellects of these students than people who preside over killing hundreds of thousands of children every year.”

He said he didn’t buy the argument that inviting someone like Richards to speak was allowing “inquiry into all different positions.”

“I mean, do we inquire, do we try to understand terrorism by inviting representatives of ISIS to come and speak?” he asked. “Or let’s get some of the biggest drug dealers in the country to come and talk about their business because, after all, we have to understand both sides of the issue of drug abuse. Why don’t we invite the biggest mobsters to come in because we have to understand both sides of the debate about organized crime? Are they doing that? Maybe I’m missing it, but do these universities invite these kinds of people too?”

“You know,” Tomeo said, “this is what I don’t get, why this issue is only talked about in terms of ‘both sides’ of a controversial issue when it comes to abortion and artificial contraception or even so-called same-sex marriage.”

“Yeah, the fact is the other side of these things is so totally bankrupt, unacceptable, outrageous, and has no place in civilized society that that should be self-evident right from the start,” Pavone responded. “Why do you have to think twice about why it’s wrong to kill a baby? See, that’s what I don’t understand either. I mean, you mean to tell me these students have to think twice about whether killing a child is wrong?”

We’ll just note that conservatives have been wringing their hands for years about intolerant liberals supposedly shutting down opposing speech on college campuses.

Grassley Promises Anti-Choice Activists He'll Hold The Line Against Garland

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, joined a conference call of anti-abortion activists hosted by the Susan B. Anthony List last night to assure them that he would continue to hold the line and refuse to hold a Judiciary Committee hearing on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

Also joining the call were Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, who delivered an opening prayer.

Grassley told the activists that when someone asked him for an update on the nomination last week, he said that “an update would suggest that something has changed” and that he still intends to block any nominee until the next president takes office.

He said that preventing “another liberal” from joining the Supreme Court was necessary to keep “even the reasonable restrictions on abortion that have been enacted into law through the democratic process” from being “swept away.”

Grassley cited a recent National Right to Life poll which he said found that “about 80 percent of Americans don’t believe that abortions should be available after the first trimester.” (It was more complicated than that.)

“But we know that justices who embrace the view that the Constitution is a living document don’t share that view that you and I share,” he said. “The American people, through their elected representatives, should be making these policy decisions, not unelected judges. These are life-and-death issues that we’re fighting for. They show just how important this fight over who’s going to fill Scalia’s seat is.”

In response to a question from SBA List president Marjorie Dannefelser, Grassley suggested that news reports characterizing Garland as moderate are a misleading ploy by the media (one that, if he was correct, he himself and some of his Republican colleagues would be in on).

When Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were nominated, he said, “always in these headlines at the time they were nominated, that adjective was the word ‘moderate,’ just like Garland. Well, we know how those four have turned out. So don’t believe what you read in the press about people’s basic philosophy, because they got it all wrong and probably intentionally all wrong.”

When Dannenfelser asked Grassley to respond to the argument that the Senate is neglecting its job by refusing to even consider Garland’s nomination, Grassley repeated his claim that it would actually be a waste of taxpayer money to give Garland a hearing.

“Well, we could have a hearing, we aren’t going to have a hearing, but let’s just suppose we could have a hearing,” he said. “And I know 52 people, at least 52 in the Senate, aren’t going to approve it. So you have a hearing and you spend a lot of taxpayers’ money gearing up for it, you spend a lot of time of members, a lot of research that has to be done by staff, and then it ain’t going to go anyplace.”

“It’s like getting dressed up for the prom but you don’t get to go,” Dannenfelser said.

David Daleiden's Mentor Admits Daleiden 'Made Some Mistakes' Legally

Attorneys for David Daleiden, the activist who led the undercover smear campaign against Planned Parenthood last year, are trying to get a grand jury indictment of him dismissed in Texas, claiming that it was politically motivated. But Daleiden’s mentor, who has conducted many of his own sham investigations of abortion providers, acknowledged at an anti-abortion conference last month that the young activist “made some mistakes” that might have led him to run afoul of the law.

Mark Crutcher heads a group called Life Dynamics, which pioneered some of the undercover tactics that Daleiden used to go after Planned Parenthood and conducted a similar debunked investigation involving abortion providers’ handling of fetal tissue in the late 1990s. He has also trained right-wing activists James O’Keefe and Lila Rose, is now training what he hopes will be “a whole army of David Daleidens” to infiltrate abortion providers across the country.

Crutcher spoke last month at a conference sponsored by Cleveland Right to Life, where he said that his training efforts meant that he would have “at least 100 professional intel operatives” in abortion providers ty the end of the year.

At the end of Crutcher’s presentation, the event moderator, referring to the indictment of Daleiden by a grand jury that had been convened to investigate his claims about Planned Parenthood, asked Crutcher why “it seems like the good guys are getting indicted and the bad guys are getting away.”

Crutcher responded that he always trains his staff and students how to get what they want without breaking the law, but that Daleiden didn’t listen to all of his advice.

“I’m not going to get into details about this,” he said, “but David made some mistakes that we warned him about. Renee [Hobbs] and I were on the phone with him for many, many hours over the years that he was doing this, but David got caught up in youthful exuberance. And I tried to tell him, I said, ‘David, you’re making some mistakes here and that’s going to cost you.’ I said, ‘And youthful exuberance always loses out to old age and treachery, and I’m old and treacherous, so I’ve been down this trail.’ But he made some mistakes, and I don’t want to get into the details of that.”

“What you have to understand, this is an argument that I tried to get over to David: Anything that you want to do in an intelligence-gathering environment that’s illegal, you can find a way to do it legally,” he added.

Cruz Dodges Personhood Question: 'I'm Not Going To Get Into The Labels'

Back in February, we wondered what exactly Ted Cruz’s position on the anti-abortion strategy of fetal “personhood" was. At a campaign stop in Iowa, Cruz said that he hasn’t “supported personhood legislation,” but over the past several years the Texas senator had made several statements supportive of personhood laws and amendments, which would outlaw all abortion and could even jeopardize some forms of birth control.

True to form, when Cruz was asked directly about his stance on “personhood” today, he dodged the question, saying that he didn’t want to talk about “labels.”

Eliza Collins at Politico reports that according to a partial transcript of an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that will be broadcast tonight, Cruz was not eager to clarify his views about the issue:

Pointing to the Texas senator's past history of wavering before eventually signing a pledge promising to support a personhood amendment to the Constitution in 2015, Todd asked, “Where are you on personhood? Are you going to pursue this as an agenda or are you just simply supporting the idea? Do you know what I mean by the difference?”

“Well listen, some of the labels in this debate can get confusing because different people mean different things about labels. I don’t want to get in a back and forth on labels,” Cruz responded. “I believe every human life is a gift from God and we should cherish and protect and celebrate them.”


Cruz … declined to answer when pressed if he thinks IUDs, which some conservatives oppose, are an acceptable form of contraceptive.

Todd then returned to personhood, asking: "Are you going to pursue it as an addendum?”

“I told you I’m not going to get into the labels, but what I will say is we should protect life. But I’m not interested in anything that restricts birth control. And I’m not interested in anything that restricts in vitro fertilization because I think parents who are struggling to create life, to have a child, that is a wonderful thing,” Cruz said, dodging further questions from Todd.

“Well, no one is questioning whether you’re pro-life. This is a different. That’s why I’m asking. Would you pursue this?” Todd asked again.

“I will happily support anything that protects life. And protecting life is a value that matters. Whether it is stopping partial birth abortion, which I think is a barbarism. Or whether it is fairly enforcing the criminal laws against Planned Parenthood. You know, a few months ago, we had this series of videos that were horrifying,” Cruz said.

Cruz is correct to say that the “personhood” label can “mean different things”… but he has in the past endorsed nearly every one of those different meanings.

One “personhood” strategy is to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution declaring that personhood begins at conception, which would not only overturn Roe v. Wade but would actively outlaw abortion nationwide; Cruz endorsed that strategy when he signed a pledge for a Georgia anti-abortion group last year.

Another strategy is to pass statewide “personhood” amendments, which would create challenges to Roe v. Wade in the courts; Cruz endorsed that strategy in a video address he recorded in South Carolina in February.

“Personhood” can also mean the dubious effort to bypass Roe v. Wade by simply passing federal legislation declaring that embryos and fetuses are “persons” under the Constitution; Cruz said last year that such a strategy would “absolutely” work.

So, Cruz has pledged to support a federal amendment, praised state-level amendments, and endorsed a federal legislative strategy all aimed at establishing legal “personhood” for zygotes and fetuses, but also says that he has never “supported personhood legislation.”

It’s no wonder he doesn’t want to talk about labels.

One Anti-Choice Activist's Argument For Punishing Women Who Have Abortions

As we noted this morning, the hubbub over Donald Trump’s comments about legal punishment for women who have abortions has shone a spotlight on the anti-abortion movement’s uncertainty about how to handle women who seek illegal abortions if the procedure is recriminalized.

While many in the anti-choice movement try to avoid talking about this issue publicly, it is something that activists who are more thoughtful than Donald Trump probably can’t help but consider as they shape their views.

Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life, gave an interesting glimpse into the way some anti-choice activists think about the punishment issue this week when he said that if abortion is recriminalized, women who have abortions are unlikely to face murder charges because they could show that they faced “pressure” or “confusion” in their decision. When he was pressed further on the issue, Pavone floated the possibility of legal punishment for “accomplices” — like someone who brings a woman to get an abortion — and seemed to suggest that the law could also punish women who are insufficiently remorseful about having the procedure.

This is not the first time that Priests for Life has tried to address the issue. A few years ago, Bryan Kemper, who heads youth outreach for Priests for Life through his group Stand True Ministries, grappled with this question on his blog and concluded that if abortion is to become illegal nationwide, as is the goal of the anti-abortion movement, then women who obtain abortions would indeed have to be treated as murderers.

Kemper wrote in 2012 that the question of what to do about women who have abortions if the procedure is recriminalized is “one of the toughest questions to answer as a pro-lifer” but that the obvious answer is unavoidable if you “truly believe that a child in the womb is a full human person.” He continued:

I admit there is an emotional element to this that can blur the issue. I know that no one wants to go throwing thousands of women in prison. It is sincerely a tough question.

Lets change the direction we look at this however. Just like in my debates against pro-abortion advocates, I would steer away from the distractions and focus on the core issue. What is abortion? Abortion is the killing of a human person. Just like stabbing a three old on a playground is killing a human person, stabbing a baby in the womb is also killing a human person.

If we establish a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution declaring that children are full human persons from the moment of fertilization, then we must treat them as such.

When the woman in Texas drowned her five children several years ago, what was your thought on her punishment? Did you believe because she had some rough times at home she should be excused from what she did? The fact is, she killed her five children and had to answer to the law. While we might feel sorry for her emotional state, we must also want justice for the five children who were killed.

In the same way, we must look at the children in the womb as equal in value as the children who were drowned and demand justice for them also. We can certainly feel empathy for what a woman might be going through, however, that cannot change the fact that she has broken the law and ended the life of her child. We know there is forgiveness is Christ, but justice must also be served. If we make a separate law and separate punishment for someone who has an abortion then we are saying that the child in the womb is somehow not as valuable then any other human person killed. If we say that intentionally killing one child is less of a crime then intentionally killing another child, then our whole argument for life is destroyed.

 

Anti-Choice Leader Floats Possibility Of Punishing Abortion 'Accomplices,' Women Who Are Not Coerced

Donald Trump’s comment last month that if abortion is recriminalized, a woman who obtains the procedure will have to face “some form of punishment ” was a disaster for his presidential campaign, but did a public service in exposing the real consequences of the anti-choice movement's agenda.

Abortion rights opponents who have spent years claiming that their efforts to restrict abortion are about protecting women were suddenly faced with a direct question: If you believe that abortion is murder, why shouldn’t a woman who chooses an abortion be treated like a murderer?

Most anti-choice leaders respond with some version of the argument that in the case of an abortion, a woman is a victim rather than a perpetrator, along with vague assurances that no public officials would actually choose to legally punish women for the procedure.

One of these is Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life, who responded to Trump’s comment by saying: “We don't aim to imprison [women], we aim to liberate them from the shame and guilt and wounds abortion brings. The punishment should be for the abortionist, not the baby's mom.”

But Pavone had a hard time keeping up this argument when, in a recent radio appearance, a sympathetic caller pressed him on the logical fallacy.

Pavone was a guest on "The Drew Mariani Show" on Relevant Radio on Tuesday when a listener named Cory called in to say that he thought Trump was being “remarkably philosophically consistent” on the issue of punishing women for abortion. If a fetus is the equivalent of a five-year-old, he asked, why wouldn’t a woman who has an abortion face the same punishment as a woman who hires someone to kill her five-year-old?

“Because, I mean, we certainly don’t allow a woman who’s an accomplice in the murder of a five-year-old or a six-year-old the privilege of being a victim,” he said. “So I’m not exactly sure how we — we’re not really being that philosophically consistent here with this.”

Pavone responded that the difference was “psychological” and that a woman who had an abortion would probably face a lesser charge because of the amount of “pressure” and “confusion” that she was under to seek the procedure, much like “mitigating circumstances” can mitigate murder charges in the case of a “born person.”

Pavone added that it would also make sense to spare women from punishment so that they would report abortion providers to the authorities, who could then “go after that abortionist and stop him and save other lives.”

Cory, however, was not satisfied with this answer. He pointed out that many women who have abortions “don’t mind having gone through it and they don’t regret it” and repeated that he thought “there should be some sort of legal consequence for a woman who volitionally goes into an abortion clinic knowing what’s going to happen.”

“There has to be some sort of legal consequence, otherwise I just fear that we’re not being logically consistent on this issue,” he said.

Pavone’s answer was essentially “we’ll see.” He told Cory that once an abortion ban is enacted, there would be many options for enforcing it, including penalizing “accomplices” who help a woman get an abortion.

“I mean, the abortionist has to get punished, but what about the person who brings her to or pays for the abortion?” he asked. “So the law can look at a lot of things.”

Pavone then seemed to open the door for the possibility of punishing women who are insufficiently remorseful about having an abortion. “What you have to do,” he said, “is look at each circumstance very carefully, and just like we do with the murder of born people, what were the — how guilty, how responsible, how free was this person, how much did they know and intend what was going on?”

Jay Sekulow, who heads the Religious Right legal group founded by Pat Robertson, has similarly hinted at his willingness to accept legal punishments for women who choose abortions for what he deems to be the wrong reasons.

Anti-Choice 'Personhood' Bills Advance In Alabama, Missouri & South Carolina

This week, legislative committees in Alabama, Missouri and South Carolina approved so-called “personhood” measures that would, if successful, outlaw all abortions and even endanger some forms of birth control.

An Alabama House committee approved a proposed constitutional amendment today that would “define the term ‘persons’ to include all humans from the moment of fertilization.” If the state legislature approves the amendment, it will move to a statewide ballot referendum.

One doctor who testified in favor of the Alabama insisted that a fetus is “totally separate” from a woman and that “the mother only contributes the egg and the incubator.”

In Missouri, a House committee approved a similar measure yesterday which would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot defining “persons” to include “unborn human children at every stage of biological development.” The Missouri amendment, however, seems designed to avoid going head-to-head with Roe v. Wade, stating that it can only be enforced “to the extent permitted by the federal constitution.” The anti-choice group Live Action said that the amendment would ensure that Missouri “has clear legal protection from conception onward in place, should Roe v. Wade be eventually overturned.”

“Personhood” amendments, even when they do make it through state legislatures, have a horrendous record at the ballot box. Recent attempts to pass such amendments in the deeply conservative states of Mississippi and North Dakota failed spectacularly, and Colorado voters have rejected “personhood” multiple times.

That won’t be an issue in South Carolina, where a Senate committee approved a “personhood” bill sponsored by Sen. Lee Bright — a state co-chair of Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign — yesterday. Bright dismissed questions about the possibly troubling consequences of the bill by saying, "When you get around the edges, there may be some questions we don't have all the answers to but allowing all these children to lose their lives to me is unacceptable.” Bright said that he hoped the bill would spark a challenge to Roe v. Wade, which he called one of his “missions in life.”

This post has been updated to include information about the South Carolina bill.

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