Anti-Choice

Anti-Choice Leader Offers Dubious Strategy For Preventing Back-Alley Abortions

Leaders of the anti-abortion movement were not pleased with Donald Trump’s comment yesterday that if abortion is recriminalized, there would have to be “some form of punishment” for women who illegally seek the procedure. The movement has spent years building a narrative that restrictions on abortion are meant to protect women, something that Trump managed to blow up with one comment.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, the leader of the anti-abortion campaign group Susan B. Anthony List, went on NPR this morning in an effort to do damage control, telling “Morning Edition” host Steve Inskeep that “the pro-life movement has never, for very good reason, promoted the idea that we punish women.”

“The aims of the pro-life movement are focused on the woman and the child,” she said, “and to take them together as a goal, as an end, is to preserve both, is what it’s been from the beginning.”

When Inskeep asked Dannenfelser about Trump’s comment that this plan to ban abortion would send women back to “illegal places” for the procedure, Dannenfelser said that Trump doesn’t know “about what is ready and where we are prepared for rolling back abortion laws.”

If abortion were to be banned nationwide, Dannenfelser claimed, women in desperate situations would turn to anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers rather than the back alley.

Such centers are typically staffed by volunteers, not medical professionals, and many have been found to give misinformation to women.

“As you know, abortion laws are nonexistent pretty much up to the birth of the child,” she claimed. “If those children are allowed to live and a woman is in need of help, there are hundreds of pregnancy care centers across the country, millions of people ready to come to her aid. So, no, I don’t believe that that’s necessary at all, and we’re far more ready now than we were before Roe to help women in situations like that.”

Inskeep asked if dangerous back alley abortions wouldn’t still be the “reality” in “some cases.”

“If a woman feels that that is where she’s been driven, she hasn’t been reached by someone who says, ‘I will help you,’” Dannenfelser insisted. “There’s always a dreadful possibility that something terrible would happen, no matter what a law is, but is incumbent upon the pro-life movement and Americans in general to help a woman who is in that type of need.”

Dannenfelser, who supports banning all abortion with no exceptions, can’t seriously believe that crisis pregnancy centers armed with anti-abortion activists would solve the problem of dangerous illegal abortions. Before Roe, when states had a patchwork of abortion laws, women with resources could often obtain a safe hospital abortion, while too many women without money and connections turned to self-induced abortions or illegal providers. According to a Guttmacher report:

While the problem of unintended pregnancy spanned all strata of society, the choices available to women varied before Roe. At best, these choices could be demeaning and humiliating, and at worst, they could lead to injury and death. Women with financial means had some, albeit very limited, recourse to a legal abortion; less affluent women, who disproportionately were young and members of minority groups, had few options aside from a dangerous illegal procedure.

Trump Calls For Women To Face 'Punishment' For Abortion While Cruz Adviser Wrote Of Executing Abortion Providers

Bloomberg reported this afternoon that Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, in the taping of an MSNBC town hall meeting that will air tonight, said that not only should abortion be outlawed but there should be a “punishment” for women who obtain illegal abortions.

[Update: Trump’s campaign later changed course and said that abortion laws should only punish providers, saying, “The woman is a victim in this case as is the life in her womb.”]

What happens to women in a regime in which abortion is completely criminalized is the third rail of the “pro-life” movement, and its leaders generally attempt to avoid discussing or to downplay the medical and legal consequences of recriminalizing abortion. Recent cases in which women have been arrested for botched abortion attempts or for “endangering” fetuses, however, expose some of the troubling consequences of laws that place abortion politics over the dignity of women.

Trump may have touched the third rail, but that doesn’t mean that his Republican rivals should not also be pressed on the consequences their “pro-life” policies would have for women.

In particular, Sen. Ted Cruz should face questions about his choice of an anti-choice activist who has taken even more extreme positions than Trump’s to co-chair his “Pro-Lifers for Cruz” coalition.

Troy Newman, who is one of 10 co-chairs of Cruz’s anti-abortion group, argued in a book published in the early 2000s that a society following the wishes of God would execute abortion providers.

And, although he didn’t recommend any specific punishment for women who obtain abortions — and suggested that bringing women to “repentance” was the answer — Newman made it clear that he saw these women as just as culpable in the supposed crime, comparing a woman who has an abortion to a “contract killer” who hires a hitman to take out her husband:

By comparing abortion directly to any other act of premeditated contract killing, it is easy to see that there is no difference in principle. However, in our society, a mother of an aborted baby is considered untouchable where as any other mother, killing any other family member, would be called what she is: a murderer.

He wrote that although anti-abortion activists might be inclined to treat women who seek abortions as “victims,” there should be “no comfort” for those women until they admit to themselves that they have committed “murder”:

Those responsible for innocent bloodshed should not be excused or comforted in their sin, yet, as a society, women who have abortions are treated as victims and those who support them in the decision to kill are considered heroes who were willing to stand by their friends or family members during a time of crisis. In reality, the woman is the same as a contract killer, hiring out the murder of her defenseless child, and the supporter is a co-conspirator, aiding and abetting the crime. They believe that their charitable act of lending support will some how make up for their participation in murder. Until they can both face the fact that they bear responsibility for the murder of an innocent child and own up to it, there should be no comfort for them.

Newman won his spot on Cruz’s team after playing an integral role in creating the Center for Medical Progress’ smear of Planned Parenthood.

Would A Trump Supreme Court Justice 'Punish' Women For Abortion?

According to a report from Bloomberg, Donald Trump said in the taping of an MSNBC town hall today that abortion should be outlawed and that there “has to be some form of punishment” for women who obtain the procedure. He admitted that in the absence of legal abortion, those women would be driven to "illegal places":

At a taping of an MSNBC town hall to be aired later, host Chris Matthews pressed Trump on his anti-abortion position, repeatedly asking him, “Should abortion be punished? This is not something you can dodge.”

“Look, people in certain parts of the Republican Party, conservative Republicans, would say, ‘Yes, it should,’” Trump answered.

“How about you?” Matthews asked.

“I would say it’s a very serious problem and it’s a problem we have to decide on. Are you going to send them to jail?” Trump said.

“I’m asking you,” Matthews said.

“I am pro-life,” Trump said. Asked how a ban would actually work, Trump said, “Well, you go back to a position like they had where they would perhaps go to illegal places but we have to ban it,” Trump said.

Matthews then pressed Trump on whether he believes there should be punishment for abortion if it were illegal

“There has to be some form of punishment,” Trump said. “For the woman?” Matthews asked. “Yeah,” Trump said, nodding.

Trump said the punishment would “have to be determined.”

Trump then reportedly linked the issue to the vacancy on the Supreme Court, which Republican senators are trying to keep open in the hopes that a Republican president — possibly Trump — would nominate the next justice.

“They’ve set the law and frankly the judges, you’re going to have a very big election coming up for that reason because you have judges where it’s a real tipping point and with the loss of Scalia, who was a very strong conservative, this presidential election is going to be very important,” Trump said.

“When you say what’s the law, nobody knows what the law is going to be. It depends on who gets elected,” Trump said.

So, does Trump want a Supreme Court justice who would not only help to overturn Roe v. Wade but who would support legal punishment for women who are driven to obtain illegal abortions?

 

Oklahoma GOPer Wants To Classify Abortion As First-Degree Murder

A Republican state senator in Oklahoma is angry that his party’s leadership has scuttled a bill he wrote that would classify abortion “from the moment of conception” — and possibly some forms of birth control — as first-degree murder.

Oklahoma state Sen. Joseph Silk told WorldNetDaily yesterday that his legislation would sidestep the “typical pro-life rhetoric” in order to get “justice for all these murdered children” and ultimately force the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade:

Silk said it’s time for pro-life leaders to go after what they really want.

“We need to call it what it is, which is murder – the premeditated, intentional killing of a human being – and then treat it as such,” Silk told WND and Radio America. “We’re trying to change the conversation from the typical pro-life rhetoric to actually being pro-life and getting justice for all these murdered children.”

“We need to attack the issue directly. Life begins at conception, and abortion is murder,” he said.

“Until we start doing that, [the Supreme Court is] never going to be forced to overturn that ruling.”

He said activists have changed court precedent many times in the past, most notably with respect to slavery. He also said the Supreme Court defied its own logic on the definition of marriage in just two years

“Just three years ago, they said marriage shall be defined by the states,” Silk said. “After continuous pounding, what did they do this last year? They defined it for us. Sure, some bills may get struck down, but eventually you’re going to push the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.”

The language of Silk’s bill, which is similar to that of some “personhood” measures, risks classifying some forms of birth control as murder. The legislation also specifically includes the destruction of embryos created in the in-vitro fertilization process in its definition of first-degree murder, saying it applies to fertilized eggs “whether conceived or located inside or outside the body of a human female.”

The legislation shows a simmering feud between anti-abortion groups over the best strategy to outlaw abortion, with “personhood” activists pressing for immediate action with more established organizations pushing for incremental laws curtailing abortion rights and limiting access.

The group Abolish Human Abortion, which supports Silk’s effort, has posted a photo of a letter that Oklahomans for Life, the state affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee, sent to state lawmakers opposing Silk’s bill because it would replace two anti-choice measures that it supports. The group Personhood Alabama, on the other hand, has praised the bill.

Silk is also promoting a so-called “bathroom bill” similar to one recently passed in North Carolina that would prohibit transgender people from using the restrooms of their choice. He has said that LGBT people “don’t have a right to be served in every single store.”

Trump Turns To Far-Right Heritage Foundation For Future Supreme Court Nominees

While many Americans grimly wonder which would be worse for the country, President Donald Trump or President Ted Cruz, one issue isn’t providing much help: Both candidates are making it clear that their potential nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court would be terrible.

We reported yesterday on Cruz’s suggestions that he would nominate his best friend in the Senate, Utah’s Mike Lee. Under his extreme views of the Constitution, much of what the federal government does is unconstitutional, including Social Security and Medicare.

What about Trump? Last year, Trump called Clarence Thomas his favorite justice. This year, he declared Justice Antonin Scalia’s death a “massive setback” for the conservative movement and joined right-wing conspiracy theorists in raising suspicions that Scalia had been murdered.

Last month Trump tossed out the names of two right-wing appeals court judges, William Pryor and Diane Sykes, as two potential nominees from a Trump administration. Pryor calls Roe v. Wade and Miranda v. Arizona, two landmark cases protecting the rights of women and criminal defendants, respectively, “the worst examples of judicial activism.” Sykes, like Pryor, has upheld damaging voter ID laws. She also argued that anti-gay groups have a constitutional right to receive government subsidies regardless of whether they engage in discrimination.

Now, Trump is pledging to release a list of seven to 10 potential justices from which he commits to choosing a nominee – and that list is being put together with help from the far-right Heritage Foundation. Heritage is a massively funded right-wing powerhouse that is home to, among others, anti-marriage-equality activist Ryan Anderson, who is urging social conservatives to resist the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling.

Heritage and its more explicitly political arm Heritage Action have demanded even greater obstructionism from congressional Republicans. Even before Scalia’s death, the group had urged the GOP to refuse to confirm any executive branch or judicial nominations except for appointments dealing with national security. Heritage senior fellow Hans von Spakovsky has even demanded that Scalia be allowed to “vote” – even though he is dead – on a case that right-wing activists were hoping the court would use to destroy public sector unions.

Trump met in Washington yesterday with congressional Republicans, and at a press conference he pushed back against accusations by Cruz that he couldn’t be counted on to name a conservative to the court. “Some people say maybe I’ll appoint a liberal judge,” he said. “I won’t.” He promised that his nominee would be “pro-life” and “conservative.”

Trump also explicitly warned (or taunted, depending on your view) Republicans opposed to his nomination that if they support a third-party candidate against him, they will allow a Democrat to name Supreme Court justices who “will never allow this country to be the same.”

Among the Republicans huddling with Trump? Heritage Foundation president and former Sen. Jim DeMint.

What Would It Look Like If Ted Cruz Put His Pal Mike Lee on the Supreme Court?

Back in December, Kyle reported that Glenn Beck, who believes Ted Cruz is anointed by God to be president, suggested that a President Cruz should nominate Utah Sen. Mike Lee to the Supreme Court. This weekend, while campaigning in Utah, Cruz himself floated the prospect, saying Lee “would look good” on the court.

“Good” is not really the right word. “Terrifying” is more like it.

Lee, who calls Cruz his “best friend at work,” has perhaps the most extreme view of the Constitution of anyone in the Senate. Lee is a fervent “tenther,” someone who believes the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution radically restricts the authority of the federal government. As Jeffrey Rosen wrote in the New York Times Magazine in 2010, “Lee offered glimpses of a truly radical vision of the U.S. Constitution, one that sees the document as divinely inspired and views much of what the federal government currently does as unconstitutional.”

Lee dismisses Supreme Court rulings upholding a women’s right to abortion. He called the court’s marriage equality ruling a “breathtaking presumption of power.” People For the American Way noted in a 2010 report that Lee “has denounced as ‘domestic enemies’ those who disagree with his radically limited view” of the Constitution.

Here are a few things that Sen. Mike Lee believes are unconstitutional for the federal government to be engaged in:

This list helps explain why right-wing law professor Jonathan Adler, a force behind the King v. Burwell challenge to the Affordable Care Act, has also suggested that the next Republican president should put Lee on the court.

For an ardent self-described constitutionalist, Lee has a lot of problems with the Constitution as amended over the years and as interpreted by the Supreme Court. Lee published a book last year called “Our Lost Constitution: The Willful Subversion of America's Founding Document.” He believes the 16th amendment, allowing the federal government to collect income taxes, should be repealed, leaving it to the states to determine how they would tax their own citizens to pay for the extremely limited federal government that would fit his vision of the constitution. He also thinks the 17th Amendment was a mistake and thinks the power to elect U.S. senators should be taken away from voters and returned to state legislatures. He also wants to "clarify" the 14th Amendment through legislation to deny citizenship to children born in the U.S. to parents who are not citizens or legal residents and wants to amend the Constitution to require a balanced federal budget and to impose congressional term limits. He supports a campaign by some right-wing activists for state legislators to convene an “Article V” convention for the purpose of amending the Constitution.

As a Senate candidate he said he would like to abolish the federal Departments of Energy and Education, dismantle the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and phase out Social Security altogether. As a senator, Lee orchestrated shutting down the government in an effort to defund Obamacare, even though Cruz took most of the blame for it.

Cruz and Lee share a sort of gleeful pride in playing the outsiders who have contempt for “the establishment.” Lee is reportedly the guy who suggested that Cruz run for Senate; he was among those who endorsed Cruz in his long-shot primary for his Senate seat. This month, he became the first of Cruz’s Senate colleagues to endorse his presidential run.

Paul Blair Wants Oklahoma To Lead States' Nullification of Marriage Equality, Abortion Rights

Anti-gay pastor Paul Blair, a former professional football player, is among the far-right activists whose endorsements have been celebrated by the Ted Cruz campaign. At last weekend’s The Awakening conference, Blair promoted his efforts to get states to defy the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision.

Resistance to marriage equality and other “unjust” laws was a major theme at the conference and Blair was part of an afternoon panel devoted to the topic, along with Rick Scarborough, E.W. Jackson and Keith Fournier. Blair and others praised the Alabama Supreme Court’s diatribe against the legitimacy of the Obergefell ruling, which was released last Friday, the day before The Awakening.

Reclaiming America for Christ, a ministry of Blair’s church in Edmond, Oklahoma, is promoting “Protect Life and Marriage,” an effort “dedicated to the proposition that the state of Oklahoma has federal and state constitutional authority to (1) protect the institution of natural, traditional marriage and; (2) protect innocent, unborn children from abortion; and that in the face of unjust, unlawful U.S. Supreme Court actions it is time for Oklahoma to exercise this authority.”

Blair said his group has 980 pastors and over 20,000 supporters, and is working with the governor, attorney general and state legislators to promote a nullification strategy: “We are trying to stop this legally, lawfully, politically, actually using the Constitution initially…” Speakers at a Protect Life and Marriage rally at the Oklahoma state capitol last October included U.S. Sen. James Lankford and Rep. Jim Bridenstine, along with state legislators and pastors. Blair also said people supporting some kind of state-led resistance are working through different channels in Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky and Texas.

“We are not 320 million people ruled by five nonelected attorneys,” he said. “The federal government does not have unlimited power, and they do not have the ability to determine the limits of their own power…”

At The Awakening, Blair distributed glossy reprints of an interview he did with The New American, the magazine of the far-right John Birch Society, last summer after the Obergefell decision. In that interview he made the case for states to nullify U.S. Supreme Court decisions on marriage equality and abortion.

There’s no need for constitutional amendments overturning those decisions, he argued, saying that states have the power to enforce the 10th Amendment.

Oklahoma lawfully amended its state Constitution in 2004 to incorporate God’s definition of marriage. There’s no place in the U.S. Constitution where we delegated to Washington the authority to redefine marriage in our state. In fact, according to the 10th Amendment (which is part of the U.S. Constitution) that authority clearly remains with us. Our governor, attorney general, and legislators have all sworn oaths to uphold the constitutions of the State of Oklahoma and the United States. We call upon them to uphold their oaths of office and ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s unlawful Obergefell opinion. In fact, we want Oklahoma to be a “sanctuary state” for marriage, life and the Constitution.

Blair told The New American that Obergefell is illegitimate, unconstitutional, violates natural law and “celebrates immoral conduct.” The decision, he said, “is an attempt to force everyone to celebrate a behavior that violates conscience and the Holy Scriptures, and to force the acceptance of that behavior on our children through public education.”

In the interview, Blair also praised the John Birch Society, saying it has “faithfully stood in defense of our Constitution.” He said Reclaiming America for Christ has included the Society’s "Overview of America" DVD as part of its “biblical worldview training package.” 

Is The Anti-Choice Movement's Bark Worse Than Its Bite?

Last year, anti-choice groups were fuming after a few Republican congresswomen, led by Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, delayed a planned vote on a 20-week abortion ban when they objected to the wording of its exemption for rape victims, claiming that it was too narrow.

Several months later, anti-choice groups successfully lobbied to keep Ellmers off a select committee investigating Planned Parenthood in punishment for her stepping out of line. Leading groups continued to threaten to support a primary challenger against Ellmers.

But it turns out, according to Roll Call, that none of that threatened primary support for her opponents has materialized:

Nearly every one of the country’s most prominent anti-abortion groups have stayed out of Ellmers’ primary, not even offering so much as an endorsement to her opponents – much less the financial and grassroots support vital to defeating an incumbent member of Congress. In fact, a review of independent expenditure documents filed with the Federal Election Commission showed that none of these groups has spent money against Ellmers this year, an eye-opening revelation given the anger that still simmers over the congresswoman’s actions and the importance of abortion to many core GOP voters.

Anti-abortion groups have more time to organize against Ellmers if they want it – a court’s decision in February to throw out the existing congressional map in North Carolina has pushed back House primaries there from March 15 to June 7. But interviews with leaders of the movement suggest more time won’t change anything because rather than an anomaly, the Ellmers race is a symptom of a broader anti-abortion problem within not just the anti-abortion movement but social conservativism writ large.

Their assessment is blunt: Leading social conservative organizations are either too cozy with congressional leadership or simply don’t understand the importance of, when necessary, playing rough with lawmakers who vote against them. The consequence is a tangible feeling, on Capitol Hill and beyond, that stepping out of line on issues such as abortion rights and gay marriage carries less of an electoral penalty than defiance on issues such as taxes. That’s because the latter will earn the ire of such well-funded groups as the fiscally focused Club for Growth, which has a well-known history of defeating Republican incumbents.

Roll Call notes that social conservatives have also failed to follow through on their threats to mount serious primary challenges against Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee — Portman for supporting marriage equality and DesJarlais for pressuring his former wife and former mistress to have abortions.

The Cruel Irony Of The Anti-Choice Movement’s TRAP Strategy

The Supreme Court heard arguments today in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which could be the most influential abortion rights case in decades. Whole Woman’s Health, which addresses a Texas law that aims to close abortion clinics by saddling them with expensive and unnecessary regulations, puts to the test the anti-choice movement’s long-term strategy of passing targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws meant to squeeze abortion providers out of existence.

As early as 1990, attorney Walter Dellinger, who went on to serve in the Clinton administration, was warning that the emerging strategy of setting up obstacles to abortion access would push women to obtain abortions later in their pregnancies, a more expensive and less safe procedure. These supposed “compromise” measures, he noted, were at the same time sometimes coupled with calls to cut off legal abortion during the second trimester of pregnancy. Dellinger wrote in The American Prospect:

To enact in the United States laws that simply prohibit abortions after twelve or eighteen weeks would constitute a strange and cruel response to the issue of late abortions. In this country, legislative deadlines for abortion would co-exist with access regulations designed to prevent women from being able to meet the deadline. No state truly concerned about either the increased maternal health risks or the moral implications of late abortions should consider the coercive step of prohibiting second trimester abortions while simultaneously pursuing policies that cause abortion to be delayed. … Bans on funding for abortions, shutting off access to public hospitals, parental consent/ judicial bypass laws, and testing requirements all fall into this category. Legislators who are troubled in principle by late abortions should support instead measures ensuring that every woman who wants to terminate a pregnancy can do so as early and as safely as possible.

Fast forward to late last year, when a study showed that exactly that had happened after Texas implemented its restrictive new law:

A new report released by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project — a research group based at the University of Texas at Austin that’s been tracking the state’s reproductive health policy over the past four years — finds that recent clinic shutdowns have greatly limited access to timely abortions statewide. In some cases, women had to wait nearly a month to be seen. In others, clinics had to turn women away, since they had no available appointment slots open.

As wait time to get an abortion increases, the estimated proportion of abortions performed in the second trimester increases. These later surgical abortions, although safe, are associated with a higher risk of complications and are significantly more costly to women than an earlier medical abortion. And even staunch abortion opponents are more opposed to late-term abortions compared to earlier procedures, citing the scientifically disputed theory that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks gestation.

At today’s arguments in Whole Women’s health, Justice Anthony Kennedy hinted at this issue, according to the Wall Street Journal’s early reports:

Justice Kennedy ends the string of questions from the women justices.

He notes that drug-induced abortions are up nationwide, but down in Texas, where the number of surgical abortions is up since the state enacted its law. He wondered whether such an impact was “medically wise.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg similarly called out Texas’ solicitor general for undermining his own claim that the state’s regulations were meant to protect women’s health:

Justice Ginsburg asks: How many women will be located more than 100 miles from a clinic? Mr. Keller makes reference to a 25% number, but says that number is high because it doesn’t take into account some women close to clinics in New Mexico.

That’s odd, Justice Ginsburg says. She wonders why Texas would consider those New Mexico clinics an option, given that they wouldn’t meet the standards set forth in the state law. If your argument is right, New Mexico is “not a way out” for Texas, the justice tells Mr. Keller.

Even as the anti-choice movement is pushing restrictive regulations that, as the Texas study showed, drive women to seek abortions later in their pregnancy, it is championing measures at the state and federal level that would cut off legal abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy, partway through the second trimester.

Of course, the anti-choice movement is focusing on these two strategies because they believe they can pass muster in the courts and in public opinion in a way that the ultimate goal — an outright ban on abortion — would not. But what is left is not a regime that protects women’s health, as proponents of Texas’ law claim, but one that makes it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, for women to obtain an abortion, which has been their ultimate goal all along.

 

PFAW

The Cruel Irony Of The Anti-Choice Movement's TRAP Strategy

The Supreme Court heard arguments today in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which could be the most influential abortion rights case in decades. Whole Woman’s Health, which addresses a Texas law that aims to close abortion clinics by saddling them with expensive and unnecessary regulations, puts to the test the anti-choice movement’s long-term strategy of passing targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws meant to squeeze abortion providers out of existence.

As early as 1990, attorney Walter Dellinger, who went on to serve in the Clinton administration, was warning that the emerging strategy of setting up obstacles to abortion access would push women to obtain abortions later in their pregnancies, a more expensive and less safe procedure. These supposed “compromise” measures, he noted, were at the same time sometimes coupled with calls to cut off legal abortion during the second trimester of pregnancy. Dellinger wrote in The American Prospect:

To enact in the United States laws that simply prohibit abortions after twelve or eighteen weeks would constitute a strange and cruel response to the issue of late abortions. In this country, legislative deadlines for abortion would co-exist with access regulations designed to prevent women from being able to meet the deadline. No state truly concerned about either the increased maternal health risks or the moral implications of late abortions should consider the coercive step of prohibiting second trimester abortions while simultaneously pursuing policies that cause abortion to be delayed. … Bans on funding for abortions, shutting off access to public hospitals, parental consent/ judicial bypass laws, and testing requirements all fall into this category. Legislators who are troubled in principle by late abortions should support instead measures ensuring that every woman who wants to terminate a pregnancy can do so as early and as safely as possible.

Fast forward to late last year, when a study showed that exactly that had happened after Texas implemented its restrictive new law:

A new report released by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project — a research group based at the University of Texas at Austin that’s been tracking the state’s reproductive health policy over the past four years — finds that recent clinic shutdowns have greatly limited access to timely abortions statewide. In some cases, women had to wait nearly a month to be seen. In others, clinics had to turn women away, since they had no available appointment slots open.

As wait time to get an abortion increases, the estimated proportion of abortions performed in the second trimester increases. These later surgical abortions, although safe, are associated with a higher risk of complications and are significantly more costly to women than an earlier medical abortion. And even staunch abortion opponents are more opposed to late-term abortions compared to earlier procedures, citing the scientifically disputed theory that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks gestation.

At today’s arguments in Whole Women’s health, Justice Anthony Kennedy hinted at this issue, according to the Wall Street Journal’s early reports:

Justice Kennedy ends the string of questions from the women justices.

He notes that drug-induced abortions are up nationwide, but down in Texas, where the number of surgical abortions is up since the state enacted its law. He wondered whether such an impact was “medically wise.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg similarly called out Texas’ solicitor general for undermining his own claim that the state’s regulations were meant to protect women’s health:

Justice Ginsburg asks: How many women will be located more than 100 miles from a clinic? Mr. Keller makes reference to a 25% number, but says that number is high because it doesn’t take into account some women close to clinics in New Mexico.

That’s odd, Justice Ginsburg says. She wonders why Texas would consider those New Mexico clinics an option, given that they wouldn’t meet the standards set forth in the state law. If your argument is right, New Mexico is “not a way out” for Texas, the justice tells Mr. Keller.

Even as the anti-choice movement is pushing restrictive regulations that, as the Texas study showed, drive women to seek abortions later in their pregnancy, it is championing measures at the state and federal level that would cut off legal abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy, partway through the second trimester.

Of course, the anti-choice movement is focusing on these two strategies because they believe they can pass muster in the courts and in public opinion in a way that the ultimate goal — an outright ban on abortion — would not. But what is left is not a regime that protects women’s health, as proponents of Texas’ law claim, but one that makes it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, for women to obtain an abortion, which has been their ultimate goal all along.

Ted Cruz 'Enthusiastically' Backs Radical Anti-Abortion, Anti-Contraception Personhood Proposal

In a video message released ahead of the South Carolina presidential primary yesterday, Sen. Ted Cruz repeated his support for radical fetal “personhood” measures that would criminalize all abortions and even threaten some forms of birth control by granting full constitutional rights to zygotes.

Cruz has previously pledged to back personhood measures, even going so far as to claim that legal personhood for fetuses could “absolutely” be established without a constitutional amendment or a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

In his video message, Cruz praised South Carolina Republicans for passing a nonbinding resolution in support of a state constitutional amendment to institute fetal personhood.

“I enthusiastically support that resolution,” he said, “and, as president of the United States, I pledge to you that I will do everything within my power to end the scourge of abortion once and for all, that I will use the full constitutional power and the bully pulpit of the presidency to promote a culture of life, that I will sign any legislation put on my desk to defend the least of these, including legislation that defends the right of all persons, without exception other than the life of the mother from conception to natural death.”

Cruz also vowed to defund and investigate Planned Parenthood and appoint Supreme Court justices who would be “the critical deciding votes to finally overturn Roe v. Wade.”

In the video, the Texas Republican senator also tried to link the issue of abortion rights to other matters that are important to GOP voters, claiming that any candidate who supports abortion rights doesn’t believe in God and thus will also raise taxes.

“If a politician will rob a fellow person of their right to life, rest assured they’ll rob you of your private property rights, religious liberty, and look for new taxes and regulations to rob you of your hard-earned money as well,” he said.

“Liberty isn’t safe in the hands of a politician who doesn’t hold all life sacred,” he warned. “For anyone that doesn’t hold life sacred can’t possibly know what true liberty is or where true liberty comes from. Because the spirit of true American liberty comes from the Creator, in whose image we are fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Anti-Choice Group Starts 'All-Out Effort To End Abortion In Colorado Springs' As Targeted Clinic Reopens

A Colorado-based anti-choice group announced in an email to supporters yesterday that it is launching an “all-out effort” to ban abortion in Colorado Springs, where a Planned Parenthood that was the target of a deadly shooting in November is just reopening.

Personhood USA, which is based in Denver, has failed dismally in its efforts to pass state-level fetal “personhood” laws that would criminalize all abortions and could threaten common forms of birth control. Today, in an email to supporters, the group’s communications director Jennifer Mason hints that it is now changing its strategy to focus on passing city-level personhood measures … starting in Colorado Springs:

It's happening. We knew it would. After the tragic shooting at Planned Parenthood in late November, they had closed their doors through the holiday season. Now Planned Parenthood is re-opening their doors, all set to kill innocent babies once more.

The shooting in November killed three people, among those pro-life hero Officer Garrett Swasey. Thinking of the shooting brings tears to my eyes. Thinking of the fact that Planned Parenthood will re-open its doors and kill innocent babies compounds that grief and adds a large dose of nausea. I can't bear the thought that a place that has killed countless of innocent children will re-open to kill countless more.

We unequivocally oppose all violence, including abortion-related violence, against born and unborn people alike. That is why we must legally close Planned Parenthood's doors...by making abortion illegal city by city across the U.S.

It's no surprise that while we are launching our city-by-city campaign to make abortion illegal, starting in Colorado Springs, Planned Parenthood is re-opening a clinic there. Please pray about supporting this effort - with your help, we can get the legal paperwork filed and begin this all-out effort to end abortion in Colorado Springs today.

Interestingly, it was a former Personhood USA staffer who defected to the newly formed Personhood Alliance who declared back in 2014 that “the statewide personhood ballot measure is dead for now” and recommended that the movement should focus instead on passing municipal ballot measures.

UPDATE: RH Reality Check has more details:

The initiative has been in the works for more than a year, and was not crafted in response to Planned Parenthood’s announcement this week that it will soon reopen its Colorado Springs clinic , where three people were killed on November 27, Personhood USA spokeswoman Jennifer Mason told RH Reality Check in a phone interview.

“We had actually planned to do it before the tragic shooting there,” said Mason, explaining that her organization has a base of volunteers and supportive churches in Colorado Springs. “When Planned Parenthood announced that they were reopening, that confirmed for us that this was the right place to start …. The people who reached out to us in Colorado Springs don’t want any violence, including abortion, there.”

Mason said she’s working with attorneys to finalize the language of the measure, which will be similar to one of the statewide amendments soundly rejected by voters in 2014. She said her group is just beginning the legal process of putting a measure on the ballot, and she hopes to file the paperwork within the next two months.

Anti-Choice Group Vows To Put Spies In Every Abortion Clinic In The Country

As we noted last year, the Texas anti-abortion group Life Dynamics, whose founder Mark Crutcher was an important mentor to undercover Planned Parenthood activist David Daleiden, plans to start training “a whole army” of Daleidens in the arts of spying on abortion providers.

Crutcher joined Cleveland Right to Life’s Molly Smith on her “From the Median” radio program earlier this month to discuss his plans to “create intelligence gathering agents” to infiltrate abortion providers, with the goal of having 100 such agents by the end of the year and eventually one for every abortion clinic in the country.

“Right now the abortion industry only has to worry about basically two organizations infiltrating them,” Crutcher said, “and that’s Life Dynamics — us — and Lila Rose with Live Action.” (Crutcher, who pioneered the technique of sham undercover “investigations” of abortion providers, also trained Rose.)

“We know for a fact that we can put 100 trained people around the country by the end of this year,” he said, “and our eventual goal is to make sure there’s not an abortion clinic in this country that doesn’t have intelligence operatives surveilling it on a daily basis.”

Crutcher asserted that this 24/7 spying on every single abortion provider would easily turn up useful information because “I guarantee you, Molly, there’s not an abortion clinic in this country that’s not engaged in at least a few illegal activities, not one.”

“They go to bed every night knowing things that if we knew would destroy them,” he said.

In a protest outside the construction site for a new Planned Parenthood clinic last month, Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life praised Crutcher’s work, telling the women’s health provider: “Be on your toes because we are in your midst, we are behind your doors, we are in your secret meetings, we are working for you and with you though you know it not, but in His good time the God who reveals all secrets will reveal that too.”

A major funder of Life Dynamics is Farris Wilks, who along with his brother have been generously backing Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign. In 2011, Wilks’ foundation funded a Life Dynamics effort “to mass-mail DVDs to lawyers encouraging them to sue abortion clinics into oblivion.”

Rubio Faith Staffer Eric Teetsel: Marco Just As Extreme As Ted Cruz

Waves of far-right evangelical leaders have endorsed Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, especially after asecret endorsement meeting in Texas in December. But Marco Rubio still draws support from plenty of conservative Christian leaders, and last month announced a “Religious Liberty Advisory Board” that includes some big names like California pastor Rick Warren.

Heading into the New Hampshire primary, Rubio’s Faith Outreach Director Eric Teetsel, a culture warrior in his own right, did an interview with the Christian Post in which he assured voters that Marco Rubio is every bit as far-right as Ted Cruz when it comes to the social issues that rile Religious Right activists.

Voting for Marco Rubio over Ted Cruz for president would not require evangelicals to compromise their Christian beliefs and values, the Rubio campaign's director of faith outreach, Eric Teetsel, asserted Thursday…

Although Cruz has identified himself as the most conservative candidate in the race and has also attempted to energize and unite the conservative Christian voting base, Teetsel told The Christian Post that there "are few, if any, substantive policy differences" between Cruz and Rubio when it comes to issues that conservative evangelicals care most about — marriage, religious liberty, abortion, judicial activism, educational choice and parental rights.

"The National Organization for Marriage calls Marco, 'a champion of marriage' and the Family Research Council's political arm recently gave him a 100 percent score," Teetsel stated in an email statement. "So, since there's no need to compromise one principle, the question is 'Who can win a general election?'"

"The answer is clear," Teetsel, the former director of the Manhattan Declaration, asserted. "Marco's winsome message and vision for a new American century appeals to citizens from across the political spectrum."

Indeed, Rubio’s rhetoric and positions are reliably far-right. He wants to outlaw abortion with no exceptions in cases of rape or incest. He supports the First Amendment Defense Act, the Religious Right’s bill to legalize anti-gay discrimination. In January Teetsel told World Magazine that Rubio doesn’t believe marriage equality is settled law and thinks that the Constitution “provides a path to fix bad decisions: win elections, nominate judges who understand both the law and the limits of their office, and bring new cases before the courts that provide opportunity to get it right.”

In the Christian Post interview, Teetsel took on the core belief guiding Ted Cruz’s campaign strategy — that he can win purely by mobilizing right-wing base voters.

"Cruz argues he can win by appealing exclusively to hardcore conservatives. That's a myth that has been thoroughly refuted. Even if there's a chance it's true, why gamble?" Teetsel asked. "Ted Cruz is all about dividing people; Marco is about uniting all sorts of different people who share in common the hope that America will reclaim its place as the one place that makes it possible for anyone to flourish."

The Christian Post notes that in January “Teetsel sent out an email touting a quote by leading Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore that reads ‘I would say that Ted Cruz is leading the Jerry Falwell wing’ of evangelicals, while ‘Marco Rubio is leading the Billy Graham wing and Trump is leading in the Jimmy Swaggart wing.’"

The magazine reports that Rubio has received a grade of 94 from Heritage Action and a grade of 100 from FRC Action.

 

Anti-Abortion Groups Argue That Restrictive Texas Law 'Prevents Discrimination' Against Women

In an amicus brief filed at the Supreme Court yesterday, the anti-abortion-rights groups Susan B. Anthony List and Concerned Women for America argue that a restrictive Texas law that threatens to shut almost all of the state’s abortion clinics is actually meant to prevent discrimination against women seeking abortions.

In the brief, written by former Family Research Council official Ken Klukowski on behalf of the American Civil Rights Union, the groups argue that HB2, the Texas law being considered in the case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, in fact “prevents discrimination” against women seeking abortions by “ensuring that women seeking an abortion receive medical care that is equal in quality to the medical care provided to men”:

By ensuring that women seeking an abortion receive medical care that is equal in quality to the medical care provided to men, HB2 prevents discrimination against those women. To the extent challengers to HB2 might suggest HB2 is a form of sex discrimination, it is actually a statute that prevents discrimination. As such, invalidating HB2 would carry the opposite consequence of effectuating discrimination against women.

HB2’s ASC [ambulatory surgical center] provision commands that “the minimum standards for an abortion facility must be equivalent to the minimum standards . . . for ambulatory surgical centers.” … Only women are patients at abortion facilities, but ASCs treat both women and men. This provision thus ensures that the women at one facility are entitled to the same quality of care that men at the other facility receive.

The groups conclude that “invalidating HB2 would subject women to second-class medical treatment, thus effectuating discrimination against women seeking an abortion.”

As we’ve noted, HB2 is one of a spate of state laws that have been passed in recent years by anti-choice lawmakers seeking to cut off access to abortion under the guise of protecting women’s health.

Among other restrictions, the Texas law requires that facilities providing abortions meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) even, as Think Progress has noted, at facilities that provide only medication abortion and don’t perform surgeries. The Guttmacher Institute explains that ambulatory surgical centers are subject to more restrictive regulations because they generally perform riskier and more invasive procedures than surgical abortion.

Anti-Abortion Group Furious At Christie & Bush Campaigns For Mentioning Rape Exceptions

Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the anti-choice campaign group the Susan B. Anthony List, sent a letter yesterday to all of the remaining Republican presidential candidates, except for Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, warning them against criticizing Cruz and Rubio for their extreme, no-exceptions stances on abortion rights.

Although Dannenfelser didn’t name names, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who endorsed Jeb Bush after dropping out of the presidential race himself, and Gov. Chris Christie both attacked Cruz and Rubio over their opposition to rape exceptions in separate Morning Joe interviews this week.

Graham said on the program that although he’s “pro-life,” he thinks Ted Cruz’s stance on exceptions would be “a hard sell with young women.”

"I may be wrong, and I hope I'm wrong, but I think it’s going to be very hard to grow the party among women if you’re gonna tell young women, ‘If you get raped, you’re gotta carry the child of the rapist,’” he said. “Most pro-life people don't go there.”

Christie, meanwhile, said that Rubio’s no-exceptions policy is “the kind of position that New Hampshire voters would be really concerned about.”

The spat gets to the heart of the anti-choice movement’s long-running debate about whether to tolerate the inclusion of certain exceptions in legislation aimed at curtailing abortion rights in an attempt to broaden their appeal and give political cover to vulnerable lawmakers.

Dannenfelser has called rape exceptions “abominable,” “regrettable” and “intellectually dishonest,” but has made it clear that her group will back bills that include exceptions if they deem it necessary for those bills to pass. Graham takes a similarly pragmatic approach to the issue, pleading after a 20-week abortion ban he sponsored got caught up in a debate about the wording of its rape exception that the movement needed to “find a way out of this definitional problem with rape.”

But what Dannefelser seems to be most upset about is the fact that Christie and Graham talked about rape at all, which she says plays right into “Planned Parenthood’s talking points.” Indeed, after Republican Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock made disastrous comments about pregnancy from rape in 2012, Dannenfelser held trainings for Republicans to teach them how to avoid the subject.

In her letter to the candidates, Dannefelser notes that her organization, along with Rubio and Cruz, have supported legislation that includes exceptions, but purely as a political compromise. Attacking those candidates for their no-exceptions ideology, she says, is “incredibly damaging to the prolife movement at a point in which momentum is on our side.”

“Let me be clear: An attack on this aspect of these candidates’ pro-life positions is an attack on the pro-life movement as a whole,” she warned.

Dear Candidates:

On behalf of the Susan B. Anthony List and our 465,000 members across the country, I am writing to you today to urge a swift and decisive end to the attacks other candidates and their surrogates are making concerning the courageous pro-life positions of Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. These attacks ill-serve a party that has pledged, in one form or another, since the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 “to restore protection of the right to life for unborn children.”

While Senators Cruz and Rubio have supported SBA List-backed legislation that includes certain exceptions, they personally believe – as do we – that unborn children conceived in even the most difficult circumstances deserve the same legal protections that every other unborn child deserves. They know that you do not correct one tragedy with a second tragedy.

Let me be clear: An attack on this aspect of these candidates’ pro-life positions is an attack on the pro-life movement as a whole.

These tactical broadsides for perceived short-term advantage are incredibly damaging to the prolife movement at a point in which momentum is on our side. Our movement has worked diligently, especially in the wake of the 2012 elections, to put pro-life candidates on offense and pro-abortion candidates on defense.

As a movement, we have put forward legislative proposals that not only save lives, but also have the strong backing of the American public, such as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would protect babies after 20 weeks, or five months of pregnancy. During the 2014 election cycle this legislation dramatized the extreme position of abortion advocates, and it will have the same effect once again this cycle – largely thanks to the public support it enjoys from every single one of you.

To conclude, I urge you and your campaigns to reject Planned Parenthood’s talking points and instead keep the pro-life movement on offense by focusing on exposing the extreme position held by the other side: Abortion on-demand, up until the moment of birth, for any reason, paid for by the taxpayer. This is the winning message that will result in a pro-life president who will sign into law life-saving protections for the most vulnerable in our society.

Anti-Choice Groups Are Trying To Claim The Term 'Back Alley' To Oppose Legal Abortion

Next month, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a challenge to a restrictive Texas abortion law and a key test of the anti-choice movement’s long-term strategy of eliminating abortion access by regulating abortion providers out of existence.

Central to the case is the claim that laws like the one in Texas, which could close three quarters of the state’s abortion clinics if it’s fully enacted, impose tough regulations on abortion providers in order to protect the health of the women who take advantage of their services.

Now, in an effort to claim that they are the ones who are really concerned about women’s health, anti-choice groups are appropriating the term “back-alley abortion,” using the phrase that has long described dangerous illegal procedures in the years before Roe to claim that it is in fact legal abortion that forces women into the “back alley.”

In an article for the Federalist yesterday, Americans United for Life (AUL) attorney Mailee Smith wrote that the Texas case has “prompted a discussion about what is more important: ‘access’ to the current back alley of abortion now offered by an industry that puts profits over people, or commonsense health and safety standards the Court has historically supported.”

It’s a line that AUL has been repeating in the past few years, encouraged in part by the case of Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortion provider who was convicted of several gruesome crimes after the lax enforcement of regulations allowed him to stay in business.

Speaking at a Heritage Foundation event in 2013 after Gosnell’s conviction, AUL’s president, Chairmaine Yoest, declared, “Gosnell is sadly not an aberration. Ladies and gentlemen, we already have the back alley of abortion in this country and the back alley of abortion in this country is legal abortion.” A 2012 law review article by AUL attorney Clarke Forsythe in favor of clinic regulations was titled “A Road Map Through The Supreme Court’s Back Alley.” A 2013 AUL guide to regulating abortion clinics declared, “abortion clinics across the nation have become the true ‘back alleys’ of abortion mythology.”

Other groups have caught on to the messaging too. Speaking of Gosnell’s conviction in 2013, the Susan B. Anthony List’s Marjorie Dannenfelser claimed that “the result of the current law is that we’re living back-alley abortions right now.” 

In a set of talking points posted on its website in 2014, the National Right to Life Committee recommended countering pro-choice arguments about the risk of back-alley abortions by saying, “The only thing that legalizing abortion did was to give abortionists the ability to hang their shingle on the front door and stop using the back alley!”

Few would disagree that Gosnell — who was convicted of killing a patient and three infants who were born alive at his squalid clinic — was offering the functional equivalent of back-alley abortions. But the anti-choice movement is instead attempting to exploit the Gosnell case to claim that legal abortion is back-alley abortion, and to use it to justify unnecessary regulations meant to cut shut down safe providers.

Abortion rights opponents often attempt to downplay the real danger of illegal abortions women faced before the liberalization of abortion laws and Roe. Although women with money and connections could often obtain a safe hospital abortion (whether or not it was technically legal) in the years leading up to Roe, the burden of unsafe abortion fell disproportionately on poor women and women of color.

Guttmacher reports that although rates of death from unsafe abortion fell as medical care improved on all levels, 200 women died from unsafe abortion in 1965, making up 17 percent of all pregancy-related deaths that year. Even as states began to liberalize their abortion laws, many women without access to safe procedures still obtained illegal abortions.

As a number of commentators pointed out when Gosnell’s crimes came to light, forcing safe clinics to close would only force more women to predatory providers like Gosnell.

From the beginning, anti-choice activists have acknowledged that clinic regulations like those in Texas are meant not to protect women but to challenge legal abortion. In a 2007 memo arguing against “personhood” laws that attempt to ban all abortions in one fell swoop, influential anti-abortion attorney James Bopp listed clinic regulations like Texas’ as one way to “improve the legal situation” of the anti-abortion movement without fully taking on the constitutional right to abortion. In its annual package of model legislation for state legislators, AUL touts clinic-regulation measures as part of the effort to “unravel” Roe and facilitate its “demise.”

Texas’ law, which AUL says it helped write, requires abortion clinics to remodel if they don’t meet the stringent standards of ambulatory surgical clinics, which in general perform more complicated and riskier procedures than abortion. It also mandates that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a local hospital, an unnecessary requirement that it is sometimes difficult or impossible for abortion providers to meet. (This is in part because anti-abortion activists pressure hospitals not to offer such admitting privileges, again showing that their goal is closing clinics, not improving safety standards.)

The law behind the Whole Women's Health case isn’t meant to eliminate “back-alley” abortions, as its backers are now claiming. It’s meant to cut off access for the women who can least afford it and to chip away at the legal framework of Roe, which would, ironically, mostly likely lead to more true back-alley abortions. 

Cruz And Rubio Sign Amicus Brief Urging Supreme Court To Weaken Roe

Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida are among the 174 members of Congress who have submitted an amicus brief yesterday urging the Supreme Court to uphold a Texas anti-abortion law that threatens to close most of the abortion providers in the state.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (previously called Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole) on March 2, considering whether sweeping abortion restrictions in Texas present an unconstitutional “undue burden” on women seeking abortions or whether they are merely meant to protect women’s health, as their backers claim. The case is a critical test of the anti-choice movement’s long-term strategy to weaken Roe by gradually chipping away at abortion access in the states, often by claiming that burdensome regulations are meant to protect the health of women seeking abortions.

Texas’ law was written in consultation with Americans United for Life, the national group that is leading the charge to eliminate abortion access via restrictive state laws. The regulations imposed by the law included specifications on things like hallway width and even on water fountains, along with unnecessary and sometimes untenable hospital “admitting privileges” requirements for abortion providers. If upheld by the court, the law would likely close all but a handful of Texas’ abortion clinics, creating a model for other conservative states to follow. Texas’ lieutenant governor at the time the law was passed, David Dewhurst, boasted that it would “essentially ban abortion statewide.”

Yet Texas lawmakers and their attorneys are sticking with the story that the law is a reasonable regulation meant to protect patients’ health, allowable under the framework laid out in the Supreme Court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. And that is the argument that the brief by Cruz, Rubio and their fellow members of Congress makes too, claiming that doctors “disagree” on the necessity of the regulations and so Texas legislators merely “decided to strike a balance that gives first priority to women’s health and safety, choosing to risk erring on the side of safety rather than on the side of danger.”

As an example of the supposed necessity of such regulations, the brief cites Kermit Gosnell, the Pennsylvania abortion provider who was convicted of a number of appalling crimes related to his shoddy practice. Gosnell was not only operating in an entirely different state, it was clear that his crimes were the result of insufficient enforcement of existing regulations on clinics rather than insufficient regulation.

In a statement about the amicus brief, Rubio started off with the Gosnell case, claiming that the Texas law “best protects the safety and well-being of women who choose to have abortions, and serves as a model for other states to follow,” adding that such measures are stop-gap until “we can put an end to abortion and protect life once and for all.” Cruz also raised the specter of Gosnell, claiming that “the most zealous abortion advocates, nothing—not even women’s health—can be allowed to stand in the way of abortion-on-demand.”

Rubio and Cruz, like the law they are defending, are deliberately skirting around the point. Rubio supports banning abortion in all circumstances, while Cruz has backed a radical “personhood” laws that would ban all abortion and could even risk outlawing some types of birth control. At the same time, Cruz backed then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s refusal to accept federal Medicaid expansion that would have insured more than one million people while Rubio has tried repeatedly to take away insurance coverage for contraception from some women. It’s hard to believe that Rubio and Cruz’s position in Whole Woman’s Health stems from a sudden interest in women’s health rather than a concerted strategy to eliminate abortion rights.

Cruz Endorser Connects East Coast Blizzard With North Dakota Abortion Ruling

Mike Bickle, the far-right pastor whose endorsement was recently embraced by Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, joined a group of anti-abortion activists today in linking a blizzard that hit the East Coast last month to a Supreme Court decision on abortion rights in North Dakota.

Bickle joined anti-abortion activists including Priests for Life’s Alveda King, the Family Research Council’s Pierre Bynum and Mark Gonzalez of the United States Hispanic Prayer and Action Network in signing a statement distributed by the Texas based Justice Foundation calling for a month of “national prayers and repentance” leading up to the Supreme Court arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, the Texas abortion laws case.

“We fear that the judgment of Almighty God, which is designed to be merciful, and the wrath of God, will come upon the United States of America,” the statement warns, noting that a blizzard hit Washington on the same day that the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling striking down North Dakota’s restrictive anti-abortion “heartbeat” bill.

These leaders agree with the statement: "We tremble for our country when we remember that God is just and that His justice never sleeps. We fear that the judgment of Almighty God, which is designed to be merciful, and the wrath of God, will come upon the United States of America. God hates the shedding of innocent blood." But there is hope for our nation if Christians will pray! "If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land." II Chronicles 7:13-14. We believe that the role of the SCOTUS is to affirm God given rights to every individual throughout ALL stages of LIFE.

We are calling for national prayers of repentance from February 3 to March 4. On January 22, the Jonas storm, which also means Jonah, hit Washington, D.C. That same day the Supreme Court denied North Dakota the right to ban abortion and help women with child care. We urge everyone to pray every day for the Supreme Court and America to repent. From February 3 to March 4, we are urging prayer groups to cooperate in mobilizing the Body of Christ to 24/7 non-stop prayer for the SCOTUS.

On March 2, the Supreme Court will hear the Texas case which calls for ambulatory surgical centers and hospital admitting privileges. We all will have another opportunity to repent for the sin of abortion through this case.

Lila Rose Lies About Daleiden's Indictment, Calls It 'Judicial Activism And Tyranny'

You might have thought that the indictment of the creator of a series of undercover videos smearing Planned Parenthood might have been a setback to Planned Parenthood’s opponents. Instead, as Brian pointed out on Wednesday, anti-choice activists have simply moved on from lying about the content of the videos to lying about the circumstances of the indictment.

A case in point was the interview that Lila Rose, the founder of Live Action and a mentor of indicted activist David Daleiden, gave to conservative radio host Eric Metaxas yesterday, in which she falsely claimed that a prosecutor who serves on a local Planned Parenthood board had refused to recuse herself from the investigation into the videos and that the charges against Daleiden actually demonstrate Planned Parenthood’s guilt.

A grand jury in Houston that had been convened to investigate Daleiden’s accusation that Planned Parenthood was illegally selling fetal tissue for profit at the behest of state’s anti-choice lieutenant governor found no wrongdoing on Planned Parenthood’s part, but instead issued indictments of Daleiden and a colleague for tampering with a government document and for attempting to buy fetal tissue, although without success.

Daleiden’s supporters have latched on to the fact that one of the 300 prosecutors serving in the Houston office that conducted the investigation is a board member of the local Planned Parenthood affiliate. However, as Brian wrote, that prosecutor, who works in the office’s family law division, disclosed her Planned Parenthood connection from the beginning of the case and had nothing to do with the investigation:

When the Houston case started in August, the attorney who serves on a local Planned Parenthood board disclosed the connection herself and the district attorney announced that she would “not be involved in any manner in this investigation." At the time, one Texas Republican lawmaker praised the decision to "insulate that person from any involvement with the ongoing investigation."

Rose told Metaxas, however, that the indictment was a case of “judicial activism and tyranny” and that the Planned-Parenthood connected prosecutor “did not recuse herself” from the investigation.

“So would you think that there’s political motivation behind this or just simple bias?” Metaxas asked.

“Well, I think that bias becomes political motivation becomes judicial activism and tyranny becomes extremely overstepping, absurd actions by sometimes the people in power,” Rose responded. “And that might be what we’re looking at here, especially because that prosecutor who was a board member for Planned Parenthood in that office in Harris County did not recuse herself, and that is extremely problematic. And I think that this case is going to blow up, and not in a good way for the folks that are bringing the indictment charges against these two brave activists.”

Rose also repeated the myth that the charge against Daleiden for attempting to buy fetal tissue proves that Planned Parenthood was selling it. Daleiden, she said, was “charged with the same crime, part of the same crime, that Planned Parenthood was totally let off the hook for, which is they were charged with trying to buy baby body parts but Planned Parenthood, who’s actually selling them, was completely let off the hook for selling them, for trying to sell them.”

In reality, the charge against Daleiden reportedly stems from an email he sent to Houston Planned Parenthood officials “offering to buy fetal tissue for $1,600 per sample.” Planned Parenthood never responded.

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