Anti-Choice

Does Scott Walker Even Know What's In His Mandatory Ultrasound Law?

Scott Walker has been receiving plenty of blowback for his recent comments about a bill he signed mandating medically unnecessary ultrasounds for Wisconsin women seeking abortions, most recently a scathing column by Gail Collins in the New York Times.

Walker told conservative radio host Dana Loesch that forced ultrasounds aren’t a “crazy idea” because when members of his family obtained ultrasounds, he thought they were “a lovely thing” and “just a cool thing out there.” Since then, Walker has been accusing the “gotcha” media of twisting his words all while doubling down on the substance of his argument, asking, “Who’s opposed to an ultrasound?”

But, aside from being clueless about why his “cool” comment was offensive, does Walker even know what was in the law he signed?

At a campaign event in Concord, New Hampshire on Saturday, an audience member asked Walker about his ultrasound comments, and he struggled to explain what was in the bill, falsely claiming that the law allows a woman to choose whether to undergo the procedure.

The Concord Monitor reports that a Walker spokesman “later clarified that he was referring to transvaginal ultrasounds when he was indicating that the procedure was optional.”

We obtained audio of the exchange, which you can listen to here:

Walker disputed the audience member’s claim that Wisconsin’s law requires a transvaginal ultrasound for women seeking abortions. While is true that the law allows women to choose between a transvaginal and abdominal ultrasound, experts point out that in the early weeks of a pregnancy — when most abortions take place — a transvaginal ultrasound is the only one that will produce the images that the law requires a doctor to describe to the pregnant woman.

Walker also stated that the law says an ultrasound “has to be offered, it doesn’t have to be done,” and that a woman “can choose whether they want to see [the ultrasound] or not, or have it done or not.”

This is not true. With a few narrow exceptions, the law requires a woman to undergo an ultrasound and for the doctor to describe it to her. The only choice the woman has is to decline to view the ultrasound images.

Scott then repeated the very same story he told to Loesch of viewing his children’s ultrasounds, saying, “I think for most people that ultrasound picture that many of us have, that many of us have seen from our children and grandchildren now, is a wonderful thing and a wonderful opportunity.”

From Wisconsin to Washington, Anti-Choice Legislators Push Unconstitutional 20-Week Abortion Bans

In Congress and state legislatures across the country, right-wing politicians are pushing hard to construct new barriers to women exercising the constitutional right to have an abortion.

Earlier this month the U.S. House passed a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and GOP legislators in Wisconsin are staging a parallel attack. They introduced a similar 20-week ban, which Gov. Scott Walker has indicated he would sign, and have scheduled a hearing on the bill for next week. PFAW supporters in Wisconsin will be out in force to demonstrate their commitment to protecting this core right.

A couple of important points about 20-week bans: first, they are plainly unconstitutional. One of the main holdings of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was a woman’s right to an abortion before the fetus becomes viable – that is, the point when a fetus could survive outside the uterus. As Imani Gandy writes at RH Reality Check:

In the past 40 years, the Court has never wavered from the fetal viability benchmark…Courts have consistently smacked down legislative attempts to ban abortions at 20 weeks. But states are undeterred by such pedestrian concerns as constitutionality.

Pushing these bans are a deliberate effort to prompt a challenge to the Roe decision, which anti-choice groups believe they can win.

Second, the overwhelming majority of abortions (close to 99 percent) happen before 21 weeks. Those that happen after that are often because of a complicated situation – such as the discovery of a severe fetal abnormality – and the path forward should be determined by a woman and her doctor, not by politicians looking to score points with their base.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, these bans are part of an anti-choice agenda with a much broader goal: banning abortions across the board. From mandatory waiting period laws to “personhood” efforts which would give embryos full legal rights from the moment of conception, the anti-choice movement is playing the long game and slowly “chipping away at choice.”

When legislators try to insert themselves into decisions that should be made by women and their health care providers, it’s more than a political ploy. It’s a real threat to every woman’s health and autonomy.

PFAW

Just Weeks Before Saying Abortion Should Be Left To The States, Rand Paul Wanted To 'Bypass Roe v. Wade'

Sen. Rand Paul’s recent remark that the issue of abortion rights would be best handled “by the states” rather than “under the 14th Amendment” and his ambiguous answer to the question of “when does life begin” were, as commentators on the left and the right have pointed out, somewhat confounding since Paul has sponsored a Senate bill that aims to undermine Roe v. Wade by defining life as beginning “at conception.”

Adding to the confusion, just a few weeks before Paul made his remarks, the “personhood” group National Pro-Life Alliance forwarded to its members a fundraising email Paul wrote last year urging them to support the effort to “bypass Roe v. Wade” by declaring “unborn children ‘persons’ as defined by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, entitled to legal protection.”

On April 4, National Pro-Life Alliance forwarded Paul’s letter with the subject line “Sign the petition to bypass Roe v. Wade”:

In the past, 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 some pro-lifers always seem to tiptoe around the Supreme Court, hoping they won't be offended.

Now 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.

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."

Today, the group sent a similar message from former Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas. Paul’s and Stockman’s argument is based on the somewhat questionable legal theory — rejected by even many anti-choice leaders — that Congress can “bypass” a constitutional amendment or Supreme Court decision overturning Roe by simply passing legislation declaring fertilized eggs and fetuses to be “persons” under the law.

Some anti-choice leaders worry that this strategy would backfire in the courts, giving the Supreme Court a broad opening to strengthen Roe v. Wade. But if it were to succeed, the consequences would be enormous , not only defining all abortion as murder, but endangering common forms of birth control as well. Back in 2013, Paul claimed that such a measure would have “thousands of exceptions,” which his staff later clarified that he did not actually mean.

In fact, saying completely contradictory things on reproductive rights seems to be becoming Paul’s official campaign line. In his profile of Paul in March, Brian summarized Paul’s shifting stance on abortion rights as he heads into the 2016 presidential election:

Paul has also been on all sides of the question of abortion rights. Although Paul is the chief sponsor of a federal personhood bill that would ban abortion in all cases and has warned that a failure to pass the bill will result in the collapse of civilization, he has also said that he does not favor changing the nation’s abortion laws because the country is currently too divided on the issue. Paul insists that he opposes bans on birth control, despite the fact that his own personhood bill would give legal rights to zygotes and could ban common forms of contraception. In a 2013 CNN interview, Paul said that there would be “thousands of exceptions” to his personhood bill, but a spokesman later assured anti-choice activists that the senator approved of just a single exception, allowing abortion in cases where the life of the pregnant woman is at risk.

Wisconsin 'Pro-Life' Group Wants To Remove 'Medical Emergency' Exception From Abortion Ban

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has indicated that he will sign a 20-week abortion ban that provides an exception only for pregant women who are suffering a “medical emergency” — and even in those cases, the doctor would likely be required to perform a C-section. This exception is even more restrictive than that provided in a similar federal bill that just passed in the U.S. House, which — after months of wrangling — provided a narrow exception for rape survivors.

But the “medical emergency” exception isn’t enough for Wisconsin’s “personhood” group, Pro-Life Wisconsin, which as the Daily Beast points out is asking legislators to withhold support from the bill until its authors remove “an exception for babies whose mother’s lives may be endangered, as if those babies don’t feel pain”:

"Pro-Life Wisconsin supports banning abortion based on the preborn child's ability to feel pain, but it is utter hypocrisy for proponents of the bill to decry the horror of dismembering a child through a dilation and evacuation abortion and then carve out an exception for babies whose mother's lives may be endangered, as if those babies somehow don't feel pain," said Matt Sande, Pro-Life Wisconsin Legislative Director. "We urge legislators to refrain from co-sponsoring this bill until the medical emergency exception is fully removed."

The personhood movement’s no-exceptions approach to abortion policy makes it a thorn in the side of the anti-choice movement , but not because the movement’s “mainstream” disagrees with personhood advocates on principle. As the Susan B. Anthony List’s Marjorie Dannenfelser acknowledged recently, exceptions are “political” tools to win support for abortion bans, which she finds “regrettable.” And, in practice, 20-week bans are meant to advance the goals of the “personhood” movement by providing a strategic challenge to the framework of Roe v. Wade.

Scott Walker: Ultrasounds Should Be Mandatory Since They're 'A Cool Thing'

In an interview with conservative talk radio host Dana Loesch on Friday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker defended his anti-choice record, saying that a bill he signed requiring that women seeking an abortion first obtain a medically unnecessary ultrasound merely provided them with access to “a lovely thing” and a “cool thing out there.”

Walker, a potential GOP presidential candidate, signed the ultrasound provision along with a hospital “admitting privileges” law that threatened to force clinics around the state to close.

Walker told Loesch that criticism he received about the ultrasound bill was merely an attack from the “gotcha” media, and that he was in fact just trying to provide women with “a cool thing.”

“The thing about that, the media tried to make that sound like that was a crazy idea,” he said. “Most people I talked to, whether they’re pro-life or not, I find people all the time that pull out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grandkids’ ultrasound and how excited they are, so that’s a lovely thing. I think about my sons are 19 and 20, we still have their first ultrasounds. It’s just a cool thing out there.”

“We just knew if we signed that law, if we provided the information that more people if they saw that unborn child would make a decision to protect and keep the life of that unborn child,” he said.

Walker, who recently explained to Religious Right leaders that he was being purposefully evasive about his anti-choice goals by using pro-choice rhetoric to back his cause, said that while social issues “shouldn’t be defining” for Republicans, “we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it.”

A '9/11 Every Day': The Radical Anti-Contraception Ideology That Links The Duggars And The Anti-Choice Right

The sex abuse scandal engulfing the Duggar family has put yet another unwanted spotlight on Quiverfull, the radical self-proclaimed Christian “patriarchy” movement of which the Duggars are the most prominent spokespeople. But what is too often missed in the fascination over Quiverfull beliefs and the lives of its reality-star adherents is how closely this radical anti-feminist ideology is tied to the policy priorities of the anti-choice Right and its increasingly vocal opposition to contraception access.

The Quiverfull ideology, as Kathryn Joyce explained in her fascinating book “Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement,” is shared by a loose coalition of families living out a theology of “male headship and female submissiveness” in which a woman is expected to submit fully to her husband’s leadership while giving birth to, raising and homeschooling as many children as possible in order to repopulate the Earth with what one proponent called “warriors for God.”

Joyce published her book in 2009, well before the Supreme Court decided in the Hobby Lobby case that for-profit corporations could find “religious objections” to allowing their female employees insurance coverage for birth control. But she presciently linked the “mainstream” Right’s attacks on birth control to the “patriarchy” movement’s belief that stopping any child from being conceived, much less born, is an affront to God — and that it is a woman’s duty to bear and raise as many children as she can possibly produce.

Joyce writes that “most prospective Quiverfull parents actually learn about the Quiverfull conviction through the movement’s literature…And most of these people find these books after hearing the theory…that birth control pills are an abortifacient. That is, that hormonal contraception such as the pill can cause the ‘chemical abortion’ of accidentally fertilized eggs.”

This belief, that certain contraceptives cause abortion, was at the core of the Hobby Lobby decision. It is also wrong. But, as Joyce writes, Quiverfull and its allies aren’t just concerned about stopping the destruction of fertilized eggs — they view pregnancies that are prevented at all as murder.

As one speaker at the Pro-Life Action League’s 2006 “Contraception Is Not the Answer” event put it, potential lives “lost” through contraception amount to a “9/11 every day.”

Joyce writes:

…This is one of the strongest ties between the Quiverfull conviction and the larger Christian right, connecting a radically expanded prolife agenda that has broadened its political interests from abortion to birth control and sexual abstinence to international pronatalist movements.

As the political power of the antiabortion movement has grown, emboldened activists have moved toward a purer ideological line, making birth control the next target of the prolife movement. Employing the same “chipping away” political strategy they successfully used to diminish abortion rights, anticontraception activists have moved from defending individual “conscientiously objecting” pharmacists seeking to refuse contraceptives on moral grounds, to extending the same “right of refusal” to corporate entities such as insurers, to an out-and-out offensive against birth control as the murder-through-prevention of three thousand lives a day and the future of undoing Western civilization.

The latter two points were made in Illinois in September 2006 by British demographer Andrew Pollard, a speaker at the “Contraception Is Not the Answer” conference. Calling contraception “societal suicide,” Pollard calculated the reduced number of births due to contraception equivalent to a “9/11 every day for thirty-five years.” Pollard argued that “this year, about 1.6 million will be lost because of contraception and sterilization in [the United states]… [F]or every child lost through abortion, another is lost through contraception and sterilization. Countries cannot survive in the long run if they kill, or restrict, so many of their young shoots.”

Also speaking at that 2006 anti-contraception conference was Allan Carlson, a Quiverfull proponent whose World Congress of Families links anti-gay, anti-choice groups throughout the world, and Father Tom Euteneur, then the head of Human Life International, a Catholic group that opposes reproductive rights at the UN and in US foreign aid.

The Hobby Lobby case was an important milestone in the Religious Right’s campaign to weaponize religious liberty protections. But it was also a very public victory for the movement that is seeking to move beyond abortion restrictions to restrict contraception as well. By taking this ideology to the extreme, the Quiverfull movement shows just what’s at stake for women.

UPDATE: We should also note that the connections between Quiverfull and the Hobby Lobby case aren’t just ideological — the owners of Hobby Lobby have been major funders of the work of prominent Christian patriarchy writer Bill Gothard, who resigned from his post at the organization he founded last year following accusations of sexual harassment and covering up child abuse.

Joel Rosenberg: Thanks To Legal Abortion, 'Judgment Is Coming And There's No Way Out'

Yesterday, Sen. Ted Cruz joined a roster of Religious Right extremists at the Family Research Council’s “Watchmen on the Wall” pastors’ conference, where he promised to “always, always, always” stand for the right of Christians to discriminate against gays.

Also speaking yesterday was End Times author Joel Rosenberg, who repeated to the crowd his frequent warning that God’s judgment on America is imminent thanks to legal abortion, which he says is far worse than the crimes perpetrated by Nazi Germany.

“What if America is not simply in a season of decline, but we’re facing implosion?” he asked.

“My friends, we are not in a season of decline,” he declared. “I argue to you that judgment is coming. In another couple of years, if this doesn’t stop, we will hit 60 million abortions. If we hit 60 million abortions, we as Americans will have murdered 10 times more human beings than the number of Jews murdered by the Nazis. We know the judgment that fell on Nazi Germany, the devastation. We believe it was justified. My friends, what do we think is going to happen to a nation that murders 10 times more people? Judgment is coming and there’s no way out. The train has left the station.”

He added that the “only hope at this point” would be a third Great Awakening, in which case God might delay his judgment as Americans “make reforms based on the word of God.”

In addition to being a frequent fixture at Religious Right events, Rosenberg was invited to speak to several dozen Republican National Committee members on a trip to Israel sponsored by the Family Research Council earlier this year.

Far-Right Tea Party Candidate Poised To Win GOP Gubernatorial Nomination In Kentucky

Matt Bevin, the Tea Party favorite who unsuccessfully challenged Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell in the 2014 Republican primary, is now leading in a tight race for the Republican nomination for governor. An early count has Bevin ahead by 83 votes after Tuesday's primary election, making it possible that he will become the newest GOP standard-bearer in the state.

While this is great news for the Tea Party, whom Bevin calls the new abolitionists and civil rights leaders, and for Glenn Beck, who thinks Bevin is a “founder quality” candidate, who has been “ called by God” for public office, it’s less good news for everyone else. One McConnell aide said that if Bevin, a political novice, were to become governor, “his only agenda would be the commissioning of his portrait.” But his record shows that he might have quite a bit more on his plate:

Far-Right Allegiances Bevin likes to boast that in 2004 he was so “fed up” with the Republican Party that he backed the presidential candidacy of Michael Peroutka, who was running on the Constitution Party ticket. Peroutka is a Christian Reconstructionist and southern secessionist who later served on the board of the racist League of the South. While campaigning for president in 2004, Peroutka said that he was “still angry” that his home state of Maryland didn’t join the Confederacy.

Gay Marriage Panic While campaigning against McConnell in 2014, Bevin warned that legalizing marriage for gay couples could lead to parent-child marriage, comments his campaign tried, somewhat unconvincingly, to walk back.

Anti-Contraception Stance Bevin won the endorsement of the extreme anti-choice group Northern Kentucky Right to Life last year after he said in a questionnaire that he would support a “personhood” amendment to the Constitution — which would ban all abortion and even some common forms of birth control — and work to prohibit Medicaid funding for birth control pills.

Health Care Extremism Bevin is such an opponent of the Affordable Care Act that he has vowed to reverse Kentucky’s expansion of Medicaid under the law, a move that would take away the health insurance of 400,000 people. Kentucky has been one of the greatest success stories of Obamacare, experiencing what NPR calls “second-steepest drop in uninsured of any state.”

Cockfighting Bevin got plenty of negative publicity in his last campaign when it came to light that he had once spoken at a rally organized in support of legalizing cockfighting. Bevin later explained that while he opposes “animal cruelty” he supports “states’ rights” more. A Republican strategist told the New York Times that he expects the cockfighting issue to come up a lot in the general election should Bevin secure the nomination.

Scott Walker To Anti-Choice Leaders: I Didn't Mean What I Said About Abortion Being Between 'A Woman And Her Doctor'

Last night, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker met with a few dozen social conservative leaders in Washington, including representatives of the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America and the National Organization for Marriage, attempting to win them to his side if he decides to run for president.

According to people who attended the meeting, one subject that came up was a TV ad Walker ran last year in which he promoted his efforts to chip away at abortion access in his state, which, he said, would still leave “the final decision to a woman and her doctor.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser, head of the Susan B. Anthony List, told the Weekly Standard that Walker explained to her that in the ad he was “using the language of the other side to support our own position” and that people who said he was trying to paint himself as more pro-choice than he was were quoting him “out of context”:

Walker's pro-life credentials have been questioned by one Republican rival because of a 2014 Walker TV ad in which the governor defended laws regulating abortion as “legislation to increase safety and to provide more information for a woman considering her options. The bill leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor.”

According to Dannenfelser, Walker brought up the ad during Tuesday's meeting and "explained his perspective on that — that using the language of the other side to support our own position is a good thing, but you can only do it if people aren't trying to call you out and quoting you out of context. And I actually liked the way he formulated this in general."

In an interview with the Daily Beast, Dannenfelser said that it’s just this sort of evasiveness on abortion rights that she’d like to see from other anti-choice GOP candidates:

Dannenfelser said Walker brought up his 2014 abortion ad before being asked.

“He felt very quoted out of context, very misunderstood,” she said. “He said there was a snippet of the ad used that did not convey the full meaning, and his communication was using the other side’s language but with the idea of forging common ground on ultrasound, because he’s a true believer on that.”

Walker signed legislation in 2013 requiring both that women seeking abortions get ultrasounds first and that the doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Dannenfelser said he defended his use of the phrase “leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor” as a way of co-opting pro-choice rhetoric for the pro-life cause.

“To the extent that we use the other side’s rhetoric to undermine their positions, we’re better off,” Dannenfelser added.

She said she was impressed with Walker’s way of talking about abortion.

“It’s the whole style of communication and content of communication that you want to see moving into a presidential cycle that will make it different from 2012,” she said.

Here's Walker's "Decision" ad:

Anti-Choice Leader Admits Rape Exceptions Are 'Political,' Goal Is To Outlaw All Abortion 'From Conception'

A long-simmering debate within the anti-choice movement about whether anti-choice bills should contain exceptions for survivors of rape and incest emerged yet again in the recent debate over a House bill that would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks, had been bogged down twice in the past two years with internal disputes over a rape exception, and finally passed last week with a limited rape exception that included a 48-hour waiting period.

The bill’s rape exception split the anti-choice movement, which has been divided between “incrementalists” who want to ban abortion by gradually chipping away at access and legal protections and “immediatists” who want to swiftly declare that fertilized eggs and fetuses have the full rights of “personhood” under the 14th Amendment.

While some personhood leaders opposed the bill because of the rape exception, the main incrementalist groups, which oppose rape exceptions in principle but not necessarily in practice, lobbied behind the scenes to limit the rape exception while publicly supporting the final bill.

One of those groups was the Susan B. Anthony List, whose president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, spoke candidly about the political calculations behind rape exceptions in an interview Saturday with the Iowa conservative radio program Caffeinated Thoughts.

“Regrettably, there is a rape and incest exception” in the bill, she said. “It is the only way it was going to be allowed onto the floor by the leadership. I mean, I say regrettable, I really mean it. Any child at any stage should be protected from conception, and certainly at 20 weeks excepting anyone is just wrong.”

Host Shane Vander Hart told her that while he’d “love to see abortion completely outlawed and see some sort of a personhood amendment or a human life amendment,” he thought the 20-week ban did “move the ball forward.”

“Well, that’s why this is big,” Dannenfelser responded, adding that the 20-week bill shifted the debate to “talking about the child and his or her rights.”

Later in the interview, the program’s cohost Brian Myers asked Dannenfelser what it would take to make the GOP leadership realize that rape exceptions are “intellectually…inconsistent with the pro-life position.”

“It’s going to take winning,” she responded, citing anti-choice victories in the 2014 elections where “we had unapologetic pro-life people who didn’t talk about rape and incest.”

“I believe that it’s going to take winning the presidency for there to be a little more injection of courage, which will be required to understand the consistency of life that you’re describing,” she said.

“Do you think that at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about for a lot of those politicians, that they realize [rape exceptions are] an inconsistent position to take but they take it because they think it’s a political reality?” Myers asked.

“Yes. I think that’s why,” Dannenfelser agreed. “I think that they think they can’t get, that they will lose if they don’t. Most of them don’t believe in it in principle. Some do, which, as you say, is completely intellectually dishonest, but most of them don’t. And I think that sometimes, especially when you’re in that insular world on Capitol Hill that’s not in touch with reality, you make sacrifices that you don’t need to make.”

“I think you’re right,” she added. “It’s a political judgement. It’s not a principled judgement. And I think they made the wrong judgement, but we would have no bill at all and no 15,000 children saved if we had not allowed it to move forward with the exception.”

Interestingly, Dannenfelser held up Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as an example of “a joyful warrior going in there and boldly arguing” on the issue. Graham has said he’s “always had exceptions for the life of the mother, rape and incest,” even while acknowledging that opponents of exceptions are being “intellectually consistent.” She also recently wrote a glowing profile of presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, who favors such exceptions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rape Exception In Abortion Ban Divides Anti-Choice Movement

As the House prepares to vote on a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a top priority of the biggest anti-choice groups in the country, a leader of the “personhood” movement is urging members of Congress to vote against the bill because it includes an exemption for survivors of rape and incest.

On Monday, Daniel Becker, head of the new Personhood Alliance, called into the radio program hosted by Cleveland Right to Life’s Molly Smith, telling her that he was in Washington lobbying lawmakers to oppose the bill because of the rape exceptions, which he said some Georgia representatives had already agreed to do.

[UPDATE: It seems that Becker's vote count was optimistic. All Georgia Republicans voted for the 20-week ban — including Rep. Rob Woodall, who voted against it in 2013 — except for Rep. Jody Hice, who voted "present."]

The last time the bill was put up for a vote, in 2013, Becker — then the head of Georgia Right to Life — did the same thing, openly defying the national groups that were pushing for the bill’s passage. A rape exception had been hastily added to the bill before it was put up for a vote in because of controversial remarks on pregnancy by rape made by the bill’s sponsor, Arizona Republican Trent Franks. The House was scheduled to vote on the bill again in January on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, but the vote was cancelled as another dispute over the rape language erupted in the GOP caucus.

Becker told Smith that “behind closed doors,” anti-choice groups acknowledge that there is no chance for the bill to be enacted during Obama’s presidency, meaning that it is “a messaging bill” — one which he argued was sending the wrong message.

Becker emphasized that while no-exceptions anti-choice advocates like himself share the same ultimate goal, the criminalization of abortion, leaders of the major national groups have shown themselves willing to compromise on issues like rape exceptions. The two sides of the movement just differ on strategy, he said.

“The message that we send should comport completely with our policy objectives, beginning at the beginning of the pro-life movement itself,” he said. “We as a movement have never disagreed on our policy objectives. We have merely bickered and disagreed over strategy, what can be accomplished, what should be tried, what this will accomplish if we do this, that or the other. But as far as our objectives, it’s to stand for the sanctity of life, man created imago dei, in the image of God, and that sanctity of life should be protected at its earliest biological beginning all the way to natural death. So we’re seeing a message bill being crafted in Washington, DC, that has no chance of saving a single life.”

He insisted that such a no-exceptions message would play well with voters: “When we bring it down to a baby’s rights, a child’s rights, as opposed to the mother’s rights, the baby always wins in the mind of the public in most cases.”

Smith lamented that the vote merely presented an opportunity for members of Congress to get “a tick beside their names form some of these larger pro-life organizations” in election-year candidate guides.

“Molly, you’ve lifted the covers on an ugly secret,” Becker responded, “and that is the pro-life leadership are electing moderates into positions of influence that are undermining our efforts behind closed doors.”

Renee Ellmers, the North Carolina congresswoman who led the revolt against the version of the bill that exempted rape survivors only if they filed a police report, “was projected to be the darling child of Susan B. Anthony List,” Becker said.

“She was going to be the future of the pro-life movement, and she was the one who shut down the bill, much to their chagrin, who they later demonized. How do you take the future savior and demonize them at the same time? It’s because they’re electing moderates with rape and incest exceptions. If we were electing conservatives who knew what the value of human life entailed, they’d be right on the marriage issue, fiscal policy and government issues across the board.”

House GOP Schedules Vote On 20-Week Abortion Ban That Still Includes Hurdles For Rape Survivors

Back in January, House Republican leaders cancelled a vote on a 20-week abortion ban, the top legislative priority of anti-choice groups, shortly before it was scheduled to take place on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. A group of more moderate anti-choice Republicans, led by Rep. Renee Ellmers, had objected to language that exempted rape survivors from the ban only if they had reported the assault to law enforcement first, which Ellmers said “further victimized the victims of rape.”

Anti-choice groups were furious and have been holding protests outside the offices of House Republican leaders demanding a new vote on the bill. It seems that they have now gotten their wish.

A number of outlets are reporting that the House leadership has scheduled a vote next week on the 20-week ban after months of negotiations about the rape exception. According to news reports, while the requirement that rape survivors file a police report is no longer in the bill, they are now required to present evidence that they “have received either medical treatment or licensed counseling at least 48 hours prior to the late-term procedure.”

According to LifeNews, the bill also includes an “informed consent” requirement that notifies women “of the age of her baby and the requirements under the law” and includes language making it easier to sue abortion providers.

The Weekly Standard reports that National Right to Life Committee and the Susan B. Anthony List are both behind the new version of the bill:

In 2013, the House passed the bill, called the “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which included exceptions in the cases of rape, incest, and when a physical health issue endangers the life of the mother. But an effort to pass identical legislation in the new Congress was scrapped in January on the eve of the annual March for Life because some GOP members, led publicly by Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, objected to the bill's reporting requirement for late-term abortions in the case of rape. The bill required the crime to be reported to law enforcement officials at any point prior to performing a late-term abortion.

According to House Republicans, that requirement has been removed from the bill. Instead, the legislation requires abortion doctors to ensure that victims have received either medical treatment or licensed counseling at least 48 hours prior to the late-term procedure. With that change, the bill has assuaged the concerns of those Republican members while still garnering strong support of national pro-life groups, including the National Right to Life Committee and the Susan B. Anthony List.

“I’m proud we’ve gotten to a point where we found a consensus between our members and the pro-life groups out there,” said Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee.

The fact that there was a rape exception in the bill at all was the result of last-minute negotiations on a previous version of the bill after its sponsor, Trent Franks, made a Todd Akin-like remark about pregnancy from rape being rare. As we explore in our recent report on the “personhood” movement, rape exceptions are extraordinarily divisive within the anti-choice community. The National Right to Life Committee’s decision to support the Franks bill even with the narrow rape exception caused a number of state anti-choice groups to form a rival organization that pushes for “no exceptions” anti-choice policies.

Blogger Jill Stanek reports that one person involved in the negotiations on the current version 20-week ban told her, “This is the most complicated bill I’ve ever worked on.”

The Personhood Divide: The Anti-Choice Movement's Bitter Feud Over The Best Way To End Legal Abortion

(Originally posted on RightWingWatch.org)

The “personhood” movement — those who seek sweeping bans on all abortion and common types of birth control in an effort to confront Roe v. Wade head-on — is hugely divisive within the anti-choice community. Groups like National Right to Life Committee, which have been pushing a more careful, incremental approach toward ending legal abortion, worry that the personhood movement risks undermining their progress toward the ultimate goal. Meanwhile, personhood advocates accuse groups like NRLC of selling out the ultimate goal in the service of small steps that they claim will never lead to the full criminalization of abortion.

A few months ago, we published a series of posts exploring the anti-choice personhood movement, its history, and how it is confronting a changing political landscape. People For the American Way Foundation has adapted that series into a report, “The Personhood Movement: Where It Comes From And What It Means for the Future of Choice,” which was released today. 

As the national debate over a NRLC-backed federal bill banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy have shown, one of the major sticking points between the two factions is whether the anti-choice movement should accept “compromises” that exempt women who have been raped from abortion bans. From the report’s introduction:

The largest and best-funded groups opposing abortion rights have, over the past several years, achieved astounding success in chipping away at women’s access to legal abortion in the United States. But these successes, Personhood Alliance’s founders maintain, are too small and have come at a grave cost.

In seeking mainstream approval for anti-choice politics, personhood advocates believe, groups like the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and Americans United for Life (AUL) have adopted a secular tone and downplayed their Christian origins. In focusing on drawing attention to issues like late-term abortion, they may have won some support for the cause but have done little to end the procedures they targeted. In seeking incremental successes, personhood advocates argue, the movement has given up on making a moral argument for the humanity of fertilized eggs and fetuses and lost sight of its larger goal of eliminating legal abortion entirely.

But the greatest betrayal in the eyes of these personhood advocates is the willingness of major anti-choice groups to endorse legislation that includes exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest. The personhood movement’s leaders contend that these political concessions are not only immoral and intellectually inconsistent, but also threaten to undermine the movement’s goals in the long term.

The personhood movement provides an interesting look into the bitter “incrementalist vs. immediatist” divide that has split the anti-choice movement since before Roe v. Wade. Both sides want an end to legal abortion; neither trusts the other to get there. But in the meantime, each is making progress in making it more difficult and more dangerous for women to access safe and legal reproductive care.

PFAW Foundation

The Personhood Divide: The Anti-Choice Movement's Bitter Feud Over The Best Way To End Legal Abortion

The “personhood” movement — those who seek sweeping bans on all abortion and common types of birth control in an effort to confront Roe v. Wade head-on — is hugely divisive within the anti-choice community. Groups like National Right to Life Committee, which have been pushing a more careful, incremental approach toward ending legal abortion, worry that the personhood movement risks undermining their progress toward the ultimate goal. Meanwhile, personhood advocates accuse groups like NRLC of selling out the ultimate goal in the service of small steps that they claim will never lead to the full criminalization of abortion.

A few months ago, we published a series of posts exploring the anti-choice personhood movement, its history, and how it is confronting a changing political landscape. People For the American Way Foundation has adapted that series into a report, “The Personhood Movement: Where It Comes From And What It Means for the Future of Choice,” which was released today. 

As the national debate over a NRLC-backed federal bill banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy have shown, one of the major sticking points between the two factions is whether the anti-choice movement should accept “compromises” that exempt women who have been raped from abortion bans. From the report’s introduction:

The largest and best-funded groups opposing abortion rights have, over the past several years, achieved astounding success in chipping away at women’s access to legal abortion in the United States. But these successes, Personhood Alliance’s founders maintain, are too small and have come at a grave cost.

In seeking mainstream approval for anti-choice politics, personhood advocates believe, groups like the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and Americans United for Life (AUL) have adopted a secular tone and downplayed their Christian origins. In focusing on drawing attention to issues like late-term abortion, they may have won some support for the cause but have done little to end the procedures they targeted. In seeking incremental successes, personhood advocates argue, the movement has given up on making a moral argument for the humanity of fertilized eggs and fetuses and lost sight of its larger goal of eliminating legal abortion entirely.

But the greatest betrayal in the eyes of these personhood advocates is the willingness of major anti-choice groups to endorse legislation that includes exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest. The personhood movement’s leaders contend that these political concessions are not only immoral and intellectually inconsistent, but also threaten to undermine the movement’s goals in the long term.

The personhood movement provides an interesting look into the bitter “incrementalist vs. immediatist” divide that has split the anti-choice movement since before Roe v. Wade. Both sides want an end to legal abortion; neither trusts the other to get there. But in the meantime, each is making progress in making it more difficult and more dangerous for women to access safe and legal reproductive care.

The Personhood Movement: Where It Comes From and What It Means For the Future of Choice

The largest and best-funded groups opposing abortion rights have, over the past several years, achieved astounding success in chipping away at women’s access to legal abortion in the United States. But these successes, Personhood Alliance’s founders maintain, are too small and have come at a grave cost.

Colorado Anti-Choice Groups Split Over Reaction To Attack On Pregnant Woman

Last month, when a pregnant woman in Colorado was brutally attacked and her unborn child cut from her womb, the state’s influential fetal “personhood” movement saw a grisly opportunity.

Over the past few weeks, the Colorado-based Personhood USA has been touting a recent YouGov poll finding broad support for allowing prosecutors to press murder charges in similar violent attacks on pregnant women that lead to the death of a fetus. Although Colorado imposes heavy penalties on crimes against pregnant women, it has stopped short of adopting a “fetal homicide” law categorizing such attacks as murder.

The problem for personhood advocates is that while the general public is ready to throw the book at people who attack pregnant women, they do not share the personhood movement’s goal of criminalizing abortion. While 76 percent of respondents in YouGov’s poll wanted to charge a pregnant woman’s attacker with murder, only 17 percent wanted a complete ban on abortion.

As we explored in a recent series on the personhood movement, anti-choice groups have attempted to use fetal homicide laws as a back door to imposing abortion restrictions, using them to build up a body of law establishing “personhood” for fetuses. After two unsuccessful attempts to establish fetal personhood by ballot measure in Colorado, last year Personhood USA pushed a modified measure focusing on crimes against pregnant women. The measure failed, but less badly than had the group’s previous attempts.

The personhood movement’s insistence on advocating for the total criminalization of abortion, with no middle ground, has put it at odds with the most influential anti-choice groups, which share the same goal but are willing to take a more incremental approach to get there.

This conflict is playing out once again in Colorado, where the Republican state senate president has introduced a fetal homicide bill with an explicit exemption providing for abortion rights. The state affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) supports the bill, but Personhood USA and Colorado Right to Life — which was kicked out of NRLC in 2007 — oppose it, saying that language preventing the prosecution of pregnant women and medical professionals undermines the ultimate anti-abortion goal.

The Denver Post reported on the split this weekend:

Personhood USA, an organization that pushed the ballot initiatives, opposes the bill because the language protects abortions — aligning it with the state's Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro Choice groups, which are concerned that it could threaten the legality of abortions.

And two prominent Colorado anti-abortion organizations are split on the measure.

"We believe that we want to protect every baby we can," said Sarah Zagorski, the executive director of Colorado Citizens for Life, which is an affiliate of the National Right to Life organization. "I don't think (the bill) says anything about how we view abortion right now."

But Colorado Right to Life's Rosalinda Lozano sees it differently.

"It was an opportunity for (Cadman) to really stand strong on life, and the way it is written he is actually affirming abortion," she said. "The Republican Party is really trying to get away from the life issue. ... They are preparing for 2016 and this is not an issue they want to fight about in a presidential election."

C-Fam 'Mission' in Africa: Spreading Anti-Family Planning, Anti-Gay Gospel

There are a lot of challenges facing the people of Nigeria and Kenya, including campaigns of terror being waged by Islamist militants with Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab. But that’s not the focus of the “mission trip” for which C-Fam’s Austin Ruse is urgently raising money this week.

No, Ruse and the Center for Family and Human Rights (formerly known as the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute) are raising money to warn against “UN radicals and the Obama administration” and the “bloody, soul-destroying” consequences of family planning, reproductive choice, and LGBT equality:

As you read this, two C-Fam staffers are on the ground in Africa; one in Kenya and one in Nigeria. 
 
They have traveled so far and into such dangerous situations in order to take our message to the African people:

·         NO UN-STYLE FAMILY PLANNING

·         NO GLOBAL RIGHT TO ABORTION

·         NO SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

The people of Africa are under severe pressure from UN radicals, the Obama administration, and the European Union to accept the ideology that has led to millions of abortion deaths and deaths from disease here in the United States and in Europe. 
 
C-Fam is in Nigeria and Kenya this week to raise the alarm. We are there to let our African brothers and sisters know what the UN radicals and the Obama administration has planned for them and what the bloody, soul-destroying result will be. 
 
While in Nigeria and Kenya our fearsome team will meet with the Catholic bishops, with activists and, we hope, government officials.

It’s not as if marriage equality is about to break out in either of these countries. Homosexual sex is a criminal act in Kenya, where last year a fringe party proposed a bill to allow the stoning of gay foreigners. Nigeria’s outgoing president signed a harsh anti-gay law last year that has led to persecution and violence against LGBT people.

Last year, Ruse energetically defended Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law and suggested that critics of the increasingly anti-democratic Vladimir Putin were “stuck in cold war amber” and consumed by a “visceral hatred of all things Russian. He even dismissed concerns about Putin’s attack on freedom of the press, saying Russians had no “historical memory” of that kind of freedom.  

An Inside Look At How Taxpayer-Funded Crisis Pregnancy Centers Mislead Women About Contraception And Abortion

Every year, millions of taxpayer dollars go toward funding Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), organizations that often use misleading information to draw women away from seeking abortions. Yesterday in Cosmopolitan, Meaghan Winter published an inside account of the annual conference of one of the biggest coalitions of CPCs, Heartbeat International, revealing the extent to which CPCs are willing to mislead their clients in order to prevent them from accessing abortion.

Winter quotes Frank Pavone of Priests for Life warning that “abortion poisons everything” for women:

[A]t least 10 conference sessions focused on the "risks" of premarital sex, contraception, and abortion. During the panel "What's So Bad About Abortion?" Janet Morana and Father Frank Pavone, of the organization Priests for Life, asserted that abortion causes an array of spiritual, psychological, and medical problems.

Pavone said, "Abortion poisons everything" because after an abortion, a woman thinks, "Others can't possibly esteem me, child-killer that I am." Those women, he said, suffer a "failure to bond" with future children, often thinking, "I killed one child; I'm afraid that something bad will happen to the next one." He and the other speakers in the session said abortion increases a woman's risk of miscarriage, cancer, substance abuse, suicide, and domestic violence, among other problems.

"The fact that [abortion] dismembers a child, the fact that it goes against everything the human body and human psyche are meant to do when a woman is pregnant is the cause, is the root of all of these other physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual problems," Pavone said.

Conference speakers also gave false information about the supposed risks of contraception:

The importance of framing abortion and contraception through "risks" also came up in the talk given by Bri Laycock, the director of Option Line. In her session, "Answering the Hard Calls and Tough Questions," Laycock recommended that staff answer callers' questions about medical and surgical abortions by saying, "Both options can pose risks to your health," without saying the center is against abortion. She recommended pregnancy center staff present select medical information and disclaimers from the fine print on pharmaceutical packaging to present using contraception as a high-risk gamble. When callers ask about emergency contraception, for example, even if there might be an opportunity to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, Laycock said staff can just say it's "not 100 percent effective." She recommended telling callers, "You might not be at a fertile time in your cycle, and it's not worth taking hormones for no reason."

Throughout the conference, I asked at least a dozen pregnancy center staff if seeing so many unplanned pregnancies ever tempted them to suggest birth control pills or IUDs. Again and again, they mentioned claims, which have been debunked, that abortion sterilizes and birth control pills cause cancer. "All those chemicals can be dangerous," one staff person told me, and she seemed to believe it.

One piece of advice given to attendees was to maintain two websites for their CPCs, one for potential donors touting their anti-choice credentials, and another for potential clients obscuring them:

In her session, "Do I Really Need Two Sites?" [Heartbeat International’s Lauren] Chenoweth explained that, yes, in fact, pregnancy centers do. She recommended that centers operate one that describes an anti-abortion mission to secure donors and another that lists medical information to attract women seeking contraception, counseling, or abortion. An audience member offered that her center swapped out an anti-abortion-seeming name for Pregnancy Options. "That is an excellent point," Chenoweth replied. "Use a more attractive name to someone who is seeking services."

Finally, Winter writes, the CPC leaders at the conference put a strong emphasis not just on luring women away from abortion, but on bringing them into the church:

Over the course of the three days of the conference, I chatted with a few dozen pregnancy center workers. Multiple women told me it was their job to protect women from abortion as "an adult tells a child not to touch a hot stove." Another oft-repeated catchphrase was, "Save the mother, save the baby," shorthand for many pregnancy center workers' belief that the most effective way to prevent abortion is to convert women. In keeping with Evangelicalism's central tenets, many pregnancy center staff believe that those living "without Christ"— including Christians having premarital sex — must accept Christ to be born again, redeem their sins, and escape spiritual pain. Carrying a pregnancy to term "redeems" a "broken" woman, multiple staff people told me.

One conference attendee, a center volunteer in her early 30s, told me that she has protested outside her state's only surgical abortion clinic for several years. "I don't think it's disrespectful to shout, 'You're killing your baby,'" she said. "That's not saying, 'You dirty whore.'" But she prefers counseling at the center: "When I started, I remember thinking, This is so awesome! I don't have to feel mean, but I can still talk to women!"

Read Winter’s full account over at Cosmopolitan .

Radical Anti-Choice Group Heads To Alabama To Support 'Poet, Warrior, Statesman' Roy Moore

Operation Save America, the radical anti-choice group that grew out of the original Operation Rescue, will be holding a multi-day event in Montgomery, Alabama, in June to express its support for Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s activism against marriage equality and abortion rights.

OSA head Rusty Lee Thomas writes in a press release today that the event will bring together “hundreds of gentle Christians from across the nation” for a march drawing on “the historical lessons of Birmingham, Montgomery, and Selma.”

A description of the event on the group’s website boasts that “[f]or years, Operation Save America has stood faithfully with Chief Justice Roy Moore, a poet, warrior, statesmen [sic].” It specifically praises Moore’s work to develop a legal framework to support radical anti-choice “personhood” laws and his ongoing standoff with the federal courts over marriage equality.

(In case you weren’t familiar with Moore’s poetry, here’s a representative example.)

OSA:

We are praying for God to record His name in Montgomery and by His Spirit bid His people come to bring the Gospel of the Kingdom to the gates of hell (Abortion mills in Alabama). They will not prevail against the Church of the living God (Matthew 16:18). They never have and they never will. Jesus is Lord!

For years, Operation Save America has stood faithfully with Chief Justice Roy Moore, a poet, warrior, statesmen. Through his many battles, we supported his righteous stands in the face of persecution and tyranny. Today, the Alabama Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Moore continues to stand against injustice and once again we are going to come alongside to help.

Moore, along with Justice Tom Parker, have rendered Decisions from the court that directly or indirectly have taken on Roe vs. Wade. Currently, Moore is acting faithfully as a Lower Magistrate to resist “Gay Marriage” in his state. He is taking another just stand and once again, we will stand with him.

Alabama is also working on establishing “Personhood” for the preborn child who is made in the image of God. Alabamians are willing to stand upon the self-evident truth established by God’s Word and we our coming to stand with them.

There are at least four death camps in Alabama still applying their grisly trade to murder babies made in the image of God. This evil defiles the land and invokes God’s judgments upon us. We are coming to stand in the gap and make up the hedge. We want to give God a reason to show mercy in the midst of the American holocaust.

It’s not surprising that Operation Save America, one of the most radical anti-choice groups in the country, would find ideological kinship with Justice Moore.

Thomas has claimed that the September 11, 2001 attacks were divine punishment for legal abortion. OSA’s former director, Flip Benham (father of the new Religious Right martyrs David and Jason Benham), also used the organization to promote a fringe right agenda:

As leader of OSA, Benham has condemned the interfaith Sandy Hook memorial, protested in front of mosques while shouting “Jesus Hates Muslims” and blamed the Aurora shooting on the Democratic Party, which he said promotes a “culture of death.”

He has also protested LGBT pride events, interrupted church services during a sermon by “ sodomite Episcopalian bishop” Gene Robinson and was found “guilty of stalking a Charlotte abortion doctor after passing out hundreds of ‘wanted’ posters with the physician's name and photo on it.”

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