Anti-Choice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Troy Newman Struggles To Explain Position On Abortion Punishment: 'You Have To Draw The Line Somewhere'

Troy Newman, the head of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue and co-chair of a “pro-life” coalition for Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, has drawn some heat for a book he wrote in the early 2000s that argued that the U.S. has affronted God by failing to execute abortion providers.

Newman says that he was not actually arguing for the execution of abortion providers but was rather building up an Old Testament case that he then superseded with a New Testament message of mercy and redemption, an argument that he made again in an interview with Alan Colmes yesterday.

Newman, however, struggled to explain to Colmes his case that he doesn’t want a legal punishment for women who have abortions — whom he refers to in his book as “contract killers” — but does want abortion providers to be tried for murder.

“Yes, abortion is murder,” he told Colmes. “You punish the murderers. You punish the murderers, Alan, who are the abortionists.”

“If you’re hiring the murderer, wouldn’t you also be punished?” Colmes asked.

“No, traditionally in America, we’ve never punished a woman because she’s a secondary victim, the first victim is the innocent baby,” Newman responded. He later argued that it’s “more than likely” that a woman who has an abortion has been “coerced.”

When Colmes pressed further, Newman said that “you have to draw the line someplace” and that he draws the line at “punishing the abortionists” and “the likes of Planned Parenthood.”

“What should the punishment be for an abortion provider?” Colmes asked.

“Well, if it’s murder, then they should serve time,” Newman responded, “Whether it’s first, second, third degree, that’s for the courts to decide.”

He added that he was “against the death penalty” and that “life in prison” would be the proper punishment for an abortion provider.

Frank Pavone: Women Who Have Had Abortions 'Are Already In Prison'

Fr. Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life, sent out a press statement today seeking to “correct the record” on reports that Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump had blown off a planned conference call with a group of anti-choice activists he organized yesterday.

Pavone declined to go into details, but said that the Trump campaign did not “break any commitment, promise, appointment, or expectation” and that he has extended to Trump a “standing invitation to dialogue.”

Pavone also addressed Trump’s recent controversial comments that women who have abortions should face “some form of punishment,” which the candidate quickly retracted before taking several additional contradictory positions on abortion rights over the course of a week.

Pavone said that his group believes that the legal punishment for abortion “should be for the abortionist, not the baby's mom,” but claimed that women who “have had abortions are already in prison.” (He meant this metaphorically, although it is also literally true.)

“We don't aim to imprison them, we aim to liberate them from the shame and guilt and wounds abortion brings,” he said.

He added that people like Trump who believe in punishing women for abortion are “much easier to bring to the right position” than those who are pro-choice:

Much has been made of his recent comments about who should be punished for abortion. As for punishing the woman, those who have had abortions are already in prison. As the Pastoral Director of the world's largest ministry of healing after abortion, Rachel's Vineyard, and also of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, by which those who have had abortions speak out about their experiences, I know this very well.

We don't aim to imprison them, we aim to liberate them from the shame and guilt and wounds abortion brings. The punishment should be for the abortionist, not the baby's mom. I have not spoken to Mr. Trump about this, but do look forward to doing so, and I am confident that he will listen to the voices and testimonies of women who suffer from abortion.

But Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have also made comments recently on abortion, including in a Town Hall on Fox News with Bret Baier. Sanders could name no circumstance, and Hillary hardly any, in which they thought it would be OK to make a single abortion illegal. That position is out of step with the American people. And neither of them has corrected or edited those comments.

Those who -- mistakenly -- think there should be a punishment for the women are much easier to bring to the right position than those who take the even more outrageous, offensive, and disastrous position -- like Sanders, Clinton, and the Democratic platform -- that the dismemberment and decapitation of children should continue in a practically unlimited way.

In the former position, there's an acknowledgment that society has to do something about the massive holocaust of children. In the latter position, there is a blatant disregard for the most fundamental right, the right to life.

Updated: Trump To Speak To Group That Threatens To Infiltrate Planned Parenthood

Update: Trump reportedly failed to call in to the Priests for Life conference, even further confusing his already confused place in the “pro-life” movement.

Update II: In a statement on Thursday, Pavone said that reports of Trump's snub were "incorrect" and that neither "Mr. Trump nor anyone associated with him or his campaign cancelled a meeting or phone call with pro-life leaders, nor did they break any commitment, promise, appointment, or expectation." 

Add this to the growing list of Donald Trump’s contradictory positions on reproductive rights: Trump, who has repeatedly said that Planned Parenthood does “very good work for millions of women,” is scheduled to speak today to an anti-choice organization that has been threatening to help infiltrate the women’s health provider in order to take it down.

Trump, facing an outcry from anti-abortion activists after taking several contradictory positions on abortion rights over the course of one week, will reportedly address a forum organized by Priests for Life tonight.

The director of Priests for Life, Fr. Frank Pavone, has been on the frontline of the anti-abortion movement for decades and is currently leading an “ongoing campaign of prayer and fasting with the specific intention of ending abortion in the United States and ending the evils perpetrated by Planned Parenthood.”

In January, Pavone helped organized a protest in front of a new Planned Parenthood clinic that is under construction in Washington. The most anticipated speaker at the event was David Daleiden, the activist behind the series of videos falsely smearing Planned Parenthood for supposedly “selling baby parts.” At the protest, Pavone boasted of the work of fellow anti-choice activist Mark Crutcher, who is hoping to train an “army” of activists like Daleiden to infiltrate Planned Parenthood clinics in an effort to dig up dirt about the organization … and to intimidate providers in the process.

“The troubles for Planned Parenthood have only just begun,” Pavone promised at the rally.

He added a “message to Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry”:

“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.”

Pavone, like Daleiden, has close ties to the “rescue” movement, the leaders of confrontational protests outside of abortion clinics. The protest that Pavone helped lead in front of the Washington Planned Parenthood clinic in January forced a nearby school to close for two days.

That Trump is attending Pavone’s event in an attempt to make peace with pro-lifers somewhat undermines his praise for Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion-related services.

Ted Cruz Tries To Downplay His Anti-Choice Extremism

Last weekend, the National Right to Life Committee’s board of directors voted to support Ted Cruz in the remaining Republican presidential primaries. A post on the group’s website yesterday said:

National Right to Life believes Sen. Cruz is the only candidate for president who has always been pro-life, who has a 100% pro-life voting record with National Right to Life, who can win the Republican nomination, and who can defeat pro-abortion Hillary Clinton in November.

Cruz spent an hour with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly last night. The first audience question came from a woman who described herself as a pro-choice Republican who was afraid that Cruz would make abortion illegal nationwide if he became president. Those are extremely well-founded fears; Cruz is a zealous advocate for the criminalization of abortion. Last night he said that he sees Roe v. Wade as judicial activism, not settled law. Kelly noted for the record, and Cruz reaffirmed, that he wants to ban abortions without any exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

Cruz then engaged in a bit of disingenuous rhetorical misdirection, saying that if Roe v. Wade were not the law of the land, questions about abortion and exceptions “would be up to the people of Wisconsin to decide.” But of course Cruz doesn’t really want decisions about abortion being made at the state level as they were before Roe v. Wade. He has publicly supported a constitutional amendment to ban abortion nationwide. And he doesn’t really even think a constitutional amendment is necessary. He said a few months ago that Congress could “absolutely” get around Roe v. Wade just by passing a law declaring that fertilized eggs have all the legal rights of people under the 14th Amendment. That would not only criminalize all abortion nationwide but would almost certainly make some forms of birth control illegal and leave women open to prosecution for miscarriages deemed suspicious by local authorities.

Cruz also criticized Donald Trump’s recent comments, quickly reversed, that women who have abortions should be punished. “No conservative actually believes that,” said Cruz. Of course, Cruz is lying.

 

Kevin Swanson Agrees With Trump: Abortion 'Ought To Be A Criminal Action'

Donald Trump’s recent comment about needing “some sort of punishment” for women who have abortions threw many in the anti-choice movement into damage control mode. But some anti-choice activists have been cheering Trump on, including, not exactly surprisingly, radical Colorado pastor Kevin Swanson, who said on his radio program today that abortion should be considered “a criminal action” by a woman.

Swanson, who a few months ago hosted Trump’s main Republican presidential rival, Sen. Ted Cruz, at a campaign forum in Iowa, explained that the principle of lex talionis, or “an eye for an eye,” means that women who have abortions should indeed be prosecuted.

“The answer to this,” he said, “is the lex talionis does bring out that if a hazardous condition is created such that a child would be likely to die, whether in the womb or outside of the womb, there ought to be some level of prosecution going on. In that case, it may be just a fine or a prison sentence of some sort. But the principle of the matter is that it’s a criminal action to kill a child, to murder a child, it ought to be a criminal action. And, now, there ought to be, I believe, some leeway as to what sort of prosecution, what sort of sentence might be used in that case.”

He added, however, that “the culpability of the woman might be mitigated somewhat” by the “many forces around her that are pressing her towards this decision.”

“Yes, in many cases, it’s the abortionist, it’s the boyfriend, it’s the mother, it’s the father, it’s — somebody is pressing that woman to kill her child,” he said. “That ought to be brought into the conversation.”

He added that “organizations like Planned Parenthood” are “extremely culpable” when it comes to abortion.

“In other words,” he said, “we need to take care of those that are most culpable first and foremost, and that would be the abortionists and the pro-abortion organizations that engage in as much of the propaganda that we’ve seen in the public schools and elsewhere. So if we deal with it at that level first, we won’t have to deal with it at the level of the average and ordinary woman who has to deal with the decision.”

Trump's 'Punishment' Comments Have Caught Anti-Choice Leaders Flat-Footed

Donald Trump’s recent comments — since walked back — about the need to have “some form of punishment” for women who have abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned, even though those women would be forced to “illegal places” for the procedure, caused the anti-choice movement to go into damage control as all of its carefully honed talking points were dismantled by the man who may be their presidential candidate.

And it turned out that anti-choice leaders are so used to deflecting tough questions about the results of recriminalizing abortion that, when forced to face those questions head-on, they don’t really have any good answers.

Yesterday, Marjorie Dannenfelser, the head of the Susan B. Anthony List, attempted to deflect concerns about women seeking illegal abortions if Roe is overturned by claiming, unbelievably, that illegal abortion wouldn’t be a problem because desperate women would be won over by anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers instead.

Then, today, Clarke Forsythe, a longtime attorney for Americans United for Life who is now apparently serving as the organization's acting president, published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times explaining that women need not worry because, if Roe is overturned, abortion will still be legal in many states. Those states that then want to enact abortion bans, he writes, will probably do it in a way that exempts women from prosecution:

The claim that women will be jailed for abortion when Roe is overturned rests on a second myth: that the Supreme Court's change of heart will result in the immediate re-criminalization of abortion.

But if Roe were overturned today, abortion would be legal well into the second trimester in at least 42 to 43 states tomorrow (and likely all 50 states) for the simple reason that nearly all of the state abortion prohibitions have been either repealed or are blocked by state court versions of Roe.

Extensive practical law enforcement experience in many states, over many years, is what led prosecutors not to target women. After Roe is overturned, that experience will certainly be influential with state policymakers who wish to effectively enforce abortion law.

Because we recognize that abortion is bad for both mother and child, pro-life leaders do not support the prosecution of women and will not push for such a policy when Roe is overturned. (Obviously, like Trump, any single legislator can spout their idiosyncratic ideas.)

Forsythe also argues that in states that did recriminalize abortion after the overturning of Roe, any criminal penalties on women would probably not be enforced because women who have abortions have traditionally been seen as a “victim” of “male coercion”:

Before the Supreme Court's 1973 decision in Roe vs. Wade — which legalized abortion for any reason, at any time of pregnancy — state abortion laws targeted abortionists (those who performed abortions), not women.

The states understood that the point of abortion law is effective enforcement against abortionists; that the woman is the second victim of the abortionist; and that prosecuting women is counterproductive to the goal of effective enforcement of the law against abortionists.

Since time immemorial, the law has recognized that male coercion, abandonment or indifference has been at the center of most abortions.

Granted, as many as 20 state statutes technically made it a crime for the woman to participate in her own abortion. But these were not enforced.

Forsythe is one of the most thoughtful legal strategists working in the anti-abortion movement today. And the best answer he can come up with to the question of what would happen to women if Roe were to be overturned tomorrow is that abortion wouldn’t actually be recriminalized in many places and even in places where it was, lawmakers would probably spare women.

Of course, the anti-choice movement’s entire goal is to ban the procedure nationwide.

Donald Trump’s comments on abortion were terrifying. But the GOP frontrunner did a public service by exposing that, when it comes to the tough questions about banning abortion, anti-choice groups are completely unprepared.

Religious Right Legal Leader: Of Course States Could Punish Women For Abortion

When Donald Trump said this week that, if abortion is recriminalized, women who have abortions should face “some form of punishment,” the anti-choice movement went into damage control mode and Trump quickly attempted to walk back his comments.

But not every abortion rights opponent got the memo about not touching the third rail of anti-abortion politics. Televangelist Pat Robertson, for instance, seemed genuinely perplexed by the issue, saying that while it “does seem a bit draconian” to punish women for abortion, “if somebody says abortion is murder, then what do you do to somebody who commits murder?”

Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, the Religious Right legal group founded by Robertson, similarly seemed to have not gotten the memo, explaining on his radio program yesterday that if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, of course states would be free to impose punishments on women who get abortions, especially if they view embryos and fetuses as “persons” under the law. Sekulow also hinted that he might agree with such a policy for women who use abortion for “birth control.”

While the current federal ban on “partial-birth” abortion protects women from prosecution, Sekulow explained, if Roe were overturned, states would be free to impose whatever abortion penalties they wanted.

“That’s a different question from whether you legally could have statutes, if Roe v. Wade was overturned, that criminalized the abortion activity,” he said, “including anybody that voluntarily — not coercion, not life of the mother, not rape or incest, because those would all be defenses — but could a state say if a woman voluntarily had a partial-birth abortion that that act could be criminalized, could a state say that? Sure, a state could say that. And if you believe that the child’s a person, well, I’m not so sure that that’s contradictory.”

Sekulow added that “politically we always focus on the abortion provider, not the woman” but “that’s a different question than legally” so, legally, “a state could say that anybody involved in the process is committing a crime, if you believe it’s a person.”

Sekulow’s son, Jordan, a cohost of the show, noted: “We’re talking hypotheticals here, I think it’s a long road until we get to that point where those kind of abortion laws would be potentially in place.”

“There’s a political question whether they should be,” Sekulow responded, “I think that’s a legitimate point. But the legal issue is not improbable.”

Later in the program, the Sekulows and their cohost, ACLJ government affairs director Nathanael Bennett, took a call from a listener who said that Trump’s comments were encouraging to her because while she doubted that the candidate was truly against abortion rights, the comments show “at least he’s thinking pro-life and would be willing to take that stance.”

Sekulow responded by repeating his point that Trump was not “legally incorrect” in saying there could be punishments for women if abortion becomes illegal.

“If we believe the child is a person,” he said, “in other words, the personhood of the child, that should be protected under the Constitution, that someone that knowingly, willfully and voluntarily takes the life of that person could be — not should be, could be — held culpable under criminal laws of the various states, that would not be illegal or extraconstitutional.”

“Now, I’m not saying that’s the right policy,” he added, “because a lot of us view that women are forced into coerced situations, but the reality is — and let me just drop a hypothetical, a woman’s having her third — and this happens — third partial-birth abortion, partial-birth abortion’s illegal and the state of California says, ‘You know what, anybody that participates in a partial-birth abortion, unless it’s the life of the mother, rape or incest, is a culpable criminal.’ That’s not illegal. A state could do that. I’m not saying that’s the right political decision, I’m not even saying that’s the right moral decision. I’m saying legally, was what Trump was saying legally incorrect? No, it wasn’t legally incorrect. Politically he had to take it back, but legally it was not incorrect.”

Jordan Sekulow and Bennett said that while they had seen some “positive” responses to Trump’s comments from their conservative audience members, including one who wrote in to say she had a “new respect for Donald Trump,” the comments would become a political liability for him in the general election.

Bennett said Trump’s comments had given him “some heartburn” because “we want to win hearts and minds on this.”

“You want to know why it gives you heartburn?” Sekulow demanded. “You want to know why it gives everybody heartburn? I’m going to say it and this is going to be controversial. You know why it really gives everybody heartburn? Here’s the real reason, and some of you are going to really disagree with this: because a lot of people really don’t believe the unborn child is a person.”

He then went on to suggest that he does believe that “the unborn child is a person” and thus might be open to punishments for women who use abortion as “birth control.”

“Because if you really believe,” he said, “that the unborn child’s a person — and as I’ve looked at my grandchildren’s ultrasounds — you would say, if somebody voluntarily did this for the purposes of birth control —which is generally what it is, is an inconvenience, not medically necessary, not life of the mother, not incest or rape — you think to yourself, if it’s really a person, what’s so, what’s so — but we aren’t there yet politically and we’re not there maybe even legally or morally, and that may be shame on us in one sense.

“I’m not saying it would be the right policy, by the way, to do this, because I believe politics are the art of the possible and I agree, Than, we want to win hearts and minds. But the problem is, if you really logically look at this, the fact of the matter is, if it’s a person for goodness sake, and I believe it is, the rules would be different. For any other person that somebody killed, they’d be held culpable, either as the primary person or the accessory to the crime. So this is not, it’s not craziness what’s being said here, and I think that’s why on social media you’re seeing kind of a mixed reaction.”

Just in case the audience didn’t get the point, the Sekulows returned to the point later in the program, as Jay insisted that “the kerfuffle that Donald Trump’s in” is because “he’s not familiar enough with the language or the nuance” of the anti-abortion movement, not because he’s “legally wrong.”

Jordan added that the anti-choice movement’s opposition to legal punishment for women is indeed a “policy position” and not necessarily the legal result of banning abortion. “On the legal side of it, though, you see why the reason would be, if you make something illegal then you could punish, and so ultimately that would be up to the policymakers to decide,” he said.

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.” 

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