personhood

Personhood Leader: 'The Statewide Personhood Ballot Measure Is Dead For Now'

Gualberto Garcia Jones, the prominent anti-choice activist who drafted all three losing “fetal personhood” ballot measures in Colorado, is calling on his movement to abandon state-level ballot initiatives in favor of local initiatives that might have a better chance at passing.

Jones’ post-election analysis is likely to exacerbate an already bitter split within the personhood movement. Jones, who previously worked for the Colorado-based Personhood USA — which is dedicated to pushing state-level initiatives — recently defected to the newly created Personhood Alliance, a network of “personhood” groups that announced before the election that it would be pursuing a local-level strategy. Although Personhood USA at first supported Personhood Alliance, it soon distanced itself, accusing the new group of infringing on its territory.

In an article on Friday for LifeSiteNews, Jones followed up on his prediction that last week’s elections would “either collapse or ignite” the personhood movement. Huge losses on personhood amendments in Colorado and North Dakota, he wrote, mean that statewide ballot initiatives “dead for now.” Rather than fighting for personhood at the state level, Jones wrote, the movement should start “engaging the enemy in municipalities and counties that we know we control.”

The rest of conservative America may be celebrating, but for the Personhood movement, it is time for some sober analysis.

Tuesday’s election results were certainly not good for pro-abortion Democrats, but they were even worse for the Personhood movement. I have to admit that my own predictions were off and I am sorely disappointed.

After the defeat of Measure 1 in North Dakota by an unexpectedly wide vote of 64-36 and of the Brady Amendment in Colorado by an almost identical margin of 65-35, it isn’t an overstatement to say that the statewide personhood ballot measure is dead for now.

Had the Brady Amendment performed just a little better and the North Dakota amendment passed or been close to passing, then the claim could be made that the movement was growing and that there was a realistic chance of passing a personhood amendment in another state in the near future. As it is, the crushing defeat of the North Dakota amendment and the lackluster improvement in Colorado should make Personhood supporters stop to think about the strategy going forward.

Thoughtful reconsideration of the strategy of the Personhood movement is what the movement needs right now.

It should be noted that the same goes for the entire pro-life movement. The narrow victory of the Tennessee amendment that safeguards the right to legislatively address abortion, is a victory, but the bar is set painfully low.

These initial years of the personhood movement have taught us a lot. I believe that we now know how to fight to win against Planned Parenthood. And the key is being able to control the battleground.

When you look at electoral maps of the country, it is readily evident that majorities in almost every metropolitan area of the country are opposed to our worldview. These metropolitan areas are also the major media centers and accumulate large percentages of the voting population in every state.

Right now, fighting the abortion industry at the state level is akin to having lined up a battalion of colonists against the well-trained and well armed redcoats. We need to start engaging in more asymmetrical tactics, and this means engaging the enemy in municipalities and counties that we know we control.

This can be done at the legislative and political level, as Georgia Right to Life and other groups have done by the endorsement of state officials, or it can be done by engaging in municipal ballot measures.

Local laws deal with many powers that touch upon the personhood of the preborn, from local health and building codes to local law enforcement such as child abuse prevention. It is time to establish the recognition of universal human personhood into these laws.

Republicans Solve Problem Of The Personhood Amendment's Unpopularity By Lying About The Personhood Amendment

For an example of the dilemma that today’s Republican Party finds itself in when it comes to abortion rights and radical “personhood” laws, look no further than Mitt Romney.

After running as a pro-choice Republican in Massachusetts, Romney transformed into a “severely conservative,” anti-choice presidential candidate, then ultimately came full circle when he closed out his 2012 campaign with TV ads trumpeting his support for abortion rights in certain cases.

Perhaps Romney’s advisers figured out that the candidate’s opposition to abortion rights would prove unpopular among the general electorate. Exit polls in 2012 showed that 59 percent of voters supported legal abortion.

It turned out that Romney’s professed commitment to “get rid” of Planned Parenthood and pledges to support state and national “personhood amendments” — which would ban abortion in all cases and also outlaw common forms of birth control by giving personhood rights to zygotes — weren’t exactly winning positions.

Several Republican politicians in this election cycle have followed Romney’s lead by painstakingly trying to paint themselves as the real pro-choice candidates, despite having a long history of opposing abortion rights. Still others are flat-out denying that they support extreme anti-choice legislation like ‘personhood’ bills…even when they are on the record supporting them.

Take Cory Gardner, the congressman running for U.S. Senate in Colorado, for instance.

With the personhood amendment on the Colorado ballot for the fourth time this year, it must have been just a coincidence that Gardner renounced his support for the unpopular measure just three weeks after he announced his U.S. Senate bid. In his previous races for the U.S. House, Gardner boasted of circulating petitions in favor of the personhood amendment, and as a congressman he cosponsored a federal personhood bill.

Despite claiming that he is now a personhood opponent, Gardner remains to this day a cosponsor of the federal personhood legislation.

Instead of explaining the discrepancy, Gardner just claims that the personhood bill he is cosponsoring, the “Life at Conception Act,” simply doesn’t exist. As one journalist interviewing Gardner pointed out, he seems to be alone in that view: supporters and opponents of the personhood movement alike, including the authors of the bill in question, disagree with his unique reading of the bill.

“We don’t see how the Colorado initiative and the federal bill, which supporters in Congress describe as a ‘personhood’ measure, are different on this point,” FactCheck.org reports, noting that even a spokesman for Personhood USA said “there’s no reason for [Gardner] to pull local support while he’s still 100 percent behind the federal amendment.”

Another personhood group, the National Pro-Life Alliance, similarly promotes [PDF] the “Life at Conception Act” because it “is legislation that, quite simply, would declare the unborn to be ‘persons’ under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution” and would ensure that “Roe v. Wade would be effectively reversed.”

When pressed on the issue in a debate, Gardner simply avoided the question.

As Gardner’s candidacy’s proves, sometimes it is easier to just make blatantly false statements about your position than to actually change it.

Taking a page from Gardner, Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst has also resorted to rewriting history about her record on personhood.

Ernst supported a personhood amendment in the Iowa legislature and recently committed to cosponsoring a federal personhood bill if elected. When called out by her Democratic opponent for backing a state personhood amendment, Ernst falsely claimed that it was merely a symbolic measure.

As Ed Kilgore writes, politicians like Gardner and Ernst are just trying “to weasel out of such positions the moment they become inconvenient.”

Other Republican Life at Conception Act cosponsors in the House, including Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Steve Daines of Montana, are also running for seats in the U.S. Senate. North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis also pledged to support a personhood amendment.

Tillis and Gardner, like other Republicans who are trying to come across as reproductive rights supporters, are now highlighting their support for the over-the-counter sale of birth control, which actual reproductive health activists note will actually make birth control more expensive.

Meanwhile, as personhood supporters these Republicans are backing laws that would ban several forms of contraception that they claim to want to make more accessible.

As Republicans face pressure from their anti-choice base to endorse radical “personhood” measures, they are faced with a choice: alienate staunch anti-choice conservatives or turn off moderates. Many, like Gardner and Ernst, are apparently finding that it’s easier to just lie to voters than to defend their views.

Infighting Among Anti-Choice Groups Intensifies With Personhood Trademark Feud

The effort of hardline “personhood” groups to break free of an anti-choice movement they see as too compromising is hitting a roadblock as the two major groups advocating fetal personhood are now feuding with each other .

The conservative website Z Politics printed an email this week from Personhood USA, the group that brought radical “personhood” initiatives to states like Colorado and Mississippi, announcing that it has cut ties with a new group, the National Personhood Alliance (NPA), which was founded this year by the disgruntled former Georgia chapter of the National Right to Life Committee. NPA hoped to bring together activists who believe that the strategy of groups such as NRLC to chip away at abortion rights doesn't go far enough, pledging to instead enact personhood laws that would give legal rights to zygotes.

Personhood USA initially supported the new group, as did its national spokeswoman Rebecca Kiessling, and Z Politics reports that NPA’s founder, Dan Becker, “initially gained support from Personhood USA by suggesting that the two groups work alongside one another as counterparts.” In fact, NPA is billing its first convention next month as “the founding coalition of two new national groups seeking to give voice to the pro-life battle of the 21st century.”

But the good feelings apparently didn’t last long, as Personhood USA is now accusing Becker and NPA of “trying to replace Personhood USA by using our structures and Intellectual property” — including copying its logo — and “violating Personhood USA’s trademark of Personhood.” (For what it’s worth, the only official “personhood” trademark we could find in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s database belongs to Becker’s group).

Personhood USA’s email also hints at possible legal action.

After much prayer and deliberation, the Personhood USA board is deeply sadden to inform you, that Personhood USA will not be participating in the new National Personhood Alliance.

From everything Dan Becker had told us about his vision of NPA while he was in our employment. We had great hopes that it would be a complement to the Personhood movement, a counterpart to Personhood USA. Instead it appears that National Personhood Alliance is trying to replace Personhood USA by using our structures and Intellectual property.

NPA has incorporated in Georgia as a 501c4 under the name “Personhood Inc.” and will be doing business as “Personhood”, Violating Personhood USA’s trademark of Personhood. In addition, the emails and documents we have seen indicate that they intended to use our logos, branding, and intellectual property.

One of the main concerns here is duplication of focus and confusion among all grassroots supporters.

When we contacted Dan and asked that NPA stop using our logos and name, he agreed to stop using our logos and to allow us to preview any new logos before they are implemented, but he has refused to un-incorporate Personhood Inc. and suggested we enter into arbitration.

We have worked for years developing our branding. We are known as Personhood, PersonhoodUSA, Personhood Education, Personhood PAC & have invested in promoting Personhood(insert your state). We do not want to fight over a name, but we do feel if a separate virtually identical organization is started it will hurt the movement.

We want to honor God and protect all innocent life. We want to see the movement grow and branch off in new directions. We want abortion to be abolished. We want to fight abortion, not each other.

All we ask of NPA is to create it’s own logos, names, and branding without using ours, and ask that they keep NPA as it was presented to us: a separate organization with unique purpose created to build the movement. Not a divisive, confusing organization meant to compete with Personhood USA.

New Anti-Choice Group Launches With Michael Peroutka Lecture On How Roe v. Wade Isn't Actually The Law

Last weekend, Iowa conservative talk show host Steve Deace held an event to launch Personhood Iowa, a new group he helped organize that is affiliated with the National Personhood Alliance, a new coalition of groups that seek to outlaw abortion in all cases along with banning common forms of birth control. 

In keeping with the group’s apparent mission to be so extreme that it will never attract any mainstream support, Deace invited Michael Peroutka, a regular guest on his radio show, to give an opening speech to Personhood Iowa activists.

Peroutka, in addition to running the far-right Institute on the Constitution and a successful debt-collection business that allowed him to buy a dinosaur for the Creation Museum, is now the GOP nominee for a seat on the Anne Arundel, Maryland, county council. Peroutka’s close ties with the neo-Confederate League of the South is causing hand-wringing in the state Republican party, with its gubernatorial nominee today disavowing Peroutka’s candidacy.

Peroutka — who recently declared that the Maryland General Assembly is no longer a valid legislative body because its passage of marriage equality violated “God’s law” — told the Iowa activists that everything from seat-belt mandates to the progressive income tax to Obamacare to Roe v. Wade are not valid laws because government only has the authority to uphold what he deems to be “organic law.” In fact, he said, all of these things are “pretended legislation,” a term used in the Declaration of Independence to refer to acts of Parliament governing the American colonies.

Peroutka also presented the audience with a contrast between what he sees as the “biblical worldview,” which he says is based on the idea of literal biblical creationism, and the “pagan worldview,” which he says is based on the theory of evolution.

The theory of evolution, he claimed, was responsible for the Columbine school shooting and the Holocaust, yet is still being taught through “the tragedy of public education.”

Peroutka has previously argued that it is impossible to be a patriotic American and also believe in evolution.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anti-Choice Activist Threatening Abortion Providers Has Link to Personhood USA Leader

Abortion rights opponent David Leach made news this week when he posted a video of himself on YouTube speaking with George Tiller murder Scott Roeder and threatening Kansas abortion providers.

Leach has a long record of promoting violence against clinic workers and has defended Roeder’s murder of Tiller.

As a GOP state senate nominee in 2010, Leach suggested that HIV/AIDS was divine punishment for homosexuality. He was eventually defeated by Democratic incumbent Matt McCoy, but his candidacy did win the support of one leading anti-choice activist: Personhood USA board member Chet Gallagher:

Gallagher served as the field coordinator for Mississippi’s failed personhood campaign, led the Nevada Pro-Life Coalition, which worked with Personhood USA to sponsor that state’s personhood initiative, and worked on Personhood USA’s campaigns to outlaw abortion in Montana and Colorado. He also works for Flip Benham’s Operation Save America.

The Des Moines Register reports today on Leach’s latest call to violence:

Leach posted the comments this month on YouTube. His posting includes a recorded phone conversation he had with another man, whom Leach identifies as abortion opponent Scott Roeder. Roeder is serving a life prison sentence for the 2009 shooting death of the Wichita clinic’s then-owner, Dr. George Tiller.

Leach has previously suggested that other men were justified in killing other abortion providers. He notes in the video that Tiller’s old clinic was recently reopened by a new abortion agency.

“If someone would shoot the new abortionists, like Scott shot George Tiller, … hardly anyone will appreciate it but the babies,” he says. “It will be a blessing to the babies. Everyone else will panic. Of all places to open up a killing office, to reopen the one office in the United States more notorious for decades than any other is an act of defiance against God and the last remaining reverence for human life.”



In the YouTube video, the man Leach identifies as Roeder laughs as Leach talks about the prospect of someone shooting the new leaders of the Wichita clinic. Then the second man wonders aloud about the clinic director’s motives. “To walk in there and reopen a clinic, a murder mill where a man was stopped, it’s almost like putting a target on your back — saying, ‘Well, let’s see if you can shoot me,’ ” he says.

Then the man quotes a fellow activist, who predicted that the abortion industry would end if 100 abortionists were shot. “I think eight have been shot, so we’ve got 92 to go,” the man whom Leach identified as Roeder says. “Maybe (the Wichita clinic director) will be number nine. I don’t really know. I’m not sure about that. But she’s kind of painting a target on her.”

Barber: Personhood Amendments are Just Like Efforts to Free the Slaves

Earlier this year, the Oklahoma Supreme Court unanimously struck down efforts to place a personhood amendment on the ballot that would declare embryos to be "persons" from the moment of conception, ruling that it was "clearly unconstitutional." That decision prompted Liberty Counsel to file a petition with the United States Supreme Court asking the Court to hear the case because it "presents an historic opportunity for the Court to address the issue of a state’s right to amend its own constitution to acknowledge what science has long recognized."

Today, in discussing the legal efforts that Liberty Counsel is undertaking on behalf of this effort, Matt Barber explained that efforts to pass "personhood" amendments is just like effort to end slavery because "this merely does what we did in freeing the slaves; this frees these little people from the overhanging threat of abortion homicide": 

Huckabee Blocked Abortion Funding for 15-Year-Old Girl Raped by Stepfather

Mike Huckabee and Paul Ryan have both supported “personhood” amendments, which would ban abortion in the case of rape or incest, among other things. But unlike Ryan, Huckabee has already had the opportunity to force others to live in accordance with his extreme beliefs. Ryan, who speaks shortly after Huckabee tonight at the RNC, is still waiting for his chance.
 
Huckabee makes no secret of his views on reproductive rights. He has denounced the “holocaust of liberalized abortion,” angering the Anti-Defamation League in the process, and he argued at a personhood fundraiser that pro-choice activists are really motivated by “profit from the sale of death.” He was raising cash, by the way, for an amendment that would have criminalized not only abortion but also in vitro fertilization, stem cell research, the treatment of ectopic pregnancies and some types of birth control.
 
Here’s what Huckabee did when he was in power. In August of 1996, not even a month into his governorship, he went to the mat to deny funding – $430 to be precise – for an abortion provided to a “15-year-old mentally retarded girl impregnated by her stepfather”:
 
In defiance of an order from a federal judge, Gov. Mike Huckabee on Friday refused to allow Medicaid to pay for the abortion of a 15-year-old girl whose stepfather has been charged with incest.
 
While federal law requires Medicaid to fund abortions for poor women in cases of rape or incest, Huckabee said through a spokesman his first obligation is to the Arkansas Constitution, which forbids public funds to be used for abortion except when the mother's life is in danger.
 
While Huckabee claimed his first obligation was to the Arkansas Constitution, he was either willfully ignoring, or unfamiliar with, the basics of federalism. Either way, his first obligation clearly was not to the U.S. Constitution or the 15-year-old girl, who thankfully underwent the procedure in advance of the standoff. Nor was it to the people of his state. As the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported, the standoff “appeared to put the entire state Medicaid program in jeopardy.”
 
Huckabee stuck to his guns as long as he could. As the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported, “U.S. Dist. Judge William Wilson entered into the record Thursday a ruling that Arkansas must pay for Medicaid abortions in cases of rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother, making the ruling official” and clearing the way for contempt charges for Huckabee. That never happened, as Huckabee agreed under pressure to the creation of a private trust to pay for such abortions.
 
The debate over reproductive choice can seem at times to be more theoretical than practical, but Huckabee's actions give us an idea of how a Religious Right America would look. So a 15-year-old mentally retarded girl was raped by her stepfather and got pregnant? Aw shucks, no abortion for her!
 
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