Reproductive Health

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE: RH Reality Check has more details:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cruz Forced To Defend Contraception Comments In Catholic Media

At a campaign event in Iowa in December, Sen. Ted Cruz laughed off the idea that Republicans were threatening access to birth control, saying, “I have never met anybody, any conservative, who wants to ban contraceptives. As I noted, Heidi and I, we have two little girls. I’m very glad we don’t have 17.”

As we noted at the time, Cruz’s comments were disingenuous. But it turns out that they were also not well received by some in one group that Cruz has been trying to court: conservative Catholics.

When Cruz gave an interview last week to the Catholic news network EWTN, host Raymond Arroyo played back the birth control comments, telling Cruz that “a lot of our viewers sent me emails” about the comments and that “some larger families took offense at that statement, they say it’s less than pro-life.”

Cruz scrambled to defend himself, saying that it was “a little snippet that’s taken out of context” and that he was pushing back against a Democratic “political attack that was deliberately deceptive.”

“I am unequivically pro-life, I believe that every life is a precious gift from God that needs to be protected from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death,” he said. “But the Democrats didn’t raise that battle on the issue of life; instead they did it on contraceptives, and it was deliberately deceptive, they were trying to scare young women into thinking some politician is going to come take their birth control away from them.”

“And the point I was making through humor – and humor is often a very effective way to communicate – is that nobody was talking about banning birth control for anyone,” he said.

He then pivoted to the Little Sisters of the Poor case, in which a number of religious nonprofits are claiming that having to fill out a form exempting themselves from a contraceptive insurance coverage mandate violates their religious beliefs because they’re making it possible for employees to get contraceptive coverage elsewhere.

The issue of contraception has sometimes been a sticking point in the anti-abortion alliance between Catholics and evangelicals. In the early days of the anti-abortion movement, some Catholic leaders of the movement presented the issues of abortion and contraception as two sides of the same coin. Conservative evangelicals, who came late to the anti-abortion movement, generally have more permissive doctrines involving birth control. Yet the two groups have united in recent years in fighting contraception access on “religious liberty” grounds, exemplified by the alliance of Catholic and evangelical leaders who drafted the 2009 Manhattan Declaration, which called for broad exemptions from and civil disobedience against civil laws on LGBT rights and reproductive freedom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Candidates:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Great Planned Parenthood Plot

The anti-abortion movement’s fixation on Planned Parenthood stems in part from a long-running effort to paint legal abortion providers, and Planned Parenthood in particular, as a predatory “abortion industry” out to profit off the women they serve. This has led a number of activists to claim, in various ways, that Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion health care offerings — like affordable contraception and STI testing — are all part of a plot to eventually lure women into having abortions in order to line the pockets of the “abortion industry.”

Kristan Hawkins, the head of Students for Life, has been repeating this line for years and has recently taken to calling Planned Parenthood “the Walmart of abortion” in an effort to appeal to millennials who are wary of the influence of big corporations.

Hawkins laid out this argument in detail at a Students for Life conference in California last month, claiming that Planned Parenthood’s sex education, birth control and STI testing services are all part of their effort to get women hooked on Planned Parenthood so that they will eventually come back for abortions.

According to Hawkins’ theory, Planned Parenthood convinces teens to have premarital sex but provides them with ineffective condoms and bad advice about birth control, causing them to eventually get pregnant and need an abortion.

“We talk about their cycle,” she said of Planned Parenthood, “how they come to our schools, they won’t talk about abortion mills to our high schools, but they say, ‘Hey, when you’re ready to have sex, you know, you can try the whole abstinence thing, but when you’re ready to have sex, you don’t want to talk to your parents about it, just come to us, everything is confidential, we’ll give you condoms and birth control.”

“Tell your friends, do not use Planned Parenthood condoms,” she added, claiming that they are “the lowest ranked by Consumer Reports.” (A 2005 Consumer Reports review ranked one of the brands of condom distributed by Planned Parenthood lowest among a number of competitors, but said they were still safe to use; Planned Parenthood quickly redesigned the product.)

“They know if they get you coming to the clinics, they get you on this birth control, they give you these bad condoms, the sooner you will have sex,” she said. “Here’s a little hint if you don’t realize that, you start having sex early on, you’re going to have some heartbreak, right? So they know she’s going to fall in love with this guy, they’ll have sex, they’ll break up, then she’ll find another partner, another guy she’ll want to have sex with, but guess what? She’ll need to go get tested. So Planned Parenthood will be back there for her again for an STD test.”

She claimed that “Planned Parenthood doesn’t tell you” the importance of taking birth control pills at the same time of day and keeping them at a certain temperature “because they don’t care, because their plan is to get you coming back and back and back and back again until that day you’re facing an unplanned crisis, you think you’re pregnant. Who are you going to go to? Planned Parenthood, because they built a relationship with you.”

She said that this is why Students for Life promotes anti-abortion “pregnancy resource centers” so that they can “build that relationship with young people first before Planned Parenthood does.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cruz Endorser Connects East Coast Blizzard With North Dakota Abortion Ruling

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anti-Abortion Activists Raise Money To Defend Daleiden, See Planned Parenthood 'Crumble'

A number of anti-abortion groups joined together last night for a webcast aimed at raising money for a legal defense fund for David Daleiden, the anti-Planned Parenthood activist who is facing an indictment in Texas, along with his fellow activist Sandra Merritt.

Life Legal Defense Foundation, the group that is representing Daleiden in a separate case in California, is managing a legal defense fund for Daleiden and Merritt. Thomas More Society’s Peter Breen, who is representing Daleiden in Texas, and Charles LaMandri of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, who is representing Daleiden on other charges, also joined the call, which was hosted by the anti-abortion protest group 40 Days for Life.

David Bereit of 40 Days for Life urged the reported 2,400 activists on the call to “pray” for Daleiden, “promote” his cause and “pitch in” for his legal defense, which the attorneys said had already cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Breen reported that he would try on Thursday get a Houston judge to “quash the indictment” against Daleiden. Daleiden’s allies at the radical anti-abortion protest group Operation Rescue will also be holding a press conference on Thursday urging prosecutors to drop the grand jury’s charges. Liberty Counsel, which is representing Merritt, will hold a similar press conference on Wednesday.

Breen, repeating the dubious claim that Daleiden is an “investigative journalist,” said a bad outcome for the activist in Houston would harm freedom of the press and at the same time give prosecutors in other parts of the country the confidence to “come after” anti-abortion activists.

“The stakes are as high as they could possibly be,” he said. “If the other side is allowed to proceed in bringing criminal prosecutions against legitimate journalism, I mean we certainly don’t want to live in a country where journalists can be tossed in jail for decades for just doing their jobs. And certainly what would this do to the pro-life movement and other prosecutors who say, ‘I want to come after the pro-life movement, I’m just not sure I can get away with it.’ If they get away with it here, they’ll be able to get away with it in other jurisdictions.”

Daleiden himself also joined the call, expressing hope that the next president will investigate Planned Parenthood, cut off its federal funding and leave the women’s health provider watching “their abortion empire … crumbling all around them.”

“I think they’re going to be pulling out all of the stops in the coming year,” he said, “every last bit of political capital they have to cash in, they’re going to do it, because they know the only thing that stands between them and getting completely cut off from the taxpayer trough at the federal level is a pro-life president, the only thing that stands between them and a federal investigation and criminal convictions for trafficking baby parts and money laundering and the money off of aborted baby parts is a pro-life Department of Justice. Planned Parenthood knows that this issue is the last thing that stands between their abortion empire and it crumbling all around them, and so that’s why they’re lashing out in the way that they are.”

Anti-Planned Parenthood Lawyer Shames Attorney For Once Wearing A 'Very Revealing' Top

Last month, a grand jury in Houston that had been convened to investigate Planned Parenthood in the wake of undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) instead indicted CMP’s David Daleiden and his colleague Sandra Merritt on charges related to their infiltration of the women’s health provider.

Planned Parenthood opponents, searching for a way to spin the indictments, have latched on to the fact that one of the 300 attorneys in the office that launched the investigation is a member of the board of the local Planned Parenthood affiliate — never mind that the district attorney’s office disclosed the connection from the very beginning and made it clear that the attorney in question would have nothing to do with the case.

But the fact that the attorney with the Planned Parenthood connection had nothing to do with the activists’ indictments hasn’t stopped Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, the attorney famous for defending anti-gay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis and who is representing Merritt, from questioning her influence on the case and calling her out for once wearing “hot pants and a very revealing tank top” at a Planned Parenthood fundraising event.

A post on Liberty Counsel’s website on Friday say that the “history and actions” of the district attorney’s office “raise serious questions about bias” and includes a photo of Laruen Reeder, the attorney who is on the local Planned Parenthood board, at a costume party fundraiser for the organization “wearing a revealing tank top and hot pants.”

Staver continued this line of attack in an interview with Pennsylvania radio host Bobby Gunther Walsh today, in which he insisted that “it remains to be seen” whether Reeder influenced the investigation and added that she had once been “pictured in hot pants and a very revealing tank top” at the Planned Parenthood fundraiser.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rand Paul Reintroduces Radical 'Personhood' Bill, Attempts To Sidestep Birth Control Controversy

Last week, Sen. Rand Paul reintroduced his “Life at Conception Act,” an attempt to ban all abortion by granting legal “personhood” to zygotes and fetuses from “the moment of fertilization,” all without needing a constitutional amendment or Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Paul has been a staunch backer of such personhood efforts despite once claiming that he didn’t support “changing any of the laws” on abortion “until the country is persuaded otherwise.”

The bill Paul introduced last week varies slightly from the one he first introduced in 2013, specifically stating that it shouldn’t be construed as “a prohibition on in vitro fertilization, or a prohibition on use of birth control or another means of preventing fertilization.” 

Personhood measures have been widely criticized for vague wording that could put legal birth control at risk, a concern that Paul appears to attempt to put at rest in the new bill. But that would all depend on what counts as protected birth control under the bill. Would IUDs, which could possibly prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg, be protected? What about the morning-after pill or hormonal contraception bills, which some anti-choice groups claim, with little evidence, could do the same thing? Some anti-choice activists claim that some or all of these constitute abortion, not birth control … notably the plaintiffs in the Hobby Lobby case, whose cause Paul enthusiastically supported.

It’s especially interesting that Paul attempts to avoid the growing controversy within the anti-abortion movement about in-vitro fertilization and the rights that should be granted to the excess frozen embryos that are often a byproduct of the process. It’s unclear if Paul is saying that embryos that are the result of in-vitro fertilization should not be granted the personhood rights that his bill would grant to all other embryos or if the bill would simply require that those embryos never be destroyed.

Both Paul’s 2013 bill and his 2016 version state that they shouldn’t “be construed to require the prosecution of any woman for the death of her unborn child,” an important exemption because under such a law, ending a pregnancy at any stage would be the legal equivalent of murder. Already, an experiment in personhood-style laws in Alabama has led to the arrests of hundreds of women for using drugs while pregnant or otherwise contributing to the “chemical endangerment” of a fetus.

All of this, of course, is purely hypothetical at this point. Paul's bill is the product of a theory, which is controversial even within the anti-abortion movement, that there is a magic loophole in Roe v. Wade that would allow legal abortion to come tumbling down if Congress were simply to define fertilized eggs as “persons” under the law. Most likely, however, such a strategy would collapse in the courts: One prominent anti-choice attorney has called the personhood loophole an “urban legend.”

That’s not to say that Paul’s strategy doesn’t have support. His fellow Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has been talking up the personhood strategy on the campaign trail, saying that he would simply issue a decree as president that there would be “no more abortion” in America. Ted Cruz has quietly pledged to support personhood measures and said late last year that a personhood strategy to avoid Roe would “absolutely” work. Marco Rubio has hinted at a personhood strategy, but not explicitly embraced it.

Paul’s bill has six Senate cosponsors and a similar bill (without the exceptions for birth control and IVF) has 132 cosponsors in the House.

Cruz Pro-Life Coalition Leader: US Can't 'Survive Another 40 Years Of Roe v. Wade'

As we noted this morning, Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign has launched a new “Pro-Lifers for Cruz” coalition, led by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins along with 10 co-chairs, including radical anti-abortion activist Troy Newman. Another co-chair of the new coalition is anti-abortion filmmaker Jason Jones, who joined a call for coalition members today, where he warned that electing Cruz is essential because America can’t “survive another 40 years of Roe v. Wade.”

“You know, the right to life is the founding principle not only of this country but of our civilization,” Jones said on the call, “and we are fighting to preserve our nation for our posterity. We are fighting in a real way for our posterity. And I don’t believe our country can survive another 40 years of Roe v. Wade because Roe v. Wade undermines the idea that we are endowed by God with inalienable rights. We’ll see our religious freedom leave, we’re seeing that. We’ll see our economic freedom leave, we’re seeing that. We’ll see our political freedom leave, we’re seeing that with the most recent case with David Daleiden. So let’s fight to defend the pre-born child from the bounds of abortion, let’s fight for our republic, and let’s call everyone in Iowa and let’s expand this pro-life caucus.”

The loss of “political freedom” that he was referring to was the recent indictments brought against David Daleiden, who was accused of breaking laws in Texas when he and his Center for Medical Progress infiltrated Planned Parenthood, a project concocted with the help of Newman.

Anti-Planned Parenthood Activist David Daleiden Gets Indicted, But The Anti-Choice Movement Still Feels Like It's Winning

In an interesting turn of events yesterday, a Texas grand jury that had been convened to investigate Planned Parenthood based on the claims of anti-abortion activist David Daleiden instead indicted Daleiden and a colleague on charges relating to their infiltration of the women’s health care organization.
 
In a statement responding to the charges, Daleiden called himself an "investigative journalist," something that he has been doing from the beginning of his project. In reality, Daleiden's "investigation" was rooted in a tradition of anti-abortion activists attempting to harass and intimidate abortion providers to prevent them from practicing, rather than a genuine effort to uncover the truth. In fact, one of Daleiden's associates at the radical anti-choice group Operation Rescue, which helped to get his project off the ground, said that Daleiden's goal going into the project was to “obtain prosecutions” of Planned Parenthood officials.
 
So far, Daleiden's attempt to "obtain prosecutions" has come up empty.
 
But pushing for the prosecution of Planned Parenthood officials was only part of Daleiden’s plan. In a statement following the indictment, Daleiden claimed that the “admissions” of Planned Parenthood were “captured on video for all the world to see.” Never mind that the videos show no such “admissions” of law-breaking. The point of the videos was not just to make a case to law enforcement, but to sway public opinion.
 
On a large scale, that hasn't been successful: One poll showed barely a flutter in the public’s views about Planned Parenthood between August and September of last year, in the height of the visibility of Daleiden’s videos. Planned Parenthood's favorability ratings had already dropped over the last two decades, Gallup found, but mostly among Republicans, a trend that the polling agency attributed to the growing “politicization of Planned Parenthood."
 
What Daleiden’s project has done is to galvanize support among those who were already opposed to abortion rights. Protests in front of Planned Parenthood offices, driven by the old guard of the anti-abortion “rescue” movement, expanded and multiplied, with the support of much more visible anti-choice groups. At this year’s March for Life, it was impossible to go five minutes without hearing a mention of Daleiden or his videos, with speaker after speaker saying that their movement finally had winning momentum. In the days leading up to the march, Daleiden crossed the city to speak to protesters holding gruesome signs outside a construction site for a new Planned Parenthood clinic; to talk with Americans United for Life lawyers working on strategies to restrict abortion rights; and to be prayed over by Russell Moore and Jim Daly, evangelical leaders who are trying to put a kinder, gentler face on their movement.
 
Speakers at nearly every event noted with hope that a bill defunding Planned Parenthood recently made it through a Republican Congress, allowing anti-choice activists to say that all they need now is to elect a president who would sign it.
 
Now that Daleiden is facing prosecution, he’s in the company of many fellow members of the “rescue” movement, which his work grew out of. Among those who protest outside of clinics, or try to infiltrate them, arrest and jail time for violation of what they see as unjust laws is a badge of honor. At a protest last week in front of a new Planned Parenthood that is being built in Washington, D.C., before Daleiden spoke, one “rescue” movement leader asked who there would be willing to “lay their body in front of the door” or “handcuff yourself to construction equipment” in order to stop the building from opening. Another touted the work of one of Daleiden’s mentors to train “a whole army of David Daleidens” to infiltrate Planned Parenthood clinics throughout the country.
 
Yesterday’s indictment is unlikely to dissuade these activists, who feel that they are on the cusp of a David-and-Goliath victory. In fact, at events connected to the March for Life last week, speakers expressed hope that a separate lawsuit against Daleiden by Planned Parenthood would instead turn up unflattering information about the women's health provider and land it in hot water instead. So far, the opposite has been true. But, to the anti-choice movement, that just makes Daleiden seem even more like David, closer than ever to slinging the winning shot.

Operation Save America: Terrorism Is God's Punishment For Legal Abortion

Operation Save America’s Rusty Lee Thomas has blamed the September 11 attacks on legal abortion in the U.S., so it’s only natural that he’s now saying that current terror threats, along with undocumented immigrants and big government, are all part of God’s punishment on America for legal abortion.

In a press release on Thursday, the eve of the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, Thomas declared that the “real danger” facing America is “God Himself” because He “will not be mocked” and will flatten America like Sodom if legal abortion isn’t stopped.

Operation Save America is what remains of the original anti-choice group called Operation Rescue. (The Operation Rescue that is currently operating was a rival group with similar goals and tactics.) Thomas took over as the head of Operation Save America after working for years alongside its former leader, Flip Benham, who was recently embraced by Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign.

From Thomas’ press release:

Listen to the concerns of 21st century Americans! Terror, Islamic Jihadists, Illegal Immigration, Out of Control Federal and State Governments, Economic Collapse, loss of retirement funds. But what's on God's heart? What is the real danger facing the home of the brave land of the free?

It is God Himself. He will not be mocked! What men and nations sow, they shall surely reap. We have sowed domestic terrorism in the womb and now face foreign terrorism from without.

Our nation is staggering under the weight of blood guiltiness. We have poured out gallons; hundreds and thousands of gallons throughout the streets and sewers of America. Nearly 60 million children made in the image of God have been slaughtered in our legal and federally protected abortion mills.

Even the gruesome videos of Planned Parenthood executives making light and laughing over the horror of selling little babies' body parts has made nary a ripple in the lakes of innocent blood shed defiling and polluting our land.

Abortion is not political, social or economic. It is a Gospel/Kingdom issue. It is the ancient evil of child sacrifice that is dressed up as a women's rights issue. Since 1973, our nation has accumulated a great debt of blood guilt and the bill is past due.

Is there any hope? Yes, it is found in the Lord we have spurned, His law that we have violated, and His salvation we have rejected to our own demise. 2 Chronicles 7:14 declares, "if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

If we meet God's conditions, He will heal our land. If not, we will go the way of every other nation that murdered their babies and paraded their sin like Sodom.

Supreme Court Rejects Attempt At Restrictive Six-Week Abortion Ban

There has long been a debate raging within the anti-abortion movement between those who have mapped out a careful strategy to slowly chip away at Roe v. Wade through incremental restrictions on abortion and those who want to launch legal broadsides against abortion rights in the hopes that one will take Roe down once and for all.

The incrementalists will have their big day in court on March 2, when the Supreme Court hears arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, a challenge to a set of laws in Texas that seeks to cut off access to legal abortion even as the procedure remains legal. Whole Woman’s Health is the culmination of a decades-long strategy by groups like Americans United for Life to choke off abortion access by creating unnecessary regulations on clinics. These groups are also hoping to get the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe in the form of laws banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, just before when the court has said that abortion bans are legal.

But those who want to find a silver bullet to end abortion rights completely just had a day in court too … and it didn’t go well for them.

The Supreme Court today declined to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling that struck down North Dakota’s “fetal heartbeat” law, which would have banned abortion at about six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know that they are pregnant. The law was clearly unconstitutional — one prominent anti-choice lawyer has called such efforts “futile” — but North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said that it was an “attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade.”

The boundaries of Roe v. Wade, it turns out, however much they may be weakened by incremental restrictions, still prevent banning almost all abortions.

Yet today’s rejection is unlikely to halt the efforts of “heartbeat bill” crusaders, the most prominent of whom is Religious Right activist Janet Porter, who is currently running for the legislature in her home state of Ohio in an effort to push such a bill through.

PFAW

Supreme Court Rejects Attempt At Restrictive Six-Week Abortion Ban

There has long been a debate raging within the anti-abortion movement between those who have mapped out a careful strategy to slowly chip away at Roe v. Wade through incremental restrictions on abortion and those who want to launch legal broadsides against abortion rights in the hopes that one will take Roe down once and for all.

The incrementalists will have their big day in court on March 2, when the Supreme Court hears arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, a challenge to a set of laws in Texas that seeks to cut off access to legal abortion even as the procedure remains legal. Whole Woman’s Health is the culmination of a decades-long strategy by groups like Americans United for Life to choke off abortion access by creating unnecessary regulations on clinics. These groups are also hoping to get the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe in the form of laws banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, just before when the court has said that abortion bans are legal.

But those who want to find a silver bullet to end abortion rights completely just had a day in court too … and it didn’t go well for them.

The Supreme Court today declined to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling that struck down North Dakota’s “fetal heartbeat” law, which would have banned abortion at about six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know that they are pregnant. The law was clearly unconstitutional — one prominent anti-choice lawyer has called such efforts “futile” — but North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said that it was an “attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade.”

The boundaries of Roe v. Wade, it turns out, however much they may be weakened by incremental restrictions, still prevent banning almost all abortions.

Yet today’s rejection is unlikely to halt the efforts of “heartbeat bill” crusaders, the most prominent of whom is Religious Right activist Janet Porter, who is currently running for the legislature in her home state of Ohio in an effort to push such a bill through.

House GOP Seeks Names Of Medical Students, Could Endanger Abortion Patient Information

Roll Call reported yesterday that Democratic members of the House select committee investigating the accusations against Planned Parenthood inspired by recent “sting” videos have taken issue with a set of “overbroad document requests” that Republicans on the committee have sent to some health care providers, including requests for information on medical students who learn about abortion and one request that could expose information on patients:

Six Democrats serving on a select panel investigating Planned Parenthood are accusing their Republican counterparts of issuing document requests that “pose grave privacy and security concerns.”

In a letter sent Thursday to the panel’s Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., the Democratic members of the select committee cite a recent request to a health care provider in which Republicans ask for “a list of any students, residents, or other medical personnel” who have participated in an abortion, prenatal or postnatal infant care, as well as all communications between the provider and any government officials.

The requests “appear to be a completely unjustified attack on women’s healthcare,” wrote the Democrats, who said they were not consulted about the queries. “Whether intended or not, these requests would require a healthcare provider to turn over to Congress the personal medical information of any patient who happens to work for the federal government or any State.”

Whatever led to the committee’s requests, the providers who received them had good reason to express concern. Efforts to root out the identity of abortion providers and even patients have long been a mainstay of radical anti-choice activists. This effort has also included intimidating medical students.

In 1993, Mark Crutcher, the activist who inspired the video project that led to the congressional investigations, somehow got a list of tens of thousands of medical students and sent them a “joke” book that included this barrel of laughs:

Q.: What would you do if you found yourself in a room with Hitler, Mussolini and an abortionist and you had a gun with only two bullets?

A: Shoot the abortionist twice.

Crutcher said he wasn’t advocating violence against abortion providers, but was trying to dissuade medical students from becoming abortion providers, saying, “Basically, what we’re saying to the medical community is, ‘Look, if you want to do abortions, that’s fine, but you’d better understand something. There’s a hell of a price to pay.’”

There’s no evidence that Republicans on the committee are deliberately intimidating medical students or patients, but it’s not hard to understand why these requests might make providers nervous.

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