Reproductive Health

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.

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.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personhood USA Wants To Shut Down Planned Parenthood Clinic Targeted By Violent Attack

We noted earlier this month that Personhood USA, the Colorado-based group that has unsuccessfully tried to pass a number of state-level anti-abortion “personhood” measures, is now going to try its hand at passing city-level measures banning all abortion … starting with Colorado Springs, the site of a deadly shooting by an anti-choice radical last year.

In a recent interview with the Colorado Independent, Personhood USA’s Jennifer Mason explains that she doesn’t see it as a problem that her group is focusing on Colorado Springs just as the Planned Parenthood that was the target of the shooting reopens. It “makes sense” politically to aim the effort at the conservative city, she said, adding that Planned Parenthood was only “compounding” the tragedy of the shooting by reopening. “People are tired of the violence,” she said.

"It makes sense to start [in the Springs], considering the number of churches and number of volunteers we've got there," Mason tells the Independent. "When we've run statewide initiatives in the past, it's always our biggest base of support."

Mason acknowledges that wounds from the November shooting are still fresh. But she insists the latest initiative isn't about pouring salt on the wound.

"It's a better time than ever considering the shooting was so tragic and now [Planned Parenthood is] compounding that by continuing to kill people there," she says. "I think that really most people are tired of the violence — both from alleged crazy people and violence that's perpetrated by the abortion providers who brutally murder babies."

Mason similarly equated the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood with the man who killed three people there in a statement released during the armed standoff at the clinic:

Personhood USA absolutely opposes all abortion-related violence, against born and unborn people. That said, the media is failing to report that innocent babies are killed in that very building every day that they are in business. Please join me in praying that the people inside, along with the babies in their mothers' wombs, are released safely.

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.

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