But Mike Huckabee took things to a new level when he calmly presented his plan to grant legal “personhood” to fertilized eggs and fetuses.
Some commentators have mistaken Huckabee’s comment as a call for a constitutional amendment to reverse Roe v. Wade. That’s not what he meant.
Instead, Huckabee was embracing a radical legal theory, disputed even in anti-choice circles, that holds that a constitutional amendment overturning Roe isn’t necessary to end legal abortion. This theory holds that the majority opinion in Roe contains a magic loophole that allows Congress to simply declare zygotes “persons” under the Fifth and 14th Amendments, which would then criminalize abortion nationwide in one fell swoop, no constitutional amendment needed. One of the most adamant proponents of this theory in Congress is Huckabee’s fellow GOP presidential candidate, Rand Paul.
Here was Huckabee’s answer to Chris Wallace’s question about his “strong positions on social issues,” including favoring “a constitutional amendment banning abortions, except for the life of the mother”:
Chris, I disagree with the idea that the real issue is a constitutional amendment. That's a long and difficult process. I've actually taken the position that's bolder than that.
A lot of people are talking about defunding Planned Parenthood, as if that's a huge game changer. I think it's time to do something even more bold. I think the next president ought to invoke the Fifth, and 14th Amendments to the Constitution now that we clearly know that that baby inside the mother's womb is a person at the moment of conception.
The reason we know that it is is because of the DNA schedule that we now have clear scientific evidence on. And, this notion that we just continue to ignore the personhood of the individual is a violation of that unborn child's Fifth and 14th Amendment rights for due process and equal protection under the law.
It's time that we recognize the Supreme Court is not the supreme being, and we change the policy to be pro-life and protect children instead of rip up their body parts and sell them like they're parts to a Buick.
But if Huckabee’s dubious legal strategy were to work, the consequences would be enormous. Not only would granting “personhood” to fetuses ban abortion in all but the rarest case where a pregnant woman and a fetus are both in mortal danger, it would put women who suffer miscarriages at risk of prosecution and jail time. The ambiguous wording of such measures has led many to fear that they could also outlaw common forms of birth control.
By redefining what it means to be a person under the law, personhood measures could also have a broad legal impact on issues unrelated to reproductive rights, threatening to upend everything from inheritance law to census results . In 2014, the Colorado Bar Association opposed the state’s personhood ballot measure, warning that the vaguely worded measure would have “potentially serious, unintended and unknown consequences for Colorado lawyers. … From areas of Family Law to Probate Law to Real Estate Law, as well as the explicit effect on Criminal Law and Wrongful Death statutes, this Amendment could create uncertainty and endless litigation.”
Mike Huckabee’s support for the personhood movement is nothingnew. But in declaring his intention to give 14th Amendment rights to fertilized eggs in a nationally televised debate, he gave a fringe movement what may be its biggest stage yet.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, head of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, told the “Point of View” radio program yesterday that anti-choice activists must take advantage of a new series of videos smearing Planned Parenthood to “stop all abortion” and “shut this organization down whose hearts are so calloused over.” Planned Parenthood’s employees, she added, “need to be liberated from what they are doing in a very Christian way.”
“The promises of our Constitution, our founders, the promises that we make each other when we say our Pledge of Allegiance, they should take us to a place where we can say we are just better than this, we can stop this,” she said. “We can stop late-term abortion, we can stop all abortion, but we can at least stop late-term abortion that even makes this possible. And we can certainly shut this organization down whose hearts are so calloused over, they need, they need something other than what they are doing, they need to be liberated from what they are doing in a very Christian way. And it happens over and over again with Planned Parenthood clinicians. So we have a moment here to seize.”
In a sermon to his father John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church on Sunday, Matthew Hagee took on the recent set of videos falsely claiming that Planned Parenthood sells “baby parts” for profit and the controversy over the killing of a well-known lion in Zimbabwe, saying that the teaching of evolution in schools is to blame for both legal abortion and the uproar over Cecil the lion’s death.
“God help a country that is more concerned about a lion in Zimbabwe than we are about 55 million children that we’ve murdered in a senseless, senseless fashion,” Hagee declared.
“How did we do it?” he asked. “I’ll tell you how. We taught ourselves to do this. We went to classrooms where they didn’t tell us that we were made by God our Creator. They told us that we were the highest form of a scientific process called evolution. ‘There’s just one little chromosome between us and Cecil the lion.’ Thank God for that chromosome, because it gave me a finger and I can use it to pull the trigger!”
“We didn’t teach people that you were a human being fearfully and wonderfully made as the handiwork of God Almighty,” he lamented. “We just said that you were a bunch of cells that got mashed together and you’re here by accident. Evolution is a lie from the pit of Hell itself, and it has cost us 55 million Americans.”
American Family Radio host Bryan Fischer warned yesterday that God will most likely judge America for legal abortion, leading to “a complete cultural and societal collapse.”
“I would have to say, I think, given what I’m seeing in these videos and how that just brings into plain relief the moral collapse of this nation for decades now, I just don’t see how we escape God’s judgment for what we are doing with abortion. I just don’t see how that’s possible,” he said, referring to the recent series of videos smearing Planned Parenthood.
“I fear that we have passed the point of no return and we are going to wind up with a complete cultural and societal collapse,” he warned.
On his American Family Radio program yesterday, Bryan Fischer revisited the topic of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, which he blamedat the time on the end of government-sponsored prayer in schools.
Why, he asked yesterday, didn’t God intervene to stop the killing of 20 children at the Sandy Hook school? “Well,” he explained, “Isaiah has an answer. It’s not that he can’t. It’s because our sins as a nation have driven God from us.”
Fischer read a passage from the Book of Isaiah in which the prophet warns that “our iniquities have made a separation between you and your God and your sins have hidden His face from you so that he does not hear, your hands are defiled with blood.”
“So as we lift our hands in prayer as a nation, what He sees is the blood on our hands of the 57 million unborn babies whose lives have been taken through abortion,” Fischer explained. “So He can’t hear our prayers because the blood of the unborn cries out to Him and He can’t hear our prayers over the pleas of the blood of the unborn.”
“So if we’re once again going to have God hear our plans, we have got to clean up our act, and that’s got to start with abortion,” he said.
Fischer then repeated the comment he made shortly after the 2012 shooting: “We have spent the last 60 years in our culture telling God to get lost, and we wonder why He’s not around when we need him? God’s a gentleman, he will not go where he’s not wanted.”
In an interview with The Dove TV on Friday, anti-gay activist Scott Lively insisted that Christians are being denied their First Amendment rights because of gay rights, while simultaneously asserting that the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom applies only to Christians.
In fact, Lively explained, it is because the United States has grown to accept “religious pluralism” that God is now punishing us with abortion rights and LGBT equality.
“Well, I don’t actually believe in ‘religious freedom,’ the way that the term is used,” Lively explained. “I know that when you use it and when most people use it, you’re talking about Christianity. We’re not talking about freedom for Islam and freedom for Buddhism and Hinduism as if they’re equal with God.
“The number-one Commandment is ‘You shall have no other gods before me.’ And when we forget that and we start accepting this concept of religious pluralism and we say that Jesus Christ is really no higher an authority in America than Buddha or Mohammed or even Satan, that’s when we have really dropped the ball and we have brought disfavor from God on us.”
Legal abortion (or, as he put it, the “pro-abort juggernaut of death”) and gay rights, he insisted, could have been stopped if America had earned “the favor of God.”
“If even one man, just one man, had the favor of God,” he said, “with the flimsiest of plans, he could have stopped that, he could have stopped the gay agenda in very short order.”
He went on to mourn for the soldiers in the Revolutionary War who “died with the cry ‘no king but Jesus’ on their lips” and for “all the patriots since them who have died on the battlefield believing that American values meant godliness and morality, not sexual perversion and killing.”
Lively then, with great self-awareness, lamented that the First Amendment is “being chipped away very rapidly” leading to the “persecution” of people like himself.
Later in the interview, Lively claimed that thanks to abortion rights and LGBT equality, “we really are now under occupation.. by cultural Marxists” just as France was occupied by the Nazis in World War II.
The “cultural Marxists,” he said, have now ensured that everyone in America is “forced to participate in gay culture,” and are working toward the next step, which is “punishment of all dissenters.”
“The folks that are pushing this, they want to come after every Christian,” he warned, “they hate Christianity, they want to punish, they are going to aggressively pursue every person.”
But he had some good news: “I’m more blessed than I’ve ever been, and yet I’m being persecuted more than anybody else in America.”
“I would suggest that if man believes that he can redefine marriage, it’s apparent that man believes he has become his own god,” Huckabee told the crowd, “and this is a dangerous place for America to be.”
He told them that getting America right with God should be the country’s first policy priority.
“Yes, we need to address the economic concerns of the people of our country, and we must,” he said. “And yes, we must address the national security threats to our country. We must. But if that’s all we do, and we do not come back to the understanding that the only explanation for this great republic of ours is the intervention of God’s providence, then we will never see this nation rise to its greatness again.”
He added that Americans must recognize that the founding fathers “clearly understood that there was a God to whom we will ultimately answer, and our laws need to reflect His.”
Later in the speech, Huckabee threw in his own brand of populism, saying that hard-working Americans recognize that God will judge America for legal abortion unless the entire nation repents.
“I’m convinced that there is a great need in this country for us to address the folks that do lift the heavy things every day,” he said, “who do sweat through their socks every day, who go to church each week, who do not buy in on the nonsense that we can kill 60 million more babies over the next 42 years and that God won’t richly judge us for it. I’m convinced this country can get back on its feet, but it can’t do that until it first gets back on its knees and repents.”
Huckabee’s fellow GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson was also scheduled to speak at the event, but sent an apologetic video message instead.
Just today, People For the American Way releaseda report about the latest attacks on Planned Parenthood, which noted that contraception access isn’t collateral damage in the Right’s attacks on abortion rights, but instead is an intended target.
What better way to illustrate this than a graphic that Priests for Life spokesman and Fox News contributor Alveda King shared in a press release today about the latest anti-Planned-Parenthood video.
Priests for Life, which has claimed partial credit for the latest Planned Parenthood smear, explains that the “3 headed monster” of “sexual perversion” (including “homosexuality” and “fornication”), “abortion and unnatural contraception,” and anti-miscegenation laws (which haven’t existed in the U.S. for nearly 50 years) are preventing Americans from fulfilling God’s commandment that they “be fruitful and multiply”:
As she frequently mentions, Alveda King is a niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a family connection that she attempts to hold up to lend a patina of moral authority to her work. (Never mind that King was a supporter of government-funded family planning programs who once accepted an award from Planned Parenthood.) That may explain why the younger King stretches to equate homosexuality and contraception with racism as heads of the demon-beast that will destroy America.
As the Senate prepares to vote this afternoon on a bill to strip federal funds from Planned Parenthood, People For the American Way has released a new report detailing the activists behind the latest round of attacks on the women’s health organization, their ideology and ultimate goals.
A group called the Center for Medical Progress has promised to release a dozen videos that it claims show that Planned Parenthood is “selling baby parts” for profit. That claim is easily debunked, but as PFAW details, the specific accusations are only part of the point:
The latest Planned Parenthood smear falls in a long line of attacks on the organization that have failed at proving any wrongdoing but succeeded at reinforcing long-held myths about the organization within the anti-choice movement. Previous attacks by activists related to the latest series of videos have made flimsy attempts to “prove” that Planned Parenthood targets people of color and harbors sex traffickers. Similarly, the latest attack hopes to reinforce the longstanding anti-choice myth that Planned Parenthood is a massive “industry” that preys on women for profit.
None of these specific claims have held up to the smallest amount of scrutiny, but that was never the point.
Instead, the Center for Medical Progress’ campaign is part of a long-running effort to undermine access to reproductive health care — including contraception, reproductive health screenings, sex education and legal abortion — by providing cover to legislators who want to dismantle women’s access to reproductive care.
The report also details the anti-choice activists behind the Center for Medical Progress, including Live Action’s Lila Rose, who has called for abortions to be performed “in the public square” and Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman, who once publicly celebrated the death of an abortion provider. These activists, PFAW notes, want not only to criminalize abortion in the United States but to undermine access to contraception. In doing so, they are willing to cut off basic medical care for hundreds of thousands of women.
Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver joined VCY America’s “Crosstalk” program on Thursday to discuss his work urging government officials to defy the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality.
Staver urged governors and other elected officials to “stand up and resist” the Supreme Court’s ruling, praising officials in Alabama and Texas who are pushing back against it.
Such officials, he said, could create “sanctuary cities” free from gay marriage and abortion rights, just as some cities have become sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants.
“You know what, if some cities can create sanctuary cities for illegal aliens, why can’t a city or a state create a sanctuary city or state to protect the preborn?” he asked.
“And to protect marriage,” VCY’s Jim Schneider chimed in.
“…and to protect marriage, absolutely.”
Staver is representing one Kentucky County clerk, Kim Davis, who is refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, which he said she can’t do because she would be giving those couples a “license” to “engage in a sinful activity with a sinful relationship.”
“And understand what their dilemma is,” he said. “They provide a license to do something. They provide a license that gives you the legal authority to drive a car. They provide a license that gives you a legal authority to operate a business. So they’re providing a license that gives you a legal authority to do what? To engage in a sinful activity with a sinful relationship, a same-sex so-called marriage.”
Claiming that the Supreme Court’s decision put people like Davis in the “firing line,” he said that she was simply unwilling to “authorize someone to do something that itself is sinful, that is repugnant to her and the scriptures and to natural millennia of human history, natural law.”
American Family Association official Sandy Rios claimed on her radio program yesterday that women who have had an abortion end up either “brokenhearted” and suffering “tremendous guilt” or get “hard as nails” and become “mean and evil and angry.”
Rios, who made the comments while promoting rallies protesting Planned Parenthood, concluded that this is because women who have had an abortion have “violated the very core of who they are as women, and that is mothers, mothers who give life.”
John Zmirak, a conservative activist and a senior editor of James Robison’s The Stream website, said yesterday that as a group of anti-choice activists continues to put out new videos smearing Planned Parenthood, “I think they’re going to need to put police in front of Planned Parenthood clinics to keep them safe and intact because the public outrage will just be so great.”
In an interview with Iowa talk radio host Simon Conway, Zmirak praised the “pro-life journalistic heroes” at the Center for Medical Progress for their strategy of slowly releasing videos that they falsely claim show that Planned Parenthood is selling “baby parts” for profit.
“I’ve got to think that what’s coming next is even more damning,” he said. “If that continues, I think they’re going to need to put police in front of Planned Parenthood clinics to keep them safe and intact because the public outrage will just be so great.”
The prediction that Planned Parenthood clinics will need “police” to keep them “safe” is not an idle threat coming from a movement whose extreme fringes have a long history of violence. In fact, one of the activists behind the Center for Medical Progress, Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman, has a disturbing history of ties to activists who have perpetrated violence against abortion providers.
In a separate interview last week with Florida talk radio host Joyce Kaufman, Zmirak compared the anti-Planned Parenthood “investigators” to people who go “undercover to infiltrate Al Qaeda” or the mob.
“We know people who go undercover in the drug trade, and we send people undercover to infiltrate Al Qaeda,” he said. “I knew someone who did that and it changes you. I can’t imagine what it must be life to spend three years among these people, having to deceive them — you know, it’s your duty, they don’t have the right to the truth because they’re engaged in a criminal enterprise.”
“It’s like infiltrating the mafia,” he continued. “It really is an instance of organized crime. We should start thinking about Planned Parenthood as human organ traffickers, just like the Russian mob.”
Troy Newman, the leader of Operation Rescue and one of the anti-abortion activists behind the new set of Planned Parenthood smear videos, joined VCY America’s “Crosstalk” program to discuss his debunked accusations that the woman’s health organization is selling “baby parts” for profit.
Newman targeted House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — or, as he called her, “Cruella de Vil” — for coming to the defense of Planned Parenthood and calling for an investigation into his group, the Center for Medical Progress.
“This is a classic deflection by the liar-in-chief, Cruella de Vil,” he said. “Who believes this woman? She’s been discredited on so many occasions, her abortion clinics are essentially pedophile protection rackets.”
“If one iota of her accusations against me are true, I would not be here, I would be sitting behind bars,” he added.
The program’s host, Jim Schneider, asked Newman about a fakequote from Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, falsely claiming that she called racial minorities "human weeds."
“That’s exactly the truth,” Newman responded.
He then went on to accuse current Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards of “targeting the minorities in this country for extermination” and repeated his false claim that it was “Ruth Bader Ginsburg who said the reason we had abortion to begin with was to have fewer people of the people we didn’t want.”
Newman claimed that Planned Parenthood places the vast majority of its clinics in minority neighborhoods in order to target people of color and “take a lot of them out.” (In reality, a study last year found that 60 percent of abortion providers are located in majority-white neighborhoods.)
“And that is the whole eugenic mindset,” he said, “that the people that they don’t like, the ivory tower rich people look down upon minorities and the poor and say we want fewer of those people because they’re a blight on society, so let’s locate our abortion clinics, birth control clinics down there and make sure we can take a few of them out, or take a lot of them out.”
Anti-abortion activist Alveda King claimed in a radio interview yesterday that female journalists may be hesitant to be critical of abortion rights because they have had abortions themselves or have been rendered infertile by “the chemicals and things that they try to use for birth control.”
King was discussing with Rebecca Maxwell, guest host of the “Steave Deace Show,” the recent set of videos smearing Planned Parenthood by suggesting that the organization sells fetal tissue for profit. The media was forced to cover these videos, King said, even though they had been “hesitant to deal with” legal abortion in general, perhaps because of their own personal histories.
“One reason that people have been hesitant to deal with it: shame, secrecy,” she explained. “And even if you think about the media, how do we know [whether a journalist who] is reporting this information has had to grapple with abortion or loss of fertility through using the chemicals and things that they try to use for birth control?"
"There are so many layers," she added. "How do we know that the men themselves weren’t involved in having their own child aborted? So it’s bringing it right up to you, it’s unavoidable, it’s true.”
The myth that hormonal birth control causes long-term infertility has been debunked by no less a flaming liberal outfit than Fox News, which notes that the “birth control and infertility myth has been circling around since the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the pill in 1960.”
Richard Land, the former head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s political arm, said yesterday that a conservative group’s new series of videosfalsely claiming that Planned Parenthood is “selling aborted baby” parts may be the “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” of the fight against legal abortion.
“I think that this may be the equivalent of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin,’” Land said on Newsmax TV. “You know, when Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote that book, she put a human face on slavery. And Lincoln met her after the war had started and said, ‘I’m finally glad to meet the woman who wrote the book that started the war.’ I think that you may, the American people may now be forced to confront the evil and the barbarity and the savagery of the pro-abortion movement.”
On yesterday's "Hagee Hotline," John Hagee seized upon the false and deceptively-editedsmear video purporting to show a Planned Parenthood executive engaging in the illegal sale of "aborted baby parts," which he naturally likened to Nazi Germany.
"Planned Parenthood was caught on video chatting about the harvesting and sale of infant body parts over a glass of wine," Hagee said. "It brings to mind the evil of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich and Dr. Mengele, the Doctor of Death, and his gruesome brutal butchery of children for his demonic research for the Third Reich."
The discussion in the video, Hagee said, was no different than when "Hitler's monsters tallied up cattle cars transporting Jewish people to Auschwitz," which is why viewers must call Congress and "demand that Planned Parenthood be defunded" in order to "stop this tax-funded murder in the United States of America."
Troy Newman, one of the anti-choice activists behind a new set of videos smearing Planned Parenthood, claimed in a radio interview yesterday that the women’s health organization was “founded on a eugenicist philosophy” and that its founder was “embedded with the Nazis,” claims that he backed up with a fake quote from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg about the need to “exterminate” populations she doesn’t like.
Iowa-based talk radio host Steve Deace was telling Newman about a column he recently wrote in the Washington Times arguing that if state governments are taking down the Confederate flag, the U.S. should also “purge” the “viciously racist” Planned Parenthood.
“Look, Planned Parenthood was founded on a eugenicist philosophy,” Newman responded, “in other words, ‘exterminate the people that we don’t want to have too many of,’ which is a quote from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a sitting Supreme Court justice. That’s what abortion is all about.”
He added that Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger was “embedded with the Nazis,” adding, “That’s not rhetoric, folks, look it up, it’s absolutely true.”
We followed Newman’s advice and looked it up, finding (unsurprisingly) that Justice Ginsburg has never expressed the desire to “exterminate the people that we don’t want to have too many of.”
There is also plenty of information available debunking Newman’s claims about Sanger. While Sanger did back some repugnant but then-fashionable eugenics principles such as the sterilization of people with hereditary diseases (which Planned Parenthood now publicly rejects), she was not “embedded with the Nazis,” nor did she support racial eugenics. In fact, Martin Luther King, Jr., praised Sanger in accepting an award named after her from Planned Parenthood.
Yet this new line — the women’s health organization as a horror-movie butcher looking to enrich itself off helpless pregnant women — has quickly become an established “fact” not only within the anti-choice movement, but in the larger conservative movement and among Republican politicians.
This is not because they have been given any new information. Again, the central premise of the new videos is easily disproved — Planned Parenthood follows standard medical guidelines in donating fetal tissue for medical research with the patient’s consent. It is because the videos (or what they claim is in the videos) illustrate an attack that the anti-choice movement has been attempting to level against legal abortion providers for years.
As the anti-choice movement has rebranded itself to be about “protecting” women from legal abortion, it has taken to calling abortion providers the “Abortion Industry,” alleging that they are more interested in turning a profit than in providing health care. This charge is most frequently leveled at Planned Parenthood, despite the fact that both the health care provider and its advocacy affiliate are nonprofit organizations.
Back in January, the anti-choice legal group Americans United for Life released a report titled “ Abortion, Inc.,” which attempted to show that Planned Parenthood is on a “Big Abortion, Big Profits trajectory.” The report concludes by alleging that the health group’s advocacy arm fights anti-choice laws that chip away at abortion access in order to “protect its abortion business’ financial success.”
The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins made a similarly outlandish claim last week when he tied the false claims about Planned Parenthood selling fetal tissue and its advocacy affiliate’s opposition to laws banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregancy. “This suggests why they may have been opposed to bans such as this, these five-month bans, because the longer the pregnancy goes, the more valuable the parts,” he claimed.
A similar rhetorical trick is going on here. Anti-choice groups want to stamp out legal abortion and drive women seeking abortion to dangerous, underground alternatives. They also want to destroy Planned Parenthood, which provides a wide range of medical services to more than five million people a year, only a small percentage of which include abortion. But in order to do so, they are painting abortion providers as a big, bad industry out to get the very women who seek their services.
It’s clear that these videos were made with the “Abortion Industry” talking point in mind. There is a legitimate debate to be had over the legal use of fetal tissue for medical research, which has led to a number of medical advances, including vaccine development. But that isn’t the point of this smear. Instead, it is a dishonest attempt to undermine abortion rights by portraying abortion providers and pro-choice groups as profit-hungry predators. This smear is nothing new — this is just its most lurid and best-publicized iteration.