Beyond Personhood: Five Ways Conservative State Legislatures Are Impeding Women's Access to Healthcare

Here at Right Wing Watch, we write a lot about the fringe efforts, now increasingly embraced by mainstream conservatives, to challenge Roe v. Wade in the courts by  passing radical “personhood” and “heartbeat” bills. But there is a parallel effort, embraced by major conservative groups and the mainstream GOP, to gradually chip away at Roe by passing incremental state-level bills that cut down on access to abortion services.

Today, People For the American Way released a report outlining five increasingly common ways state governments are undermining women’s right to choose, including implementing TRAP laws, funding crisis pregnancy centers, imposing mandatory waiting periods, banning “race- and sex-selective” abortions, and interfering with the doctor-patient relationship.

But while extreme attacks on reproductive rights – such as radical “personhood” bills that threaten to criminalize even some forms of birth control – rightly receive significant attention and opposition, more incremental anti-choice proposals frequently escape wide notice and face minimal resistance as they become law. Often presented as “common-sense” or “women’s health” measures, these laws are in fact meant to gradually chip away at reproductive health access, undermining the foundation of long-standing rights.

By passing mandatory ultrasound and waiting period laws, or requiring doctors to provide inaccurate medical information, anti-choice politicians create a culture in which women’s rights are up for grabs. As conservatives call for smaller government, they pass laws that intrude into our most private and significant decisions, put a script in our doctors’ hands, and tell us we do not know our own minds. In addition, these laws are meant to chip away at women’s constitutionally protected right to autonomy over our own bodies in a deliberate attempt to undermine Roe v. Wade.

The report also looks at the impact of the movement to pass “personhood” and “heartbeat” bills, which even as it is rejected by voters and courts, presents a real threat to women’s rights.

Since the Supreme Court affirmed a woman’s right to choose an abortion in 1973’s Roe v. Wade, anti-choice activists have been split on how to go about restricting abortion rights. Several major anti-choice groups, including Americans United for Life, argue for taking incremental measures in legislatures and in the courts to chip away at Roe’s protections. AUL’s general counsel once compared his group’s approach to carving a Christmas ham: “Each slice makes it smaller and smaller until it is no more.”

While this “slice-by-slice” approach still dominates the anti-choice movement, more extreme attacks on choice have begun to enjoy some success in states and in the U.S. Congress. These blatantly unconstitutional head-on attacks on Roe – including “personhood,” “heartbeat” and “fetal pain” measures – are frequently blocked by voters, legislatures and the courts. But even if these measures never become law, they present a real threat to women’s health: By spreading these extreme views, anti-choice activists create a culture in which established rights are questioned, abortion providers live in fear and women’s health access continues to be up for debate.

While incremental measures such as those outlined above provide the greatest immediate threat to women’s healthcare access, it is important to also understand the risks posed by extreme broadsides on Roe v. Wade. In fact, anti-choice advocates see even these extremist laws as incremental steps in chipping away at abortion rights: Even if personhood and heartbeat bills are overturned upon challenge, they have succeeded in calling abortion rights into question, and forcing pro-choice groups to spend time and money fighting these unconstitutional bans.

Read the full report here.
 

Donohue: Gay Marriage 'One of the Most Bizarre Ideas in History'

NewsMax TV interviewed Bill Donohue of the Catholic League yesterday where he spent most of the interview explaining that he, like the Catholic Church, has no problem with gay people as long as they are celibate or married to someone of the opposite-sex. After Donohue argued that the only purpose of marriage is procreation, host David Nelson asked him what he thinks then of married heterosexual couples who can’t have children.

Donohue said there is nothing sinful about that…since they will serve as “ready substitutes” who will raise kids whose parents have died.

He then launched into a tirade against same-sex marriage, which he said is wrong because it doesn’t have enough support from religious groups and called it “one of the most bizarre ideas in history.”

LaBarbera: 'Martin Luther King Would Be Rolling Over in His Grave' About LGBT Rights

Sandy Rios of the American Family Association yesterday ranted against policies to accommodate transgender students in California and Massachusetts, even claiming that the Bay State’s “horrible” trans-inclusive guidance represents a “nightmare, Sci-Fi scenario.” While speaking with Americans For Truth About Homosexuality head Peter LaBarbera about a recent move by the Justice Department on behalf of transgender students, LaBarbera called it “public policy insanity.”

“The transgender movement shows the absurdity of the whole LGBT notion of civil rights,” LaBarbera told Rios. “Martin Luther King would be rolling over in his grave if he saw what civil rights has become according to Eric Holder.”

At Iowa Summit, Religious Right Activists Hope to 'Change the Direction of the Wind' Against the 'Gay Agenda'

We have been posting videos and reports from the recent Religious Right gathering in Iowa as they become available – so far we’ve seen Rand Paul warning of the country’s collapse and Ted Cruz repeatedly attacking gay rights.

Today, the 700 Club finally featured a segment with additional footage from the summit. CBN’s David Brody interviewed chief organizer David Lane, who has predicted divine punishment on America in the form of car bombings, along with billionaire brothers Dan and Farris Wilks, the latter of whom told Brody that he is upset about the rise of the “gay agenda.”

Brody also showed footage of right-wing pseudo-historian David Barton praying over Cruz and conservative pastor Laurence White telling activists that they can sway politicians if they “change the direction of the wind.”

Watch highlights here:

Eagle Forum: Immigration Bill Will Destroy Two-Party System, Turn America Into Detroit

On the July 13 Eagle Forum Live program, Phyllis Schlafly’s daughter Anne Cori spoke with conservative activist former New York Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey about the Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill, which Schlafly claims McCaughey is “only one known to have actually read.”

Discussing a provision of the bill (page 384 of this pdf) that would provide grants to organizations helping new immigrants through the citizenship process and with English and civics lessons, Cori claimed the real purpose of these grants would be to register new citizens “as Democratic voters.” McCaughey agreed, saying that the real goal is “tilting the scales permanently against a fair two-party system.”

“The Tea Party’s not getting any of this money,” she said.

Through the immigration bill, McCaughey added, the Obama administration is emulating the ward bosses of Tammany Hall, only “nationalizing this kind of political corruption.”

McCaughey: Under this law-- under this bill, excuse me – community activists are the ones who are going to be paid by the federal government, our taxpayer dollars, they are going to be paid to walk the immigrants through the amnesty process, collect their documents, apply for waivers, gather their families together, educate them on the principles of American citizenship, walk them all the way through the various stages of this process. And that’s really a method of pouring huge amounts of money, taxpayer money, into groups that are always affiliated with the Democratic Party.

Cori: I’m sure one of the things they’ll do as they hold their hand is register them as Democratic voters.

McCaughey: Exactly. This is tilting the scales permanently against a fair two-party system.



McCaughey: Providing permanent funding to the community organizations that are allies of only one party. The Tea Party’s not getting any of this money!

Cori: Well, do you think the IRS is going to look into these Democratic organizations?

McCaughey: No, not at all. But you know what it reminds me of? Way back in the 1930s and ‘40s and ‘50s, we had James Curley in Boston, we had Tammany Hall, these local ward bosses, and poor people and newcomers would go to these ward bosses and get whatever they needed – a job, health care, food – in exchange for their vote. Well, now the Obama administration is nationalizing this kind of political corruption. They are creating a permanent infrastructure dedicated to making the Democratic Party the majority party, and it’s all in this immigration bill.

Later in the program, Cori speculated that the immigration bill – which the Congressional Budget Office has found would dramatically reduce the deficit – could in fact “make the United States just Detroit on a large scale, in terms of bankruptcy.”
 

McCaughey: We certainly shouldn’t rush through a comprehensive bill. You know, the nation is facing a $17 trillion debt, and the debt ceiling is coming up. End of the fiscal year, September 30, the nation runs out of money. And we really have to pay, John Boehner said, the number one issue is to get government spending under control. And this is not the time to rush through an immigration bill that could cost the nation trillions of dollars, and there’s no accurate assessment even of what it would cost.

Cori: Well, it could make the United States just Detroit on a large scale, in terms of bankruptcy.

Solomon: Atheist Chaplains Would Encourage Soldiers To Kill Themselves

An effort to create positions for atheist chaplains to serve in the military is one that is welcome by former Navy Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, who was the guest on the "Talk To Solomon" program recently to discuss the issue.

The whole thing really did not sit well with host Stan Solomon, who said that atheism is "basically sticking your head up your butt and wondering why it's dark" and said that being an atheist chaplain is like being "a sensitive cannibal who says grace before he chews your leg off."

After Klingenschmitt claimed there was no need for atheist chaplains in the military and the whole thing is really just a way to undermine the Christian chaplains and reduce our numbers," Solomon asserted that it was all a part of the effort to implement President Obama's health care policy by encouraging wounded soldiers to kill themselves.

"An atheist chaplain," Solomon declared, "would be the perfect vehicle for convincing wounded warriors that they should end their lives because there's nothing in the future and there's nothing now, so why not just save money and kill themselves":

Fischer: Anthony Weiner Running for Mayor to 'Create an Opportunity for More Jihadist Activity'

American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer yesterday alleged that former congressman Anthony Weiner is running for mayor in order to “create an opportunity for more jihadist activity” as part of a Muslim Brotherhood plot, led by his wife Huma Abedin. Fischer, who on Monday said that Abedin seeks to “destroy Western Civilization,” claimed that Weiner is running for mayor in order to “pull back” on the NYPD’s surveillance of the city’s Muslim community and aid “Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood and their agenda to exterminate and destroy Western Civilization.”

Watch:

Right Wing Round-Up - 7/30/13

  • Steve Benen @ The Maddow Blog: The video Steve King thinks he wants you to see.
  • Jeremy Hooper: Pastor who vowed to punch out pro-gay clergy: I am 'truly sorry.'
  • Media Matters: Meet The Fringe Right-Wing Commentators Who Met With Top Republicans To Push For A Benghazi Special Committee.
  • Joan McCarter @ Daily Kos: New anti-Obamacare campaign: Health insurance is bad.
  • TFN Insider: Alarm Bells Are Ringing: Creationists Get Influential Positions in Texas Science Textbook Review.

Right Wing Leftovers - 7/30/13

  • Gary Glenn, the anti-gay president of the American Family Association of Michigan, is running for a seat in the state legislature.
  • Speaking of the AFA, Mike Huckabee will be speaking at their annual retreat in October.
  • "Ex-gay" activists will be in to Washington, DC tomorrow to meet with members of Congress and "demand equal rights as ex- homosexuals."
  • Gabriel Gomez, the Massachusetts Republicans who lost last month’s special Senate election, will join the board of directors of GOProud.
  • Finally, the Louisiana sheriff who has been arresting gay men on charges of violating the state's anti-sodomy statute has apologized ... now that he has realized the arrests were unconstitutional.

Harvey: Dying Gay Ohio Man Should've Married A Woman, Merely Pretending to be Married

Ohio-based Religious Right activist Linda Harvey today expressed outrage that a district court judge ruled on behalf of a gay couple, who are both Ohio residents but were married in Maryland, against the state’s ban on same-sex unions. One of the men has Lou Gehrig’s disease and is seeking to have his partner listed on his death certificate as his surviving spouse and be buried in the same family plot.

Harvey called their lawsuit “nonsense” and charged that if the men wanted to be married, they should have married women: “There’s no discrimination or inequality, either of these men could be married to a woman.” She said that the couple is in a pretend marriage, just like a girl who pretends to be a doctor simply because she believes she is one:

Can marriage just be what anyone thinks it is? Here’s a possible analogy. Sophie wants to be a doctor, she’s never gone to medical school but in her mind she’s qualified to treat patients, even perform surgery. But the law only allows the practice of medicine by those who have attended medical school, passed the state board exams and so on. But isn’t this unequal protection? Aren’t Sophie’s fantasies valid? She believes she should be allowed to practice medicine therefore the requirements to be a licensed MD are unconstitutional for her.

That’s right: a married gay person is no different than an unlicensed surgeon.

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