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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.

Kenneth Copeland Declares That Ted Cruz Has Been 'Called And Anointed' By God To Be The Next President

Earlier this year, Ted Cruz's father and primary presidential campaign surrogate, Rafael, spoke at televangelist Kenneth Copeland's church in Texas, where the controversial prosperity gospel preacher declared that Ted Cruz has been anointed by God to be the next president.

Copeland, who believes that he can destroy the Ebola virus by speaking in tongues, introduced the elder Cruz by asserting that "I believe, with all my heart, that his son is called and anointed to be the next president of the United States."

After Cruz spoke for an hour, delivering his standard presentation urging Christians to vote in order to beat back secularism and take control of this nation, Copeland asked him to recount how the Holy Spirit had descended upon a Cruz family prayer session and convinced Ted to seek the presidency, which Rafael took as a sign that "God has raised him up for such a time as this."

Then, several church elders gathered around Cruz in order to lay hands upon him and pray while Eagle Mountain International Church senior pastor George Pearsons proclaimed that "we are in the midst right now of the new birth of this nation."

"There's a new birth, right now, for America," Pearsons declared, "and it's taking place right before our eyes. And we will not set apart our responsibility and our duty to do what God has called us to do; we say, 'Yes, Lord, Yes, we will do exactly what You have called us to do' and we receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the outpouring of the Spirit over Washington, D.C. We see Congress praying, we see them seeking God, we see prayer coming back into our schools, we see the Bible coming back into our schools, we see abortion being turned around, we see this nation being completely restored, completely delivered, for it is a time the new birth of our nation and we're seeing it right before our eyes, now, in Jesus' name."

Alex Jones: Bernie Sanders Supporters Like Nazis Clamoring For Adolf Hitler

Conspiracy theorist radio host Alex Jones, broadcasting from a dim, bunker-like studio yesterday, pleaded with Bernie Sanders supporters to abandon their candidate, telling them that Sanders is aiding a scheme devised by “European royalty” to “scapegoat the free market as the problem and to sell communism and socialism and wealth-redistribution as a solution.”

As Jones puts it, the super-super-rich intend to use socialism to seize the wealth of the regular rich, thus consolidating their power.

Jones later added that Sanders fans are like the Germans who supported Adolf Hitler: “This is the most ganged-mentality, dumbed-down, it’s like, ‘We want to elect Hitler, he says he’ll invade France and give us free stuff.’”

The InfoWars broadcaster previously said that Sanders wants to throw people him into forced labor camps.

Rafael Cruz: Too Many Americans Believe They Are Their Own God

“Trunews” host Rick Wiles may be a complete lunatic, but that hasn’t stopped Republican politicians from appearing on his End Times-themed radio show. Just yesterday, Rafael Cruz, the father of Ted Cruz and one of his top campaign surrogates, chatted with Wiles about “why we as a nation must return to our Judeo-Christian values or face ruin.”

The elder Cruz told Wiles that “secular humanism has become the religion of many Americans” who think that “you are your own god,” resulting in “a chaotic society.”

He added that while “Barack Obama is the most lawless president we have ever had in the history of this great country,” his purported lawlessness has become “a catalyst to wake up the sleeping giant,” and “the sleeping giant is the church.”

Ben Carson: Flying To Florida To Get New Clothes Proves I'll Make A Great President

Ben Carson spoke yesterday with Fox News pundit Todd Starnes about the debacle in Iowa on Monday when Carson’s campaign announced, just before Republican caucus-goers started casting their votes, that the candidate would be traveling from Iowa to his Florida home rather than directly to another early primary state like New Hampshire or South Carolina.

The campaign immediately insisted that Carson was only making the Florida stop in order to get “a fresh set of clothes” and that he wasn’t dropping out of the race. However, Ted Cruz’s campaign seized on the news to urge its supporters to tell Carson backers at caucus sites, falsely, that the neurosurgeon was leaving the race and that they should vote for Cruz instead.

While this latest controversy seemed like the latest misstep in a presidential campaign already ridden by infighting and accusations of scamming donors, not to mention the candidate’s own bizarre rantings, Carson is now trying to use it to attack Cruz, suggesting that the Texas senator is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Carson told Starnes that Cruz’s indifference to his campaign’s alleged dirty tricks was reminiscent of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s response to the 2012 Benghazi attack. “It’s sort of like if Hillary Clinton said after Benghazi, ‘What difference does it make?’” he said. (Clinton was not talking about the terrorist attack, as Carson implied, but was responding to GOP criticisms of the administration’s talking points following the attack).

Carson went on to note that he wasn’t comparing Cruz’s actions to Benghazi, but was merely saying that he demonstrated “the same kind of attitude, the attitude being, ‘It’s water under the bridge, it’s gone by, let’s not deal with it.’”

Carson also addressed his post-Iowa trip to his Florida home.

He told Starnes that he did indeed get a fresh change of clothes rather than buy new ones and “just throw away the clothes that needed to be dry cleaned or washed,” proving that he would make a fiscally conservative president who wouldn’t “go out and spend the taxpayers’ money willy-nilly.”

We hate to have to point out to Carson that a trip to a dry cleaner in New Hampshire would likely have cost far less money than a plane ticket to Florida and would have prevented this whole commotion in the first place.

The Great Planned Parenthood Plot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right Wing Round-Up - 2/4/16

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 2/4/16

  • "Coach" Dave Daubenmire warns that both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are ineligible to be president: "I have a feeling that five black-robed terrorists sitting across the street from the Capitol building will eventually be weighing in on the issue. What do you suppose are the odds of them ruling in favor of the first Hispanic Republican candidate?"
  • Tony Perkins blames the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell for "five years of sexual assaults, suicides, recruitment woes, and low morale" in the military.
  • After being forced out of business in America, the ex-gay "conversion" group JONAH has fled to Israel.
  • Ben Carson needs to come to grips with the reality that he is not going to be president.
  • The Center for Security Policy insists that it is neither "anti-Muslim" nor "Islamophobic."
  • Finally, Micah Clark of the American Family Association of Indiana says that "the victim today is not the homosexual activists. Hollywood and everybody in society upholds homosexuality. It's Christianity that is the target."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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