Susan B. Anthony List

Trump's New 'Pro-Life' Adviser Wants To Ban Abortion Without 'Abominable' Exceptions

Donald Trump announced today that he is forming a new “pro-life coalition” that will be led by Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List. Dannenfelser, who warned in January that Trump would not deliver on the anti-choice movement’s priorities of appointing like minded Supreme Court justices and defunding Planned Parenthood, has come around to Trump since he became the GOP nominee and began promising the anti-choice movement what it wanted.

Trump’s pick of Dannenfelser to head his campaign’s anti-abortion effort shows just how willing he is to hand his reproductive rights policy over to the anti-choice movement. Dannenfelser is a savvy political operative, but she has also been very clear about her ultimate goal: to criminalize abortion in America, without exception.

When the House passed a bill last year banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy with a narrow exception for rape and incest survivors, Dannenfelser said that the bill’s rape exception was “regrettable” and “intellectually dishonest,” saying that she’d like to see all abortions banned at “any stage” of pregnancy. In a press conference, Dannenfelser said that although her group supported the legislation, “the rape exception is abominable.”

Dannenfelser has also held a hard line against abortion-ban exemptions for women whose health is at risk, saying in 2012 that her group would not support a candidate who supported health exceptions.

While Dannenfelser’s ultimate goal is to ban abortion without exception, she has said that the best way to achieve that goal is for anti-choice politicians to avoid discussing those exceptions. After Rep. Todd Akin made his infamous “legitimate rape” comment in 2013, the SBA list started training GOP lawmakers to avoid discussing why they want to withhold abortion rights from rape survivors.

Asked in 2015 what she thought it would take for GOP leaders to fully embrace a no-exceptions abortion policy, Dannenfelser responded, “It’s going to take winning.” She cited anti-choice victories in the 2014 elections where “we had unapologetic pro-life people who didn’t talk about rape and incest.”

During the GOP presidential primary, she attacked Republican candidates who criticized their opponents for holding no-exceptions policies. Earlier this year, her group targeted an anti-choice GOP congresswoman who had delayed a vote on the 20-week bill because she was concerned about a police reporting requirement in its rape exception.

Dannenfelser is also a fierce opponent of Planned Parenthood, saying last year that shutting the women’s health provider down would “liberate” its employees, “whose hearts are so calloused over.”

Later in 2015, Dannenfelser mocked Planned Parenthood’s “gender-based, grievance-oriented politics,” saying that “real women who truly love what womanhood really is” should also be concerned about “equal rights” for men in health care.

“I love men!” she declared. “What about men’s health? I mean, do we have anything to say about men’s health and the particular health problems that men have? Do we ever talk about the ‘men’s gap’ when we’re moving into an election?”

Dannenfelser, however, has been trying to claim the mantle of feminism for the anti-choice movement. The Susan B. Anthony List is named after the suffragist pioneer; Dannenfelser declared last year that “abortion-centered feminism is dead.”

In January, Dannenfelser signed a letter along with other female anti-choice leaders urging GOP primary voters to “support anyone but Donald Trump.” The group claimed both that Trump couldn’t be “trusted” to back them on abortion policy and that they were “disgusted by Mr. Trump’s treatment of individuals, women, in particular.”

Now, it seems, Trump has made enough promises to the anti-choice movement that Dannenfelser is satisfied on the first count and willing to overlook the second.

Anti-Choice Leader: Tax Evasion A 'Serious Consideration' If Hyde Amendment Repealed

Marjorie Dannenfelser, head of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, said last week that anti-choice activists should take into “serious consideration” refusing to pay taxes if the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funds from going to most abortion services, is repealed.

Dannenfelser told the Media Research Center after a speech at the National Press Club on Wednesday that a tax protest would be "something to think about" if the Hyde Amendment were repealed, as proposed in a draft of the Democratic platform.

"If it were repealed, how should pro-lifers react?" MRC's Katie Yoder asked Dannenfelser. "Should they go so far as to refuse to pay taxes?"

"That would be a serious consideration," Dannenfelser responded. "That would be a serious consideration. When you're made complicit in the killing of another person, you have to weigh the consequences of all your actions, so it would be something to think about."

The Anti-Choice Movement Is Going All-In For Trump

At last weekend’s National Right to Life Convention outside of Washington, D.C., there was one name that was on everyone’s minds, even if it was rarely uttered aloud: Donald Trump.

Speaker after speaker discussed the 2016 election while sidestepping what one conference-goer called the “elephant in the room,” Trump’s place at the top of the Republican ticket. But attendees were not about to let the topic go, and several speakers were pressed about the organization’s stance on the presidential election during question-and-answer sessions.

While a handful of National Right to Life state affiliates have endorsed Trump, the national group has yet to take an official position in the general election. The group endorsed Sen. Ted Cruz in the waning days of the Republican primary, citing Trump’s many flip-flops on abortion rights.

James Bopp, the legendary conservative attorney who serves as the National Right to Life Committee’s general counsel, was one of the few speakers to bring up the presumptive GOP nominee without prompting, never mentioning the candidate by name but saying that “there’s only one conclusion you can come to” in the race since the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, is “100 percent evil” and “will never make a correct decision on anything.”

Fr. Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life, made a similar argument after being pressed about his position on Trump at the conference, attempting to downplay the power that Trump would have and play up the influence that he would give to those around him, presumably people more in line with the anti-choice movement’s goals and messaging.

“When you think about it,” Pavone said, “the situation we have now is just a heightened version of what we face in any electoral choice, namely you’re choosing between two people, you know, you can have problems with both of them. A vote doesn’t mean that you agree with the person, a vote doesn’t mean that you think the person’s right. A vote is a transfer of power.”

“Remember that the presidency is more than the man or woman who occupies the Oval Office,” he added. “You’re putting a whole party into power. You’re putting a whole team into power. Every one of these candidates is surrounded by a large number of smart and influential people who are going to set boundaries and advise them and point them in the right direction. And not only that, but you have, we still do have checks and balances in our system. So if we were voting for a dictator it would be a very different scenario.”

Pavone mentioned that he had recently spoken with John Mashburn, a Trump aide whose hiring was meant in part as a bridge to abortion rights opponents.

Karen Cross, National Right to Life’s political director, was also confronted about Trump during a breakout session by an attendee who called the Republican candidate “the elephant in the room at this whole convention.”

Cross, whose presentation had been about the damage she said was caused by anti-choice activists who demand purity in their candidates and thus let pro-choice candidates win, also offered the Clinton-is-worse argument.

“We have to work against Hillary,” she said. “Hillary is 100 percent pro-abortion, she is the Emily's List, Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, voted and worked against — I mean, she's against the partial-birth abortion ban, she's spoken against the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, she has committed to appointing pro-abortion justices to the court. She is horrible.”

Yet she acknowledged that “this is the most different, most difficult election I've ever seen, ever.”

Mainstream anti-abortion groups have largely fallen in line behind Trump, despite their initial doubts. The Susan B. Anthony List, for instance, has said it will back Trump despite the fact that its president once signed a letter urging primary voters to “support anyone but Donald Trump,” calling into question his commitment to the anti-abortion cause and saying she was “disgusted by Mr. Trump’s treatment of individuals, women, in particular.” Americans United for Life has not taken an official position on Trump, but its acting president told The Washington Times in May that it would be impossible to support Clinton.

At the National Right to Life Convention, speakers focused on the goal of keeping a Republican majority in the Senate, while not dwelling on the risk that having Trump at the top of the ticket may pose to some of their favored candidates.

In one moment of dissonance, Raimundo Rojas, the National Right to Life Committee’s director of Latino outreach, who was giving a workshop on reaching Latino audiences, showed a slide detailing the performance of past Republican presidential candidates among Latino voters. He noted that ignoring or alienating the Hispanic media can spell doom for a candidate. He never mentioned Trump.

The Anti-Abortion 'Seneca Falls'

Last weekend, about 500 anti-abortion activists — nearly all of whom were women — gathered in Dallas for what was billed as the first-ever “Pro-Life Women’s Conference.”

The event’s organizer, Abby Johnson, said that she wanted to “reclaim the narrative” of the movement, putting women at its front and including “many different groups of people,” including nonbelievers and LGBT people. She repeatedly said that the movement needs to “embrace the f-word”: feminism.

“This is our Seneca Falls, baby!” she said.

Johnson recalled speaking at a recent March For Life alongside a long line of men. “We know that the pro-life movement is led and has been led by women,” she said. “But for many years, women have sort of been leading from behind. And we haven’t done a very good job with our optics, right? So there’s photos and in the photos, it’s dudes.”

The conference came immediately before the Supreme Court rejected Texas’ attempt to limit abortion rights by regulating clinics out of existence, an effort that had been dubiously promoted as an effort to protect women’s health. The mainstream anti-abortion movement in recent years has been trying to claim that their main focus is on “protecting” women and to portray abortion as an unsafe and damaging procedure promoted by nefarious, profit-hungry organizations.

But Johnson’s conference aimed for something more: crafting a narrative that presented opposition to abortion rights as an explicitly feminist movement, one that could attract more than what she called “the traditional Christian pro-lifer.”

While Johnson said she wanted to create a unified “pro-life” message, the conflicts within the movement — and the challenge of expanding its reach — were evident even that weekend in Dallas.

Finding Common Ground With Pro-Choicers?

Several speakers at the conference — all of the speakers were women — urged the anti-abortion movement to take on issues with which they might find common ground with pro-choice feminists , including family leave policies, poverty alleviation and access to child care.

Serrin Foster, the head of Feminists for Life, said, “There are three key reasons for the feminization of poverty: Lack of education, lack of workplace accommodation and paternal support. Do that, three-fourths of the reasons that women have an abortion are over.”

She accused the abortion rights movement of giving up on these issues, saying that “by accepting pregnancy discrimination in the school and in the workplace, by accepting … the lack of support for pregnant women and parents, especially the poor, [Sarah] Weddington [the attorney who argued Roe v. Wade] and the Supreme Court betrayed women and the greatest experiment on women and children began: abortion.”

Similarly, Leah Jacobson, the president of the Guiding Star network of anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers, talked about the need “to look at how women’s bodies function and make sure that our employers take this into account,” including by pushing for maternity and paternity leave laws, flexible work schedules for parents, and subsidized or on-site workplace child care.

Jacobson coupled this call with a heavy dose of maternalism, alluding to the transgender bathroom debate and saying that women must live out their “motherly calling”: “Men are wonderful but women are the heart of society. We love, we connect, we empathize, we are relational. Men are very good at seeing the large picture sometimes but they don’t see the littlest of all. We need to humanize the culture as women. And so it’s so important as women we live our motherly calling even if it’s not as a physical mother.”

While issues such as expanding family leave requirements and access to child care could be an area of consensus for self-identified pro-life and pro-choice feminists — whatever their reasons for supporting them — there seemed to be little enthusiasm at the conference for working with pro-choicers on these causes.

When Johnson asked who “the abortion movement” was united behind, an audience member yelled out, “the devil!” (The answer was Planned Parenthood.)

Similarly, when Johnson read a polite form letter that Hillary Clinton’s campaign had sent in response to a request to speak at the conference — Johnson had invited all three remaining presidential candidates, but Clinton was the only one to respond — it was met with howls of laughter and derision.

While Clinton has the clearly better record on policies supporting mothers — policies that speakers like Foster and Jacobson said help dissuade women from choosing abortion — the only positive references to presidential candidates at the event were allusions to Donald Trump’s promises to pick Supreme Court justices who would roll back Roe v. Wade. Anti-choice leaders as a whole have rallied behind Trump, who besides vowing to “cherish” women and appoint anti-choice judges, has not offered any serious plans for improving the lot of women in the workforce or helping women out of poverty.

The “pro-woman” talking points, ultimately, were largely meant to further one principal policy goal: recriminalizing abortion.

Many speakers hailed the slew of abortion restrictions that have been passed in the states in recent years, while noting that they don’t go far enough.

Karen Garnett, the director of the Catholic Pro-Life Committee of Dallas, moderated a panel on anti-abortion politics, telling the audience, “We cannot get pro-life laws passed unless we have pro-life legislators sitting in the state houses to pass those laws and in Washington, D.C. And it’s been good that we’ve been able to get that much done. But have we ended abortion yet? No. Have we fulfilled our call yet — no — to end this? It matters — look at this, where we are, where we sit together today with this Supreme Court decision coming down tomorrow — it matters who is sitting in the Oval Office in terms of the appointments of the Supreme Court justices.”

Star Parker, a frequent speaker at Religious Right events, kept her standard pitch to conservative audiences, blaming government “safety nets” for people getting “lost” and implying that churches rather than the government should be in charge of poverty alleviation: “Maybe God was right that you’re supposed to take care of the poor, not throw them off to some government bureaucrat.”

Ending Roe, Eliminating Planned Parenthood

While some speakers made nods to policies such as paid family leave and efforts to support pregnant women on college campuses, the real political enthusiasm at the event was behind shutting down abortion clinics, defunding Planned Parenthood and eventually eliminating Roe v. Wade.

“Roe v. Wade started here in Dallas, Texas,” Johnson said, “and I believe we can end it here.”

Marilyn Musgrave, a former Republican congresswoman who is now the vice president of governmental affairs at the Susan B. Anthony List, gave a speech in which she praised the House committee investigating Planned Parenthood for “kicking down the gates of hell.” She commended Texas’ restrictive legislation that was before the Supreme Court, saying that it was “going to save thousands of lives” and praying “that those abortion clinics will close down that do not meet those standards.”

During the politics panel, Texas activist Carolyn Cline held up a brick that she said was “the last brick in the lot” of an abortion clinic that had been closed by the Texas law, another acknowledgment that the law’s goal was to close clinics rather than improve safety. The law, said the Family Research Council’s Arina Grossu, was another sign that the anti-abortion movement “is winning.”

Throughout the event, Planned Parenthood was portrayed as a remorseless villain. Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood employee who now runs a group that tries to get abortion clinic employees to quit their jobs, showed a video she had recently found from her time at the group guiding counsellors on how to speak to women who are considering abortion, which she said showed “coercion” on the part of the group.

Parker went so far as to pin America’s economic troubles on Planned Parenthood’s continued existence: “Is it any wonder things are so dark in our country? Is it any wonder our economy is still sputtering? I don’t think that God is ready to bless America right now.”

Erin Brownback, a communications consultant who has worked with a number of prominent anti-choice politicians, had a similar warning about legal abortion in the U.S., saying, “Societies throughout history that allow a culture of death are destroyed. That is historically true, you can look back at the gladiators and different groups that have not protected life and those cultures have all died.”

While the criticism of Planned Parenthood centered on its role as a legal abortion provider, there was an undercurrent at the conference about resistance to hormonal contraception, including a workshop on Natural Family Planning. American Life League, a Catholic anti-abortion group, distributed a pamphlet arguing that the birth control pill “may cause an abortion.”

One interesting trend among the women anti-abortion activists was a willingness to talk forthrightly about their opposition to rape exceptions in abortion laws, something that Musgrave’s group has trained male politicians to avoid addressing. (This was in part thanks to the prodding of Rebecca Kiessling, a “conceived in rape” activist who asked as many speakers as she could about exceptions.) Some speakers approached the subject by portraying abortion in such cases not as violence against the “unborn” but as additional violence against the woman.

Musgrave, in response to a question by Kiessling, boasted of her group’s efforts to unseat Rep. Renee Ellmers, an anti-abortion Republican who derailed a vote on a 20-week abortion ban because she was worried that its rape exception was too restrictive. SBA List opposed Ellmers, she said, “because you know what, if we had let that action go unchallenged, we would have dumbed down ‘pro-life’ to where it didn’t mean anything.”

LGBT And Secular Outreach

Johnson made a deliberate effort to expand the reach of her conference beyond what she called “the traditional Christian pro-lifer.”

The Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians (PLAGAL) set up a table. One piece of literature the group distributed explained that the line of Supreme Court cases establishing a “right to privacy” that encompasses both reproductive rights and the rights of gays and lesbians is irrelevant because LGBT rights would have succeeded anyway without the courts. “Abortion rights will fail because, unlike gay rights, they are not the result of a democratic process but rather a brand new ‘constitutional right’ created by a court impatient with democratic changes,” it said, seemingly dismissing the importance of major court victories that furthered LGBT equality. The group shared its table with the Pro-Life Humanists, who distribute anti-abortion literature at atheist events.

Kelsey Hazzard, the head of Secular Pro-Life, gave a workshop on “reaching non-Christian, LGBT, and other minority audiences with the pro-life message.” Aimee Murphy, the director of Life Matters Journal, gave a workshop faulting both political parties for what she said was an inconsistent ethic of human rights when it comes to abortion, capital punishment, torture and war, echoing the message of some early liberal Catholic anti-abortion activists. Kristen Day, the head of Democrats for Life, spoke and sponsored a booth.

A panel of mostly young women discussing activism strategies lamented that the anti-abortion movement had alienated LGBT people and others. Kristen Hatten, the vice president of the group New Wave Feminists, said that her gay friends “don’t really feel welcome in the movement. I would love to see that change, and not just for homosexual people, but transgender people and just everybody, everybody of all colors and creeds.”

Yet some of that alienation could be seen at the conference itself. Parker railed against the “war on marriage” and the “elimination of all gender binary.” She lamented that a “war on religion” had removed “any reference to God” from schools and that Americans were sending their kids “to these cesspools we call schools and they learn secular humanism.” She urged young, anti-abortion women to become lawyers “so they can make you a judge and you can get on these courts” and reject laws that are “unlawful in God’s eyes.”

The Family Research Council, one of the most stridently anti-LGBT advocacy groups in the country, sponsored a booth.

In some cases, the embrace of LGBT and secular allies didn’t seem all that sincere. Brownback, the conservative messaging consultant, said at a breakout session how delighted she had been to talk to the representatives of LGBT and secular groups at the conference. Just weeks before, Brownback had written on Twitter that while she loves her gay friends she thinks “they are hurting themselves and society” and opined that it’s “sad to see a feminized man.”

While the event seemed to be mostly comprised of Christians, and was heavily sprinkled with references to the Bible, Johnson seemed to catch on at the end as she noted before a closing prayer that not everyone in the room would choose to participate.

Despite the presence of Democrats for Life and other nontraditional allies, there was not much suggestion of moving beyond the movement’s current alliance with fiscally conservative Republicans who resist expanding the social safety net but are on board with punitive abortion restrictions. Many speakers steered away from explicitly political topics, speaking instead about building a “culture of life” in which women choose not to terminate pregnancies. But politically, there was little question that this self-proclaimed “feminist” movement would continue to ally itself with the party of Donald Trump.

Victims And Heroes

Brownback, a former Alliance Defending Freedom employee who said that she had worked with congressional Republicans on messaging around their efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and with the Texas attorney general, who brought the recent Supreme Court case, gave a crowded workshop on “Successful Pro-Life Messaging.”

She gave tips for how to connect with people on all sides of the issue. She recommended warming to pro-choicers by telling them “I hear you,” “that must be really hard” and, creatively, “you’re so pretty.” With people in the middle concerned with cases like rape and saving a woman’s life, she recommended not engaging on those issues but instead telling them that if they’re anti-abortion in 99 percent of cases, they’re anti-abortion.

Critically, she urged anti-abortion advocates to tell stories that “create the perception of a victim, a villain and a hero.”

In those stories, she said, the woman obtaining an abortion is the victim and the provider is the villain (with supporting villain roles sometimes played by overbearing boyfriends pressuring women to get abortions). “Anyone coercing women into having an abortion is in the role of the villain,” she said. “And keep in mind that a lot of times the people coercing women into having abortions are the ones who stand to financially profit from it. So that’s why we’ve talked about Planned Parenthood and we’ve talked about abortion businesses, because they are trained to sell abortions.”

“And who is the hero?” she asked. “You are the hero, your supporters are the heroes. You’re saying, here’s a victim that you have saved from this or someone that you could have saved. You are the hero, you are in that position.”

She said that she tries to bolster this image of anti-abortion heroes by taking “pictures of very attractive, beautiful, youthful people” at events and posting “a ton of them” on social media.

Brownback’s template story of the woman as a victim and the abortion provider as a villain looms large in the messaging of the anti-abortion movement. Yet not everyone at the conference was on board with characterization. Murphy said she was sick of anti-abortion literature that portrayed women as “a damsel in distress,” saying, “Let’s give them information that’s going to empower them and not play into this whole victim mindset.” Destiny De La Rosa of New Wave Feminists said, “When you make someone the hero of their own story, I think that’s very important, and I think the pro-life movement has missed an opportunity because, unfortunately, we tend to put women in the victim role a lot.”

Anti-Choice Groups React To Whole Woman’s Health Decision: Protect 'Vulnerable' Women, Elect Trump

The reactions from anti-abortion groups to the Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt have started pouring in. Most repeat the claim that the Texas law in question, which was meant to regulate the majority of the state’s abortion providers out of existence, was in fact an honest attempt to protect women’s health and stand up to unscrupulous providers. A few linked the decision to the upcoming presidential election, urging voters to elect a president who will nominate justices hostile to Roe v. Wade, as Donald Trump has promised he will do.

Americans United For Life, the legal architect of many TRAP laws, including the one in Texas, said that the law was meant to “protect women from a dangerous and greedy abortion industry” and repeated the increasingly common anti-choice talking point that legal abortion providers are the true “back alley”:

“Women lost today as the Supreme Court sides with the abortion industry, putting profits over women’s health and safety by opposing life-saving regulations and medically endorsed standards of patient care. Sadly, the commonsense laws that protect women in real, full service healthcare centers won’t be in effect in Texas abortion clinics, but Americans United for Life will continue to fight – in legislatures and in the courts – to protect women from a dangerous and greedy abortion industry,” said AUL Acting President and Senior Counsel Clarke Forsythe. …

“In striking down these commonsense requirements, the Supreme Court has essentially accepted the abortion industry’s argument that it should be allowed to keep its profits high and patient care standards low,” said Forsythe. “It inexplicably turned a blind eye to what it has repeatedly held since Roe v. Wade: states may regulate the provision of abortion to protect maternal health. This ruling endangers women nationwide as health and safety standards are at risk.”

“Today’s abortion clinics are the true ‘back alleys’ of abortion mythology,” noted Denise Burke, Vice President of Legal Affairs at AUL. “They consistently operate in the ‘red light district’ of American medicine where the problem of substandard abortion providers is longstanding and pervasive. The fight against this public health crisis will continue, despite today’s ruling.”

Stephen Aden of the Religious Right legal group Alliance Defending Freedom linked the law to Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortion provider who was found guilty of a number of crimes related to a squalid clinic he ran, claiming that Texas’ law was “clearly designed to protect the health and safety of women in the wake of the Kermit Gosnell Scandal”:

“Abortionists shouldn’t be given a free pass to elude medical requirements that everyone else is required to follow. We are disappointed that the Supreme Court has ruled against a law so clearly designed to protect the health and safety of women in the wake of the Kermit Gosnell scandal. The law’s requirements were commonsense protections that ensured the maximum amount of protection for women, who deserve to have their well-being treated by government as a higher priority than the bottom line of abortionists. Any abortion facilities that don’t meet basic health and safety standards are not facilities that anyone should want to remain open.”

The Family Research Council similarly claimed that the Supreme Court decision “gives the abortion industry a free pass,” ridiculously claiming that abortion providers face less stringent regulation than hair salons and restaurants:

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released the following statement:

"The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down H.B. 2 undermines the health and safety of vulnerable women. This decision is a loss for women and gives the abortion industry a free pass. The need to regulate abortion facilities is necessary to protect women against cut-and-run abortionists at shoddy abortion facilities. Mandating basic and necessary health and safety standards such as trained staff, corridors that could accommodate a stretcher in case of emergency, admitting privileges to a hospital, and up-to-date fire, sanitation, and safety codes should be beyond the politics of abortion. When abortion facilities are not held to the same standards as other facilities, women’s lives are endangered. In 2011 alone, 26,500 women experienced abortion-related complications, and close to 3,200 women required post-abortion hospitalization. Hair and nail salons, public pools, restaurants, and tanning centers must meet basic health and safety standards—shouldn’t abortion facilities? Abortion facilities cannot be exempt from following basic health standards.

"While the need to protect the health and safety of women failed to remain at the forefront of the Supreme Court's decision, we will continue our work to protect women and children from the predatory abortion industry,” Perkins concluded.

FRC’s Arina Grossu, Director of the Center for Human Dignity, released the following statement:

“One cannot be pro-woman and stand for the substandard facilities that many abortion centers operate which risk women’s lives. Striking down abortion facility regulations leaves the door open for continued and rampant disregard for women’s health and safety. Status-quo is not good enough," concluded Grossu.

Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver also claimed that the Supreme Court was siding with abortion clinics’ bottom lines over the health of women:

“How foolish a decision by the Supreme Court to strike down common sense regulations regarding health and safety,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “They expect us to believe their opinion is based on the Constitution? It certainly is not. This is a sad day and another dark chapter in the history of America. Women should not be relegated to substandard facilities in order to save abortion providers a few dollars.”

The Susan B. Anthony List, which acts as the political arm of the anti-choice movement, turned the conversation to the election, while never quite mentioning Trump by name:

“Today’s tragic decision by the Court means that Texas women will not be protected from the unsanitary conditions and even Gosnell-like horrors that permeate the abortion industry,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, referencing the 2013 trial of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, currently serving a life sentence for murdering babies after botched, late-term abortions, and for the negligent death of one mother, Karnamaya Mongar.

“The abortion industry cannot be trusted to regulate itself and they know it. That’s why they fought tooth and nail against common-sense health and safety standards and requirements for abortionists to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. We have documented page after page of incidents of abuse, negligence, and brutality since 2008. This decision means the filth and exploitation will continue unchecked.

“The stakes for the 2016 election could not be higher. The next president will be tasked with selecting Justice Antonin Scalia’s replacement and up to three others. We must elect a pro-life president and safeguard today’s pro-life majorities in the House and Senate. Only with a pro-life Congress and White House can we begin to address the havoc wrought by the Supreme Court on America’s unborn children and their mothers.”

Frank Pavone of Priests for Life also linked the decision to the election:

The Supreme Court is now the Supreme Medical Board, setting its own standards for patient care in the United States. This decision is an outrageous usurpation of legislative power and it only underscores the critical importance of electing a President who will nominate -- and Senators who will confirm -- justices to the Supreme Court who will adjudicate, not write the law.

As did Tim Head, the executive director of Ralph Reed’s group, the Faith and Freedom Coalition:

“The U.S. Supreme Court once again failed to protect the rights, health and safety of women and unborn children today in its Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision. Texas and many other states have enacted common sense laws that protect the rights of the unborn and the health and safety of thousands of women subjected to the horrific conditions of abortion clinics across the country, and its shameful that the Supreme Court overturned these safeguards. The Court’s failure today is another example of the urgency to elect a pro-life President in November who will be responsible for filling the enormous vacancy left by Justice Scalia’s passing and possibly fill other seats on the Court. The pro-life community must also unite to elect legislators across the country who will work to protect women and unborn children.”

Fox commentator Todd Starnes referenced the need for the anti-choice movement to ensure ideological purity among judges, even those nominated by Republican presidents:

Russell Moore, the policy head of the Southern Baptist Convention, meanwhile, filmed a video outside the Supreme Court in which he claimed that the “sad and pathetic ruling that essentially leaves the abortion industry unregulated in a kind of wild west, laissez faire sort of situation in the state of Texas that we wouldn’t allow for any other industry.”

Christians, he said, “need to be standing up for our vulnerable unborn neighbors and their vulnerable mothers.”

 

 

Marjorie Dannenfelser: Trump's Abortion Flip-Flops Are A Sign Of Humility

Following the meeting that Donald Trump held with hundreds of Religious Right activists yesterday, a handful of leaders sat down for a press conference where they took questions from reporters. At this press conference, the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins and the Susan B. Anthony List's Marjorie Dannenfelser perfectly displayed just how flimsy their supposed standards are when it comes to backing political candidates.

When it comes to Trump, whose history of unapologetic narcissism, pathological dishonesty and willingness to say whatever benefits him at the moment are undeniable, both Perkins and Dannenfelser made it clear that they simply do not care about any of those things because, right now, Trump is willing to tell them what they want to hear.

Admitting that Trump has a long history of doing things, saying things and taking positions that are in direct contradiction to the supposed values of the Religious Right, Perkins rationalized backing Trump by declaring that forgiveness is the core of the Christian faith.

"One of the things about the evangelical community that people have a hard time understanding," Perkins said, 'is we forgive. We're all sinners, we all have messed up ... When we ask people to say, 'I was wrong, forgive me, I want to do the right thing today going forward,' more than anybody else evangelicals in this country can accept that."

When a reporter pointed out that Trump does not ever actually asks for forgiveness — in fact, Trump once infamously said that he has never asked God for forgiveness — Perkins responded by declaring that "when you look at the leaders that were used throughout scripture in the Bible, almost to a 'T' each and every one of them were flawed in some form or fashion and made bad choices at some point in their life. That's the good thing about the Christian faith is it's going forward, it's not looking back."

Dannenfelser, who earlier this year signed on to a letter urging voters in Iowa "to support anyone but Donald Trump" because "Mr. Trump cannot be trusted" on the issue of abortion, also came to Trump's defense, declaring that the presumptive GOP nominee is working hard "to become the person that he says that he is."

Brushing aside the debacle a few months back when Trump said that if abortion is outlawed, women who receive them should face some sort of punishment, only to then repeatedly flip-flop on the issue, even claiming at one point that he wanted to leave abortion laws the way they are, as he scrambled to do damage control, Dannenfelser spun the episode as something for which Trump deserves a lot of credit.

"To give him a lot of credit, only a person with some humility, which he doesn't get credit for, would go back and correct his comments, which he did," Dannenfelser said. "I've actually found on the abortion issue that he's done that more on that particular issue than almost any other, a willingness to correct himself and move ahead. And I think that shows an ability to become the person that he says that he is."

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Former Tea Party Darling Defeated As Anti-Choice & Tea Party Groups Turn Against Her

Back in 2010, after the Tea Party sweep helped Republicans regain control of the House, we profiled the “10 scariest Republicans heading to Congress,” most of them Tea Party crusaders. One of these was Renee Ellmers, a former nurse who based her campaign on opposing the Affordable Care Act and ran a campaign ad calling an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan a “victory mosque” built in celebration of 9/11.

Ellmers credited her start in politics to Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the Koch-backed group that rallied opposition to Obamacare, and won the support of anti-choice groups including the Susan B. Anthony List and Concerned Women for America.

Then things changed. Yesterday, Ellmers lost a Republican primary in part thanks to redistricting that pitted her against another GOP incumbent and in part due to the $1.1 million that her former conservative allies spent to defeat her.

AFP spent six figures on ads opposing Ellmers and dropped in dozens of field workers to knock on doors in her district, condemning her for straying from the Tea Party line and working with GOP leadership to support compromise spending bills and the Export-Import Bank. Other conservatives were troubled by her bucking of hardliners on a few immigration votes.

But what was the most stunning was Ellmers’ fall from grace in the anti-abortion movement. Ellmersopposes abortion rights and has a 100 percent rating on the National Right to Life Committee’s congressional scorecard. But she angered her former anti-choice allies last year when she led a group of Republican women and some moderates who derailed a planned vote on a 20-week abortion ban — the anti-choice movement’s premier legislation — when, at the last minute, they expressed concerns about a provision that would have exempted rape survivors only if they reported the crime to the police. The bill was later reintroduced with modified language, but the anti-choice movement had lost its chance to hold a vote on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade as activists flooded Washington for the March for Life.

National Right to Life sent an email to its members last week calling Ellmers a “pro-life traitor” and boasting of its efforts to defeat her in the primary. “Nothing has the potential to do more damage to pro-life efforts than people who run as pro-life candidates back home in their pro-life districts and then stab the babies in the back when they come to DC and work against pro-life efforts,” the group wrote.

In an interview with the conservative website The Pulse last week, Susan B. Anthony List’s Marjorie Dannenfelser, citing her group’s early support of Ellmers, said, “Well, we brought her into the political process, and we intend to take her out.” She acknowledged that Ellmers has “a 100 percent record” on her group’s issues, but her sabotage of the 20-week bill “totally trumped every single thing else that we were looking for in a candidate.”

While Tea Party funders were angered by Ellmers’ cozying up to her party’s leadership and anti-choice groups were angered by her derailing of an important symbolic vote (even though she agreed with the substance of that vote), Ellmers hardly became a moderate. After all, she was the first congressional candidate to earn an endorsement from Donald Trump, thanks to her early support for his presidential candidacy.

Yesterday, in a bizarre ending to a strange tale of shifting Republican allegiances, Ellmers, maybe feeling that she had nothing left to lose, told a North Carolina Republican activist who had abandoned her to support one of her primary rivals that she had gained weight, all in front of rolling news cameras:

SBA List Goes After GOP Congresswoman Who Raised Concerns About Rape Survivors

The Susan B. Anthony List, which serves as the electoral arm of the anti-abortion movement and is particularly focused on electing anti-choice women, is for the first time endorsing a male candidate over an anti-choice woman in a Republican primary, backing Rep. George Holding against Rep. Renee Ellmers in a recently redrawn congressional district in North Carolina.

The anti-choice movement turned on Ellmers back in January 2015 when she led a group of anti-abortion Republicans who objected at the last minute to a provision in a 20-week abortion ban that would have exempted rape survivors from the ban only if they first reported their rape to law enforcement.

Ellmers said at the time that the reporting requirement was “completely unrealistic” and “further victimized the victims of rape,” also suggesting that including it could feed into pro-choice criticisms of Republicans.

The objections of Ellmers and her allies caused the bill to be pulled from consideration right before a vote that was scheduled to coincide with the March for Life and the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, frustrating and embarrassing anti-choice leaders who consider the legislation to be their top priority on Capitol Hill.

Anti-choice groups immediatelyvowed to exact revenge. Although the movement was slow to jump into the primary race, anti-choice activists successfully lobbied to keep Ellmers off a select committee investigating Planned Parenthood and in March National Right to Life Committee endorsed her opponent, Holding.

Now, Susan B. Anthony List’s Marjorie Dannenfelser tells Roll Call, her group will work to defeat Ellmers because “You’re not really an effective political organization if you can’t respond to the derailment of your number one priority.”

Yes, the anti-choice movement was angry about the optics of Ellmers’ move to derail the 20-week ban. And they can’t be thrilled that she was an early endorser of Donald Trump back when Dannenfelser and others were urging the GOP to pick literally anyone else . But the issue it comes down to is a rape exception. The Susan B. Anthony List and its allies are now punishing a congresswoman who agrees with their policy priorities simply because she publicly mentioned the impact that one of their bills might have on rape survivors.

Anti-Choice Leader Who Said Trump Mistreated Women Now Making The 'Case For Trump'

The leaders of the movement against abortion rights have, in recent years, been making a concerted effort to portray their movement as “pro-woman,” from devising a legal strategy that disguises anti-choice restrictions as protections for “women’s health,” to counseling Republican candidates on how not to talk about rape, to giving this year’s March for Life the theme “Pro-life and Pro-woman Go Hand in Hand.”

One of the leaders of this strategy is Marjorie Dannenfelser, the head of the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that takes its name from the historically dubious claim that the women’s suffrage crusader was a “pro-life feminist.”

Dannenfelser and her fellow anti-choice leaders were not thrilled, then, with the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, who has a long record of making disparaging and demeaning statements about women, not to mention the fact that he has blown up the anti-choice movement's carefully constructed talking points and publicly discussed changing the Republican Party’s platform position on abortion.

In an open letter to Iowa voters in January, Dannenfelser and handful of other anti-choice movement leaders urged Republicans to pick “anyone but Donald Trump,” writing that they did not trust the candidate to pick Supreme Court justices to their liking, and also saying that they were “disgusted” by his record of making “disparaging public comments to and about many women:

Moreover, as women, we are disgusted by Mr. Trump’s treatment of individuals, women, in particular. He has impugned the dignity of women, most notably Megyn Kelly, he mocked and bullied Carly Fiorina, and has through the years made disparaging public comments to and about many women. Further, Mr. Trump has profited from the exploitation of women in his Atlantic City casino hotel which boasted of the first strip club casino in the country.

America will only be a great nation when we have leaders of strong character who will defend both unborn children and the dignity of women. We cannot trust Donald Trump to do either. Therefore we urge our fellow citizens to support an alternative candidate.

When, in March, Trump said that there should be “some form of punishment” for women who have abortions if the procedure is outlawed, Dannenfelser scrambled to do damage control. When Trump said just days later that he didn’t actually want to change any abortion laws, Dannenfelser declared, “He has completely contradicted himself. If this is his position, he has just disqualified himself as the GOP nominee.”

Dannenfelser enthusiastically backed Carly Fiorina’s presidential bid, rejoicing when Ted Cruz picked her as his running mate in the final days of his faltering campaign.

But all of Trump’s egregious statements about women and his flip-flopping on abortion rights aren’t stopping Dannenfelser from lining up behind him now that he is the presumptive GOP nominee.

Dannenfelser praised Trump last week for hiring a top adviser who has the trust of anti-choice activists. And today in Townhall she writes a column called “The Pro-life Case for Trump,” in which she says it’s time to “reexamine what we know about Mr. Trump” and praises the “very specific pro-life commitments” that he has made on the campaign trail,” including backing a 20-week abortion ban, saying he would defund Planned Parenthood and promising to nominate Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade. (Never mind that Trump has backtracked and equivocated on many of these positions, as Dannenfelser herself has noted in the past.)

“As we move into the general election,” Dannenfelser writes, “Susan B. Anthony List is already diligently working to engage with voters and expose Hillary Clinton’s extremism, confident that the American people will reject her radical abortion agenda at the ballot box. We believe Mr. Trump, who has already taken strong positions on the life issue throughout the primary campaign, will join us on offense.”

It’s not an endorsement, but it’s a pretty warm statement from someone who has previously said she was “disgusted” by Trump’s treatment of women and said he had “disqualified himself” with his flip-flops. Dannenfelser’s group has clearly decided that it’s worth teaming up with the notoriously misogynistic Trump in the hope that he will hand them the Supreme Court that they want. But that may make it a little harder to sell the idea that their anti-choice activism is all in pursuit of a pro-woman, feminist vision.

Anti-Abortion Activists Begin To Fall In Line Behind Donald Trump

UPDATED

In January, as Iowans prepared to cast their votes in the first-in-the-nation caucuses, several women leaders in the anti-abortion movement wrote an open letter urging Republicans in the state to “support anyone but Donald Trump.”

The activists, including Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser and Concerned Women for America CEO Penny Nance, wrote that Trump “cannot be trusted” to advance their anti-abortion policy goals or to nominate Supreme Court justices who would vote to reverse Roe v. Wade. They went on to describe his record of “disparaging” remarks about women:

Moreover, as women, we are disgusted by Mr. Trump’s treatment of individuals, women, in particular. He has impugned the dignity of women, most notably Megyn Kelly, he mocked and bullied Carly Fiorina, and has through the years made disparaging public comments to and about many women. Further, Mr. Trump has profited from the exploitation of women in his Atlantic City casino hotel which boasted of the first strip club casino in the country.

America will only be a great nation when we have leaders of strong character who will defend both unborn children and the dignity of women. We cannot trust Donald Trump to do either. Therefore we urge our fellow citizens to support an alternative candidate.

Trump further angered anti-choice leaders when he strayed far from the movement’s carefully scripted talking points and suggested that if abortion is outlawed, there would have to be “some sort of punishment” for women who seek the procedure illegally. It didn’t help when Trump proceeded to change his position on the matter several times over the following few days, including at one point saying that he doesn’t want to change abortion laws, and then declared a few weeks later that he wanted the GOP to change its platform to support abortion rights for women who have been raped or whose life is at risk.

Now, as Trump becomes the presumptive Republican nominee, the anti-choice movement has to decide whether to take its chances with him.

Nance, sounding distraught, told a radio interviewer this morning that a third party presidential candidacy was out of the question and that the choice was between Trump and a “devastating” Hillary Clinton presidency.

Dannenfelser, who once said that Trump “disqualified himself as the GOP nominee” when he said that the abortion laws “are set” and “we have to leave it that way,” signaled that she was ready to pivot her message yesterday when she wrote a blog post praising Trump for making “a huge pro-life hire” in John Mashburn, a former staffer to North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis and someone whom Dannenfelser described as an ally to the anti-abortion movement.

“Congratulations on your new hire, Mr. Trump,” Dannenfelser wrote. “If elected, no doubt John Mashburn will serve you well as you fulfill your campaign promises to defund Planned Parenthood, advance and sign into law the popular Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and appoint Justices to the bench who will protect and defend the Constitution.”

Mashburn has previously worked for right-wing groups including the American Civil Rights Union and the Carleson Center for Public Policy.

In the end, the game for anti-choice groups comes down to the Supreme Court. A coalition of leading groups have unified behind a campaign pressuring Republican senators to keep up their blockade of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. Just yesterday, the Susan B. Anthony List, CWA and Iowa Right to Life delivered a petition to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, urging him to continue to refuse to hold hearings on a Supreme Court nominee until the next president is sworn in.

Their hope, it seems, is that a candidate they are “disgusted” by and “cannot trust” will win the presidency and at least give them a Supreme Court pick who will advance their agenda.

And while Trump is the candidate whom they have repeatedly painted as a worst-case scenario, these activists must be relieved that he has outsourced the duty of selecting future Supreme Court justices to the anti-choice Heritage Foundation.

UPDATE 5/5/16: The Washington Times reports that the Susan B. Anthony List and Priests for Life will both be supporting Trump. Priests for Life's Frank Pavone explained that when it comes to the Supreme Court, "the difference here is between doubt and certainty.”

Between Mr. Trump and likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton — the only presidential candidate ever endorsed by Planned Parenthood — Father Frank Pavone says the decision is easy.

Fr. Pavone said his group will work to convince pro-life activists to support Mr. Trump in the general election.

“Withholding support [from Mr. Trump] at this point is in effect support for Hillary,” he said. “Sometimes people might feel like, ‘I feel better in my conscience because I didn’t cast a vote for him and I didn’t cast a vote for Hillary either.’ [But] you can influence the election by not voting.”

Mallory Quigley, director of communications for the Susan B. Anthony List, said her group will also support Mr. Trump, citing his campaign promise to defund Planned Parenthood and support for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks of fertilization.

“I think achieving these goals would be a huge accomplishment, bigger than any pro-life advancement that we’ve seen in our lifetime,” Ms. Quigley said, adding, “We’re expecting Trump to be a man of his word and follow through, just as he would on any issue.”

Clarke Forsythe, acting president and senior counsel for Americans United for Life, would not commit to supporting Mr. Trump in the general election, but said supporting Mrs. Clinton — whose position on abortion he compared to the North Korea regime’s — is untenable.

Mr. Forsythe said in a statement that AUL “will be carefully and closely watching Donald Trump between now and election day, to see whether he lays out pro-life policies as well as to learn what his recommendations will be for the GOP party platform.”

...

But following the death of former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Fr. Pavone said Mr. Trump is now the pro-life movement’s last, best hope of retaining a majority on the bench.

When it comes to the Supreme Court, Donald Trump has mentioned Scalia as a model,” he said. “Well, that’s music to our ears, naturally. We know what we’re going to get with Hillary. Even if people have doubts about what kind of people Donald Trump would nominate, the difference here is between doubt and certainty.”

Fr. Pavone said Mr. Trump is not the ideal pro-life candidate, but added that a healthy dose of pragmatism is necessary in any election.

“You don’t compromise on your goals or your principles,” he said. “At the same time, you look at the situation and you say, ‘How far can we go in these circumstances?’ Well, either one or the other is going to be president, so we want the better of the two.”

“We know 100 percent where Hillary Clinton stands,” Ms. Quigley noted. “She supports abortion up until the moment of birth for any reason. She has yet to name a single instance in which she would stand in and protect the life of the child, even sex-selection abortions, abortions for disability, up until the very moment of birth.

“We’ve made the judgment that this is what we need to do.”

Grassley Promises Anti-Choice Activists He'll Hold The Line Against Garland

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, joined a conference call of anti-abortion activists hosted by the Susan B. Anthony List last night to assure them that he would continue to hold the line and refuse to hold a Judiciary Committee hearing on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

Also joining the call were Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, who delivered an opening prayer.

Grassley told the activists that when someone asked him for an update on the nomination last week, he said that “an update would suggest that something has changed” and that he still intends to block any nominee until the next president takes office.

He said that preventing “another liberal” from joining the Supreme Court was necessary to keep “even the reasonable restrictions on abortion that have been enacted into law through the democratic process” from being “swept away.”

Grassley cited a recent National Right to Life poll which he said found that “about 80 percent of Americans don’t believe that abortions should be available after the first trimester.” (It was more complicated than that.)

“But we know that justices who embrace the view that the Constitution is a living document don’t share that view that you and I share,” he said. “The American people, through their elected representatives, should be making these policy decisions, not unelected judges. These are life-and-death issues that we’re fighting for. They show just how important this fight over who’s going to fill Scalia’s seat is.”

In response to a question from SBA List president Marjorie Dannefelser, Grassley suggested that news reports characterizing Garland as moderate are a misleading ploy by the media (one that, if he was correct, he himself and some of his Republican colleagues would be in on).

When Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were nominated, he said, “always in these headlines at the time they were nominated, that adjective was the word ‘moderate,’ just like Garland. Well, we know how those four have turned out. So don’t believe what you read in the press about people’s basic philosophy, because they got it all wrong and probably intentionally all wrong.”

When Dannenfelser asked Grassley to respond to the argument that the Senate is neglecting its job by refusing to even consider Garland’s nomination, Grassley repeated his claim that it would actually be a waste of taxpayer money to give Garland a hearing.

“Well, we could have a hearing, we aren’t going to have a hearing, but let’s just suppose we could have a hearing,” he said. “And I know 52 people, at least 52 in the Senate, aren’t going to approve it. So you have a hearing and you spend a lot of taxpayers’ money gearing up for it, you spend a lot of time of members, a lot of research that has to be done by staff, and then it ain’t going to go anyplace.”

“It’s like getting dressed up for the prom but you don’t get to go,” Dannenfelser said.

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.

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.

Conservative Groups Double Down On SCOTUS Obstruction

After President Obama announced his nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court today, conservative groups quickly doubled down on their calls for Senate Republicans to block any person the president nominates to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Although a handful of senators are now hinting that they may be willing to at least meet with Garland — who has won praise from Republicans in the past — conservative groups have reiterated their demands that the GOP block his nomination.

Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice issued a statement repeating his call for “no confirmation proceedings until after the election.” Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver similarly repeated that there should be “no Senate hearing on any Obama nominee.” Concerned Women for America announced that “President Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court does not change the fact that the Senate needs to continue to do the proper thing by fulfilling its role of ‘advice and consent’” — by which CWA means blocking a nominee.

Alliance Defending Freedom’s Casey Mattox offered no criticism of Garland himself but claimed that the Obama administration is untrustworthy and so Garland’s nomination should be blocked: “The Obama administration has demonstrated it cannot be trusted to respect the rule of law, the Constitution, and the limits of its own authority. So it should be no surprise that the American people would be highly skeptical that any nominee this president puts forth would be acceptable.”

Heritage Action, which was calling for an end to most judicial and executive branch confirmations even before Scalia’s death, declared that “nothing has changed” with the nomination of Garland and that we areone liberal Justice away from seeing gun rights restricted and partial birth abortion being considered a constitutional right.”

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council similarly tried to paint Garland as a liberal, saying he is “far from being a consensus nominee,” although he offered no specifics about the “serious questions” he said there were about Garland’s “ability to serve as a constitutionalist.” Kayla Moore, who heads the Foundation for Moral Law, the group founded by her husband Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, also opted for vague and dire warnings, saying that Americans “may very well lose our rights” if Garland is confirmed.

Anti-abortion groups also doubled down on their opposition to any confirmation proceedings, while at the same time struggling to find specific reasons to oppose Garland.

Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life didn’t bother to criticize Garland at all, writing instead that this is “no time for a lame duck President to push through a judge for a lifetime appointment.” (Never mind that Obama, with nearly a year left in his second term in office, is not a lame duck president.)

The Susan B. Anthony List’s Marjorie Dannenfelser wrote:

This changes nothing. We do not know this nominee but we do know Barack Obama. Anyone he nominates will join the voting bloc on the Court that consistently upholds abortion on-demand. The President should not be permitted one last opportunity to stack the Court with pro-abortion Justices.

Meanwhile, Americans United for Life dug up this one unconvincing piece of opposition research:

Consider that Judge Garland spoke at a gathering celebrating Linda Greenhouse’s book on Justice Harry Blackmun, Becoming Justice Blackmun. He described the release of the papers of the late Justice Blackmun—the author of one of the Supreme Court’s worst decisions, Roe v. Wade—as a “great gift to the country.”

Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman said his group would oppose any nominee who does not publicly “renounce Roe v. Wade”:

"Millions of lives hang in the balance of each ruling on abortion put forth by the Supreme Court. I refuse to support any nominee - Republican or Democrat - that will not renounce Roe v. Wade and commit to restoring legal protections to the pre-born," said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue.



"I strongly urge the members of the Judiciary Committee to hold fast to their promise, for the sake of the future of our country and the future of our posterity," said Newman. "The Senate Republican leadership cannot afford to break this important promise to their conservative, pro-life base, if they expect us to vote for any of them ever again."

Gun groups also came out swinging against Garland, with the National Rifle Association claiming that he “ does not respect our fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense” and Gun Owners of America colorfully calling on the Senate to “bury this nomination and write ‘Dead On Arrival’ as its epitaph.” Both groups based their objections on Garland’s vote, as a D.C. Circuit judge, simply to rehear an important gun rights case.

The Judicial Crisis Network’s Carrie Severino — who previously called Garland a “best case scenario” Obama nominee to the Supreme Court — has been relying on thesame flimsy criticism to attack Garland.

We’ll update this post with more reactions as they come in.

This post has been updated.

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.

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. 

Anti-Choice Movement Placing Its Hopes In 2016 Election

Anti-choice groups, which were unable to sneak any anti-Planned Parenthood measures into a spending bill this month, are placing all their hopes in the election of an anti-choice president in 2016.

Jackie Calmes at the New York Times explains how an upcoming House vote on stripping funding from Planned Parenthood, which President Obama is expected to veto, is designed to show that defunding Planned Parenthood could be achieved with a Republican president:

Carol Tobias, the president of the National Right to Life Committee, wrote in an email: “We won’t be able to remove federal funds from Planned Parenthood while this president is still in office. But we do have a pathway when(!) a pro-life president is elected.”

Showing that pathway is the purpose of the House vote, tentatively scheduled for next Wednesday, on a so-called budget reconciliation bill. The measure includes provisions to ban funds for Planned Parenthood and repeal the Affordable Care Act. House Republicans’ expected approval of the bill, which the Senate passed early this month, would send it to Mr. Obama.

The president has promised a veto. But congressional Republicans say the effort will show they can pass such conservative priorities over Democrats’ opposition — and get them signed into law once a Republican president is elected. They hope Mr. Obama’s veto will elevate the issues of Planned Parenthood and abortion rights more broadly in the 2016 election debate as the parties contend for control of the White House and the Senate. Yet for several vulnerable Senate Republicans from Democratic-leaning states, the less their party says about the issues, the better.

Susan B. Anthony List, the major anti-choice electoral group, has been pushing this messaging around the House vote. SBA List’s Jill Stanek wrote in a December 17 fundraising email:

As we learned from the reconciliation fight to defund Planned Parenthood, we CAN advance pro-life legislation through the Senate… but the veto pen of a pro-abortion president remains our biggest road block.

Only when we elect a pro-life president (and retain our pro-life majorities in Congress), can we get a bill defunding Planned Parenthood signed into law.

The stakes couldn’t be higher.

President Obama is likely to veto the recent reconciliation bill defunding Planned Parenthood as soon as it gets to his desk.

Hillary Clinton would be no different, which is why we must work to advance pro-life candidates and ensure a pro-life candidate wins the White House.

Carly Fiorina Promises To Nominate Anti-Choice Supreme Court Justices

In a conference call with anti-abortion activists last night, Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina promised that, if elected, she would “nominate pro-life justices” to the Supreme Court along with signing a budget defunding Planned Parenthood and pushing through a national 20-week abortion ban.

“Here’s what I will do and here’s what I want people to hold me accountable for,” she said on a conference call hosted by the Susan B. Anthony List's Marjorie Dannenfelser and Priests for Life's Frank Pavone. “If President Obama vetoes our attempts between now and the election — which, unfortunately, sadly, he may — I will deliver a budget that defunds Planned Parenthood. I will nominate pro-life justices. I will get the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protect Act passed.”

When she ran for Senate in California in 2010, Fiorina said that abortion rights would not be a litmus test for her votes on Supreme Court nominees.

Fiorina, who has come under fire for a series of falsehoods on the campaign trail, including repeatedly describing a video of Planned Parenthood that does not exist, also told participants that her main strategy for handling hostile questioning is to always “speak the truth.”

“You know, the truth shall set you free,” she said. “We all know this, we read it in the Bible. The truth shall set you free.”

“Don’t worry so much about finding exactly the right words, if that’s what you’re worried about,” she advised. “Worry about, concentrate on speaking the truth. Speak what you know to be the truth. that’s a powerful thing, it’s always a powerful thing, and that’s what I will keep doing. No one is going to frighten me into silence.”

Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, has made no secret of her admiration for Fiorina, telling call participants that Fiorina is a model candidate for her organization, which largely endorses female candidates opposed to abortion rights.

Anti-Abortion Groups Target GOP Congresswoman For Expressing Concern About Rape Survivors

Anti-choice Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina became public enemy number one of the anti-abortion movement earlier this year when she helped sink a planned vote on a 20-week abortion ban — the top priority of many anti-choice groups — because she feared the legislation’s harsh treatment of rape survivors could turn off young voters.

Now, it appears that the anti-choice movement’s collective rage at Ellmers has kept her off of a House special committee investigating Planned Parenthood — which she had aggressively lobbied to join — and is fueling a number of primary challengers in her home state.

Ellmers was conspicuously absent from a list of Republican members of the Planned Parenthood investigative committee released today, after anti-choice groups — such as the Susan. B Anthony List, which had previously endorsed her lobbied to keep her off the committee.

On top of that, LifeSiteNews yesterday assembled an impressive collection of quotes from anti-choice leaders vowing to oppose Ellmers in a primary:

"Congresswoman Renee Ellmers has betrayed the pro-life community," said the North Carolina Values Coalition. The American Principles Project's founder shared, "I hope that Ellmers will be subjected to a strong primary challenge in the next election by someone who is genuinely pro-life and that our movement to protect the lives of unborn children at all stages and in all conditions will now move forward." National Right to Life said, "If you can't vote for such a humanitarian no-brainer of a law to protect the unborn, you can't be trusted to vote for any pro-life legislation."

"We need to send a message loud and clear to all 'pro-life' representatives who ask for our vote, but who betray the lives of vulnerable unborn babies when they get in office: If you vote or work behind the scenes to allow the slaughter of abortion to continue, you will hear from pro-life voters loudly and clearly at the polls," National Right to Life president Carol Tobias said.

Dr. James Dobson, author and founder of Focus on the Family, commented, "Conservatives will know Rep. Renee Ellmers best for her opposition to the Marriage Protection Amendment, her sponsorship of the radical Equal Rights Amendment, and for withdrawing her sponsorship of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act."

Ambassador and former presidential candidate Alan Keyes released a statement about Ellmers, saying that she is "a faithless Representative, favored by political bosses, who must be removed from office if decent politics is to prevail."

Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List, which has been training Republican candidates to avoid talking about rape when talking about their opposition to abortion rights, was furious at Ellmers for “creating a firestorm on an issue that this was never about, that this was about rape” and said back in January that if Ellmers got a primary challenger, “she deserves it.”

Meanwhile, Ellmers is desperately trying to remind her constituents that despite having once expressed concern about rape survivors, she still very much opposes abortion rights.

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Susan B. Anthony List Posts Archive

Miranda Blue, Friday 09/16/2016, 10:41am
Donald Trump announced today that he is forming a new “pro-life coalition” that will be led by Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List. Dannenfelser, who warned in January that Trump would not deliver on the anti-choice movement’s priorities of appointing like minded Supreme Court justices and defunding Planned Parenthood, has come around to Trump since he became the GOP nominee and began promising the anti-choice movement what it wanted. Trump’s pick of Dannenfelser to head his campaign’s anti-abortion effort shows just how willing... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Monday 07/18/2016, 10:30am
Marjorie Dannenfelser, head of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, said last week that anti-choice activists should take into “serious consideration” refusing to pay taxes if the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funds from going to most abortion services, is repealed. Dannenfelser told the Media Research Center after a speech at the National Press Club on Wednesday that a tax protest would be "something to think about" if the Hyde Amendment were repealed, as proposed in a draft of the Democratic platform. "If it were repealed, how should pro-lifers... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Monday 07/11/2016, 2:52pm
At last weekend’s National Right to Life Convention outside of Washington, D.C., there was one name that was on everyone’s minds, even if it was rarely uttered aloud: Donald Trump. Speaker after speaker discussed the 2016 election while sidestepping what one conference-goer called the “elephant in the room,” Trump’s place at the top of the Republican ticket. But attendees were not about to let the topic go, and several speakers were pressed about the organization’s stance on the presidential election during question-and-answer sessions. While a handful of... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Thursday 06/30/2016, 10:00am
Last weekend, about 500 anti-abortion activists — nearly all of whom were women — gathered in Dallas for what was billed as the first-ever “Pro-Life Women’s Conference.” The event’s organizer, Abby Johnson, said that she wanted to “reclaim the narrative” of the movement, putting women at its front and including “many different groups of people,” including nonbelievers and LGBT people. She repeatedly said that the movement needs to “embrace the f-word”: feminism. “This is our Seneca Falls, baby!” she said.... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Monday 06/27/2016, 1:41pm
The reactions from anti-abortion groups to the Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt have started pouring in. Most repeat the claim that the Texas law in question, which was meant to regulate the majority of the state’s abortion providers out of existence, was in fact an honest attempt to protect women’s health and stand up to unscrupulous providers. A few linked the decision to the upcoming presidential election, urging voters to elect a president who will nominate justices hostile to Roe v. Wade, as Donald Trump has promised he will do.... MORE >
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 06/22/2016, 11:36am
Following the meeting that Donald Trump held with hundreds of Religious Right activists yesterday, a handful of leaders sat down for a press conference where they took questions from reporters. At this press conference, the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins and the Susan B. Anthony List's Marjorie Dannenfelser perfectly displayed just how flimsy their supposed standards are when it comes to backing political candidates. When it comes to Trump, whose history of unapologetic narcissism, pathological dishonesty and willingness to say whatever benefits him at the moment are... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Wednesday 06/08/2016, 10:41am
Back in 2010, after the Tea Party sweep helped Republicans regain control of the House, we profiled the “10 scariest Republicans heading to Congress,” most of them Tea Party crusaders. One of these was Renee Ellmers, a former nurse who based her campaign on opposing the Affordable Care Act and ran a campaign ad calling an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan a “victory mosque” built in celebration of 9/11. Ellmers credited her start in politics to Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the Koch-backed group that rallied opposition to Obamacare, and won the support of... MORE >
Miranda Blue, Thursday 05/12/2016, 3:48pm
The Susan B. Anthony List, which serves as the electoral arm of the anti-abortion movement and is particularly focused on electing anti-choice women, is for the first time endorsing a male candidate over an anti-choice woman in a Republican primary, backing Rep. George Holding against Rep. Renee Ellmers in a recently redrawn congressional district in North Carolina. The anti-choice movement turned on Ellmers back in January 2015 when she led a group of anti-abortion Republicans who objected at the last minute to a provision in a 20-week abortion ban that would have exempted rape survivors... MORE >