Frank Pavone: Anti-Choice Activists Must 'Exploit The Stigma Of Abortion'

Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life, explained a key part of his movement’s strategy for stopping abortion rights yesterday, telling a Catholic radio network that “pro-life” activists must resist Planned Parenthood’s efforts to “destigmatize abortion” by reinforcing anti-abortion stigma and lifting it “up high for people to see.”

“They survive, these Planned Parenthood efforts survive to the extent that abortion is destigmatized,” Pavone told Ave Maria Radio’s “Catholic Connection” program. “To the extent that you cannot get the stigma out of it, that you cannot get people to say they don’t regret it, that you cannot get people not to cringe when they hear the details of abortion, that is a plus for our side that we have to continue to exploit, in the best sense of the term. We exploit the stigma of abortion, we lift it up high for people to see, we reinforce it.”

He added that lifting up this stigma is important for stopping Planned Parenthood from “convincing medical students and doctors and nurses to take part in abortion” and thus causing a shortage of providers.

Maddow Calls Out Ted Cruz For Embracing Radical Anti-Choice Activist

Over the past few weeks, we have been covering the parade of increasingly extreme activists whom Sen. Ted Cruz is embracing as he seeks to shore up the hard-right vote in the Republican presidential primary.

There was the conference Cruz spoke at immediately after the summit’s organizer declared that the biblical punishment for homosexuality is death. There was the list of endorsements from faith leaders that his campaign released that included a pastor who has blamed Ebola on gay rights and another whose long history of right-wing activism includes protesting at gay couple’s weddings and a criminal conviction for stalking an abortion doctor. And then there was the joint press release that Cruz issued with Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman, announcing the endorsement of the activist who has long inhabited the radical fringes of the anti-choice movement.

Last night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow looked into Newman’s history, citing our reporting on Newman and Operation Rescue, including his backing of capital punishment for abortion providers and tying abortion rights to natural disasters such as the current drought in California.

“This is one of those stories that I recognize the beltway media doesn’t sort of have its feelers out for,” Maddow said. “As Ted Cruz ascends in the polls and as his lift in the polls is driven basically entirely by very, very conservative Religious Right voters, this is part of understanding why and this is one of the things that he should explain to people who may have some justifiable concerns about who he’s building his campaign on.”

For more on Newman and his colleague Cheryl Sullenger, who as Maddow noted was convicted of conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic in the 1980s, you can read our recent in-depth report on Operation Rescue.

Supreme Court Takes Up Major Test Of Anti-Choice Movement's Strategy

The Supreme Court announced today that it will hear Whole Women’s Health v. Cole next term. The case, which deals with abortion restrictions that Texas passed in 2013, represents a major test of the anti-choice movement’s long-term strategy of cutting off abortion access through incremental legislation rather than directly challenging the right to abortion. This comes after the court’s announcement last week that it will hear another challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate, testing how far the Religious Right can stretch the meaning of religious liberty in attempting to cut off access to reproductive rights.

In the Huffington Post today, People For the American Way’s Elliot Mincberg explains what’s at stake in the Texas case:

The Texas case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, concerns a law imposing restrictions on clinics so severe that they would reduce the number of clinics that perform abortions in the state from more than 40 a few years ago to just 10, including none at all in the 500 miles between San Antonio and the New Mexico border. The state has claimed that the limits, requiring extensive hospital-like equipment and doctors with hospital admitting privileges even for clinics that offer abortions only through oral medication, are important to protect women’s health. These claims are belied not only by the medical evidence, but also by Texas politicians’ statements, such as Governor Rick Perry’s vow to “pass laws to ensure” that abortions are “as rare as possible.”

That law clearly violates the 5-4 ruling of the Court in Casey, which upheld the basic right to choose of Roe v. Wade, and held that such laws must truly be important to protect women’s health and not impose an “undue burden” on that right. Will the Court uphold and correctly apply Casey and continue to protect reproductive rights? Given the stark divisions on the Court, the answer may well come down to the vote of Justice Anthony Kennedy, the last member of the five-person Casey majority who is still on the Court today.

This case represents the culmination of a decades-long strategy by the anti-choice movement — most notably the legal group Americans United for Life, which helped draft the Texas bill — to restrict abortion access to the point where the right to abortion exists in theory but not in practice. If the Supreme Court agrees to further weaken the protections of Roe v. Wade, it could open the door for many more onerous restrictions on abortion providers and women seeking abortions.

Marco Rubio Hires Culture Warrior Eric Teetsel as Faith Outreach Director

Largely unnoticed in the media coverage of the Republican presidential primary this week was Marco Rubio’s hiring of a major millennial anti-gay, anti-choice culture warrior. Eric Teetsel, who has been executive director of the Manhattan Declaration, has been hired to be Rubio’s faith outreach director. One who took notice was right-wing activist and pundit Erick Erickson, who gushed over the “huge and impressive hire.”

Where other candidates are hiring folks from the dying “Moral Majority” coalitions of the past, Eric Teetsel is plugged into those power centers, but has transcended them. He’s of a more youthful generation of Christian evangelicals who respects past contributions, but is also focused on the future and not nursing past grievances.

Teetsel is, indeed, well plugged in if not as well known to the public as his more visible counterpart at the Heritage Foundation, Ryan Anderson. Like Anderson, Teetsel is part of the anti-equality crowd that orbits Robert George, a co-author of the Manhattan Declaration and a founder of the National Organization for Marriage. And like George and Anderson, Teetsel has written a book about (one man, one woman) marriage. The acknowledgments section of his book reads like a Who’s Who of the Religious Right, including George, Anderson, Brian Brown, Tony Perkins, Mark Tooley and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

And, as Igor Babic noted at the Huffington Post this week, Teetsel has also been a vocal part of the Religious Right chorus denouncing the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, complaining that the court “has bestowed its imprimatur to homosexuality as both an identity and a way of life.” Teetsel wrote:

"A significant cultural impediment has been removed, and so sin will spread. This is regrettable because sin, of course, leads to suffering. As our LGBT neighbors continue to experience the ravages of their sin, will anyone be there to explain to them its cause?"

The Manhattan Declaration brings right-wing Catholics together with their evangelical counterparts to advance their shared strategic goal of portraying opposition to LGBT equality, abortion and contraception in religious liberty terms. Signers and promoters of the Manhattan Declaration compare themselves to martyrs and pledge civil disobedience:

Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.

Teetsel has appeared at numerous Religious Right political gatherings and shows up in Rick Santorum’s “documentary” about the “erosion” of religious liberty in America. More notably, he spoke at the recent World Congress of Families summit in Salt Lake City, which honored an activist who defends African laws that punish gays with long jail terms. In fact, Teetsel is listed in the WCF program as a member of the “SWAT Team” charged with “Strategic Planning for the Future” along with that activist, Theresa Okafor, and other anti-gay and anti-choice leaders from around the world.

Teetsel’s hiring is almost certainly a better reflection of Rubio’s commitment to anti-gay culture warriors than his much-ballyhooed endorsement by billionaire Paul Singer, who has backed gay causes but seems more interested in what Rubio can do for the profitability of his vulture capitalism.

Huckabee Promises Far-Right Conference That He'll Ignore Obergefell And Roe

This morning, Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal joined radical right-wing pastor Kevin Swanson on the stage of Swanson’s “National Religious Liberties Conference” in Iowa to hawk their candidacies to a crowd that includes several Christian Reconstructionists.

Huckabee knew just how to appeal to this group, using his short time on stage to repeat his promises to simply ignore the Supreme Court’s rulings on abortion rights and marriage equality if he were to become president.

“Here’s what the president should do, and if I were president this is what I would do,” he said. “On the same-sex marriage decision, I would simply say, ‘It is not law.’ It is not law because the people’s elected representatives have not made it law and there is nothing in the Constitution that gives the Supreme Court power to make a law. They are the Supreme Court, they are not the supreme branch or the Supreme Being.”

“And so,” he added, “when people say, ‘What can we do? Let’s introduce a constitutional amendment, let’s propose a — .’ No. Let’s just exhibit and exercise the power that is already within the constitutional authority and structure and the president simply say, ‘Thank you for your opinion, but we shall ignore it because there’s nothing in the Constitution that affirms that and we are not going to impose upon all 50 states something that the federal government has no control over, which is the definition of marriage.’”

On the topic of abortion rights, Huckabee repeated his support for radical “personhood” proposals that seek to bypass a constitutional amendment overturning Roe by simply granting full constitutional rights to zygotes.

“I don’t know how we honestly can pray ‘God bless America’ when we have acted like a savage, uncivilized country in relationship to unborn children,” Huckabee said.

“But once again,” he said, “instead of us wringing our hands and maybe pretending that we’re going to change the Constitution or overturn Roe v. Wade — which, by the way, overturning Roe v. Wade does absolutely nothing to stop abortion, it simply turns it back to the states, they can have all the abortions they want. But what we have not done is what we should be doing and what I would do, which is to say we would invoke the Fifth and 14th Amendment as it relates to this issue. Because here’s the fact: We don’t have to pass a constitutional amendment. We already have two of them.”

What the World Congress of Families Tells Us About the Global ‘Pro-Family’ Movement

The World Congress of Families — an organization that hosts an annual global gathering of “pro-family” advocates —  brought together more than 3,300 people in Salt Lake City last week. The summit included authors and counselors focused on strengthening marriages as well as academics talking about the social and economic consequences of later marriages, declining birthrates and widespread divorce. It also included and anti-reproductive-choice activists from around the globe, as well as hundreds of “emerging leaders” expected to lead the movement into the future.

We’ve reported on individual speakers and will continue to do so as we dig through a week’s worth of notes and recordings — and a shopping bag full of books and other swag. But what’s the big picture? What does the WCF tell us about the state of the global Religious Right?

There were differences in priorities and approaches among the participants, but among the themes that emerged:

They See Themselves at War with the Enemies of God

Warfare imagery was common at WCF and the preceding gay-focused Stand4Truth event organized by people who needed just a little more anti-gay intensity than the WCF schedule promised. The “natural family” and “complementary” male-female gender roles were ordained by God, and therefore proponents of feminist or gender ideologies or notions of LGBT equality are not only political opponents but spiritual ones, out to destroy both the natural family and religious freedom.

Francisco Tatad, a former senate majority leader in the Philippines, said the threat to the family and human society is not simply those who deny God, but those who actually hate God:

The global attack on human dignity, on the integrity of the human person, and the family, is ultimately an attack on God. The war of religions is over, but the war on religion has hardly begun. And the target is no longer any individual religion in particular, but God himself. He has become the arch-enemy.

American Hispanic evangelical leader Samuel Rodriguez:

So I can share with you the fact that there is a spiritual battle, a spiritual battle, to annihilate the idea, the construct, God’s ordained institution of la familia. It is a battle. It even, before it’s a political battle or a legislative battle, it is, above all things, a spiritual battle.

And, engaging biblical allusions, it’s the spirit of Pharaoh, once again attempting to force and prompt families to make bricks without straw and to maintain families in the Egypt of bondage and fear. It is the spirit of Goliath, of intimidation. It is the spirit of Jezebel, an attempt to destroy the family via the conduit of sexual perversion and manipulation. It is the spirit of Herod, killing families through abortion, killing families through sex trafficking and violence against our children, disconnecting the child from mom and dad. These spirits are alive and well today, not only in America but across the world.

Rafael Cruz, father of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, declared, “What we see in America right now is an outright attack on Christianity.” Paige Patterson, president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and former head of the Southern Baptist Convention, decreed that “a few rogue lawyers claiming to be the Supreme Court of the United States of America has no right to act in such a way as to restrict our freedom of religion.” Patterson told the story of a missionary doctor killed by Chinese communists in the 1950s, and declared about religious freedom, “Today the blood of thousands of martyrs calls out to all of us, ‘Do not squander the greatest and most costly gift bequeathed to you by the founders of this nation.’”

They’re Intensely Committed to Enforcing Traditional Gender Roles

The catch-all term used by the global Religious Right for just about everything it doesn’t like is “gender ideology” — something that can encompass opposition to sex education, contraception, abortion, cohabitation, marriage equality and legal recognition for LGBT people.

At WCF, speaker after speaker talked about the “complementarity” between men and women as something that was divinely ordained — grounded biblically in the Genesis creation story in which God made humankind male and female. God’s creation of two genders was cited as a sacred rationale for opposing gay couples being allowed to marry or be parents — and for denying the very existence of transgender people, who were portrayed as sick and pathetic. One of the most reliable ways to try to get a laugh at WCF was to make a joke about Caitlyn Jenner. Rafael Cruz even pulled out the old chestnut that God had created “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”

Glenn Stanton, director of Global Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family, said new findings on gender differences support his basic premise: “that men and women are different, and that men and women need each other in those differences.” As a scientist, he said, he believes there is evidence across cultures of a universal male and female nature. And as a Christian, he said, the issue is a theological one, grounded in the creation story declares humans male and female, who together “uniquely, mysteriously image the nature of God in the world.” He displayed a William Blake painting, “Satan Gazing Upon the Caresses of Adam and Eve” and said:

Satan came to attack humanity, not just by approaching Eve or Adam but what William Blake is telling us here is to attack a couple. He sees that man, he sees that woman, he sees them loving one another, and he says, ‘I know who loved one another, the Trinity, God, and I hate them, so I must break this up.’ The original attack was not on two human beings, it was on a man and a woman. And that attack continues today, because Satan knows what male and female represent.

Theresa Okafor, a WCF representative from Nigeria who was honored at the conference, said the complementarity of the sexes “comes from God.” She complained that Western feminist ideas threaten the family by demonizing patriarchy, blurring lines of gender and making women feel that they are autonomous from men. (In contrast, she cited as one positive example of strong cultural support for the family in Africa the fact that a woman who went to the police to report being beaten by her husband would be told to go home and settle with him.)

Every WCF participant received a copy of the Mormon Church’s 1995 Proclamation of the Family, which portrays men’s roles as providers and women’s as nurturers to be essential to God’s plan. It declares, “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”

Miriam Grossman is a psychiatrist whose blog identifies her as “One Hundred Percent MD. Zero Percent PC.” She insisted, “A man cannot be transformed into a woman, or a woman into a man. It is simply impossible” and decried that popular culture’s focus on transgender issues was perpetuating a “lie” and a “delusion.”

They Don’t Want To Be Called Anti-Gay While Being Anti-Gay

Well, at least some of them, anyway. Before the conference started, WCF responded to its critics by claiming that being pro-family was not the same as being anti-gay, and declared that it would never support policies that harm individual people. But in fact the program was full of people who have a record of demonizing LGBT people, including those who have actively supported laws that not only criminalize gay sexual activity but even make it a crime for gays to meet with each other or advocate for their rights.

Portraying LGBT people as a threat to children has a decades-long pedigree, including the activism of Anita Bryant, California’s Prop 8 and succeeding state constitutional amendment campaigns, and this week’s vote in Houston, where an anti-discrimination ordinance was rejected after an ugly, dishonest campaign portraying it as an open door to child molesters. Gwen Landolt, a Canadian who has been active in WCF, called it intolerable that innocent children are being “used as tools of social engineering” by being fostered or adopted by gay couples. And she said that children’s character is being deformed because schools are teaching that homosexual relationships are the equal of heterosexual ones.

As BuzzFeed’s Lester Feder pointed out, there’s division within the movement about the usefulness of strident rhetoric that, for example, equates gays with pedophilia. That division was clear at WCF. The opening keynote address was given by Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Ballard explained that Mormon theology of the family is integral to the church’s defense of “traditional marriage,” but he also touted the church’s willingness to back the Utah compromise, an agreement reached earlier this year in which the church supported legal protections against housing and employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in return for the inclusion of broad religious exemptions. Said Ballard,

We demonstrate our best humanity when we show love and kindness to all of God’s children. We demonstrate our discipleship when we refuse strident tones, when we refuse derisive labels, and when we enter the public square seeking fair outcomes through understanding and mutual respect.

Ballard’s standard was violated frequently at WCF, including during its closing keynote from Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma University, whose address was an angry rant against liberal “ideological fascism.” Piper angrily asserted that “the rainbow banner of tolerance has become the dark flag of tyranny almost overnight.” Some conference participants objected to the Utah compromise; Austin Ruse of C-Fam has called it “lunacy” for the Mormon Church to engage in a nonaggression pact with the LGBT movement.

Another voice heard on the opening day of the conference was that of Gov. Gary Herbert, who welcomed participants to Utah, declaring “We are a great state with wonderful people and wonderful families of different varieties in this state.” That was a nod toward the kind of inclusive definition of family that is being ferociously fought by WCF partner groups at the United Nations and other international bodies.  Activists like C-Fam’s Ruse and Family Watch International’s Sharon Slater bragged at WCF about their work to eliminate references to “various forms of the family” from international human rights documents.

They’re Not Going Anywhere: They’re Organized and Organizing and God is on their Side

There was some difference of opinion among WCF speakers, based on where they are from and whether they are more focused on abortion or LGBT issues, about the extent to which they are currently losing or winning the global culture war. But there was virtual unanimity that with God on their side and a commitment to collaborative organizing, they will ultimately be victorious in defeating the LGBT movement, resisting the advance of “gender ideology,” and resurrecting as a cultural norm, protected and promoted in law, the “natural family” — a mom and a dad and a whole lot of children.

Allan Carlson, retiring after years at the head of WCF’s sponsoring organization, the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, talked about his forthcoming book, which portrays the weakening and strengthening of family systems in America since 1630 as following 50 year swings.  According to Carlson, we could be “on the cusp of a great wave of new family morality,” poised for a generational upswing— a return to early marriage, appreciation for the complementarity between men and women, and higher fertility. Carlson said the sexual revolution “regime” is “crumbling even at the point where it seems to be winning.”

Warren Cole Smith, a vice president of the Colson Center and co-author of “Restoring All Things,” recounted the story of a friend who received a call from someone nearly in despair after the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, saying “it’s over.” Smith recalled his response:

What is over? What exactly is over? Has God left his throne? He has not. Is He not still sovereign? He is. When the Obergefell decision came down from the Supreme Court, did God say, ‘Wow, I sure didn’t see that coming.’? Friends, He did not say that….

The story of the universe God is still writing, the arc of history is still unfolding. Unlike what our friend said, it is not over. And I’ve read the last chapter of the book, and guess what? God wins.

That’s not to say that between now and then we won’t have lots of battles to fight and lots of problems so solve. But I want to be clear, I think we should be happy warriors in this process, knowing that God is indeed building the house. God is indeed on our side. And we have the great joy of participating in what God is doing in the world, if only we will.

The World Congress of Families, with its dozens of partner organizations and more than 3,300 participants from 65 countries, is a dramatic demonstration of the institutional cultural, legal, and political infrastructure that has been built by conservative religious organizations not only in the U.S. but around the globe, with financial and strategic support flowing in all directions. 

Seasoned activists and the hundreds of “emerging leaders” had the opportunity to get training in starting a new organization and raising money online from Ignacio Arsuaga, whose HazteOir and CitizenGo platforms have put social-media organizing techniques developed in the U.S. into the hands of conservatives in Europe and elsewhere with campaigns in an expanding number of languages. Conference attendees could take a workshop on messaging from Frank Schubert, the mastermind of fearmongering strategies used by campaigns against marriage equality in the U.S. They could study networking and coalition building with Alexey Komov, the Russian activist who says that Russia and Eastern Europe, having been helped by Western countries to throw off communism, can now return the favor by helping the West defeat the new totalitarianism of the sexual revolution.


Does Mike Huckabee Think Sodomy Bans Are Still Valid?

Speaking at a candidates’ briefing in Iowa last week, Mike Huckabee responded to a question about the status of state anti-sodomy laws, which were struck down by the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas, by launching into a speech about how, as president, he would ignore the Supreme Court’s recent marriage equality decision because “the court cannot make law.”

“We have a situation here in Iowa where the federal government has usurped their authority,” a questioner at the Caffeinated Thoughts briefing asked Huckabee. “Sodomy is against the law, on the books, this very day, and the Supreme Court has issued a decree and we have states’ rights here, they have no jurisdiction over Iowa, just as they have no jurisdiction over prostitution in Las Vegas, Nevada. What we are asking for is we’re asking for some brave soul to stand up and say that this is wrong, you’ve violated states’ rights, we’re going to impeach the five justices that voted like they didn’t have a brain in their head.”

(The questioner seems to have been confused on a number of levels: Iowa’s sodomy law was repealed by a statute, while the state's Supreme Court allowed gay couples to marry.)

“Well, I think, let’s be very clear,” Huckabee responded, “the court cannot make law.”

While he didn’t directly address Lawrence, Huckabee said that the next president should simply ignore the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling.

“It means that the next president ought to have the courage to say, ‘We appreciate the court decision, but we ignore it because it’s not constitutional, there’s nothing in the Constitution that gives the federal government the authority to dictate or mandate what the definition of marriage is, and until the elected representatives have decided on this, there’s nothing for us to follow other than, ‘Thank you for your thoughts and opinions,’” he said. The former governor has repeatedly argued that court rulings have no legal authority unless Congress or state legislatures pass new laws.

Huckabee added that his Supreme Court nominees would have to publicly declare that they “do not believe in judicial supremacy.”

Elsewhere in his talk, Huckabee repeated his pledge to ban abortion (and possibly some forms of birth control) through a “personhood” edict granting full constitutional rights to zygotes and fetuses, thereby bypassing any effort to pass a constitutional amendment overturning Roe v. Wade, an idea that he said was “fairy dust.”

In response to an audience member who asked about how to deal with the “mainstream media,” Huckabee responded that Iowans can ask him directly about his views on issues like abortion rights.

“If I tell you that I’m pro-life, demand to test me on that,” he said. “If I tell you that I really don’t believe in judicial supremacy, put me to the test. Ask me just exactly what I would do. If I tell you that we will end abortion, not just by promising to have a constitutional amendment, which is fairy dust to say we’re going to do those [things], but to tell me how I’m going to do it by invoking the Fifth and 14th Amendment, put me to the test and see if I know what I’m talking about.”

GOP Presidential Candidates Sharing Stage With Pastor Who Hailed Murder Of Abortion Provider

Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal are slated to appear this weekend at a conference in Des Moines hosted by Kevin Swanson, an extremist pastor and radio host based in Colorado.

We’ve reported extensively on Swanson’s extremist views, including his defense of the death penalty for gay people and worry that the movie “Frozen” will turn kids gay, and have been going back through the archives of his “Generations Radio” program this week to learn about his views on other issues.

One illuminating episode of “Generations Radio” came in 2009, four days after Kansas abortion provider George Tiller was murdered in his church by anti-abortion extremist Scott Roeder. Calling “Tiller the Killer” a “mass murderer,” Swanson declared that the abortion provider had received his divine “upcommance” and insisted that the deaths of 14 people in a Montana plane crash earlier that year was divine retribution for one of their relative’s owning of abortion clinics.

“It was anarchy and this vigilantism is not a good thing at all,” Swanson said of Tiller’s murder. “But … so was the fact that you had a guy who was in his abortuary for the last 30 to 40 years killing 60,000 babies. That’s anarchy too!”

“If anybody’s keeping count …Let’s see, Tiller killed 60,000 babies, so that’s 60,000 dead babies and one dead abortionist,” he continued. “So, let’s just say, the abortionists are still ahead on this one.”

Swanson’s cohost, Dave Buehner, had a similar attitude. “Let’s just say Tiller was the mass murderer and he died and I’m not shedding a tear for him,” Buehner said. “And I might at times be tempted to cheer that he is no longer killing babies — okay, at all times I’m tempted to cheer.”

“It is interesting that if you live by the sword, you die by the sword,” Swanson continued. “Wasn’t that what Jesus said? And this is really, pretty much, what happens. People tend to get their upcommance, and that’s precisely what happened to Tiller the Killer.”

“I believe, I am convicted of the fact that there is a God in the heavens and He is sovereign over everything that happens, including the fact that George Tiller the Killer is dead,” Swanson said later in the program.

He cited the fact that Tiller’s father, also an abortion provider, had died along with his mother, sister and brother-in-law in a plane crash, and that a 2009 plane crash in Montana had killed 14 family members, including small children, of a man who owned several abortion clinics.

“By the way, a couple of months ago out in Montana there was a plane crash out there where 14 family members of the owner of one of the largest abortion clinic franchises in the country died in that particular plane crash,” Swanson said. “Now, George Tiller the Killer is dead too. Is there a God in the heavens? Is He involved in the affairs of men? That’s what the word of God says. So God’s providence is all over all of these things, we have to believe that God is in the heavens and He rules.”

Later in the program, Swanson turned his ire to the pastors of Tiller’s church, who he said were operating “a synagogue of Satan" because they had not excommunicated Tiller.

In fact, he and Buehner insisted, any church that fails to excommunicate abortion providers, women who have abortions, gay people, divorced people, people who commit adultery, or anyone who supports any of those people, is not a true church at all.

“Do not murder, do not commit adultery, and if a man lies with another man as he lies with another woman, then the two of them has committed an abomination, they both should be put to death,” Swanson listed. “We ought to just ask churches how they feel about some of these Bible verses and if they repudiate these Bible verses, then we ought to repudiate them and say, ‘Well, then you have no part with us. You are not our brothers and sisters and you are part of some of the most evil parts of this nation and we will consider you as such from here on out.’”

He then returned to the subject of Tiller: “Well, ladies and gentlemen, there is a God in the heavens and His is over all these things. There’s a reason why abortionists are being killed in plane crashes, why George Tiller’s father was killed in a plane crash and George Tiller was killed by a vigilante. Whatsoever man sows, that shall he also reap.”

Religious Right Activist At World Congress Of Families: Anti-Gay, Anti-Choice Africans Will 'Save the World'

In our advance reporting on last week’s World Congress of Families conference — the first time this annual global gathering of social conservative activists was held in the U.S. — we contrasted the organizers’ public disavowal of homophobia with their well-documented anti-gay record, such as their decision to honor Theresa Okafor of Nigeria with the “Woman of the Year Award.”

Throughout last week’s conference, Okafor, who serves as WCF’s regional director in Africa, defended harsh anti-gay laws in her own country and others, including Uganda’s notorious Anti-Homosexuality Act. And she drew cheers for noting that in most African countries, doctors and nurses would go to jail for performing an abortion. “We in Africa see the family, as well as marriage, as something divine, and ordained towards life and love, and so we’re very protective over anything that seeks to undermine the family, religion, and culture,” she said. Okafor said repeatedly that family was so important to Africa that it justified “drastic measures” against threats to it from the “Trojan Horse” of the sexual revolution.

At a session devoted to Africa, Okafor was joined by Nigerian Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo, who is a spokesman for Africa’s Catholic bishops, and Ann Mbugua, director of the Kenya Christian Professionals Forum (KCPF).

Okafor slammed efforts by the Obama administration and other western countries to promote LGBT rights internationally.

“My interest in all of this started when I got fed up with this phenomenon known as paternalism. And paternalism is that phenomenon whereby people in authority feel that they should limit the freedom and responsibility of people they consider to be subordinates in the interest of the subordinates…

“…some people in the West felt that Africa needed to legalize abortion, Africa needed to suppress its population, Africa needed to yield to sexual orientation and gender identity and what-have-you, and the interests of Africans weren’t being served by these things.”

Bishop Badejo has been a strident critic of the Obama administration’s promotion of LGBT human rights. This summer he panned the appointment of Randy Berry as the State Department’s special envoy on LGBT issues, saying it “just shows how little the current U.S. administration respects the democratic values it seems to preach, especially when they preach them abroad.” 

At the World Congress of Families, Badejo made a surprisingly direct call for American Christians to reject the presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton. In response to a question about what people in the West can do to support social conservatives in Africa, Badejo said, “choose the right kind of government.” He recalled an interview in which he had said “there are only three types of people that I know — those who believe in God, those who don’t believe in God, and those who think they are gods.” He said he thinks Hillary Clinton is one of the latter. “I called on the people of the United States to pay good attention to the kind of people they are trying to elect to be their president and the kind of values they will be pushing in the whole world.”  Okafor seconded that idea, saying, “America is more powerful than you actually can imagine. This is why we are following American politics.” She told Americans that who they elect “changes everything.”

Of course, for all her talk about paternalism, Okafor and her allies have no problem limiting the freedom and responsibility of women and LGBT people. Okafor criticized the “anti-family” influence of western media as “almost like an infiltration.” And she bragged about getting the Nigerian government to ban the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey” from being shown in the country.

Speaking of freedom, Mbugua spoke about resisting the “gay agenda,” which sat atop her list of threats to the family. Mbugua said that thanks to a strong anti-gay caucus in Kenya’s parliament, she’s not worried about legislation advancing LGBT rights. But she is concerned that the country’s 2010 constitution grants the constitutional court the power to declare new rights. In doing so, the court is to be guided by the values that underline an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom. She fears the court might use those values as a rationale for recognizing LGBT rights, especially since the constitution, while not mentioning sexual orientation, forbids discrimination on all grounds.

Mbugua’s group is not only supporting the sodomy law in a legal challenge, it is also defending the government’s refusal to allow a gay organization to even register as a lobbying group. A judge ruled earlier this year that it is not proper to limit minorities’ rights to free association based on public opinion or religious dogma, but the judge allowed KCPF to file an appeal. The Christian professionals’ group complained about the ruling, saying “this is one case that called for limitation to the exercise of certain freedoms.” A lawyer for the group said the ruling showed contempt for the constitution and people of Kenya and was a back-door way to legalize homosexuality.

American religious right leaders have, of course, expressed support for other laws that restrict LGBT advocacy, including Nigeria’s 2014 law, which includes a 10-year sentence for anyone who supports the sustenance of “gay societies,” and Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law

The WCF was a love-fest between African activists and their American allies. Okafor said she had invited Sharon Slater of Family Watch International to Nigeria four times and taken her to meet some of the country’s senators. Mbugua said her group’s member had their eyes opened by a visit from Slater and now they are strongly opposing comprehensive sex education.

Austin Ruse, who like Slater works to keep reproductive choice and LGBT rights out of international agreements through his leadership at C-Fam, gushed about Okafor and her colleagues. “We like to say that with regard to family, Africa is the First World, and we are the Third World,” he said. Recounting the ways African countries had withstood pro-choice and pro-LGBT pressure at the United Nations, and the way African bishops presented a conservative front at the recent Catholic bishops’ synod on the family, Ruse said, “I think the Africans are going to save the world.”


Influential 'Pro-Life' Activist Recalls Blocking Abortion Clinic Worker's Funeral

Joe Scheidler, the influential anti-choice activist who helped pioneer “direct action” techniques meant to stop women from obtaining abortions, joined Catholic broadcaster Al Kresta on Wednesday to discuss the recent closing of a Chicago-area abortion clinic that hadfailed a safety inspection, which Scheidler attributed to the 27 years he spent targeting the clinic.

But Scheidler told Kresta that he had been going after this particular clinic for even longer because “they had a clinic on Irving Park Road in Chicago back in the ‘70s and we actually picketed there and we would have a priest come out and try to help us stop the girls,” until the clinic was ultimately shut down for operating without a license.

He then shared this anecdote of his “pro-life” purity:

And a strange thing happened, and this is just a quick little thing, but the woman running that clinic was a Catholic, Suzanna, and while she had nothing to do she went skydiving and her parachute didn’t open. And we had a scandal there because she was getting a Catholic funeral and, you know, abortion is an excommunicable sin, so we had to talk to the pastor and they had to cancel her funeral. That didn’t make me very popular with the family, but it had to be done. Otherwise people would think, ‘Well, you know, an abortion’s not that bad.’

Anti-Planned Parenthood Leaders Discuss Their Strategy To 'Dismantle' The Women's Health Provider

We released a report last month about the recent anti-Planned Parenthood smear’s origins in the radical “rescue” movement, the segment of the anti-choice movement that has sought to end legal abortion by protesting outside of clinics, harassing and intimidating providers and patients and attempting to sue individual providers out of existence.

In a conference call with members of the clergy last week organized by Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, two “rescue” movement leaders joined Rep. Diane Black, the Tennessee Republican who is leading efforts to defund Planned Parenthood in the House and a member of the House Special Committee targeting the group, to discuss how the recent smear campaign is revitalizing their movement and how they plan to use it to “dismantle” Planned Parenthood entirely. One activist also revealed that the founder of the Center for Medical Progress, the group behind the deceptive sting videos, sought the “destruction” of the group by attempting “to get prosecutions.”

Eric Scheidler, whose father Joseph Scheidler pioneered many of the “rescue” movement’s tactics and who is now organizing nationwide Planned Parenthood protests through the family’s Pro-Life Action League, told call participants that “one of the most wonderful things to come out of this entire scandal” has been the resurgence of protests outside of abortion clinics. He said that he hoped that his protests would lead to Planned Parenthood losing all government funding and being “kicked out of every one of the 700 towns across the United States” where they operate.

It’s important to note that the “Protest PP” effort is not just about a couple of big national protests in the firestorm of this scandal in 2015. Our long-term goal is to bolster the pro-life presence at the Planned Parenthood centers around the country on into the future and, most wonderfully, we are seeing that happen. Abortion clinics that haven’t had pro-lifers outside standing in witness for years or even forever are now seeing pro-life groups forming to get involved regularly in an ongoing way outside the doors of those abortion clinics. …

We really expect to see this fervor continue, not just through the end of this year but on through the future, and that’s one of the most wonderful things to come out of this entire scandal and the exposure that we’ve been able to give to Planned Parenthood and who they really are. …

Planned Parenthood’s public image is going to be further knocked down the point where we will finally be able to, first, deprive them of any government funding whatsoever and, second, get them kicked out of every one of the 700 towns across the United States where they have centers.

Troy Newman, the leader of Operation Rescue who is also a driving force behind the Center for Medical Progress’ smears on Planned Parenthood and a member of the group’s board, explained that at the outset of their project he and the Center for Medical Progress’ David Daleiden decided that their goal was to “get prosecutions” of Planned Parenthood employees in order to achieve the “destruction or dismantling” of the organization. (Operation Rescue’s Cheryl Sullenger has also said that “criminal prosecutions” were the ultimate goal of the project.)

He came to me three years ago and we sat in our office, we talked a lot about what the end goal was. We didn’t want to just infiltrate Planned Parenthood for the sake of infiltrating them or for the sake of getting YouTube hits … At the end of the day, we both agreed that our number one goal was to get prosecutions against these people that are violating the law. And prosecutions lead to defunding and defunding leads to the destruction or dismantling of Planned Parenthood.

As our primary goal, I believe all the elements are in place to accomplish those goals. If you look at the systematic way that we, Center for Medical Progress has been able to disseminate information, each individual video has a story to tell and at the end of the day, the story is really simple. Number one, this is not necessarily about abortion. So all the questions that are being asked in Congress about abortion and so forth are good, I think, to educate people, but it’s not specifically germane to the conversation that we’re having right now. This is about the wholesale illegal trade in fetal cadavers and fetal organs.

Newman expressed frustration that “the narrative is being changed on a daily basis” and the anti-choice movement has moved straight toward passing legislation in Congress without first getting “these abortionists thrown in jail” as he and Daleiden originally intended, which he said is the surefire way to make sure that “Planned Parenthood is dismantled forever.”

We do need to ban abortions after 20 weeks, absolutely, we do need to defund Planned Parenthood, absolutely, we do need to have these select committees, but more importantly, there’s enough evidence that we’ve released already — already — to get these abortionists thrown in jail. And the thing that’s particularly disturbing to me is that the narrative is being changed on a daily basis toward something other than the original intent, the evidence that has already been brought out there, that these are clear violations of the law and district attorneys and attorneys general need to take notice that they need to prosecute these abortionists for the crimes that are clearly being committed on these tapes. And with that, the first time we get an indictment, a prosecution, a conviction, okay, they lose their Title X funding. Their funding goes right out the door. And as soon as they lose their funding, that’s over half their money, then Planned Parenthood is dismantled forever.

At World Congress of Families, Anti-Choice Activists Celebrate Victories & Map Strategy To Overturn Roe v Wade

The first day of the World Congress of Families summit in Salt Lake City was focused on restricting access to abortion — the program described the day’s theme as “the value of life in all its stages and conditions.” 

During one anti-abortion panel, Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life — which Miranda once described as a sort of ALEC of the anti-choice movement —  celebrated the movement’s recent successes and mapped out a cultural and legal strategy to overturn Roe v. Wade, a strategy grounded in portraying abortion as harmful to women and the pro-life movement as pro-women.

Yoest told the audience to be encouraged, citing a graph from the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute showing that “more abortion restrictions have been enacted since the tidal wave election of 2010 than were enacted in the entire previous decade.” Said Yoest, “I’m really proud of this progress, because it comes from a deliberate strategy that we have enacted as a movement to concentrate on state legislatures.”

Yoest said after the 1983 failure to pass a constitutional amendment in Congress, activists convened their own congress and strategized.

“We came up with a strategy and emerged with a plan: focus on the statehouses and test the limits of Roe v. Wade. The story of the next several decades is one of trench warfare and gaining ground under the radar.”

This summer, she said, the Planned Parenthood videos have provided an “earthquake” which gives anti-abortion movement an opportunity to move forward strategically. [See PFAW’s report on the anti-Planned Parenthood attacks.] The legal strategy is aimed at Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s writing that overturning Roe would come with a “certain cost” to women who rely on it. “As pro-lifers, we need to understand that that’s the way he thinks, and his fellow justices on the court,” said Yoest. “But they are ignoring that there is a certain cost to the culture of death.”

Yoest said abortion brings women grief and dramatically increases a woman’s suicide risk. “What an Alice in Wonderland world that we live in where the defenders of so-called women’s health are the promoters of abortion. Let’s call them abortion harm deniers.”

Yoest cited Ruth Bader Ginsburg writing in dissent in Gonzales v. Carhart that “women cannot enjoy equal citizenship status” without access to abortion. And she quoted a feminist author telling women who have had abortion that she hopes they will begin to know their own power.

Ladies and gentlemen, our strategy for the next decade must engage this debate. Abortion for women is not power; it is poverty….

This is our way forward. We must engage a mother-child strategy. The mother-child strategy is rooted in a very careful study of the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence. The court has told us pretty clearly what they think about abortion. Going back again to Planned Parenthood v. Casey, they told us that the state has two areas of legitimate interest: one is protecting the health of the woman and two is protecting the life of the fetus that, according to them, may become a child. Anything that we bring before two courts – the court of public opinion and the Supreme Court — must engage both of these elements, both the mother and the child.

We must keep coming back to what we know to be the truth: pro-life is pro-woman.

Yoest paraphrased a saying by G. K. Chesterton —  seemingly the most quoted conservative at the conference — saying that fairy tales are “more than true,” not because they tell us dragons are true, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten. “The culture of death,” she concluded,” is a dragon that must be beaten.” 

Gordon Klingenschmitt: Planned Parenthood Execs Possessed By Demons, 'Blood Dripping From Their Fangs'

Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt, the Religious Right activist and Colorado state representative, is adept at “discerning the spirits” within his adversaries and applied his talents to the leaders of Planned Parenthood on his “Pray In Jesus Name” program this weekend.

Absurdly claiming that a recent Planned Parenthood decision to stop accepting legal reimbursements for fetal tissue donation at the two clinics that currently accept such reimbursements was an “admission that they were selling aborted baby parts,” Klingenschmitt declared that the women’s health organization’s executives should be “in jail for multiple felonies, not only for killing children — some justices think that’s legal, in God’s eyes it’s never legal — but profiting for it.”

“I don’t believe these people for a moment, do you?” he asked. “In fact, we can discern upon them the spirit of lying, the spirit of death, the spirit of murder, the spirit of greed. I mean, whenever I look at a picture of those executives, if you look in the spirit, at the demons inside of them, you can see the blood dripping from their fangs. These people are just evil.”

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.

World Congress of Families Culture Warriors Battle Repro, LGBT Rights In Europe With Help From US Friends

This is one in a series of posts about the upcoming World Congress of Families gathering in Salt Lake City, Utah. Read our introduction to the World Congress of Families here.

Americans have long viewed Europe as a stronghold of progressive social policies. But as BuzzFeed’s Lester Feder reported last year, there is a resurgent Religious Right political movement in Europe whose advocates draw moral, strategic, and financial support from their allies in the United States, including the American Center for Law and Justice, Alliance Defending Freedom and Personhood USA.

In Europe the culture war is taking the form of attacks on sexual and reproductive health and rights — even sex education — or what conservative Catholics and their allies collectively deride as “gender ideology.” Right-wing groups are active at the European Union, Council of Europe, European Parliament and other international institutions. The ACLJ’s European branch led the signature drive for the “One of Us” campaign — an anti-abortion effort that used a new European Citizens Initiative process. The initiative was rejected but the organizing that went into it has energized anti-choice activists — the Knights of Columbus called it “the revitalization of Europe.”The World Congress of Families facilitates this reactionary cross-fertilization with conservative groups from around the world.

Earlier this year, the Croatia-based Center for Education, Counseling and Research (CESI) released a report on the growing threats to sexual and reproductive health and rights in the European Union which also documented global connections among conservative groups and activists.  Also this year, voters in Slovakia passed a referendum to put a ban on marriage by same-sex couples in the country’s constitution, an effort supported by American groups including the WCF, Alliance Defending Freedom, CitizenGo, Personhood USA, and the World Congress of Families. Several years ago, many of the same people signed a petition supporting Romania’s constitutional amendment on marriage, which stated that “equating same-sex couples with families can only weaken the natural family — which does society’s vital work of procreation and childrearing.”

The World Congress of Families meeting in Salt Lake City next week features a number of speakers who are intimately involved in this push to restrict access to abortion and prevent advances in LGBT equality.

As we noted in an earlier post, WCF will honor Luca Giuseppe Volonté of Italy’s Novae Terrae Foundation and Andrea Williams of UK’s Christian Concern. Williams, who allies with Alliance Defending Freedom, has encouraged Jamaica to continue criminalizing same-sex intimacy. Volonté, who is affiliated with a variety of right-wing groups, says conservatives in Europe are resisting marriage equality because they experience it as a “totalitarian” ideology.

Another speaker is Ignacio Arsuaga, the founder of CitizenGo and HazteOír, groups designed to bring online organizing techniques to European culture-war conservatives.  HazteOír made a name for itself mobilizing protesters against liberalized abortion legislation in Spain in 2010, and hosted the 2012 World Congress of Families in Madrid. In 2013 his group bused supporters into France to support anti-marriage-equality protests there.

Arsuaga’s CitizenGo is affiliated with ActRight, created by Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage. Brown joined CitizenGo’s board in 2013.  Brown has backed anti-gay efforts in France and Russia and participated in events designed to strengthen ties between Europe’s right-wing and Putin’s Russia. As BuzzFeed’s Feder reported last year,

Arsuaga, Volontè, and La Manif Pour Tous President Ludovine de La Rochère were all in Washington on June 19 to support the National Organization for Marriage’s March for Marriage. Their more important business, however, might have been in a closed-door summit the next day, where representatives of around 70 countries met to discuss creation of an International Organization for Marriage, according to Volontè and another participant. 

Also participating in the Salt Lake City WCF will be Lech and Ewa Kowalewski, anti-abortion activists affiliated with Human Life International and the Polish Federation of Pro-Life Movements. They denounce the “contraceptive mentality” — for them even “natural contraception” is a contradiction because “contraception is never natural.” In 2014 they toured the U.S. as part of a worldwide “pro-life pilgrimage.”  They were on the International Planning Committee for World Congress of Families VI in Madrid.

Another participant is Maria Hildingsson, Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe, which the Catholic News Agency said last year is “the only independent organization clearly registered in the EU as Catholic.” It rejects “an individualistic conception” of human rights that is says are supported by “hegemonic powers which tend to impose their partial views on developing countries within the international economic and political arena.”

Hildingsson opposes promotion of “gender ideology” and opposed the marriage equality referendum in Ireland. Her group worked with a global coalition of conservative groups to oppose an inclusive definition of family in the United Nations during deliberations on sustainable development goals. This summer, she met with Orthodox Church leaders from Europe and Russia to strategize against efforts by the European Union that aim, in the words of a report on the meeting, “to destroy the traditional notions of marriage and family and to legalize surrogate motherhood and abortion.”

Another speaker, Silvio Dalla Valle, works with the Association for the Defense of Christian Values, which is “inspired by the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church” and works in Italy and Eastern Europe.  He was on the planning committee for Moscow meeting that took place last year without the formal sponsorship of WCF but with participation by WCF staff and allies,and spoke last year at a WCF regional event in Bolivia. Dalla Valle is a co-founder of and legal adviser to the Osservatorio della Cristianofobia (Observatory on “Christianphobia”) a project to lobby the United Nations and European institutions to take a strong stance against persecution and discrimination against Christians. He received a “Global Leadership Award” from the Howard Center, the World Congress of Families’ parent organization, in 2010.

Lola Volarde, director for UN affairs at the Institute for Family Policy, is also participating. Volarde’s group promotes “natural family” policies in Latin America in addition to its work at the European Union level, and it opened its delegation to the UN in 2013. You can see Velarde speaking in Mexico last year.

Arsuaga, Velarde and Brian Brown are all on board of the Political Network for Values, a group launched last year that brings together advocates and elected officials from around the world to work for legal protection for life “from its moment of conception” and advocate for policies the promote marriage as “an institution between a man and a woman.” The group also declares its opposition to “the tyranny of relativism” and euthanasia.

Last month, the Political Network for Values held a summit in Washington, D.C. which was sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage, the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Institute for Family Policy, CitizenGo and others. The network says the regional summit “brought together in Washington DC more than 70 policy makers from Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Guatemala, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia, Spain, Hungary, Kenya and the United States.” The group was addressed by three members of the U.S. Congress, Jeff Fortenberry, Chris Smith and Vicky Hartzler, who talked about the “fight for religious freedom in the U.S.”


What The World Congress Of Families' 'Natural Family' Means For Women

This is the third in a series of posts about the upcoming World Congress of Families in Salt Lake City, Utah. Read our introduction to the World Congress of Families here and an exploration of WCF’s anti-LGBT politics here.

While the World Congress of Families has become well known in the U.S. for its anti-LGBT activism, that is just one part of its larger vision of promoting what it calls the “natural family” throughout the world. In fact, in keeping with the vision that Allan Carlson and Paul Mero laid out in their "natural family" manifesto, this year’s conference will feature not just anti-LGBT activists, but opponents of abortion rights, contraception, sex education and liberalized divorce laws.

These issues are closely intertwined in this worldview. One scheduled WCF speaker, Evan Lenow of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, explained it clearly in a 2011 lecture on “The Challenge of Homosexuality For Gender Roles.” Lenow laid out the argument that the Bible prescribes separate but equal roles for men and women in marriage, with women required to “submit themselves to the leadership of their husbands, just as the church submits to Christ.” Same-sex marriages, where gender roles are by necessity “egalitarian,” he said, “subvert” this biblically ordained relationship.

For many of these activists, all manner of evils date back to the “sexual revolution” and, in particular, the widespread availability and use of contraception.

Allan Carlson, WCF’s founder and a speaker at the Utah event, has been a strong critic of the role of contraception in changing the roles of women and families in society, including speaking at a 2006 anti-contraception conference and appearing in the anti-contraception film “Birth Control: How Did We Get Here?

A panel on “Understanding the Sexual and Cultural Revolution” will feature the Family Research Council’s Pat Fagan, who has argued that the Supreme Court decision ending bans on contraception for unmarried people was wrong because “functioning societies” ought to “punish” and “shame” people who have sex out of wedlock. Fagan links the “contraceptive mindset” to any number of social ills. “Since the introduction of contraception, everything else has fallen,” he has said.

Joining Fagan on the “sexual and cultural revolution” panel will be the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Katie McCoy, who has argued strongly against efforts to allow women to serve as Southern Baptist pastors.

A forum on “The Beneficial and Harmful Influences of Feminism,” moderated by WCF’s Larry Jacobs, will feature declared anti-feminist activists Babette Francis of the Australian Endeavor Forum and Gayle Ruzicka, the head of the Utah chapter of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, who is also a radical anti-gay activist.

WCF has set aside time to showcase the latest round of attacks against Planned Parenthood, with a panel featuring Live Action’s Lila Rose, Americans United for Life’s Charmaine Yoest (who happens to be the daughter of WCF head Janice Shaw Crouse), and Priests for Life’s Alveda King. King has falsely claimed that hormonal birth control “exposes” women to breast cancer and insisted that this is part of an elaborate money-making scheme by Planned Parenthood. Moderating the panel will be a representative of Heartbeat International, a network of so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” that claims it can replace Planned Parenthood, despite the fact that it does not prescribe birth control.

A discussion on “International Pro-Life Initiatives” will feature Keith Mason who, through his group Personhood USA, advocates fetal “personhood” initiatives that would outlaw all abortion and could even threaten legal contraception. Mason’s group has become active in fighting reproductive rights advances at the United Nations and has begun pouring money into unspecified projects in Europe.

The fight against legal abortion, contraception and egalitarian gender roles is tied in with a founding principle of the World Congress of Families: the fear that demographic change is dooming European and American culture.

A panel on “demography,” moderated by Personhood USA’s Keith Mason and notably consisting entirely of men, will likely address some of these fears, and in particular the idea that contraception is the root cause of a perceived cultural decline. The panel will include Steve Mosher of the Population Research Institute, who has argued that “[i]n its own way, contraception is an even greater tragedy than abortion” because it “involves the deliberate rejection of God’s creative power.”

Also speaking on the panel will be WCF’s Don Feder, who told a WCF event in Belgrade earlier this year that contraception leads to “death” by “preventing life from happening,” and who warned at the Moscow conference last year that humanity is financing “ its own extinction” through birth control.

Joining them will be Igor Beloborodov, a Russian demographer who warned at a 2011 demographic forum featuring a number of American activists that birthrates were falling as a result of people who want to “push up sales of contraceptives, to increase the number of abortions, to make homosexuality more popular.” He presented this slide listing “global threats to family and life,” including “small families,” “homosexuality” and “feminism”:

The World Congress of Families will also include staunch opponents of comprehensive sex education in schools, including Dr. Miriam Grossman and the Eagle Forum’s Gayle Ruzicka, who have both supported instituting abstinence-only sex-ed in Utah. This is an especially interesting dynamic given that WCF extended an invitation to Elizabeth Smart, an abduction survivor turned anti-sex-trafficking advocate from Utah who has spoken about how the lessons she had learned in abstinence-only sex-ed contributed to her reluctance to flee her captor.

Also speaking at the event will be proponents of rolling back no-fault divorce laws, a little-noticed flip side to the conservative campaign against marriage equality for LGBT people. Repealing state no-fault divorce laws, which allow married couples to end their marriages without one party being found to be at fault, is a plank of Carlson and Mero’s “natural family” manifesto. A panel on divorce at the Utah summit will include Beverly Willett, the cofounder of the Coalition for Divorce Reform, which aims to make it more legally difficult for most couples to divorce and Michael McManus, who has also advocated against no-fault divorce laws.

Meet The World Congress Of Families, The International Conservative Network Meeting In Utah Next Week

by Miranda Blue, Isabel Carter-Kahn and Peter Montgomery

This is the first in a series of posts about the upcoming World Congress of Families in Salt Lake City, Utah. In this post, we provide an introduction to the event’s hosts and recipients of its awards for international activism. Subsequent posts will explore the World Congress of Families’ organizing against LGBT equality and women’s rights and its role in growing international social conservative networks.

Next week, hundreds of activists from around the world will gather in Salt Lake City for the ninth World Congress of Families, a gathering of individuals and organizations promoting what organizers call the “natural family.”

The World Congress of Families is a project of the Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, founded in 1997 by conservative historian Allan Carlson. The Howard Center has a relatively small budget — less than half a million dollars in 2013 — but works with organizers and funders in host countries to throw what it calls the “Olympics” of social conservatism. This is the first time the Congress has been held in the U.S. and will count as guests the governor of Utah as well as Rafael Cruz, father of Texas senator and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz. The event is set to honor activists who advocated for laws criminalizing homosexuality and even meetings between gay people, free speech in favor of gay rights and abortion.

The vision of the “natural family” promoted by WCF is one that excludes LGBT people and precludes reproductive rights. In 2005, Carlson and the Sutherland Institute’s Paul Mero released “The Natural Family: A Manifesto,” a call to arms against the societal changes that resulted from the twin developments of “industrialism and the assault of new, family-denying ideas.”

They offered instead a vision of a return to an economy run by large families operating as independent economic units — a potentially appealing thought until you realize what the economy they envision means for women. In Carlson’s and Mero’s “natural family” dream, they “envision young women growing into wives, homemakers, and mothers; and we see young men growing into husbands, homebuilders, and fathers.” For women, this involves rejecting what they call the “contraceptive mentality” and opening their homes to “a full quiver of children” — a nod to the “Quiverfull” ideology promoted by the self-proclaimed “Christian patriarchy” movement. They insist that “culture, law, and policy” should take into account that “women and men are equal in dignity and innate human rights, but different in function” — a separate-but-equal ideology that drives women out of public and economic life and rejects the rights of those who do not fit into this narrow view of gender roles.

It is this vision that WCF aims to promote around the world, through government policies aiding the “natural family” and in resisting international efforts to protect the rights of women and LGBT people.

The U.S. event offers WCF an opportunity to reestablish itself after the debacle of the last Congress, which was meant to be held in Moscow — home of a spate of new anti-LGBT laws — but was abruptly “suspended” after Russia invaded Ukraine and some of the conference’s organizers were hit with U.S. sanctions. The conference went ahead, but without the official World Congress of Families label. Instead, WCF leaders attended in their personal capacities. The executive director of the Utah event is Janice Shaw Crouse, a former Concerned Women for America official who appears to have parted ways with her former employer over the wisdom of participating in the Moscow summit.

Hosting the World Congress of Families gathering in Salt Lake City is the Sutherland Institute, which describes itself as “a conservative public policy think tank” whose mission is “to shape Utah law and policy based on a core set of governing principles.” The Sutherland Institute, whose budget is about $1.5 million, is affiliated with the State Policy Network, a group of right-wing think tanks. While the Institute is not formally affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the LDS or Mormon Church), it promotes conservative views influenced by LDS theology, sometimes staking out policy positions to the right of the Church itself. The Institute is named for George Sutherland, a U.S. Supreme Court justice from Utah who joined other conservative justices to overturn progressive legislation in the 1920s and led a group known as “The Four Horsemen” who struck down FDR’s New Deal for several years.

Sutherland describes seven principles of “authentic conservatism” – personal responsibility as the basis of self-government; family as the fundamental unit of society; religion as the moral compass of human progress; private property as the cornerstone of economic freedom; free markets as the engine of economic prosperity; charity as the wellspring of a caring community; limited government as the essence of good government. The Institute brags about its work to weaken unions and calls for the abolition of the state income tax on corporations.

In other words, the Institute promotes both the Tea Party’s hostility to government regulation and the Religious Right’s desire to use government to promote “traditional” views of family, parenting, and marriage.Sutherland helped pay for the legal counsel hired by the state to defend its anti-gay-marriage amendment.

The Institute called the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling an “abdication” of the rule of law. Then-President Paul Mero, argued that freedom is incompatible with gay rights, because “bad behavior is the enemy of freedom.” Sutherland supports Sen. Mike Lee’s First Amendment Defense Act, which would allow broad anti-gay discrimination in the name of religious liberty. It also wants to do away with no-fault divorce laws.

In 2014 the Institute produced a 10-page defense of a Utah law requiring restaurants to erect a “Zion Curtain” or “Zion Wall” to prevent restaurant-goers from being able to witness the preparation of alcoholic beverages. Although Sutherland was criticized for supporting what many considered “nanny-state” legislation, former President Paul Mero said the law “disrupts a culture of drinking” and promotes a “culture of sobriety.”

The Sutherland Institute has strong ties with WCF’s sponsor, the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society. Mero, the founding executive vice president of the Howard Center, reportedly helped attract the WCF to Salt Lake City. After 14 years as Sutherland’s CEO he was asked to step down by the Institute’s board last August, for what were described as operational rather than philosophical differences. Mero reportedly agreed to continue to serve on executive committee for the WCF. Sutherland board chair and interim president Stanford Swim serves on the boards of the Howard Center and the State Policy Network.

This year, the World Congress of Families will present its Woman of the Year Award to Theresa Okafor, Familia Et Veritas awards to Luca Giuseppe Volonte and Andrea Williams and an International Pro-Life Award to Father Maxim Obukhov. The backgrounds of these four activists provide insight into the values that the World Congress of Families seeks to promote around the world.

Theresa Okafor

Okafor, from Nigeria, is the World Congress of Families Regional Director in Africa. In 2009, she was successful in bringing a World Congress of Families event to Nigeria. She is the CEO of Life League Nigeria and the director of the Foundation for African Cultural Heritage.

The Foundation for African Cultural Heritage is a coalition organization that encompasses 20 “family values” organizations such as Association of Concerned Mothers, Nigerian Association for Family Development, Doctors Health Initiative, Life League Nigeria, the Christian Association of Bishops Conference of Nigeria and the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Nigeria. Her groups have supported and lauded Nigeria’s Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which banned all same-sex relationships and gay people gathering in groups of two or more. The act led to the arrest of dozens of people.

The Foundation for African Cultural Heritage releasedvideos of a press conference it organized to support the bill, during which speakers called homosexuality “abhorrent” and compared it to alcoholism. At a World Congress of Families annual gathering in Madrid in 2012, Okafor speculated in a speech that Western countries advocating for gay rights in Africa were involved in a “conspiracy” to “silence Christians” with the terrorist group Boko Haram:

Unfortunately, in Nigeria where I come from, we have these fundamentalists, the Boko Haram – I’m sure you’ve heard about them in the news – bombing churches. They seem to be helping some people in Western countries who are out to silence Christians. The Boko Haram are targeting Christians in Nigeria, so you wonder if there’s a conspiracy between the two worlds.

In the speech she also speculated that efforts to promote LGBT rights in Africa are “another ploy to depopulate Africa,” a sentiment she expresses repeatedly.

Okafor also has ties to the American group Family Watch International, which works to stop advances in LGBT equality and reproductive rights at the UN, cosponsoring the group’s Global Family Policy Forum in Gilbert, Arizona.

Luca Giuseppe Volonte

Luca Volonte is an Italian politician and the president of the Novae Terrae Foundation, which states on its website that it is committed to “promot[ing] human rights from the religious point of view.” The “Goals” section of the group’s mission page emphasizes its focus on contrasting Christianity with “Islamic culture.”

Volonte serves along with the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown on the board of trustees of CitizenGo, an international organization that promotes petitions backing conservative positions, including opposition tosame-sex marriage and abortion rights. In response to Target’s decision to stop segregating its toy aisles by gender, CitizenGo released a petition saying the new policy was a result of “sexual radicals ” who “want to erase distinctions between male and female, and promote transgenderism among children.”

In 2010, Volonte won the chair of the European People’s Party in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. As chair, Volonte led the successful effort to withdraw a report on "discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Volonte was appointed chairman of the anti-LGBT Institute for Human Dignity, a Catholic NGO based in Rome, in 2013. The institute released a declaration defining human dignity as:

That man is made in the image and likeness of God; that this image and likeness proceeds in every single human being without exception from conception until natural death; and that the most effective means of safeguarding this recognition is through the active participation of the Christian faith in the public square.

This declaration was adopted by the European Parliament's Working Group on Human Dignity , a coalition that promotes Europe’s “Judeo-Christian” heritage, as their foundational document.

In 2015, Novae Terrae announced a partnership with the European Large Families Confederation.

Andrea Williams

Andrea Williams is the CEO of Christian Concern, a United Kingdom based group that promotes a “Christian voice” in government. In the “About” sections of Christian Concern’s website, the organization states that it pursues these goals because “ the last few decades the nation has largely turned her back on Jesus and embraced alternative ideas such as secular liberal humanism, moral relativism and sexual licence. The fruit of this is rotten, and can be seen in widespread family breakdown, immorality and social disintegration.” The organization attempts to move policy on “abortion, adoption and fostering, bioethics, marriage, education, employment, end of life, equality, family, free speech, Islamism, religious freedom, the sex trade, social issues and issues relating to sexual orientation.” Christian Concern has campaigned against numerous pieces of LGBT anti-discrimination legislation, citing that they would create discrimination against Christians.

Williams encouraged Jamaica to keep same-sex intimacy (still referred to in the country’s legal code as “buggery”) illegal at a conference organized by the Jamaican Coalition for a Healthy Society and the Christian Lawyers’ Association in Kingston that she attended with extreme American anti-LGBT activist Peter LaBarbera. At the conference, she suggested Olympic diver Tom Daley is gay because his father died, and that “sometimes a level of abuse” is responsible for one becoming gay.

Williams is the director of the Christian Concern offshoot Christian Legal Centre, whose website says it “defend[s] many Christians who have suffered for their beliefs,” in a similar fashion to the American Alliance Defending Freedom. The Christian Legal Centre has provided legal support to a woman who sued an art gallery for displaying an image of Jesus with an erection and to a man who was relieved of his position as a police officer after sending homophobic emails.

In concert with Alliance Defending Freedom, Christian Concern also runs the Wilberforce Academy, which says its aim is to “train and equip the invited students on what it means to proclaim Christ in public life.” Williams has said this on the Alliance Defense Fund:

The ADF are a fantastic organization. We have been inspired by their work and that of the Blackstone programme, which seeks to raise a new generation of lawyers to defend Christianity in the public sphere. They've got some of the best attorneys in this field and we have the great privilege of hosting them, but they don't pay anything towards the academy.

In 2010, Williams was elected to a five year term as a member of the Church of England General Synod.

Maxim Obukhov

Father Maxim Obukhov is credited by Religious Right leaders as the founder of the pro-life movement in Russia and led the effort to bring the World Congress of Families to Moscow last year. He was instrumental in convening a World Congress of Families “demographic summit” in Russia, which resulted in a statement addressed to world leaders. Part of the statement read:

We call on the governments of all nations and on international institutions to develop immediately a pro-family demographic policy and to adopt a special international pro-family strategy and action plan aimed at consolidating family and marriage, protecting human life from conception to natural death, increasing birth rates, and averting the menace of depopulation.

In 2009, Obukhov drafted an official proposal for WCF to come to Moscow, and the plan was solidified. However, the conferencewas cancelled in response to backlash over President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Crimea. An “International Family Forum” sprang up in its place, and many of the same pro-family leaders from the United States and around the world were in attendance.

Obhukhov created the Zhizn Center, an organization connected with the Russian Orthodox Church that dedicates itself to the “dissemination of Christian views on questions of family and marriage” and against abortion rights . He is also secretary of the Church’s bioethics committee and an expert on bioethical issues for the Moscow Patriarchate. World Congress of Families claims the Zhizn Center runs more than 30 crisis-pregnancy centers.

Obhukvhov was part of a group established by the Duma’s committee on family, women and children in 2010 for the purpose of drafting anti-choice legislation. Parts of the legislation drafted by the group, which included no medical professionals, were used in a health reform bill signed by President Dmitry Medvedev in 2011. Proposals that did not make it into legislation attempted to end federal support of all abortion services, require that women receive the approval of their spouses before having an abortion, and require prescriptions for the morning-after pill. Obukhov opposes hormonal birth control.

Obukhov has told LifeSiteNews that he believes the Obama administration’s sanctions on Russian lawmaker Yelena Mizulina, author of the infamous “gay propaganda” ban, following the Ukraine conflict were evidence of Christian persecution. Obuhkov said, "President Obama is using the economic sanctions against Yelena Mizulina to send a very clear message to Russian Christians. There is much talk about a cold war, but President Obama has openly declared war upon Christians who oppose the culture of death both at home and abroad."

David Daleiden Explains How Discredited Sting Taught Him To Confront The 'Enemy' Of Planned Parenthood

As we explored in our recent report on the Center for Medical Progress’ attacks on Planned Parenthood, CMP founder David Daleiden worked in concert with a few longtime anti-choice activists in his effort to claim that Planned Parenthood violated federal laws with its fetal tissue donation program. One of those activists was Mark Crutcher, who through his Texas-based group Life Dynamics, conducted a very similar undercover video “sting” of fetal tissue donation practices in the late 1990s, with a similar goal of undermining legal abortion.

Crutcher’s claims fell apart when his key witness admitted at a congressional hearing that he had lied about witnessing “profiteering by fetal-tissue providers.” The Omaha World-Herald reported at the time:

[U]nder questioning from the committee, Alberty admitted that he had lied in previous statements made to Life Dynamics, an anti-abortion group in Texas. In a videotape produced by Life Dynamics, a disguised Alberty charged that he had witnessed profiteering by fetal-tissue providers, among a number of charges he later denied in a sworn affidavit.

Alberty also admitted receiving more than $10,000 from Life Dynamics.

On Thursday, Alberty contradicted himself repeatedly, at one point telling the committee he didn't remember if he had put on a dress to disguise himself in the Life Dynamics video.

"When I was under oath, I told the truth," Alberty told the committee. "Anything I said on a videotape when I wasn't under oath is a different story."

Another focus of Life Dynamics’ “investigation” was a middle-man whom they said profited from fetal tissue after obtaining it from a Planned Parenthood facility in Kansas. Planned Parenthood was never implicated in any wrongdoing, and federal prosecutors never found evidence to bring charges against the man Life Dynamics had targeted.

In an in-depth interview with the “Catholic Answers Focus” podcast last week, Daleiden recalled that in 2010 he had a “very detailed” three-hour conversation with Crutcher about this failed sting operation, from which he came away determined to copy Crutcher’s actions, only this time he would be better prepared to confront the “enemy” of Planned Parenthood.

“I felt like it deserves to have a very detailed and sophisticated exposé done about it again, and done in a way that would go even farther than what was done before and do it in a way that wouldn’t allow it to just be ignored or swept under the rug,” he said, “so that was the original inspiration.”

“So I think that Mark Crutcher did groundbreaking work and I think that it was a great victory just for him to get the information out that he did,” Daleiden said. “But I think definitely you always want to learn from how something was done before and if, I wouldn’t say so much mistakes, but just areas where the enemy pushed back really hard and kind of what the best tactics of the enemy were, and wanting to make sure we could learn from the past and have a way to neutralize those in the future.”

He added that as well as learning about “the best tactics of the enemy,” he decided to focus on Planned Parenthood “so that nobody could deny that this was a Planned Parenthood problem and so Planned Parenthood would have to be held to account for their actions.”

Cheryl Sullenger, a top official at Operation Rescue, another extreme anti-choice group that Daleiden turned to for help, has said that Daleiden came into the project sharing “our vision for obtaining criminal prosecutions” of Planned Parenthood officials in order to “bring an end” to “the abortion industry in America.”

Six states have so far closed investigations into Daleiden’s claims, finding no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood Attackers Slam Group For Ending Fetal Tissue Reimbursements They Criticized

Over the summer, anti-choice activists began accusing Planned Parenthood of illegally profiting off the fetal tissue that a handful of its clinics allow women to donate to medical research. Although only one percent of Planned Parenthood’s clinics currently even offer that option, the women’s health provider’s critics have spent months baselessly claiming that the organization is profiting off the practice.

Those claims have not held up to scrutiny and last week Planned Parenthood announced that its two remaining clinics that legally accept reimbursement for fetal tissue donation will no longer do so in order to completely dispel the rumor that the organization is profiting off donations for medical research.

But, of course, with anti-choice activists Planned Parenthood just can’t win. After the anti-abortion movement spent months claiming that Planned Parenthood’s acceptance of reimbursements for fetal tissue was a big money-making scheme, one Religious Right group is now claiming that the organization’s decision to stop accepting those reimbursements is an even bigger money-making scheme.

In its weekly email newsletter on Friday, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission acknowledged that Planned Parenthood could never have made much money from tissue donation even if it was breaking the law and alleged that the organization is now absorbing all the costs of tissue donation because “they can make even more money by not accepting direct reimbursements.”

PP believes that by giving up the reimbursements, they can win a PR victory by convincing the public that this was merely an indirect attack on abortion rights.

The second, unstated, reason is likely that PP knows they can make even more money by not accepting direct reimbursements. Less than 1 percent of PP’s clinics earn any money by being compensated for fetal tissue donations. But now PP can solicit funding from 100 percent of their donor base to cover the cost of the fetal remains they provide to researchers.

It not surely no coincidence that PP announced the policy just before they begin their fundraising campaign for end-of-year donations. By overhyping their role in fetal tissue research—what they call “this limited but important work”—they will convince their donor base that they have made a noble sacrifice that will require compensation. Overall, PP is likely to make much more money from pro-abortion advocates by fundraising off this issue than they ever made in direct compensation from actual fetal tissue donations.

US Congressman Headlining Conference Defending Ireland's Abortion Ban

Rep. Chris Smith, the New Jersey Republican who is a leading proponent of U.S. engagement in international social conservative causes, is scheduled to headline a conference in Ireland tomorrow aimed at preserving the country’s laws criminalizing abortion.

The theme of the conference, organized by the Irish anti-abortion group Pro-Life Campaign, is the defense of Ireland’s Eighth Amendment, which introduced a constitutional ban on abortion. Abortion is outlawed in Ireland unless a pregnant woman’s life is in danger, but even in those cases, doctors can be hesitant to operate for fear of running afoul of the law. According to a recent Amnesty International report, at least 4,000 Irish women travel to other countries each year to obtain safe and legal abortion. Others have faced harrowing experiences where they are “essentially forced to wait until their condition deteriorates sufficiently in order for doctors to justify a medical intervention.”

A movement to repeal the Eighth Amendment has been growing since the 2012 death of Savita Halappanavar, a woman who was denied a life-saving abortion in an Irish hospital. Ireland’s recent vote to legalize marriage equality has encouraged those hoping to liberalize the country’s abortion laws.

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Anti-Choice Posts Archive

Miranda Blue, Wednesday 11/25/2015, 12:25pm
Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life, explained a key part of his movement’s strategy for stopping abortion rights yesterday, telling a Catholic radio network that “pro-life” activists must resist Planned Parenthood’s efforts to “destigmatize abortion” by reinforcing anti-abortion stigma and lifting it “up high for people to see.” “They survive, these Planned Parenthood efforts survive to the extent that abortion is destigmatized,” Pavone told Ave Maria Radio’s “Catholic Connection” program. “To the... MORE
Miranda Blue, Wednesday 11/25/2015, 10:40am
Over the past few weeks, we have been covering the parade of increasingly extreme activists whom Sen. Ted Cruz is embracing as he seeks to shore up the hard-right vote in the Republican presidential primary. There was the conference Cruz spoke at immediately after the summit’s organizer declared that the biblical punishment for homosexuality is death. There was the list of endorsements from faith leaders that his campaign released that included a pastor who has blamed Ebola on gay rights and another whose long history of right-wing activism includes protesting at gay couple’s... MORE
Miranda Blue, Friday 11/13/2015, 3:14pm
The Supreme Court announced today that it will hear Whole Women’s Health v. Cole next term. The case, which deals with abortion restrictions that Texas passed in 2013, represents a major test of the anti-choice movement’s long-term strategy of cutting off abortion access through incremental legislation rather than directly challenging the right to abortion. This comes after the court’s announcement last week that it will hear another challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate, testing how far the Religious Right can stretch the meaning... MORE
Peter Montgomery, Friday 11/13/2015, 10:23am
Largely unnoticed in the media coverage of the Republican presidential primary this week was Marco Rubio’s hiring of a major millennial anti-gay, anti-choice culture warrior. Eric Teetsel, who has been executive director of the Manhattan Declaration, has been hired to be Rubio’s faith outreach director. One who took notice was right-wing activist and pundit Erick Erickson, who gushed over the “huge and impressive hire.” Where other candidates are hiring folks from the dying “Moral Majority” coalitions of the past, Eric Teetsel is plugged into those power... MORE
Miranda Blue, Friday 11/06/2015, 12:45pm
This morning, Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal joined radical right-wing pastor Kevin Swanson on the stage of Swanson’s “National Religious Liberties Conference” in Iowa to hawk their candidacies to a crowd that includes several Christian Reconstructionists. Huckabee knew just how to appeal to this group, using his short time on stage to repeat his promises to simply ignore the Supreme Court’s rulings on abortion rights and marriage equality if he were to become president. “Here’s what the president should do, and if I... MORE
Peter Montgomery, Thursday 11/05/2015, 3:28pm
The World Congress of Families — an organization that hosts an annual global gathering of “pro-family” advocates —  brought together more than 3,300 people in Salt Lake City last week. The summit included authors and counselors focused on strengthening marriages as well as academics talking about the social and economic consequences of later marriages, declining birthrates and widespread divorce. It also included and anti-reproductive-choice activists from around the globe, as well as hundreds of “emerging leaders” expected to lead the movement... MORE
Miranda Blue, Wednesday 11/04/2015, 4:01pm
Speaking at a candidates’ briefing in Iowa last week, Mike Huckabee responded to a question about the status of state anti-sodomy laws, which were struck down by the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas, by launching into a speech about how, as president, he would ignore the Supreme Court’s recent marriage equality decision because “the court cannot make law.” “We have a situation here in Iowa where the federal government has usurped their authority,” a questioner at the Caffeinated Thoughts briefing asked Huckabee. “Sodomy is... MORE