Anti-Choice

The Anti-Choice Movement's Big Tobacco Strategy

Abortion increases the risk of breast cancer. Abortion causes depression. Abortion isn't safe.

These claims, repeated ad nauseam by the anti-choice movement, have found their way into legislative debates and even into court decisions.

But they aren’t true. In fact, they’ve been created and spread by a small, tightly knit group of doctors and scientists who have set up nonprofits, cite each other’s false research and provide “expert” testimony to bolster the cases of lawmakers trying to restrict abortion access.

In a new investigation, RH Reality Check’s Sofia Resnick and Sharon Coutts have uncovered the small network of “false witnesses” who are providing a sheen of respectability to the anti-choice movement’s unproven claims.

“What we’re seeing here is the same strategy that was used by big tobacco and by climate denialists,” Coutts said in a conference call unveiling the research this morning. Like in the efforts to deny climate change or cover up the risks of tobacco use, this small circle of activists “create the artifice that there is genuine disagreement” among doctors and scientists about the safety of abortion care, she added.

In the end, she said, “we are making decisions as a society that are based on literally fictional ideas about the dangers of abortion.”

From RH Reality Check’s report:

They create nonprofits, staffed with die-hard ideologues, and set about producing and promoting bogus science, to build the illusion of dissent or doubt over conclusions drawn by peer-reviewed scientific or medical research. They develop their own “research findings” to suit their ideological views. Then they deploy scare tactics, all with the goal of passing laws that suit their agenda.

In this case, the agenda is to promote the theory that abortion harms women’s health—physically and mentally. It’s a strategy anti-choice activists have been working on for decades, but in recent years, sympathetic state attorneys general have been increasingly relying on a cadre of so-called experts who will defend and promote anti-choice laws.

Our investigation reveals the close connections between many of the ostensibly independent “research” groups that feature prominently in the anti-choice movement. Several groups, such as the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the Reproductive Research Audit, and the World Expert Consortium for Abortion Research and Education, share many of the same officers and experts.

Our work details how the scientific and medical claims of these groups and individuals have been publicly discredited in episodes ranging from lying to the public, presenting false data in scientific journals, and being forced to retract articles that proved to be works of fiction presented as fact. Other doctors and professors catalogued in this gallery carry impressive credentials, appear to be apt in their fields, and are technically qualified to testify on reproductive-health issues. However, fueled by their religious or political beliefs (or both), many of these professionals have testified in support of unproven or discredited theories.

RH Reality Check's profiles of the 14 key "false witnesses" are here.

Personhood Leader: 'The Statewide Personhood Ballot Measure Is Dead For Now'

Gualberto Garcia Jones, the prominent anti-choice activist who drafted all three losing “fetal personhood” ballot measures in Colorado, is calling on his movement to abandon state-level ballot initiatives in favor of local initiatives that might have a better chance at passing.

Jones’ post-election analysis is likely to exacerbate an already bitter split within the personhood movement. Jones, who previously worked for the Colorado-based Personhood USA — which is dedicated to pushing state-level initiatives — recently defected to the newly created Personhood Alliance, a network of “personhood” groups that announced before the election that it would be pursuing a local-level strategy. Although Personhood USA at first supported Personhood Alliance, it soon distanced itself, accusing the new group of infringing on its territory.

In an article on Friday for LifeSiteNews, Jones followed up on his prediction that last week’s elections would “either collapse or ignite” the personhood movement. Huge losses on personhood amendments in Colorado and North Dakota, he wrote, mean that statewide ballot initiatives “dead for now.” Rather than fighting for personhood at the state level, Jones wrote, the movement should start “engaging the enemy in municipalities and counties that we know we control.”

The rest of conservative America may be celebrating, but for the Personhood movement, it is time for some sober analysis.

Tuesday’s election results were certainly not good for pro-abortion Democrats, but they were even worse for the Personhood movement. I have to admit that my own predictions were off and I am sorely disappointed.

After the defeat of Measure 1 in North Dakota by an unexpectedly wide vote of 64-36 and of the Brady Amendment in Colorado by an almost identical margin of 65-35, it isn’t an overstatement to say that the statewide personhood ballot measure is dead for now.

Had the Brady Amendment performed just a little better and the North Dakota amendment passed or been close to passing, then the claim could be made that the movement was growing and that there was a realistic chance of passing a personhood amendment in another state in the near future. As it is, the crushing defeat of the North Dakota amendment and the lackluster improvement in Colorado should make Personhood supporters stop to think about the strategy going forward.

Thoughtful reconsideration of the strategy of the Personhood movement is what the movement needs right now.

It should be noted that the same goes for the entire pro-life movement. The narrow victory of the Tennessee amendment that safeguards the right to legislatively address abortion, is a victory, but the bar is set painfully low.

These initial years of the personhood movement have taught us a lot. I believe that we now know how to fight to win against Planned Parenthood. And the key is being able to control the battleground.

When you look at electoral maps of the country, it is readily evident that majorities in almost every metropolitan area of the country are opposed to our worldview. These metropolitan areas are also the major media centers and accumulate large percentages of the voting population in every state.

Right now, fighting the abortion industry at the state level is akin to having lined up a battalion of colonists against the well-trained and well armed redcoats. We need to start engaging in more asymmetrical tactics, and this means engaging the enemy in municipalities and counties that we know we control.

This can be done at the legislative and political level, as Georgia Right to Life and other groups have done by the endorsement of state officials, or it can be done by engaging in municipal ballot measures.

Local laws deal with many powers that touch upon the personhood of the preborn, from local health and building codes to local law enforcement such as child abuse prevention. It is time to establish the recognition of universal human personhood into these laws.

Anti-Choice Group Moving Into Planned Parenthood Clinic Closed By Texas Abortion Restrictions

Last year, hours after Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed into law a sweeping anti-choice bill designed to shut down abortion providers in the state, Planned Parenthood announced that it would be closing three of its Texas clinics that provide abortion services, all of them in rural areas, leaving women seeking an abortion far from other providers.

Now, the anti-choice group 40 Days for Life, which organizes protests outside of abortion clinics throughout the country, is announcing that it is moving its national headquarters into one of the shuttered Planned Parenthood facilities in Texas. Where Planned Parenthood used to provide medical care, 40 Days for Life is also planning to house an anti-choice crisis pregnancy center.

40 Days for Life credits its members’ prayers for giving it its new headquarters:

BRYAN/COLLEGE STATION, Texas /Christian Newswire/ -- The worldwide 40 Days for Life movement is moving its headquarters into a former Planned Parenthood abortion center in Bryan/College Station, Texas. The pro-life initiative began outside that same facility ten years ago.

"This news shows what God can accomplish when His people pray," said Shawn Carney, campaign director of 40 Days for Life. "More than 6,400 children lost their lives in this building, but God is making 'all things new.' What was once a place of death and despair is now going to be a place of life and hope. We are excited to start using this location to aid the rapid worldwide growth of 40 Days for Life, and to help other cities become abortion-free."



Short-term plans include a memorial service for the children lost to abortion inside the building, and tearing down the tall, black iron fence surrounding the property as part of renovations.

The new 40 Days for Life headquarters will be used to help many more communities end abortion. The building will also house Hope Pregnancy Center, an affiliate of CareNet, as they expand their local medical services to include free STD testing. "The partnership between the two organizations demonstrates the close relationship between 40 Days for Life and life-saving pregnancy resource centers," Carney said.

Planned Parenthood, however, had a different explanation for the clinic’s closing: drastic cuts to family planning aid in Texas, aimed directly at Planned Parenthood:

Rochelle Tafolla with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast said they’re closing the center because of continued and targeted cuts to family planning.

She said it started when the budget for the Family Planning Network was drastically cut. Soon after, Tafolla said they were further hindered when the Women’s Health Program in Texas came to an end.

And those two programs provided the vast majority of access for women in east Texas to get basic health care, said Tafolla. Well-Woman exams, birth control and cervical cancer screenings.

Tafolla said it’s the City of Bryan and surrounding communities that will suffer from the closing.

The big deal is that women have relied on Planned Parenthood. They’ve come to trust us, said Tafolla. They know that they can get nonjudgmental, unbiased information from us. They know that we are affordable, and they know that they can get into us whenever they need to.

Tafolla said it will be much more difficult for women to get access to their kind of help.

Susan B. Anthony List 'Defamed' Its Namesake With Controversial Mailer, Says Susan B. Anthony Expert

A top Susan B. Anthony expert is once again taking to task the anti-choice group Susan B. Anthony List for using the name of the women’s rights pioneer to push its anti-abortion political agenda.

What drew the latest criticism from Deborah L. Hughes, president of the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House in Rochester, New York, was a pre-election Iowa mailer from the Susan B. Anthony List that looked like an official “public health alert” but that was in fact a slam on pro-choice Senate candidate Bruce Braley. SBA List vowed to spend $3 million in the 2014 election cycle to support Senate candidates who oppose abortion rights.

In an October 31 statement, Hughes said that SBA Lists’s “tactics repeatedly cross a line that is outrageous and inconsistent with who Susan B. Anthony was” and that Anthony’s “good character is being defamed by their actions.”

The recent activities of the Susan B. Anthony List, a 501(c)(4) organization, and its affiliated political action committee, the SBA List Candidate Fund, have raised concerns for the Anthony Museum & those dedicated to protecting the legacy of the great reformer.

The List’s assertions about Susan B. Anthony’s position on abortion are historically inaccurate. “We can make room for a different interpretation of history, and we certainly support political engagement,” says Hughes, “but their tactics repeatedly cross a line that is outrageous and inconsistent with who Susan B. Anthony was. Her good character is being defamed by their actions. People are outraged by their actions, causing harm to Anthony’s name and the mission of our Museum.”

The most recent example is an election mailer that voters in Iowa received this week. The outside of the mailer looks like an official announcement of a disease outbreak, “PUBLIC HEALTH ALERT: CHILDREN IN YOUR AREA ARE VULNERABLE TO A PUBLIC HEALTH THREAT THAT CONTINUES UNCONTROLLED. . .” Inside, it diagnoses that public health threat as the Democratic Senatorial candidate.

“Depending on how you feel about the political issue, you might say The List and this mailer are ‘brilliant’ or ‘horrific.’ That isn’t our issue,” says Hughes. “Our concern is that a national political lobbying group is using Susan B. Anthony’s good name for their benefit, and they are damaging her reputation in the process.”

This isn’t the first time Hughes has tussled with the anti-choice political group. Two years ago, she issued a statement clarifying that her museum was not related to the Susan B. Anthony List, saying that while she was “delighted that the once-reviled radical feminist has earned such a high place of honor and authority that everyone seems to want her for their champion” that people should “not be confused by political parties, caucuses, or groups that claim they know what Susan B. Anthony would say about a contemporary issue.”

In an interview with Bill Moyers, Hughes went into more depth about why she disagrees with SBA List’s insistence that Susan B. Anthony was an opponent of abortion rights. Other Susan B. Anthony experts have also disputed SBA List’s historical claims.

h/t The New York History Blog

Personhood Group Thanks Joni Ernst For Sticking With Them On Toxic Issue

Personhood USA is not used to electoral victories.

On Tuesday, the Colorado-based group failed for the third time to pass a ballot measure granting legal rights to zygotes in its home state. It consoled itself that at least the measure — whose scope had been somewhat narrowed in an effort to attract voters — lost less badly than it had in the past.

Adding insult to injury, Colorado’s successful Republican Senate candidate, Cory Gardner, had renounced his support for the amendment and started lying about the fact that he was still supporting a similar measure in the U.S. House, causing Personhood USA’s head, Keith Mason, to joke about dressing up as someone stabbed in the back by Gardner for Halloween.

But the group did find one thing to be very happy about this week. In a press release that serves as a barely veiled dig at Gardner, Personhood USA congratulates successful Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst “for defending personhood during [a] principled Senate victory.” After falsely claiming in a debate that a state-level personhood bill she supported wouldn’t actually do anything but instead was just a symbolic “statement,” Ernst later confirmed that she would in fact support a federal-level personhood bill.

Personhood USA cites Ernst’s support for their cause to encourage Republican presidential candidates vying to win the Iowa caucuses to embrace similarly radical anti-choice stands:

"Joni Ernst didn't just say she was pro-life, she actually had the courage to act pro-life," said Keith Mason, President of Personhood USA. "After all, supporting personhood rights for the unborn is what it means to be pro-life. By doubling down on her support for personhood and energizing her pro-life base, she was able to win her race by a wide margin."

Ernst's victory sends a clear message to potential Republican presidential candidates who want to win the Iowa caucuses. In June, a personhood resolution on the South Carolina GOP ballot won by a landslide with 79% support from voters.

"Republican presidential candidates campaigning in Iowa and South Carolina should pay attention to the grassroots majority who want a candidate that acts pro-life," Mason continued. "Ernst's margin of victory is further confirmation that courageous integrity and fidelity to core pro-life values are a winning combination. While some other candidates narrowly eked by after turning their backs on their pro-life constituencies, Ernst's unapologetic strategy reaped major dividends."

Ernst will hardly be alone as a personhood champion in Congress. A personhood bill sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul currently has 21 cosponsors in the Senate and a House bill has 132 cosponsors…including Gardner.

Laurie Higgins: GOP Establishment Is Like Tolkein's Gollum

In a blog post today, Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute (state affiliate of the American Family Association) turns to a colorful analogy to describe the Republican Party’s internal conflicts.

Higgins contends that the establishment GOP, which worked this year to stamp out some of the more vocally extreme candidates in its ranks this year, is like Tolkein’s Gollum, so captivated by a shiny object that it ends up destroying itself and those it loves. (In The Lord of the Rings, the shiny object is the One Ring. In contemporary politics, it’s presumably voters who support LGBT equality and abortion rights.)

Just to be clear, Higgins also compares the party establishment to Cain, who in the Bible kills his brother Abel.

The GOP is slowly transmogrifying into the political incarnation of Tolkien's Gollum:

Gollum, dancing like a mad thing, held aloft the ring, a finger still thrust within its circle. "Precious, precious, precious!" Gollum cried. "My Precious! O my Precious!" And with that, even as his eyes were lifted up to gloat on his prize, he stepped too far, toppled, wavered for a moment on the brink, and then with a shriek he fell. Out of the depths came his last wail precious, and he was gone.

Illinoisans should fully expect to hear immoderates and perhaps even dispirited conservatives say, "See, Bruce Rauner/Mark Kirk-type of Republican is the only kind of Republican who can get elected in Illinois." But soon, they won't be tacking on "in Illinois."

Four years ago, the U.S. Senator-elect from Colorado, Cory Gardner, supported the Personhood Amendment and even circulated petitions to gather signatures for it. Then this year, the GOP establishment got to him. Just weeks before Gardner announced his candidacy, pro-life activists in Colorado got wind of the news that he would be renouncing his support for the Personhood Amendment.

Karl Rove deceitfully wrote this last May: "in Colorado, tea-party favorite and front-runner Ken Buck stepped aside when Mr. Gardner entered the race, recognizing he was better able to enthuse all the party." So, in May Rove implied that Buck just freely stepped aside because of his own uncoerced epiphany that Gardner would be the best candidate for "enthusing" the party.

That's interesting, because late last night on FOX News election coverage, Karl Rove boasted that his Super PAC told the Colorado GOP that no Super Pac money would got to support Ken Buck for U.S. Senate. I'm speculating here, but I suspect that Rove et al told Gardner they would support him as long as he retreated from the Personhood Amendment.

Immoderate Republicans accuse conservatives who agree with Robert George of turning on their Republican brethren and "forming a circular firing squad." But who really is Cain in this contemporary narrative? Who is Sméagol and who is Déagol?

Why Tennessee's Anti-Choice Measure Won, While Colorado's And North Dakota's Went Down In Flames

Yesterday, voters in Tennessee approved a ballot measure amending the state constitution to remove all legal protections for abortion rights, paving the way for state lawmakers to pass broad abortion restrictions. At the same time, voters in Colorado and North Dakota overwhelmingly rejected “personhood” measures that would have given the full rights of citizenship to zygotes, thereby criminalizing all abortion along with some forms of birth control. In Colorado, where the nation’s foremost personhood advocacy group is based, it was the third time such a measure had been rejected by voters.

Yesterday’s results are the product of a split among the anti-choice movement about how to achieve the goal of criminalizing all abortions. While most of the movement shares this end-game, its leaders are bitterly divided over the best strategy to achieve it.

The nation’s largest and best-funded anti-choice groups, including National Right to Life, Americans United for Life and the Susan B. Anthony List, favor an incremental approach to chipping away at the protections guaranteed in Roe v. Wade. The incremental strategy has had tremendous success in recent years as measures on the state level have forced scores of abortion clinics to shut their doors. Women in Cincinnati, for instance, still have a legal right to an abortion. But thanks to a recent law aimed at shutting down abortion providers, they may soon lose access to the city’s only clinic that provides the service.

And even in North Dakota, although zygotes won’t be given the legal rights of people (at least for the time being), anti-choice activists are targeting the state’s sole abortion provider, which was struggling to keep its doors open and was recently banned from administering medical abortions.

The personhood movement is angry at mainstream anti-choice leaders for being willing to accept “compromise” legislation that includes exceptions for survivors of rape and incest. But it also thinks that the incremental strategy won’t work. Instead, personhood advocates seek to take advantage of a loophole in Roe v. Wade by which, they believe, if a zygote or a fetus is defined by law as a legal person, Roe’s abortion protections will fall. Groups pushing the so-far unsuccessful personhood ballot measures have allies in this strategy in some far-right judges, most notably on the Alabama Supreme Court, who are trying to build a legal framework for undermining Roe.

On the electoral level, the personhood strategy’s biggest flaw may be it is just too honest about the goals of the anti-choice movement. While Americans are fairly evenly split between those who call themselves pro-choice and those who choose the label pro-life, 70 percent want to keep Roe v. Wade and only 24 percent want to overturn it. Americans have muddled views about circumstances under which they think abortion should be legal, but know that they don’t want it to be completely criminalized.

Groups like Americans United for Life and the Susan B. Anthony List know this and have stayed far away from personhood measures. When a Mother Jones reporter asked AUL for a comment on North Dakota’s measure, a spokeswoman replied, “AUL does not handle personhood issues.”

But other national groups have supported these measures. While National Right to Life’s affiliate in Colorado opposed that state’s measure , saying it would be “immediately overturned in court,” the national group’s North Dakota affiliate backed its state’s even more extreme measure. And while Colorado Republican senator-elect Cory Gardner ran away from the personhood issue, both of North Dakota’s senators supported the ballot measure in their state. The Family Research Council’s North Dakota affiliate also got behind the measure in its state, along with the state chapter of Concerned Women for America and the North Dakota Catholic Conference.

And despite the unpopularity of their bills at the ballot box, personhood advocates still have a strong hold in Congress, where “life at conception” bills have 22 sponsors in the Senate and 133 in the House.

But in the end, even as anti-choice Republicans won handily in Colorado and North Dakota, the personhood measures went down in flames, leading the proponents of the Colorado proposal to rejoice that they at least lost less badly than they had in the past.

The victory of the measure in Tennessee — which will allow legislators to broadly cut off access to abortion rights without explicitly criminalizing abortion — shows that, for now, the incrementalists’ strategy is winning. Even voters in dark-red states like North Dakota can’t stomach a bill that outright criminalizes all abortions. But the anti-choice movement’s strategy to approach the same goal through different means is, so far, working.

Michael Peroutka: Gay 'Deathstyle' Wants To 'Recruit Your Children'

In an interview with Steve Deace yesterday, Institute on the Constitution head and Maryland GOP politician Michael Peroutka claimed that the aim of LGBT rights advocates is to “recruit your children” into their “deathstyle.”

“Is this about sinful people want to engage in their sin, or is this about making a statement that you will go along with the sin?” Peroutka asked about the LGBT rights movement.

Deace responded by repeating his theory that LGBT people are simply seeking “validation” from the government because they can’t get it from God, adding: “We have two moral vices that have a powerful political lobby in America. One is sexually driven and the other one’s driven on covetousness, that’s the welfare state and victimology.”

Deace fretted that as part of this agenda, the gay rights movement is turning “ESPN into homosexual cake-smash make-out sessions.”

“It seems to me that the reason that it’s got to be validated, perversion has to be validated, because recruitment is necessary,” Peroutka added. “This deathstyle — I don’t call it a lifestyle — this deathstyle does not reproduce, it needs to recruit, so it’s got to recruit your children.”

Earlier in the interview, Deace said that governors should just ignore court rulings that they disagree with — such as marriage equality and legalized abortion —saying that if he were governor he would have shut down every abortion clinic in the state “and arrested every employee for killing, every single one of them.”

“The Nazis, everything they did was technically legal too,” he said.

Huckabee Urges States To Ignore Rulings On Marriage Equality, Abortion Rights & Church-State Separation

In an interview with Iowa-based conservative talk show host Steve Deace on Monday, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee repeated his recommendation that governors simply ignore the Supreme Court’s decision to let stand lower court rulings legalizing marriage equality in several new states, adding that state governments should have also ignored Roe v. Wade and the Supreme Court rulings banning school-sponsored prayer.

When Deace pressed him on the “maelstrom” that would be set off if state governments simply ignored court rulings on marriage, Huckabee responded that it was in fact the courts that have set off a “constitutional crisis” by ruling in favor of marriage equality.

“I look back to 1973,” he said, referring to the year in which Roe v. Wade was decided, “and I’m wondering what would have happened if the two branches of government, the executive and the legislative, simply said, ‘We appreciate your opinion, court, but now if states wish to empower that, I guess they can do so, but until that happens we’re not automatically going to go killing 55 million babies over the next 40 years.’”

In cases such as Roe and rulings in favor of marriage equality and church-state separation, Huckabee said, elected officials should have said, “Well, the courts have spoken and it’s an important voice, but it’s not the voice of God and the Supreme Court isn’t God” and simply ignored the courts’ rulings.

Earlier in the interview, Deace insisted that a drop in support for LGBT rights reported in a recent Pew poll happened because “people are seeing this really isn’t about consensual love…this is really about in the end using the coercive force of government to get you to abandon your own moral conscience.”

Huckabee agreed, adding, “It’s never been an honest situation where those who were advocating the most extreme levels of changing our culture were sincere and straightforward and I don’t think we’ve seen the last of it.”

He added his hope that in reaction to yesterday’s Supreme Court decision, “somewhere there will be a governor who will simply say, ‘No, I’m not going to enforce that’” and order county clerks not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Jerry Boykin: 'Don't Pray For God's Blessings On America,' 'Pray That God Will Forgive Us' For Abortion And Pornography

In an interview with the American Family Association’s Sandy Rios at the Values Voter Summit this morning, Family Research Council Executive Vice President Jerry Boykin predicted that God will soon humble America with a Civil-War-like reckoning for legal abortion and pornography, which he equated with “the evil, the sin of slavery.”

“If we ask God to humble us, if we ask God to bring us to a point where we do turn back to him… we’ve got to be prepared for greater persecution, we’ve got to be prepared to be knocked to our knees, not just invited to our knees, but knocked to our knees,” he said.

“Pray that God will forgive us,” he added. “Don’t pray for God’s blessings on America, I stopped doing that three years ago.”

He then said that legal abortion, pornography, and families “disintegrating at an incredible rate” have brought the country to a similar point that brought about the Civil War, which he said happened because “Americans realized that slavery was wrong and they began to repent for the evil.”

Every great revival in America, every great awakening in America started with an attitude of repentance. If you look at the Civil War, it came about because Americans realized that slavery was wrong and they began to repent for  the evil, the sin of slavery, which brought about the second Great Awakening, which brought about the Civil War. That’s where we are right now, where we’ve brought so much evil, we’ve killed 55 million of our children, we’ve destroyed our families, they’re disintegrating at an incredible rate, pornography is a multi-billion dollar evil. All that is evil that we’ve brought into our society and called it good.

The GOP's Hate Summit: A Who's Who Of The 2014 Values Voter Summit

This weekend, Republican elected officials including Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, and Gov. Bobby Jindal will take part in what has become an annual ritual for potential GOP presidential contenders: they will seek to curry the favor of the Religious Right by speaking at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit.

In doing so, they put themselves in the company of some of the most radical groups and activists working today to dehumanize LGBT people, roll back reproductive rights, tear down the wall between church and state, and deny free exercise rights to religious minorities.

The Values Voter Summit’s sponsor, the Family Research Council, regularly issues false and demeaning smears about LGBT people and advocates for an America ruled according to the dictates of a small sliver of right-wing Christians. Just this month, the group’s president Tony Perkins suggested that the Constitution’s religious liberty protections do not apply to Muslims.

The other primary sponsors of the event, the American Family Association, Liberty Counsel, and Gary Bauer’s American Values have equally if not more egregious records of extremism. In addition, a number of fringe groups are contributing to the conference by sponsoring exhibition tables, including Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX), which pushes discredited conversion therapy on LGBT people; the anti-immigrant group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR); and the World Congress of Families, which works with activists throughout the world to push harsh anti-gay laws.

But the Values Voter Summit’s speakers do not have to visit the event’s exhibition hall to encounter extremism. They will find plenty of that in their fellow speakers. Below is an introduction to some of the speakers who will be sharing a stage with prominent GOP elected officials at this week’s summit.

Tony Perkins

Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council, the chief sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. Now a widely recognized spokesman for social conservative causes, Perkins served two terms as a Republican legislator in the Louisiana House of Representatives before launching a failed bid for the U.S. Senate in 2002. Perkins has:

  • Contended that the anti-bullying “It Gets Better” project is “immoral,” “disgusting,” and promotes “perversion.”
  • Defined efforts by the Obama administration to advance LGBT rights abroad as a push for “radical sexualism” and “global homosexuality.”
  • Praised a Uganda bill that would have condemned gays and lesbians to death as an effort to “uphold moral conduct that protects others and in particular the most vulnerable.”
  • Warned that LGBT rights advocates will launch a holocaust against Christians, placing those that oppose same-sex marriage into “boxcars.”
  • Suggested that Christian clergy who support LGBT rights should not have the same religious liberties as anti-gay conservatives because “true religious freedom” only applies to those he believes hold “orthodox religious viewpoints.”
  • Warned that lawmakers who voted to repeal the military ban on openly gay service members would have “the blood of innocent soldiers on their hands.”

Jerry Boykin

Retired Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin earned a public rebuke from President George W. Bush when, as a high-ranking official in the Bush Defense Department, he framed the "War on Terror" as a holy war against Islam. He has since built a career as a Religious Right speaker, specializing in anti-Muslim rhetoric and anti-Obama conspiracy theories. In 2012, he was named executive vice president of the Family Research Council.

Boykin rejects religious freedom for American Muslims, claiming that Islam “is not just a religion, it is a totalitarian way of life.” In an interview with the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, he called for “no mosques in America.”

Boykin is a leading member of the dominionist group The Oak Initiative, and once told the group that President Obama used health care reform legislation as a cover to establish a private army of Brownshirts loyal just to him. Boykin has also:

  • Suggested that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell led to the “absolute destruction of our military.”
  • Described CIA head John Brennan as “very sympathetic to the jihadist cause.”
  • Denounced the repeal of laws banning women from military combat service.
  • Blamed the Sandy Hook school massacre on the presence of secularism in society.

Mat Staver

Mat Staver is the dean of the Liberty University School of Law and the founder and chairman of its affiliate, Liberty Counsel, which is a sponsor of the Values Voter Summit. At a previous Values Voter Summit, Staver claimed that progressives are using LGBT rights and secular government in order to “ultimately implode America” and that the “agenda of the homosexual movement” is to destroy freedom and Western civilization. Through his position at Liberty Counsel, Staver has:

Gary Bauer

Gary Bauer is the president of Values Voter Summit sponsor American Values, a former president of the Family Research Council, and one-time Republican presidential hopeful. While serving in the Reagan administration as a Department of Education official, Bauer was named chairman of the president’s Special Working Group on the Family. Bauer has:

  • Reacting to A&E’s suspension of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson for racist and homophobic remarks, declared that progressives are waging a “jihad against America’s cultural norms,”
  • Warned that President Obama is “obsessed” with LGBT issues, and claimed that his “secular” agenda will “destroy” America.
  • Claimed that Supreme Court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage were acts of “judicial terrorism” putting America on “the verge of criminalizing the Book of Genesis.”
  • Wondered why African Americans keep “falling through the cracks  of society despite the fact that “every major goal” of Martin Luther King, Jr. has been reached.

Benham Brothers

Twin brothers Jason and David Benham were catapulted to national attention this year when an HGTV show that they were set to star in was cancelled following revelations about their anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-Muslim activism. Since the show’s cancellation, the brothers have become a cause célèbre for the Religious Right, which has lifted them up as an example of the supposed persecution of conservative Christians in America. One or both of the brothers have:

  • Asserted that the LGBT equality movement is part of a “spiritual fight" between God and the “kingdom run by Satan.”
  • Urged the city of Charlotte, NC to deny permits to an LGBT Pride event, calling it a “vile” and “destructive” activity that “should not be allowed in our city.”
  • Compared the fight against marriage equality to opposing Nazi Germany.
  • Called an Islamic community center a “den of iniquity” and referred to Muslims as “the enemy attacking" America.
  • Organized a prayer rally to coincide with the 2012 Democratic National Convention, declaring that America must repent for “homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation.”
  • Led protests outside of abortion clinics, praising anti-choice demonstrators for taking a stand at “the gates of hell” and confronting the “altars of Moloch.”

E.W. Jackson

The 2013 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor of Virginia, E.W. Jackson is a longtime activist who has likened the Democratic Party to the Antichrist, said Planned Parenthood is worse than the Ku Klux Klan, suggested that President Obama is a Muslim and demonic, and fought against efforts to desegregate public housing. Jackson’s most pernicious rhetoric has focused on LGBT people. He has:

  • Referred to gays and lesbians as “perverted,” “degenerate,” “spiritually darkened” and “frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally.”
  • Criticized abortion and in vitro fertilization as “evils” that carry “the mark of Satan.”
  • Argued that gay marriage will release a “torrent of wickedness” that will result in man-animal marriages.
  • Said homosexuality is connected to pedophilia and that homosexuality also “poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things we can think of.”

Star Parker

Star Parker is a longtime Religious Right activist who is particularly active in anti-gay and anti-choice advocacy. She has called legal abortion a “genocide” on par with slavery and the Holocaust and blamed “sexual promiscuity” for nearly all financial and societal problems. At the 2011 Values Voter Summit, she claimed that God was getting ready to punish America for marriage equality and legal abortion. Parker has also:

  • Declared that LGBT people are forcing Christians “into the closet.”
  • Mused that family life for African Americans was “more healthy” under slavery than it is today
  • Argued that the rate of HIV infections in Washington, D.C., would spike once the city legalized marriage equality, “transforming [the city] officially into Sodom.”
  • Tied same-sex marriage to failing public schools.

Todd Starnes

Todd Starnes, a Fox News commentator and the author of several books including this year’s “God Less America," specializes in generating stories of dubious accuracy purporting to illustrate the persecution of conservative Christians in America. Recently, he has:

  • Speculated that public school officials oppose abstinence-only programs to protect their “condom profits.”
  • Asserted that Obama refuses to take action against ISIS to “accommodate the Islamic faith at the expense of all other faiths.”
  • Blamed Obama for “ orchestrating” the protests in Ferguson, Mo., in an effort to exacerbate racial tensions.
  • Baselessly accused the University of Wisconsin of intentionally inflating grades to boost the academic performance of minority students.
  • Worried that LGBT rights advocates will inevitably demand the deportation of Christians.

Sandy Rios

Sandy Rios, a former president of Concerned Women for America, now hosts a daily radio show on American Family Radio, the network run by the American Family Association. At last year’s summit, she promoted ex-gay therapy and said Matthew Shepard’s murder was a “complete fraud.” Like other AFR hosts, she frequently promotes right-wing conspiracy theories, including claims that President Obama was not born in the United States. Rios has also:

  • Insisted that one of Obama’s first priorities as president was to resettle thousands of Palestinian refugees in the U.S. and provide them with food stamps.
  • Advanced the myth that the health care reform law “says that Muslims will be exempt from the government mandate to purchase health insurance.”
  • Compared the relationships of same-sex couples to those of kidnapper Ariel Castro and his captives.
  • Warned that the “homosexual takeover” of the military would jeopardize the effectiveness of the armed forces.
  • Frequently links the gay community to child abuse.

Brigitte Gabriel

Brigitte Gabriel is the founder and president of ACT! for America, where she works with local activists throughout the country to promote fears that Sharia law is taking hold in the U.S. and must be banned and to challenge textbooks that she believes are insufficiently critical of Islam. She makes frequent media appearances to warn of what she calls the “ secret Islamification” of the West. Among other attacks on Mulsim-Americans, Gabriel has:

This post was updated to include Brigitte Gabriel following an FRC announcement that she would speak at the summit. A previous edition of this post listed incorrectly listed James Dobson, one of the founders of the FRC, as a speaker.

Anti-Choice Activist: Gays Demand Acceptance Because They Feel Guilty About Their 'Horrible Lifestyle'

Late last month, Molly Smith of Cleveland Right to Life and the National Personhood Alliancehosted Brian Clowes, the director of education and research at the Catholic group Human Life International, to discuss not their mutual opposition to abortion rights but the topic of LGBT rights, which Smith believes is inseparable from the anti-choice fight.

Over the course of 45 minutes, the two activists ran through an encyclopedia of anti-gay myths, including that gay men are prone to molest children, that people become gay because of abuse or neglect in their childhood, and that gay people have dramatically reduced lifespans.

Despite the fact that all of these claims have been thoroughly debunked, Clowes backed them up by saying, “The main principle to keep in mind is that every principle the Catholic Church teaches about sexual morality can be backed up by science, hard science and a lot of it.”

“Interestingly, you’ll find that if you get out of the homosexual lifestyle, you’ll be a lot happier,” he said. “If you’re living under God’s law, God wants us to be happy, so it’s going to be like that.”

The two went on to compare homosexuality to alcoholism, drug abuse and obesity.

“The term ‘gay’ certainly doesn’t apply here,” Clowes said. “It is a horrible lifestyle and it will kill you in the end. And those last few years of your life are not going to be happy because you’re going to be extremely sick, dying of cancer, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, whatever.”

Earlier in the interview, Clowes claimed that LGBT people are demanding tolerance and acceptance because they are “involved in all kinds of sinful, but extremely unhealthy activities and their conscience is bothering them.”

“If they feel bad about themselves, it’s the church’s fault, it’s the homophobes’ fault,” he said. “You know what I’m talking about here? So the only way they can get rid of that nagging little voice of guilt is to have everybody say, ‘It’s all right that you’re gay, we support you in your choice.’ And they will never be satisfied until everybody who opposes them is simply shut up.”

Linda Harvey And Molly Smith: Anti-Choicers Must Oppose Gay Rights Because Gay Rights Cause Abortion

Molly Smith, the director of Cleveland Right to Life, lost her group’s affiliation with National Right to Life Committee last year when she criticized Sen. Rob Portman for announcing his support for marriage equality after his son came out as gay.

The national group chided Smith [pdf] for taking on “an advocacy agenda that includes issues beyond the right to life,” but her group pushed back, saying that “any politician, including Portman, who supports the break-up of the American family and supports the denial of a mother and father for children has forfeited the right of support and endorsement of the prolife movement .”

Then, earlier this year, Smith was picked as the head of the National Personhood Alliance, a new group meant to be an even more extreme rival to National Right to Life.

Which is to say, feelings are still raw. The subject came up in Smith’s interview this month with anti-gay activist Linda Harvey, who wholeheartedly agreed with Smith that anti-choice activists must also oppose LGBT rights because, she said, LGBT rights lead to a greater incidence of abortion.

“The Planned Parenthood and anti-life lobby is heavily imbued and connected to homosexuality,” Harvey told Smith. “They’re in favor of opening up the doors and spreading the boundaries of sexuality all across the board. That includes homosexuality. The lines are very blurred, and unless you stand strong on this issue, you’re going to see much more, and you do see much more, out of wedlock sexuality and then of course, more abortion.”

Harvey said that she had seen Planned Parenthood march in the Columbus, Ohio, LGBT pride parade: “Why are they doing that? Because they know, you muddy the water, and you get a lot more of their business, abortion.”

Smith and Harvey then discussed polls showing rapidly increasing support for gay rights, which they decided must be skewed.

“I’m beginning to lose all kinds of respect for these polls,” Smith said.

“Yes, they’re inaccurate, they portray things in the wrong way,” Harvey agreed, adding that if polls gave people “all the information” about LGBT people “they would change their minds” and realize that “maybe these people are defending something that is not defensible and is, indeed, shameful.”

Infighting Among Anti-Choice Groups Intensifies With Personhood Trademark Feud

The effort of hardline “personhood” groups to break free of an anti-choice movement they see as too compromising is hitting a roadblock as the two major groups advocating fetal personhood are now feuding with each other .

The conservative website Z Politics printed an email this week from Personhood USA, the group that brought radical “personhood” initiatives to states like Colorado and Mississippi, announcing that it has cut ties with a new group, the National Personhood Alliance (NPA), which was founded this year by the disgruntled former Georgia chapter of the National Right to Life Committee. NPA hoped to bring together activists who believe that the strategy of groups such as NRLC to chip away at abortion rights doesn't go far enough, pledging to instead enact personhood laws that would give legal rights to zygotes.

Personhood USA initially supported the new group, as did its national spokeswoman Rebecca Kiessling, and Z Politics reports that NPA’s founder, Dan Becker, “initially gained support from Personhood USA by suggesting that the two groups work alongside one another as counterparts.” In fact, NPA is billing its first convention next month as “the founding coalition of two new national groups seeking to give voice to the pro-life battle of the 21st century.”

But the good feelings apparently didn’t last long, as Personhood USA is now accusing Becker and NPA of “trying to replace Personhood USA by using our structures and Intellectual property” — including copying its logo — and “violating Personhood USA’s trademark of Personhood.” (For what it’s worth, the only official “personhood” trademark we could find in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s database belongs to Becker’s group).

Personhood USA’s email also hints at possible legal action.

After much prayer and deliberation, the Personhood USA board is deeply sadden to inform you, that Personhood USA will not be participating in the new National Personhood Alliance.

From everything Dan Becker had told us about his vision of NPA while he was in our employment. We had great hopes that it would be a complement to the Personhood movement, a counterpart to Personhood USA. Instead it appears that National Personhood Alliance is trying to replace Personhood USA by using our structures and Intellectual property.

NPA has incorporated in Georgia as a 501c4 under the name “Personhood Inc.” and will be doing business as “Personhood”, Violating Personhood USA’s trademark of Personhood. In addition, the emails and documents we have seen indicate that they intended to use our logos, branding, and intellectual property.

One of the main concerns here is duplication of focus and confusion among all grassroots supporters.

When we contacted Dan and asked that NPA stop using our logos and name, he agreed to stop using our logos and to allow us to preview any new logos before they are implemented, but he has refused to un-incorporate Personhood Inc. and suggested we enter into arbitration.

We have worked for years developing our branding. We are known as Personhood, PersonhoodUSA, Personhood Education, Personhood PAC & have invested in promoting Personhood(insert your state). We do not want to fight over a name, but we do feel if a separate virtually identical organization is started it will hurt the movement.

We want to honor God and protect all innocent life. We want to see the movement grow and branch off in new directions. We want abortion to be abolished. We want to fight abortion, not each other.

All we ask of NPA is to create it’s own logos, names, and branding without using ours, and ask that they keep NPA as it was presented to us: a separate organization with unique purpose created to build the movement. Not a divisive, confusing organization meant to compete with Personhood USA.

Americans United For Life Takes Credit For One-Third Of New Anti-Choice Laws

Americans United for Life — which acts as sort of the ALEC of the anti-choice movement — sent an email to supporters today taking credit for a full one-third of the spate of state-level restrictions on abortion access that have been passed around the country since 2010.

AUL President Charmaine Yoest writes:

I just received a greatly encouraging report for our Americans United for Life (AUL) legal experts. As you may know, there has been a surge in pro-life laws since 2010. Our legal experts tell me that one third of these laws were enacted as a result of AUL’s legislative work—work we were able to do thanks to you!

Can you believe that? One Third! This equates to 74 life-affirming laws we were able to enact because of you.

You know as well as I do that we don’t have nearly the budget, staff or resources of the multi-billion dollar Big Abortion Industry. But Big Abortion is running scared. And they should be. At AUL, we have the best strategy, the best legal minds, and the truth on our side! We are already seeing the life-saving results.

Rest assured, we will win this country back for Life… and we are winning even now…but we need your help today to keep advancing.

The Guttmacher Institute reported in January that more state-level abortion restrictions were enacted in 2011-2013 than in the entire previous decade. This is in a large part due to the incredible success of the anti-choice movement’s incremental approach to pushing restrictions that it claims protect women’s health, but which are in fact meant to close abortion providers and cut off access.

AUL has been at the center of this effort, offering “model legislation” to legislators, much of it aimed at slowly chipping away at abortion access.

New Anti-Choice Group Launches With Michael Peroutka Lecture On How Roe v. Wade Isn't Actually The Law

Last weekend, Iowa conservative talk show host Steve Deace held an event to launch Personhood Iowa, a new group he helped organize that is affiliated with the National Personhood Alliance, a new coalition of groups that seek to outlaw abortion in all cases along with banning common forms of birth control. 

In keeping with the group’s apparent mission to be so extreme that it will never attract any mainstream support, Deace invited Michael Peroutka, a regular guest on his radio show, to give an opening speech to Personhood Iowa activists.

Peroutka, in addition to running the far-right Institute on the Constitution and a successful debt-collection business that allowed him to buy a dinosaur for the Creation Museum, is now the GOP nominee for a seat on the Anne Arundel, Maryland, county council. Peroutka’s close ties with the neo-Confederate League of the South is causing hand-wringing in the state Republican party, with its gubernatorial nominee today disavowing Peroutka’s candidacy.

Peroutka — who recently declared that the Maryland General Assembly is no longer a valid legislative body because its passage of marriage equality violated “God’s law” — told the Iowa activists that everything from seat-belt mandates to the progressive income tax to Obamacare to Roe v. Wade are not valid laws because government only has the authority to uphold what he deems to be “organic law.” In fact, he said, all of these things are “pretended legislation,” a term used in the Declaration of Independence to refer to acts of Parliament governing the American colonies.

Peroutka also presented the audience with a contrast between what he sees as the “biblical worldview,” which he says is based on the idea of literal biblical creationism, and the “pagan worldview,” which he says is based on the theory of evolution.

The theory of evolution, he claimed, was responsible for the Columbine school shooting and the Holocaust, yet is still being taught through “the tragedy of public education.”

Peroutka has previously argued that it is impossible to be a patriotic American and also believe in evolution.

Anti-Choice Activist Who Clashed With National Right To Life Over Gay Rights To Head Rival Group

A new anti-choice organization meant to be an even more extreme version of the National Right to Life Committee has picked its first president — and they chose someone who embodies the growing schism within the anti-choice movement.

The National Personhood Alliance, which was formed last month by a disaffected former Georgia affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee, announced last week that it had named Molly Smith, president of Cleveland Right to Life, as its first leader.

Cleveland Right to Life caused a stir in the anti-choice movement last year when it vowed to oppose the reelection of Sen. Rob Portman, an abortion rights opponent, because of his support for marriage equality. This prompted National Right to Life president Carol Tobias to send Smith a letter informing her that her chapter could no longer be affiliated with the national group because it “embraced an advocacy agenda that includes issues beyond the right to life.” Smith then fought back, blasting National Right to Life for distancing itself from anti-gay politics in order to keep the support of Sen. Portman.

The most prominent split in the anti-choice movement is about the strategy of allowing rape and incest exemptions to abortion bans — National Right to Life has supported bills that include exemptions, arguing that such bills are better than no legislation at all, while the National Personhood Alliance’s members oppose any hint of compromise in abortion bills.

But Smith’s appointment as the new group’s president highlights the larger divide within the movement. As the anti-choice movement’s leaders get savvier about pushing their message to a wider audience in ways meant to appear more moderate (pushing for “health” regulations that close clinics rather than picketing them, for instance), they are inciting a backlash among those who see anti-choice activism as an integral part of a larger war.

Leaving the issue of LGBT rights alone is a smart strategic decision for leading anti-choice groups, as is the willingness to accept “compromises” like rape exceptions. But by rejecting this kinder, gentler makeover of the movement, the National Personhood Alliance reminds us of what is still at the heart of the opposition to abortion rights.

National Right To Life Speaker: Contraception And Abortion Are The Real War On Women, And They Come From 'The Pit of Hell'

The National Right To Life Convention kicked off this morning with a panel discussion featuring National Review Online editor Kathryn Jean Lopez, anti-choice activist Dr. Jean Garton, and radio host and crisis pregnancy center director Joy Pinto.

All three, along with National Right to Life president Carol Tobias, who introduced the panel, struck back against the “War on Women” label that has been used for legislative assaults on abortion rights, contraception access, equal pay, and domestic violence protections.

Pinto — who runs a crisis pregnancy center in Birmingham, Alabama, which, like many such centers appears to misleading claim to offer medical consulting for women considering an abortion — argued that the “real war on women” consists of legal abortion and access to contraception, particularly emergency contraception.

She added that this “war on women” came from the “pit of hell” and implied that women who have abortions are like Eve eating the forbidden fruit in the hopes of eternal life: "It's the same lie. It's the same war."

Personhood Bills So Toxic Cory Gardner Is Desperately Trying To Deny He's Sponsoring One

Earlier this week, a coalition of extreme anti-choice groups launched a national alliance to compete with the anti-choice behemoth National Right to Life Committee. The new group is angry that National Right to Life has backed abortion bans that contain exemptions for rape survivors and that it opposes radical “personhood” measures, which would not only criminalize abortion but also certain forms of birth control.

While National Right to Life supports sweeping abortion bans in principle, the group has a purely strategic reason for taking these stances —both personhood and no-exceptions abortion bans are incredibly unpopular.

Which is why Rep. Cory Gardner of Colorado, now the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, is desperately trying to claim that he no longer supports personhood measures, releasing this bizarre new ad trying to reassure voters that he did indeed flip-flop on the issue:

Steve Benen points out that Gardner isn’t even telling the truth about his own flip-flopping, as he is still a cosponsor of a national personhood bill in the House:

The congressman, for example, claims he’s “changed his mind about Personhood.” In reality, Gardner has announced, “In the state of Colorado, the Personhood Initiative I do not support.” But in Washington, Gardner isstill, as of this morning, a co-sponsor of federal Personhood legislation.

Politicians aren’t supposed to say they’ve changed their mind about Personhood if they haven’t actually changed their mind about Personhood.

Also in the ad, Gardner said he reversed course – even though he didn’t – “after I learned more information.” That, too, is an odd claim. Gardner is effectively positioning himself as a politician who decides to restrict women’s rights first, then gets information about his plan second. This is an awkward sales pitch for a statewide candidate to make.

And finally, Gardner said he flip-flopped – even though he didn’t – because he “listened” to the people of Colorado. But that’s also demonstrably wrong. After Coloradoans voted against Personhood, Gardner ignored them and pushed another Personhood measure. When that failed, Gardner ignored Coloradoans again and pushed for a federal Personhood measure. That’s not listening to the people; it’s the opposite.

He later tried to kinda sorta reverse course, but by all appearances, the only people the congressman was “listening” to were Republican pollsters.

Meanwhile, Personhood USA, which has backed the formation of the new national alliance, is furious at Gardner for pretending to change his mind.

Spurned Georgia Group Launching Even More Extreme Rival To National Right To Life Committee

A no-compromise anti-choice group that was recently ousted as National Right to Life Committee’s Georgia affiliate is launching a new, even more extreme national group to compete with NRLC.

In April, we wrote about the drama in Georgia, where an upstart group backed by pundit Erick Erickson succeeded in booting Georgia Right to Life from its spot in the NRLC. Their feud was over not ideology, but strategy. NRLC and Erickson backed a 20-week abortion ban in the House that included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest; Georgia Right to Life and other hardline groups said that those exemptions made the bill unacceptable:

While all the major anti-choice groups share the same goal — criminalizing all abortions under nearly all circumstances — they differ in how to go about reaching that goal in a post-Roe v. Wade world. This came to a boil last year, when the House voted on a bill banning all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. At the last minute, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor added rape and incest exemptions to the bill after the legislation’s chief sponsor, Trent Franks, stoked controversy when he said “ the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low .” The addition of rape and incest exceptions then caused the anti-choice movement to split.

National Right to Life supported the revised bill and included the vote on its congressional scorecard . But Georgia Right to Life, then the state affiliate of NRLC, opposed the revised bill because of its rape and incest exceptions and urged House members to “vote against this shameful legislation.” Two Georgia Republicans, including Rep. Paul Broun, who is now running for Senate, crossed party lines to vote against the bill, siding with Georgia Right to Life.

One of the loudest critics of Georgia Right to Life’s insubordination was Georgia-based conservative pundit Erick Erickson, who called the group the “Westboro Baptist Church of the pro-life movement.” A few weeks ago, a new group with Erickson on its board sprung up with the goal of replacing Georgia Right to Life as the official state affiliate of NRLC. And this weekend, they succeeded, as NRLC cut ties with Georgia Right to Life and took on Erickson’s group, Georgia Life Alliance, in its place.

Today, Georgia Right to Life struck back, announcing that it is forming the National Personhood Alliance, a new network of state-level groups that that support the no-compromise strategy. In a press release announcing the move, Georgia Right to Life President Daniel Becker takes a clear swipe at National Right to Life: “Compromise is not possible. This is not like roads or highways or agricultural subsidies; when we compromise - someone dies."

"The focus of NPA will differ from most national pro-life groups," Becker said. "The general consensus of many in the movement is that it's time for a fresh strategy for ending the disregard for innocent human life. We intend to be 'standard-bearers' as opposed to 'king-makers'. This will require the application, politically and legislatively, of a higher standard than is currently embraced by most national pro-life groups today."

Becker said, "There has been an overwhelming call from many within the movement to form a new national pro-life group which will represent us on Capitol Hill."

The new organization will be officially formed at a convention to be held in Atlanta, GA on October 10th and 11th. Representatives of existing pro-life organizations and leaders from across the country are invited. Attendees who affirm the founding charter will begin the process of electing a national board of directors representing each state.

"The pro-life movement is more than 40 years old," Becker said. "From its inception in the late 1960's, the focus has primarily been on ending abortion. Our concern must be expanded to encompass the dignity and value of each human being at any developmental stage through natural death.

"To achieve that goal, we must ensure that our strategies are consistent with our policies and objectives. Compromise is not possible. This is not like roads or highways or agricultural subsidies; when we compromise - someone dies."

Keith Mason, Personhood USA President: "Personhood USA looks forward to working with emerging groups like the National Personhood Alliance who share our commitment to never compromise on the lives of pre-born babies."

The new National Personhood Alliance has the support of Personhood USA and claims to have allied groups in 17 states. It has also racked up endorsements from Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, talk show host Steve Deace, and a number of anti-choice activists.

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Anti-Choice Posts Archive

Miranda Blue, Thursday 11/13/2014, 2:29pm
Abortion increases the risk of breast cancer. Abortion causes depression. Abortion isn't safe. These claims, repeated ad nauseam by the anti-choice movement, have found their way into legislative debates and even into court decisions. But they aren’t true. In fact, they’ve been created and spread by a small, tightly knit group of doctors and scientists who have set up nonprofits, cite each other’s false research and provide “expert” testimony to bolster the cases of lawmakers trying to restrict abortion access. In a new investigation, RH Reality Check’s... MORE
Miranda Blue, Monday 11/10/2014, 1:36pm
Gualberto Garcia Jones, the prominent anti-choice activist who drafted all three losing “fetal personhood” ballot measures in Colorado, is calling on his movement to abandon state-level ballot initiatives in favor of local initiatives that might have a better chance at passing. Jones’ post-election analysis is likely to exacerbate an already bitter split within the personhood movement. Jones, who previously worked for the Colorado-based Personhood USA — which is dedicated to pushing state-level initiatives — recently defected to the newly created Personhood... MORE
Miranda Blue, Friday 11/07/2014, 10:47am
Last year, hours after Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed into law a sweeping anti-choice bill designed to shut down abortion providers in the state, Planned Parenthood announced that it would be closing three of its Texas clinics that provide abortion services, all of them in rural areas, leaving women seeking an abortion far from other providers. Now, the anti-choice group 40 Days for Life, which organizes protests outside of abortion clinics throughout the country, is announcing that it is moving its national headquarters into one of the shuttered Planned Parenthood facilities in Texas. Where... MORE
Miranda Blue, Friday 11/07/2014, 10:33am
A top Susan B. Anthony expert is once again taking to task the anti-choice group Susan B. Anthony List for using the name of the women’s rights pioneer to push its anti-abortion political agenda. What drew the latest criticism from Deborah L. Hughes, president of the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House in Rochester, New York, was a pre-election Iowa mailer from the Susan B. Anthony List that looked like an official “public health alert” but that was in fact a slam on pro-choice Senate candidate Bruce Braley. SBA List vowed to spend $3 million in the 2014 election... MORE
Miranda Blue, Thursday 11/06/2014, 4:56pm
Personhood USA is not used to electoral victories. On Tuesday, the Colorado-based group failed for the third time to pass a ballot measure granting legal rights to zygotes in its home state. It consoled itself that at least the measure — whose scope had been somewhat narrowed in an effort to attract voters — lost less badly than it had in the past. Adding insult to injury, Colorado’s successful Republican Senate candidate, Cory Gardner, had renounced his support for the amendment and started lying about the fact that he was still supporting a similar measure in the U... MORE
Miranda Blue, Thursday 11/06/2014, 11:01am
In a blog post today, Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute (state affiliate of the American Family Association) turns to a colorful analogy to describe the Republican Party’s internal conflicts. Higgins contends that the establishment GOP, which worked this year to stamp out some of the more vocally extreme candidates in its ranks this year, is like Tolkein’s Gollum, so captivated by a shiny object that it ends up destroying itself and those it loves. (In The Lord of the Rings, the shiny object is the One Ring. In contemporary politics, it’s presumably voters... MORE
Miranda Blue, Wednesday 11/05/2014, 11:34am
Yesterday, voters in Tennessee approved a ballot measure amending the state constitution to remove all legal protections for abortion rights, paving the way for state lawmakers to pass broad abortion restrictions. At the same time, voters in Colorado and North Dakota overwhelmingly rejected “personhood” measures that would have given the full rights of citizenship to zygotes, thereby criminalizing all abortion along with some forms of birth control. In Colorado, where the nation’s foremost personhood advocacy group is based, it was the third time such a measure had been... MORE