Reproductive Health

African-American Life Alliance

The African-American Life Alliance (AALA) is a small, religious, anti-choice organization whose mission is to preach against abortion, sexual promiscuity and "illicit moral activities." Though AALA is predominately a one-person group, its founder and director Paulette Roseboro is frequently quoted in right-wing and anti-choice materials in an effort to reach out to the African American community.

American Life League

Founded by Judie and Paul Brown with help from right-wing strategist Paul Weyrich, the American Life League (ALL) is a spin-off from the National Right to Life Committee with a more grassroots orientation. ALL is closely aligned with the Catholic Church and opposes birth control, stem cell research and euthanasia. ALL was an enthusiastic backer of the extreme anti-abortion tactics promoted by Operation Rescue.

American Society for Tradition, Family and Property

This right-wing Catholic group is one of many Tradition, Family, Property groups (TFPs) worldwide, inspired by the work of the Brazilian Catholic intellectual, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. They are frequent sponsors of protests of books and movies they consider "anti-Catholic" and focus on organizing young people against "leftist bias" on campus.

National Right to Life Committee

512 10th St. NW
Washington, DC 20004
www.nrlc.org

President: Wanda Franz
Date of founding: 1973
Finances: $12.4 million (1998 revenue)

FRC Action

801 G Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
www.frcaction.org

Established: 1992
Finances: 501(c)(4) lobbying organization
President: Kenneth Connor
Executive Director: Richard Lessner, Ph.D.
Formerly known as:American Renewal

Concerned Women for America

Founded by Beverly LaHaye, wife of Religious Right activist Tim LaHaye, as a counter to the progressive National Organization of Women, Concerned Women for America (CWA) describes itself as "the nation's largest public policy women's organization." CWA opposes gay rights, comprehensive sex education, drug and alcohol education, and feminism, while advocating what it calls "pro-life" and "pro-family" values.

Organization Profile: Black America's Political Action Committee

Black America's Political Action Committee (BAMPAC)— founded and chaired by Alan Keyes— is the nation's largest minority political action committee and among the top 25 well-funded PAC's in the country. Although self-described as non-partisan, BAMPAC has historically benefited only Republican candidates who strictly adhere to its right-wing policies, such as supporting anti-abortion legislation, public school vouchers, the privatization of Social Security, and tax cuts.

Joel Rosenberg: Thanks To Legal Abortion, 'Judgment Is Coming And There's No Way Out'

Yesterday, Sen. Ted Cruz joined a roster of Religious Right extremists at the Family Research Council’s “Watchmen on the Wall” pastors’ conference, where he promised to “always, always, always” stand for the right of Christians to discriminate against gays.

Also speaking yesterday was End Times author Joel Rosenberg, who repeated to the crowd his frequent warning that God’s judgment on America is imminent thanks to legal abortion, which he says is far worse than the crimes perpetrated by Nazi Germany.

“What if America is not simply in a season of decline, but we’re facing implosion?” he asked.

“My friends, we are not in a season of decline,” he declared. “I argue to you that judgment is coming. In another couple of years, if this doesn’t stop, we will hit 60 million abortions. If we hit 60 million abortions, we as Americans will have murdered 10 times more human beings than the number of Jews murdered by the Nazis. We know the judgment that fell on Nazi Germany, the devastation. We believe it was justified. My friends, what do we think is going to happen to a nation that murders 10 times more people? Judgment is coming and there’s no way out. The train has left the station.”

He added that the “only hope at this point” would be a third Great Awakening, in which case God might delay his judgment as Americans “make reforms based on the word of God.”

In addition to being a frequent fixture at Religious Right events, Rosenberg was invited to speak to several dozen Republican National Committee members on a trip to Israel sponsored by the Family Research Council earlier this year.

Far-Right Tea Party Candidate Poised To Win GOP Gubernatorial Nomination In Kentucky

Matt Bevin, the Tea Party favorite who unsuccessfully challenged Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell in the 2014 Republican primary, is now leading in a tight race for the Republican nomination for governor. An early count has Bevin ahead by 83 votes after Tuesday's primary election, making it possible that he will become the newest GOP standard-bearer in the state.

While this is great news for the Tea Party, whom Bevin calls the new abolitionists and civil rights leaders, and for Glenn Beck, who thinks Bevin is a “founder quality” candidate, who has been “ called by God” for public office, it’s less good news for everyone else. One McConnell aide said that if Bevin, a political novice, were to become governor, “his only agenda would be the commissioning of his portrait.” But his record shows that he might have quite a bit more on his plate:

Far-Right Allegiances Bevin likes to boast that in 2004 he was so “fed up” with the Republican Party that he backed the presidential candidacy of Michael Peroutka, who was running on the Constitution Party ticket. Peroutka is a Christian Reconstructionist and southern secessionist who later served on the board of the racist League of the South. While campaigning for president in 2004, Peroutka said that he was “still angry” that his home state of Maryland didn’t join the Confederacy.

Gay Marriage Panic While campaigning against McConnell in 2014, Bevin warned that legalizing marriage for gay couples could lead to parent-child marriage, comments his campaign tried, somewhat unconvincingly, to walk back.

Anti-Contraception Stance Bevin won the endorsement of the extreme anti-choice group Northern Kentucky Right to Life last year after he said in a questionnaire that he would support a “personhood” amendment to the Constitution — which would ban all abortion and even some common forms of birth control — and work to prohibit Medicaid funding for birth control pills.

Health Care Extremism Bevin is such an opponent of the Affordable Care Act that he has vowed to reverse Kentucky’s expansion of Medicaid under the law, a move that would take away the health insurance of 400,000 people. Kentucky has been one of the greatest success stories of Obamacare, experiencing what NPR calls “second-steepest drop in uninsured of any state.”

Cockfighting Bevin got plenty of negative publicity in his last campaign when it came to light that he had once spoken at a rally organized in support of legalizing cockfighting. Bevin later explained that while he opposes “animal cruelty” he supports “states’ rights” more. A Republican strategist told the New York Times that he expects the cockfighting issue to come up a lot in the general election should Bevin secure the nomination.

Scott Walker To Anti-Choice Leaders: I Didn't Mean What I Said About Abortion Being Between 'A Woman And Her Doctor'

Last night, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker met with a few dozen social conservative leaders in Washington, including representatives of the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America and the National Organization for Marriage, attempting to win them to his side if he decides to run for president.

According to people who attended the meeting, one subject that came up was a TV ad Walker ran last year in which he promoted his efforts to chip away at abortion access in his state, which, he said, would still leave “the final decision to a woman and her doctor.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser, head of the Susan B. Anthony List, told the Weekly Standard that Walker explained to her that in the ad he was “using the language of the other side to support our own position” and that people who said he was trying to paint himself as more pro-choice than he was were quoting him “out of context”:

Walker's pro-life credentials have been questioned by one Republican rival because of a 2014 Walker TV ad in which the governor defended laws regulating abortion as “legislation to increase safety and to provide more information for a woman considering her options. The bill leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor.”

According to Dannenfelser, Walker brought up the ad during Tuesday's meeting and "explained his perspective on that — that using the language of the other side to support our own position is a good thing, but you can only do it if people aren't trying to call you out and quoting you out of context. And I actually liked the way he formulated this in general."

In an interview with the Daily Beast, Dannenfelser said that it’s just this sort of evasiveness on abortion rights that she’d like to see from other anti-choice GOP candidates:

Dannenfelser said Walker brought up his 2014 abortion ad before being asked.

“He felt very quoted out of context, very misunderstood,” she said. “He said there was a snippet of the ad used that did not convey the full meaning, and his communication was using the other side’s language but with the idea of forging common ground on ultrasound, because he’s a true believer on that.”

Walker signed legislation in 2013 requiring both that women seeking abortions get ultrasounds first and that the doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Dannenfelser said he defended his use of the phrase “leaves the final decision to a woman and her doctor” as a way of co-opting pro-choice rhetoric for the pro-life cause.

“To the extent that we use the other side’s rhetoric to undermine their positions, we’re better off,” Dannenfelser added.

She said she was impressed with Walker’s way of talking about abortion.

“It’s the whole style of communication and content of communication that you want to see moving into a presidential cycle that will make it different from 2012,” she said.

Here's Walker's "Decision" ad:

Anti-Choice Leader Admits Rape Exceptions Are 'Political,' Goal Is To Outlaw All Abortion 'From Conception'

A long-simmering debate within the anti-choice movement about whether anti-choice bills should contain exceptions for survivors of rape and incest emerged yet again in the recent debate over a House bill that would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks, had been bogged down twice in the past two years with internal disputes over a rape exception, and finally passed last week with a limited rape exception that included a 48-hour waiting period.

The bill’s rape exception split the anti-choice movement, which has been divided between “incrementalists” who want to ban abortion by gradually chipping away at access and legal protections and “immediatists” who want to swiftly declare that fertilized eggs and fetuses have the full rights of “personhood” under the 14th Amendment.

While some personhood leaders opposed the bill because of the rape exception, the main incrementalist groups, which oppose rape exceptions in principle but not necessarily in practice, lobbied behind the scenes to limit the rape exception while publicly supporting the final bill.

One of those groups was the Susan B. Anthony List, whose president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, spoke candidly about the political calculations behind rape exceptions in an interview Saturday with the Iowa conservative radio program Caffeinated Thoughts.

“Regrettably, there is a rape and incest exception” in the bill, she said. “It is the only way it was going to be allowed onto the floor by the leadership. I mean, I say regrettable, I really mean it. Any child at any stage should be protected from conception, and certainly at 20 weeks excepting anyone is just wrong.”

Host Shane Vander Hart told her that while he’d “love to see abortion completely outlawed and see some sort of a personhood amendment or a human life amendment,” he thought the 20-week ban did “move the ball forward.”

“Well, that’s why this is big,” Dannenfelser responded, adding that the 20-week bill shifted the debate to “talking about the child and his or her rights.”

Later in the interview, the program’s cohost Brian Myers asked Dannenfelser what it would take to make the GOP leadership realize that rape exceptions are “intellectually…inconsistent with the pro-life position.”

“It’s going to take winning,” she responded, citing anti-choice victories in the 2014 elections where “we had unapologetic pro-life people who didn’t talk about rape and incest.”

“I believe that it’s going to take winning the presidency for there to be a little more injection of courage, which will be required to understand the consistency of life that you’re describing,” she said.

“Do you think that at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about for a lot of those politicians, that they realize [rape exceptions are] an inconsistent position to take but they take it because they think it’s a political reality?” Myers asked.

“Yes. I think that’s why,” Dannenfelser agreed. “I think that they think they can’t get, that they will lose if they don’t. Most of them don’t believe in it in principle. Some do, which, as you say, is completely intellectually dishonest, but most of them don’t. And I think that sometimes, especially when you’re in that insular world on Capitol Hill that’s not in touch with reality, you make sacrifices that you don’t need to make.”

“I think you’re right,” she added. “It’s a political judgement. It’s not a principled judgement. And I think they made the wrong judgement, but we would have no bill at all and no 15,000 children saved if we had not allowed it to move forward with the exception.”

Interestingly, Dannenfelser held up Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as an example of “a joyful warrior going in there and boldly arguing” on the issue. Graham has said he’s “always had exceptions for the life of the mother, rape and incest,” even while acknowledging that opponents of exceptions are being “intellectually consistent.” She also recently wrote a glowing profile of presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, who favors such exceptions.

Trent Franks: 20-Week Abortion Ban Will Make Americans Realize Legal Abortion Is Like Slavery

In an interview with the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins this weekend, Rep. Trent Franks acknowledged that his 20-week abortion ban, which passed in the House last week, is meant to “completely undermine” Roe v. Wade, and hoped that it would help Americans “realize that as a country, we’ve been here before,” when “African Americans were considered property.”

Franks, an Arizona Republican, lamented that the bill that passed last week included a limited exception for survivors of rape and incest. The exception was first added to the bill in 2013 after Franks implied in a hearing that rape rarely results in pregnancy; a planned vote on the bill in January was scuttled after a group of Republican women raised concerns that the rape exception required women to report assaults to the police. After months of negotiations, the reporting requirement was removed from the bill but a 48-hour waiting period and other hurdles were restored in its place.

“Now, many of your listeners, including this one, Tony, would do everything that we could to protect all unborn children, and the only thing that we would ever say should be an exception to taking the life of a child would be to save another life, which is, you know, a very, very unusual situation,” Franks told Perkins.

But, he added, including the exceptions was all in service of the larger goal of launching a legal attack to undermine Roe v. Wade and making Americans realize that legal abortion is like slavery.

“But the point is, if we protect these children, now we begin to really examine, once again, the development and the humanity and the pain-capable nature of these children to where I think it gives us a chance to completely undermine the Roe v. Wade structure and to realize that as a country, we’ve been here before,” he said.

“We were here, African Americans were considered property, and somehow we rose up as a nation and turned back that evil. And now by the grace of God we’re going to turn back the evil of killing little children before they’re born.”

Franks has previously insisted that African Americans were better off under slavery than with legal abortion.
 

Rape Exception In Abortion Ban Divides Anti-Choice Movement

As the House prepares to vote on a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, a top priority of the biggest anti-choice groups in the country, a leader of the “personhood” movement is urging members of Congress to vote against the bill because it includes an exemption for survivors of rape and incest.

On Monday, Daniel Becker, head of the new Personhood Alliance, called into the radio program hosted by Cleveland Right to Life’s Molly Smith, telling her that he was in Washington lobbying lawmakers to oppose the bill because of the rape exceptions, which he said some Georgia representatives had already agreed to do.

[UPDATE: It seems that Becker's vote count was optimistic. All Georgia Republicans voted for the 20-week ban — including Rep. Rob Woodall, who voted against it in 2013 — except for Rep. Jody Hice, who voted "present."]

The last time the bill was put up for a vote, in 2013, Becker — then the head of Georgia Right to Life — did the same thing, openly defying the national groups that were pushing for the bill’s passage. A rape exception had been hastily added to the bill before it was put up for a vote in because of controversial remarks on pregnancy by rape made by the bill’s sponsor, Arizona Republican Trent Franks. The House was scheduled to vote on the bill again in January on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, but the vote was cancelled as another dispute over the rape language erupted in the GOP caucus.

Becker told Smith that “behind closed doors,” anti-choice groups acknowledge that there is no chance for the bill to be enacted during Obama’s presidency, meaning that it is “a messaging bill” — one which he argued was sending the wrong message.

Becker emphasized that while no-exceptions anti-choice advocates like himself share the same ultimate goal, the criminalization of abortion, leaders of the major national groups have shown themselves willing to compromise on issues like rape exceptions. The two sides of the movement just differ on strategy, he said.

“The message that we send should comport completely with our policy objectives, beginning at the beginning of the pro-life movement itself,” he said. “We as a movement have never disagreed on our policy objectives. We have merely bickered and disagreed over strategy, what can be accomplished, what should be tried, what this will accomplish if we do this, that or the other. But as far as our objectives, it’s to stand for the sanctity of life, man created imago dei, in the image of God, and that sanctity of life should be protected at its earliest biological beginning all the way to natural death. So we’re seeing a message bill being crafted in Washington, DC, that has no chance of saving a single life.”

He insisted that such a no-exceptions message would play well with voters: “When we bring it down to a baby’s rights, a child’s rights, as opposed to the mother’s rights, the baby always wins in the mind of the public in most cases.”

Smith lamented that the vote merely presented an opportunity for members of Congress to get “a tick beside their names form some of these larger pro-life organizations” in election-year candidate guides.

“Molly, you’ve lifted the covers on an ugly secret,” Becker responded, “and that is the pro-life leadership are electing moderates into positions of influence that are undermining our efforts behind closed doors.”

Renee Ellmers, the North Carolina congresswoman who led the revolt against the version of the bill that exempted rape survivors only if they filed a police report, “was projected to be the darling child of Susan B. Anthony List,” Becker said.

“She was going to be the future of the pro-life movement, and she was the one who shut down the bill, much to their chagrin, who they later demonized. How do you take the future savior and demonize them at the same time? It’s because they’re electing moderates with rape and incest exceptions. If we were electing conservatives who knew what the value of human life entailed, they’d be right on the marriage issue, fiscal policy and government issues across the board.”

House GOP Schedules Vote On 20-Week Abortion Ban That Still Includes Hurdles For Rape Survivors

Back in January, House Republican leaders cancelled a vote on a 20-week abortion ban, the top legislative priority of anti-choice groups, shortly before it was scheduled to take place on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. A group of more moderate anti-choice Republicans, led by Rep. Renee Ellmers, had objected to language that exempted rape survivors from the ban only if they had reported the assault to law enforcement first, which Ellmers said “further victimized the victims of rape.”

Anti-choice groups were furious and have been holding protests outside the offices of House Republican leaders demanding a new vote on the bill. It seems that they have now gotten their wish.

A number of outlets are reporting that the House leadership has scheduled a vote next week on the 20-week ban after months of negotiations about the rape exception. According to news reports, while the requirement that rape survivors file a police report is no longer in the bill, they are now required to present evidence that they “have received either medical treatment or licensed counseling at least 48 hours prior to the late-term procedure.”

According to LifeNews, the bill also includes an “informed consent” requirement that notifies women “of the age of her baby and the requirements under the law” and includes language making it easier to sue abortion providers.

The Weekly Standard reports that National Right to Life Committee and the Susan B. Anthony List are both behind the new version of the bill:

In 2013, the House passed the bill, called the “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which included exceptions in the cases of rape, incest, and when a physical health issue endangers the life of the mother. But an effort to pass identical legislation in the new Congress was scrapped in January on the eve of the annual March for Life because some GOP members, led publicly by Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, objected to the bill's reporting requirement for late-term abortions in the case of rape. The bill required the crime to be reported to law enforcement officials at any point prior to performing a late-term abortion.

According to House Republicans, that requirement has been removed from the bill. Instead, the legislation requires abortion doctors to ensure that victims have received either medical treatment or licensed counseling at least 48 hours prior to the late-term procedure. With that change, the bill has assuaged the concerns of those Republican members while still garnering strong support of national pro-life groups, including the National Right to Life Committee and the Susan B. Anthony List.

“I’m proud we’ve gotten to a point where we found a consensus between our members and the pro-life groups out there,” said Rep. Diane Black of Tennessee.

The fact that there was a rape exception in the bill at all was the result of last-minute negotiations on a previous version of the bill after its sponsor, Trent Franks, made a Todd Akin-like remark about pregnancy from rape being rare. As we explore in our recent report on the “personhood” movement, rape exceptions are extraordinarily divisive within the anti-choice community. The National Right to Life Committee’s decision to support the Franks bill even with the narrow rape exception caused a number of state anti-choice groups to form a rival organization that pushes for “no exceptions” anti-choice policies.

Blogger Jill Stanek reports that one person involved in the negotiations on the current version 20-week ban told her, “This is the most complicated bill I’ve ever worked on.”

'Sexual Weirdoes' Are Reading Austin Ruse's Mail

C-FAM’s Austin Ruse has hit on a new fundraising tactic for his organization, which pushes socially conservative policies at the UN: warning his supporters that “sexual weirdoes” [sic] like those of us at Right Wing Watch are “reading your mail.”

By “reading your mail,” he apparently means subscribing to his public email alerts, which Ruse writes in a fundraising email today is all part of our “sexually crazed” plan to impose our “crazed sexual ideas on the rest of the world”… and which can only be stopped by giving C-FAM money.

He kindly asks supporters to, as they are sending their donation to C-FAM, “say a prayer for all those sexual revolutionaries, that they will realize how unhappy they really are, that they will leave the world alone, that they will see the light of Christ.”

Subject Line: The Sexual Weirdoes are Reading Your Mail!

Dear Friend of the Friday Fax,

Right this second the sexually crazed boys and girls at places like Media Matters, Right Wing Watch, Joe.My.God, Southern Poverty Law Center, Human Rights Watch, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and RH Reality Check are reading these words.

They monitor every word we write. They monitor everything we say, too.

Why do they do this?

Because they know we are a real threat to their agenda to impose their crazed sexual ideas on the rest of the world. They shake in their boots because they know the reach and powerful effect of C-Fam and the Friday Fax. This is why they have tried to shut us down. This is why they have tried to shame us from the public square. This is why they call us names and would really like to see us jailed (a UN apparatchik actually said that not many years ago).

The thing is, the brave staff of C-Fam and the Friday Fax don’t care! The crazed sexual revolutionaries cannot touch us and it drives them nuts.

The only thing that can stop us is money. Yep. Filthy lucre. We cannot do this work without it. We cannot be a thorn in their side without it. We cannot block their agenda without it.

Did I tell you that we have successfully blocked an international right to abortion at the UN for the past 18 years? Did I tell you that we’ve blocked a redefinition of the family at the UN for the past 18 years? Did I ever tell you how we have built a global army of pro-life and pro-family activists, scholars and policy makers who use our information to block the sexual radicals on the ground around the world? Well, we have and the sexual radicals know it. That’s why they monitor everything we do and say and they would love it if we did not have enough money to keep going. If they prayed, which they don’t, this would be one of their main prayers.

...

So, here is my question to you. Shall we continue ruining the days of the sexual revolutionaries who want to enslave your children to their warped ideology? Shall we continue blocking an international right to abortion and a redefinition of family? Yes? Then please go to www.c-fam.org/donate and give as much as you can.

Can you afford $100? Then, please do it now. How about $50? Don’t be shy!

Please go to www.c-fam.org/donate and give as much as you can. And as you hit the donate button, say a prayer for all those sexual revolutionaries, that they will realize how unhappy they really are, that they will leave the world alone, that they will see the light of Christ.

Many thanks for your kind consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Austin Ruse
President/C-Fam
Publisher/Friday Fax

The Personhood Divide: The Anti-Choice Movement's Bitter Feud Over The Best Way To End Legal Abortion

The “personhood” movement — those who seek sweeping bans on all abortion and common types of birth control in an effort to confront Roe v. Wade head-on — is hugely divisive within the anti-choice community. Groups like National Right to Life Committee, which have been pushing a more careful, incremental approach toward ending legal abortion, worry that the personhood movement risks undermining their progress toward the ultimate goal. Meanwhile, personhood advocates accuse groups like NRLC of selling out the ultimate goal in the service of small steps that they claim will never lead to the full criminalization of abortion.

A few months ago, we published a series of posts exploring the anti-choice personhood movement, its history, and how it is confronting a changing political landscape. People For the American Way Foundation has adapted that series into a report, “The Personhood Movement: Where It Comes From And What It Means for the Future of Choice,” which was released today. 

As the national debate over a NRLC-backed federal bill banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy have shown, one of the major sticking points between the two factions is whether the anti-choice movement should accept “compromises” that exempt women who have been raped from abortion bans. From the report’s introduction:

The largest and best-funded groups opposing abortion rights have, over the past several years, achieved astounding success in chipping away at women’s access to legal abortion in the United States. But these successes, Personhood Alliance’s founders maintain, are too small and have come at a grave cost.

In seeking mainstream approval for anti-choice politics, personhood advocates believe, groups like the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) and Americans United for Life (AUL) have adopted a secular tone and downplayed their Christian origins. In focusing on drawing attention to issues like late-term abortion, they may have won some support for the cause but have done little to end the procedures they targeted. In seeking incremental successes, personhood advocates argue, the movement has given up on making a moral argument for the humanity of fertilized eggs and fetuses and lost sight of its larger goal of eliminating legal abortion entirely.

But the greatest betrayal in the eyes of these personhood advocates is the willingness of major anti-choice groups to endorse legislation that includes exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest. The personhood movement’s leaders contend that these political concessions are not only immoral and intellectually inconsistent, but also threaten to undermine the movement’s goals in the long term.

The personhood movement provides an interesting look into the bitter “incrementalist vs. immediatist” divide that has split the anti-choice movement since before Roe v. Wade. Both sides want an end to legal abortion; neither trusts the other to get there. But in the meantime, each is making progress in making it more difficult and more dangerous for women to access safe and legal reproductive care.

Walker Repeats Support For Federal Marriage Amendment, Dodges Personhood Question

In an interview with the Iowa conservative blog Caffeinated Thoughts on Saturday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker repeated his call for a constitutional amendment to preserve state-level bans on same-sex marriage if the Supreme Court strikes them down, immediately before dodging a question on an anti-choice “personhood” amendment by saying that if he were president he wouldn’t “handle any constitutional amendments.”

Walker told Caffeinated Thoughts’ Shane Vander Hart that he is “still hoping” the Supreme Court will preserve state-level marriage bans. “If they don’t,” he added, “the only other viable option out there is to support a constitutional amendment, again, believing, I believe in not just in marriage being defined as one man and one woman, but I also believe in states’ rights. I think that’s an issue that appropriately belongs in the states.”

When Vander Hart asked Walker “what kind of pro-life legislation would a President Walker sign,” and if that would include a “personhood law,” Walker responded. “Well, the personhood would require an amendment and the president, no matter who it is, doesn’t handle any constitutional amendments, so that would be something that people who are passionate about that in the Senate need to have leaders there.”

He went on to say that he would support a 20-week abortion ban and the continuation of the Hyde Amendment.

Steve King: Obama Destroyed The Soul of America

Republican leaders may want Rep. Steve King of Iowa to make himself scarce during the 2016 presidential election season, but the vocal far-right congressman made it clear in a speech to the Susan B. Anthony List’s gala last week that he intends to do nothing of the sort. Instead, he said, he would work to pressure the party’s candidates to take strong stances against abortion rights and LGBT equality in order to assure that the next president can “restore the soul of America” that was destroyed by President Obama.

“There are some of the candidates that think if they don’t come to Iowa, they don’t have to deal with Steve King,” the congressman told the anti-choice group. “But tomorrow morning at six o’clock I’m going to get on a plane and go to New Hampshire and next May 9, I’m going to be in South Carolina. And we are going to push full-spectrum constitutional conservatism — life and marriage — all the way through this.”

King told the group that the candidates were “good people” and that Republicans are “going to have a good nominee.” But he said that likeminded conservatives still need to pray “that God raises up a president whom he will use to restore the soul of America” after the country has been “deconstructed from the White House” by “a man who is taking on the pillars of American exceptionalism with…a procedural jackhammer.”

Colorado Anti-Choice Groups Split Over Reaction To Attack On Pregnant Woman

Last month, when a pregnant woman in Colorado was brutally attacked and her unborn child cut from her womb, the state’s influential fetal “personhood” movement saw a grisly opportunity.

Over the past few weeks, the Colorado-based Personhood USA has been touting a recent YouGov poll finding broad support for allowing prosecutors to press murder charges in similar violent attacks on pregnant women that lead to the death of a fetus. Although Colorado imposes heavy penalties on crimes against pregnant women, it has stopped short of adopting a “fetal homicide” law categorizing such attacks as murder.

The problem for personhood advocates is that while the general public is ready to throw the book at people who attack pregnant women, they do not share the personhood movement’s goal of criminalizing abortion. While 76 percent of respondents in YouGov’s poll wanted to charge a pregnant woman’s attacker with murder, only 17 percent wanted a complete ban on abortion.

As we explored in a recent series on the personhood movement, anti-choice groups have attempted to use fetal homicide laws as a back door to imposing abortion restrictions, using them to build up a body of law establishing “personhood” for fetuses. After two unsuccessful attempts to establish fetal personhood by ballot measure in Colorado, last year Personhood USA pushed a modified measure focusing on crimes against pregnant women. The measure failed, but less badly than had the group’s previous attempts.

The personhood movement’s insistence on advocating for the total criminalization of abortion, with no middle ground, has put it at odds with the most influential anti-choice groups, which share the same goal but are willing to take a more incremental approach to get there.

This conflict is playing out once again in Colorado, where the Republican state senate president has introduced a fetal homicide bill with an explicit exemption providing for abortion rights. The state affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) supports the bill, but Personhood USA and Colorado Right to Life — which was kicked out of NRLC in 2007 — oppose it, saying that language preventing the prosecution of pregnant women and medical professionals undermines the ultimate anti-abortion goal.

The Denver Post reported on the split this weekend:

Personhood USA, an organization that pushed the ballot initiatives, opposes the bill because the language protects abortions — aligning it with the state's Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro Choice groups, which are concerned that it could threaten the legality of abortions.

And two prominent Colorado anti-abortion organizations are split on the measure.

"We believe that we want to protect every baby we can," said Sarah Zagorski, the executive director of Colorado Citizens for Life, which is an affiliate of the National Right to Life organization. "I don't think (the bill) says anything about how we view abortion right now."

But Colorado Right to Life's Rosalinda Lozano sees it differently.

"It was an opportunity for (Cadman) to really stand strong on life, and the way it is written he is actually affirming abortion," she said. "The Republican Party is really trying to get away from the life issue. ... They are preparing for 2016 and this is not an issue they want to fight about in a presidential election."

An Inside Look At How Taxpayer-Funded Crisis Pregnancy Centers Mislead Women About Contraception And Abortion

Every year, millions of taxpayer dollars go toward funding Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), organizations that often use misleading information to draw women away from seeking abortions. Yesterday in Cosmopolitan, Meaghan Winter published an inside account of the annual conference of one of the biggest coalitions of CPCs, Heartbeat International, revealing the extent to which CPCs are willing to mislead their clients in order to prevent them from accessing abortion.

Winter quotes Frank Pavone of Priests for Life warning that “abortion poisons everything” for women:

[A]t least 10 conference sessions focused on the "risks" of premarital sex, contraception, and abortion. During the panel "What's So Bad About Abortion?" Janet Morana and Father Frank Pavone, of the organization Priests for Life, asserted that abortion causes an array of spiritual, psychological, and medical problems.

Pavone said, "Abortion poisons everything" because after an abortion, a woman thinks, "Others can't possibly esteem me, child-killer that I am." Those women, he said, suffer a "failure to bond" with future children, often thinking, "I killed one child; I'm afraid that something bad will happen to the next one." He and the other speakers in the session said abortion increases a woman's risk of miscarriage, cancer, substance abuse, suicide, and domestic violence, among other problems.

"The fact that [abortion] dismembers a child, the fact that it goes against everything the human body and human psyche are meant to do when a woman is pregnant is the cause, is the root of all of these other physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual problems," Pavone said.

Conference speakers also gave false information about the supposed risks of contraception:

The importance of framing abortion and contraception through "risks" also came up in the talk given by Bri Laycock, the director of Option Line. In her session, "Answering the Hard Calls and Tough Questions," Laycock recommended that staff answer callers' questions about medical and surgical abortions by saying, "Both options can pose risks to your health," without saying the center is against abortion. She recommended pregnancy center staff present select medical information and disclaimers from the fine print on pharmaceutical packaging to present using contraception as a high-risk gamble. When callers ask about emergency contraception, for example, even if there might be an opportunity to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, Laycock said staff can just say it's "not 100 percent effective." She recommended telling callers, "You might not be at a fertile time in your cycle, and it's not worth taking hormones for no reason."

Throughout the conference, I asked at least a dozen pregnancy center staff if seeing so many unplanned pregnancies ever tempted them to suggest birth control pills or IUDs. Again and again, they mentioned claims, which have been debunked, that abortion sterilizes and birth control pills cause cancer. "All those chemicals can be dangerous," one staff person told me, and she seemed to believe it.

One piece of advice given to attendees was to maintain two websites for their CPCs, one for potential donors touting their anti-choice credentials, and another for potential clients obscuring them:

In her session, "Do I Really Need Two Sites?" [Heartbeat International’s Lauren] Chenoweth explained that, yes, in fact, pregnancy centers do. She recommended that centers operate one that describes an anti-abortion mission to secure donors and another that lists medical information to attract women seeking contraception, counseling, or abortion. An audience member offered that her center swapped out an anti-abortion-seeming name for Pregnancy Options. "That is an excellent point," Chenoweth replied. "Use a more attractive name to someone who is seeking services."

Finally, Winter writes, the CPC leaders at the conference put a strong emphasis not just on luring women away from abortion, but on bringing them into the church:

Over the course of the three days of the conference, I chatted with a few dozen pregnancy center workers. Multiple women told me it was their job to protect women from abortion as "an adult tells a child not to touch a hot stove." Another oft-repeated catchphrase was, "Save the mother, save the baby," shorthand for many pregnancy center workers' belief that the most effective way to prevent abortion is to convert women. In keeping with Evangelicalism's central tenets, many pregnancy center staff believe that those living "without Christ"— including Christians having premarital sex — must accept Christ to be born again, redeem their sins, and escape spiritual pain. Carrying a pregnancy to term "redeems" a "broken" woman, multiple staff people told me.

One conference attendee, a center volunteer in her early 30s, told me that she has protested outside her state's only surgical abortion clinic for several years. "I don't think it's disrespectful to shout, 'You're killing your baby,'" she said. "That's not saying, 'You dirty whore.'" But she prefers counseling at the center: "When I started, I remember thinking, This is so awesome! I don't have to feel mean, but I can still talk to women!"

Read Winter’s full account over at Cosmopolitan .

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Reproductive Health Posts Archive

Miranda Blue, Friday 05/22/2015, 10:38am
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Miranda Blue, Thursday 05/21/2015, 11:49am
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Miranda Blue, Wednesday 05/20/2015, 1:05pm
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Miranda Blue, Tuesday 05/19/2015, 3:38pm
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Miranda Blue, Tuesday 05/19/2015, 12:37pm
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Miranda Blue, Wednesday 05/13/2015, 2:19pm
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Miranda Blue, Friday 05/08/2015, 11:01am
Back in January, House Republican leaders cancelled a vote on a 20-week abortion ban, the top legislative priority of anti-choice groups, shortly before it was scheduled to take place on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. A group of more moderate anti-choice Republicans, led by Rep. Renee Ellmers, had objected to language that exempted rape survivors from the ban only if they had reported the assault to law enforcement first, which Ellmers said “further victimized the victims of rape.” Anti-choice groups were furious and have been holding protests outside the offices of House... MORE