We reported earlier this year that Sen. Ted Cruz had signaled his support for the extremist fringes of the anti-abortion movement by naming Troy Newman, the head of the notorious protest group Operation Rescue who has written that God is punishing America for failing to execute abortion providers, as a national co-chair of a his presidential campaign’s “Pro-Lifers for Cruz” coalition.
Now, as Cruz appears to be attempting to win over women voters with his pick of Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential running mate, the leaders of People For the American Way, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and NARAL Pro-Choice America are urging Cruz to fire Newman from his campaign.
In an open letter to Cruz, the leaders write:
While there are a number of coalition members whose records raise serious concerns, Troy Newman’s history of violent rhetoric and harassment toward women’s health providers is truly beyond the pale.
Newman, the president of Operation Rescue, has written that the U.S. government has a responsibility to execute abortion providers. He has said that a woman who has sought an abortion should be considered a “murderer” and a “contract killer.” Newman has claimed that a man who killed an abortion provider should have been allowed to argue that the killing was “justifiable defensive action.” Newman and his staff have harassed individual women’s clinic workers at their homes, at restaurants and coffee shops, and throughout their communities in an attempt to make them quit their jobs. Newman’s closest associate at Operation Rescue, Cheryl Sullenger, has spent time in federal prison for conspiracy to bomb an abortion clinic.
Especially in an environment where anti-women’s health violence is on the rise, Newman’s extremism and violent rhetoric should be condemned, not given a platform by a major presidential campaign. A report released this month by the National Abortion Federation on threats and violence against abortion providers noted a “dramatic increase in hate speech and internet harassment, death threats, attempted murder, and murder” in 2015, coinciding with the distribution of smear videos intended to demonize providers — videos which Newman was a driving force behind. No patient or provider should have to fear for their life in order to seek or give critical medical care.
We wrote extensively about Newman’s background and views in a report last year linked to his role in creating the Center for Medical Progress’ smear videos about Planned Parenthood.
Rachel Maddow covered Cruz’s embrace of Newman in an extensive segment in November: