Anti-Choice Leaders Use COVID-19 to Push for Nationwide Shut Down of Abortion Access

Anti-choice activist Janet Porter with Reps. Steve King, Trent Franks and Louie Gohmert at the introduction of a federal version of Porter's "heartbeat bill" in Jan. 2017.

Anti-choice activist Janet Porter has mobilized a large group of religious-right leaders who are seeking to use the COVID-19 pandemic to attack Planned Parenthood and eliminate access to abortion across the U.S. It’s a prime example of a right-wing tactic Right Wing Watch identified Monday: groups using the crisis to advance long-term agendas.

Porter, known for her advocacy of so-called “heartbeat” bills, made an inflammatory and flawed comparison between medical clinics remaining open to serve individual patients and churches closing rather than convening large gatherings. “We call on President Trump and Vice President Pence to shut the door to the Coronavirus by shutting the doors of the abortion industry before the virus spreads even further,” Porter said in a press release distributed Tuesday. “In a pandemic a double standard is deadly. Either there is a threat or there isn’t: we must either close the doors of the abortion business or open the doors of the church.”

The long list of anti-choice organizations and leaders supporting Porter’s campaign include those with records of extremism. The list includes Operation Rescue, a group whose history includes some members’ embrace of violence; Paul Blair, who promotes the “nullification” of Supreme Court rulings; promoter of Christian Reconstructionist ideology John Eidsmoe and Roy Moore’s Foundation for Moral Law; anti-LGBTQ-equality activists Jim Garlow and Peter LaBarbera; Trump supporting “prophets” Cindy Jacobs and Rick Joyner; and right-wing activist and online personality Dave Daubenmire, who spouts bigotry, anti-Semitism, and right-wing conspiracy theories.