Every year, along with the March for Life in Washington, comes the tradition of infighting within the anti-choice movement over which bill they will ask Congress to pass to commemorate the occasion.
This year, Republican leadership and establishment anti-choice groups like National Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony List have settled on a House vote on the “Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” essentially a messaging bill that tries to portray abortion providers as callous murderers.
This has left others in the anti-choice movement fuming. Last year, Ohio activist Janet Porter managed to get Rep. Steve King to introduce and hold a subcommittee hearing on a federal version of bill she devised called the “heartbeat bill,” which would ban abortion at around six weeks of pregnancy, or before some women even know that they are pregnant. This is the bill that Porter, King and their allies think that the House should be voting on today to commemorate the March for Life, and they think they know who to blame for the fact that it’s not getting a vote: the National Right to Life Committee.
In a press release that was reprinted today in Charisma, Porter’s group Faith2Action wrote:
Rather than pass HR 490, the Heartbeat Bill, to protect every child whose heartbeat can be detected, Congress chose, instead, to pass the “Born Alive Abortion Survivor’s Protection Act,” HR 4712, which won’t prevent a single abortion. Why wouldn’t a pro-life Congress pass the bill with 170 co-sponsors which is closest to ending abortion? The answer: National Right to Life.
The press release quotes Operation Rescue’s Troy Newman comparing National Right to Life to Judas:
Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, stated, “If you do not support the bill you oppose it.”
Newman added, “There has been no greater betrayal of innocent blood since Judas betrayed our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane but that of National Right to Life selling the innocent blood of preborn children.”
Former House Republican leader Tom DeLay, who has worked with Porter to push the “heartbeat bill,” wrote an op-ed in the Washington Times slamming National Right to Life’s incremental approach to outlawing abortion. “Today, National Right to Life, the only national group that doesn’t support the Heartbeat Bill’s substantial protection for unborn children, thinks ‘success’ is to kill only a million children a year,” he wrote. “We reject the establishment’s approach. We also reject those who have the thoughtlessness to continue it. We have more than enough blood on our hands and Congress has the means to stop this loss in nearly every case.”
At yesterday’s March for Life-connected Law of Life Summit, Rebecca Kiessling, an activist and attorney who argues against rape exceptions in abortion bans, said that King was “irate” that the bill “doesn’t have the support of the whole pro-life movement.” She urged the activists to “not settle for mediocrity” in abortion bans.
National Right to Life, for its part, is saying that it doesn’t oppose the heartbeat bill, but that isn’t enough for King, who told LifeSite News last week that the only way it will get a vote is if NRLC directly advocates for it:
“National Right to Life President Carol Tobias personally told Rep. King that we do not oppose his heartbeat legislation,” Tatiana Bergum, NRLC’s deputy press secretary, told LifeSiteNews. “We don’t understand why he is singling out National Right to Life for his unfair attacks.”
“We are focused on supporting the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the Born-Alive Infant Survivor Act, and the Dismemberment Abortion Ban Act,” said Bergum.
King told LifeSiteNews that if the Susan B. Anthony List, Family Research Council, and National Right to Life all supported the bill, it would be brought to the floor for a vote.
“The only organization that we can identify that’s not publicly endorsing and supporting the bill is National Right to Life,” he said. “I think National Right to Life needs to decide to lead, follow, or get out of the way.”
In response to Tobias’ remarks, King said Tobias should “pick up the phone and call Speaker Ryan.”
King and Porter maintain that the onus is on NRLC to actively support the bill because that is the only way Republican leadership will allow a vote on it.
The bad blood seems to be in part carried over from the fight over Porter’s “heartbeat bill” in Ohio, where National Right to Life’s state affiliate opposed the bill for fear that it would set off a court challenge in an unfriendly climate that could set the anti-choice legal movement back.