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.

Ex-Judge Points Out Legal Flaws Of Fetal 'Personhood'

As we explored in a report on the fetal “personhood” movement a few years ago, the effort to outlaw all abortion (and possibly some forms of birth control) by giving full constitutional rights to zygotes could result in any number of unintended consequences.

In a column yesterday in the Montgomery Advertiser, Vanzetta Penn McPherson, a retired federal magistrate judge, poked holes in a recent Alabama personhood proposal that died in the state House last week.

If embryos and fetuses are declared to be legal persons, she asks, would they be entitled to congressional representation? To welfare benefits? To get their drivers’ license nine months early?

1. Since the date of each conception is uncertain and the government is the custodian of birth records: (a) Should the government assign a date of conception to determine the prenatal child’s true birthdate? (b) At delivery, will the average prenatal child already be nine months old? (c) Should parents count prenatal children on census and employment forms? (d) Should the legislature count prenatal children in the redistricting process?

2. For families: (a) Since DNA tests can prove paternity, should a father’s child support obligation begin at conception, when life begins? (b) Would a pregnant woman who is dependent on welfare be entitled to government benefits for her embryo? (c) Would a pregnant mother who is dependent on welfare be entitled to additional government benefits for her embryo?

3. Rights and Responsibilities: (a) Would a fetus, who is also a person, be entitled to an equal share of a parent’s or grandparent’s bequest to “children” or “grandchildren”? (b)Would the presence of a fetus, who is entitled to equal protection of the law, prevent the imposition of a lawful prison sentence upon a pregnant woman? (c) Would the presence of a fetus, who is entitled to equal protection of the law, cause the release of a female inmate who became pregnant? (d) To secure entitlement to rights that are triggered by age, should we award driver’s licenses (at 16), permit persons to vote (at 18), and permit persons to drink alcohol (at 21), based on “birth at conception?” (e) If so, will the presumption of “birth at conception” apply only to prenatal children “living” at the time the amendment passes? (f) Or will the presumption of “birth at conception” also apply to everyone, since everyone was once an embryo, thus allowing adults to advance their entitlement to retirement, and other state benefits? (g) When a prenatal child dies of natural causes before delivery, may its parents collect the proceeds of a life insurance policy they secured shortly after conception?

Even aside from the clearly unconstitutional attack on Roe v. Wade, these are issues that the courts would have to work out if “personhood” were to become law.

At least two states besides Alabama are currently considering “personhood” measures.

Abortion Rights Leaders Call On Cruz To Dump Extremist Anti-Choice Adviser

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:

AUL: Stall Supreme Court Nominee To 'Roll Back Roe v. Wade'

Anti-choice groups have made no secret of the fact that they are pressuring Senate Republicans to continue their blockade of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, in the hope that a Republican-nominated justice will vote to undo Roe v. Wade.

Americans United for Life, the group that shapes the anti-choice movement’s legal strategy, made this argument explicitly in an email today asking members to pressure their senators to keep up the blockade of Garland.

Clarke Forsythe, the group’s acting president, claims in the email that the “only reason abortion advocates are pushing this nomination is to roll back the pro-life gains in courts and legislatures across the country” and promises that “the right Supreme Court” will roll back Roe.

AUL is one of a number of anti-choice groups, including the Susan B. Anthony List, Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, Priests for Life, the clinic protest group Pro-Life Action League and David Daleiden’s attorneys at Life Legal Defense Foundation, who have launched a website targeting Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, urging them to continue to stall Garland’s nomination.

Forsythe writes, under the subject line “You Have the Power to Help Roll Back Roe v. Wade”:

Dear Friend,

Do you believe Roe v. Wade can be rolled back? At Americans United for Life, we know that the answer is YES … with the right Supreme Court.

For more than 40 years, we pro-life Americans have been working to overturn the destructiveness of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the twin cases that brought incredible devastation to mothers and their unborn children, making both vulnerable to the profiteering of a greedy abortion industry. With the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court hangs in the balance today, making it vital that NO appointment to the high court occur until after the voters weigh in on Election Day. You can help make that happen.

Please click here to contact your U.S. Senators, telling them to wait until after the election to deal with the opening on the Supreme Court.

All that AUL has been working for since 1971 is at stake in President Obama’s attempt to put a fifth pro-abortion justice on the Supreme Court. Don't let them crush democracy on the abortion issue for another two or three decades. No president has been more firmly committed to the abortion industry than Barack Obama, making his pick for the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland, the wrong choice to be added to the fragile balance in a fractured court.

Please click here to contact your U.S. Senators now.

Judge Garland is President Obama’s pro-abortion pick to tempt some Republicans to act now to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. But it’s important to remember that President Obama, Vice President Biden and even Sen. Chuck Schumer, all urged the Senate to hold the line against Supreme Court picks late in a president’s term. The only reason abortion advocates are pushing this nomination is to roll back the pro-life gains in courts and legislatures across the country.

Please contact your Senators today, asking them to let Americans have a voice in deciding the future of the Supreme Court, through their choice of leadership. Click here to contact them now, and please forward this to friends and family so that we all can have a voice in whether all people are welcomed in life and protected in law.

With so many Justices on the Supreme Court nearing retirement, the time is now to let your Senators know that it matters to you who sits on the nation’s Supreme Court.

Thank you for standing with Americans United for Life at this important time. We can make a difference.

Sincerely,

Clarke Forsythe,
Acting President & Senior Counsel
Americans United for Life

Pavone: Cecile Richards Speaking At Georgetown Like Inviting ISIS, Drug Dealers Or The Mob

Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, spoke at Georgetown University yesterday at the invitation of a student group, an event that was not welcomed by the Washington Archdiocese or the conservative Cardinal Newman Society.

Also displeased with the Catholic school’s welcoming of Richards was Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, who said on a Catholic radio program on Tuesday that inviting Richards was the equivalent of trying to “understand terrorism” by inviting “representatives of ISIS” to campus or inviting “the biggest mobsters to come in because we have to understand both sides of the debate about organized crime.”

In an interview with Teresa Tomeo on Ave Maria Radio’s “Catholic Connection,” Pavone blasted Georgetown for “adding to confusion, contention and division within the church on the most important issue of our day,” asking if there are “no better speakers in the world to stimulate the intellects of these students than people who preside over killing hundreds of thousands of children every year.”

He said he didn’t buy the argument that inviting someone like Richards to speak was allowing “inquiry into all different positions.”

“I mean, do we inquire, do we try to understand terrorism by inviting representatives of ISIS to come and speak?” he asked. “Or let’s get some of the biggest drug dealers in the country to come and talk about their business because, after all, we have to understand both sides of the issue of drug abuse. Why don’t we invite the biggest mobsters to come in because we have to understand both sides of the debate about organized crime? Are they doing that? Maybe I’m missing it, but do these universities invite these kinds of people too?”

“You know,” Tomeo said, “this is what I don’t get, why this issue is only talked about in terms of ‘both sides’ of a controversial issue when it comes to abortion and artificial contraception or even so-called same-sex marriage.”

“Yeah, the fact is the other side of these things is so totally bankrupt, unacceptable, outrageous, and has no place in civilized society that that should be self-evident right from the start,” Pavone responded. “Why do you have to think twice about why it’s wrong to kill a baby? See, that’s what I don’t understand either. I mean, you mean to tell me these students have to think twice about whether killing a child is wrong?”

We’ll just note that conservatives have been wringing their hands for years about intolerant liberals supposedly shutting down opposing speech on college campuses.

Grassley Promises Anti-Choice Activists He'll Hold The Line Against Garland

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, joined a conference call of anti-abortion activists hosted by the Susan B. Anthony List last night to assure them that he would continue to hold the line and refuse to hold a Judiciary Committee hearing on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

Also joining the call were Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, who delivered an opening prayer.

Grassley told the activists that when someone asked him for an update on the nomination last week, he said that “an update would suggest that something has changed” and that he still intends to block any nominee until the next president takes office.

He said that preventing “another liberal” from joining the Supreme Court was necessary to keep “even the reasonable restrictions on abortion that have been enacted into law through the democratic process” from being “swept away.”

Grassley cited a recent National Right to Life poll which he said found that “about 80 percent of Americans don’t believe that abortions should be available after the first trimester.” (It was more complicated than that.)

“But we know that justices who embrace the view that the Constitution is a living document don’t share that view that you and I share,” he said. “The American people, through their elected representatives, should be making these policy decisions, not unelected judges. These are life-and-death issues that we’re fighting for. They show just how important this fight over who’s going to fill Scalia’s seat is.”

In response to a question from SBA List president Marjorie Dannefelser, Grassley suggested that news reports characterizing Garland as moderate are a misleading ploy by the media (one that, if he was correct, he himself and some of his Republican colleagues would be in on).

When Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were nominated, he said, “always in these headlines at the time they were nominated, that adjective was the word ‘moderate,’ just like Garland. Well, we know how those four have turned out. So don’t believe what you read in the press about people’s basic philosophy, because they got it all wrong and probably intentionally all wrong.”

When Dannenfelser asked Grassley to respond to the argument that the Senate is neglecting its job by refusing to even consider Garland’s nomination, Grassley repeated his claim that it would actually be a waste of taxpayer money to give Garland a hearing.

“Well, we could have a hearing, we aren’t going to have a hearing, but let’s just suppose we could have a hearing,” he said. “And I know 52 people, at least 52 in the Senate, aren’t going to approve it. So you have a hearing and you spend a lot of taxpayers’ money gearing up for it, you spend a lot of time of members, a lot of research that has to be done by staff, and then it ain’t going to go anyplace.”

“It’s like getting dressed up for the prom but you don’t get to go,” Dannenfelser said.

David Daleiden's Mentor Admits Daleiden 'Made Some Mistakes' Legally

Attorneys for David Daleiden, the activist who led the undercover smear campaign against Planned Parenthood last year, are trying to get a grand jury indictment of him dismissed in Texas, claiming that it was politically motivated. But Daleiden’s mentor, who has conducted many of his own sham investigations of abortion providers, acknowledged at an anti-abortion conference last month that the young activist “made some mistakes” that might have led him to run afoul of the law.

Mark Crutcher heads a group called Life Dynamics, which pioneered some of the undercover tactics that Daleiden used to go after Planned Parenthood and conducted a similar debunked investigation involving abortion providers’ handling of fetal tissue in the late 1990s. He has also trained right-wing activists James O’Keefe and Lila Rose, is now training what he hopes will be “a whole army of David Daleidens” to infiltrate abortion providers across the country.

Crutcher spoke last month at a conference sponsored by Cleveland Right to Life, where he said that his training efforts meant that he would have “at least 100 professional intel operatives” in abortion providers ty the end of the year.

At the end of Crutcher’s presentation, the event moderator, referring to the indictment of Daleiden by a grand jury that had been convened to investigate his claims about Planned Parenthood, asked Crutcher why “it seems like the good guys are getting indicted and the bad guys are getting away.”

Crutcher responded that he always trains his staff and students how to get what they want without breaking the law, but that Daleiden didn’t listen to all of his advice.

“I’m not going to get into details about this,” he said, “but David made some mistakes that we warned him about. Renee [Hobbs] and I were on the phone with him for many, many hours over the years that he was doing this, but David got caught up in youthful exuberance. And I tried to tell him, I said, ‘David, you’re making some mistakes here and that’s going to cost you.’ I said, ‘And youthful exuberance always loses out to old age and treachery, and I’m old and treacherous, so I’ve been down this trail.’ But he made some mistakes, and I don’t want to get into the details of that.”

“What you have to understand, this is an argument that I tried to get over to David: Anything that you want to do in an intelligence-gathering environment that’s illegal, you can find a way to do it legally,” he added.

Cruz Dodges Personhood Question: 'I'm Not Going To Get Into The Labels'

Back in February, we wondered what exactly Ted Cruz’s position on the anti-abortion strategy of fetal “personhood" was. At a campaign stop in Iowa, Cruz said that he hasn’t “supported personhood legislation,” but over the past several years the Texas senator had made several statements supportive of personhood laws and amendments, which would outlaw all abortion and could even jeopardize some forms of birth control.

True to form, when Cruz was asked directly about his stance on “personhood” today, he dodged the question, saying that he didn’t want to talk about “labels.”

Eliza Collins at Politico reports that according to a partial transcript of an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd that will be broadcast tonight, Cruz was not eager to clarify his views about the issue:

Pointing to the Texas senator's past history of wavering before eventually signing a pledge promising to support a personhood amendment to the Constitution in 2015, Todd asked, “Where are you on personhood? Are you going to pursue this as an agenda or are you just simply supporting the idea? Do you know what I mean by the difference?”

“Well listen, some of the labels in this debate can get confusing because different people mean different things about labels. I don’t want to get in a back and forth on labels,” Cruz responded. “I believe every human life is a gift from God and we should cherish and protect and celebrate them.”


Cruz … declined to answer when pressed if he thinks IUDs, which some conservatives oppose, are an acceptable form of contraceptive.

Todd then returned to personhood, asking: "Are you going to pursue it as an addendum?”

“I told you I’m not going to get into the labels, but what I will say is we should protect life. But I’m not interested in anything that restricts birth control. And I’m not interested in anything that restricts in vitro fertilization because I think parents who are struggling to create life, to have a child, that is a wonderful thing,” Cruz said, dodging further questions from Todd.

“Well, no one is questioning whether you’re pro-life. This is a different. That’s why I’m asking. Would you pursue this?” Todd asked again.

“I will happily support anything that protects life. And protecting life is a value that matters. Whether it is stopping partial birth abortion, which I think is a barbarism. Or whether it is fairly enforcing the criminal laws against Planned Parenthood. You know, a few months ago, we had this series of videos that were horrifying,” Cruz said.

Cruz is correct to say that the “personhood” label can “mean different things”… but he has in the past endorsed nearly every one of those different meanings.

One “personhood” strategy is to pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution declaring that personhood begins at conception, which would not only overturn Roe v. Wade but would actively outlaw abortion nationwide; Cruz endorsed that strategy when he signed a pledge for a Georgia anti-abortion group last year.

Another strategy is to pass statewide “personhood” amendments, which would create challenges to Roe v. Wade in the courts; Cruz endorsed that strategy in a video address he recorded in South Carolina in February.

“Personhood” can also mean the dubious effort to bypass Roe v. Wade by simply passing federal legislation declaring that embryos and fetuses are “persons” under the Constitution; Cruz said last year that such a strategy would “absolutely” work.

So, Cruz has pledged to support a federal amendment, praised state-level amendments, and endorsed a federal legislative strategy all aimed at establishing legal “personhood” for zygotes and fetuses, but also says that he has never “supported personhood legislation.”

It’s no wonder he doesn’t want to talk about labels.

One Anti-Choice Activist's Argument For Punishing Women Who Have Abortions

As we noted this morning, the hubbub over Donald Trump’s comments about legal punishment for women who have abortions has shone a spotlight on the anti-abortion movement’s uncertainty about how to handle women who seek illegal abortions if the procedure is recriminalized.

While many in the anti-choice movement try to avoid talking about this issue publicly, it is something that activists who are more thoughtful than Donald Trump probably can’t help but consider as they shape their views.

Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life, gave an interesting glimpse into the way some anti-choice activists think about the punishment issue this week when he said that if abortion is recriminalized, women who have abortions are unlikely to face murder charges because they could show that they faced “pressure” or “confusion” in their decision. When he was pressed further on the issue, Pavone floated the possibility of legal punishment for “accomplices” — like someone who brings a woman to get an abortion — and seemed to suggest that the law could also punish women who are insufficiently remorseful about having the procedure.

This is not the first time that Priests for Life has tried to address the issue. A few years ago, Bryan Kemper, who heads youth outreach for Priests for Life through his group Stand True Ministries, grappled with this question on his blog and concluded that if abortion is to become illegal nationwide, as is the goal of the anti-abortion movement, then women who obtain abortions would indeed have to be treated as murderers.

Kemper wrote in 2012 that the question of what to do about women who have abortions if the procedure is recriminalized is “one of the toughest questions to answer as a pro-lifer” but that the obvious answer is unavoidable if you “truly believe that a child in the womb is a full human person.” He continued:

I admit there is an emotional element to this that can blur the issue. I know that no one wants to go throwing thousands of women in prison. It is sincerely a tough question.

Lets change the direction we look at this however. Just like in my debates against pro-abortion advocates, I would steer away from the distractions and focus on the core issue. What is abortion? Abortion is the killing of a human person. Just like stabbing a three old on a playground is killing a human person, stabbing a baby in the womb is also killing a human person.

If we establish a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution declaring that children are full human persons from the moment of fertilization, then we must treat them as such.

When the woman in Texas drowned her five children several years ago, what was your thought on her punishment? Did you believe because she had some rough times at home she should be excused from what she did? The fact is, she killed her five children and had to answer to the law. While we might feel sorry for her emotional state, we must also want justice for the five children who were killed.

In the same way, we must look at the children in the womb as equal in value as the children who were drowned and demand justice for them also. We can certainly feel empathy for what a woman might be going through, however, that cannot change the fact that she has broken the law and ended the life of her child. We know there is forgiveness is Christ, but justice must also be served. If we make a separate law and separate punishment for someone who has an abortion then we are saying that the child in the womb is somehow not as valuable then any other human person killed. If we say that intentionally killing one child is less of a crime then intentionally killing another child, then our whole argument for life is destroyed.

 

Anti-Choice Leader Floats Possibility Of Punishing Abortion 'Accomplices,' Women Who Are Not Coerced

Donald Trump’s comment last month that if abortion is recriminalized, a woman who obtains the procedure will have to face “some form of punishment ” was a disaster for his presidential campaign, but did a public service in exposing the real consequences of the anti-choice movement's agenda.

Abortion rights opponents who have spent years claiming that their efforts to restrict abortion are about protecting women were suddenly faced with a direct question: If you believe that abortion is murder, why shouldn’t a woman who chooses an abortion be treated like a murderer?

Most anti-choice leaders respond with some version of the argument that in the case of an abortion, a woman is a victim rather than a perpetrator, along with vague assurances that no public officials would actually choose to legally punish women for the procedure.

One of these is Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life, who responded to Trump’s comment by saying: “We don't aim to imprison [women], we aim to liberate them from the shame and guilt and wounds abortion brings. The punishment should be for the abortionist, not the baby's mom.”

But Pavone had a hard time keeping up this argument when, in a recent radio appearance, a sympathetic caller pressed him on the logical fallacy.

Pavone was a guest on "The Drew Mariani Show" on Relevant Radio on Tuesday when a listener named Cory called in to say that he thought Trump was being “remarkably philosophically consistent” on the issue of punishing women for abortion. If a fetus is the equivalent of a five-year-old, he asked, why wouldn’t a woman who has an abortion face the same punishment as a woman who hires someone to kill her five-year-old?

“Because, I mean, we certainly don’t allow a woman who’s an accomplice in the murder of a five-year-old or a six-year-old the privilege of being a victim,” he said. “So I’m not exactly sure how we — we’re not really being that philosophically consistent here with this.”

Pavone responded that the difference was “psychological” and that a woman who had an abortion would probably face a lesser charge because of the amount of “pressure” and “confusion” that she was under to seek the procedure, much like “mitigating circumstances” can mitigate murder charges in the case of a “born person.”

Pavone added that it would also make sense to spare women from punishment so that they would report abortion providers to the authorities, who could then “go after that abortionist and stop him and save other lives.”

Cory, however, was not satisfied with this answer. He pointed out that many women who have abortions “don’t mind having gone through it and they don’t regret it” and repeated that he thought “there should be some sort of legal consequence for a woman who volitionally goes into an abortion clinic knowing what’s going to happen.”

“There has to be some sort of legal consequence, otherwise I just fear that we’re not being logically consistent on this issue,” he said.

Pavone’s answer was essentially “we’ll see.” He told Cory that once an abortion ban is enacted, there would be many options for enforcing it, including penalizing “accomplices” who help a woman get an abortion.

“I mean, the abortionist has to get punished, but what about the person who brings her to or pays for the abortion?” he asked. “So the law can look at a lot of things.”

Pavone then seemed to open the door for the possibility of punishing women who are insufficiently remorseful about having an abortion. “What you have to do,” he said, “is look at each circumstance very carefully, and just like we do with the murder of born people, what were the — how guilty, how responsible, how free was this person, how much did they know and intend what was going on?”

Jay Sekulow, who heads the Religious Right legal group founded by Pat Robertson, has similarly hinted at his willingness to accept legal punishments for women who choose abortions for what he deems to be the wrong reasons.

Anti-Choice 'Personhood' Bills Advance In Alabama, Missouri & South Carolina

This week, legislative committees in Alabama, Missouri and South Carolina approved so-called “personhood” measures that would, if successful, outlaw all abortions and even endanger some forms of birth control.

An Alabama House committee approved a proposed constitutional amendment today that would “define the term ‘persons’ to include all humans from the moment of fertilization.” If the state legislature approves the amendment, it will move to a statewide ballot referendum.

One doctor who testified in favor of the Alabama insisted that a fetus is “totally separate” from a woman and that “the mother only contributes the egg and the incubator.”

In Missouri, a House committee approved a similar measure yesterday which would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot defining “persons” to include “unborn human children at every stage of biological development.” The Missouri amendment, however, seems designed to avoid going head-to-head with Roe v. Wade, stating that it can only be enforced “to the extent permitted by the federal constitution.” The anti-choice group Live Action said that the amendment would ensure that Missouri “has clear legal protection from conception onward in place, should Roe v. Wade be eventually overturned.”

“Personhood” amendments, even when they do make it through state legislatures, have a horrendous record at the ballot box. Recent attempts to pass such amendments in the deeply conservative states of Mississippi and North Dakota failed spectacularly, and Colorado voters have rejected “personhood” multiple times.

That won’t be an issue in South Carolina, where a Senate committee approved a “personhood” bill sponsored by Sen. Lee Bright — a state co-chair of Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign — yesterday. Bright dismissed questions about the possibly troubling consequences of the bill by saying, "When you get around the edges, there may be some questions we don't have all the answers to but allowing all these children to lose their lives to me is unacceptable.” Bright said that he hoped the bill would spark a challenge to Roe v. Wade, which he called one of his “missions in life.”

This post has been updated to include information about the South Carolina bill.

Troy Newman Struggles To Explain Position On Abortion Punishment: 'You Have To Draw The Line Somewhere'

Troy Newman, the head of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue and co-chair of a “pro-life” coalition for Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, has drawn some heat for a book he wrote in the early 2000s that argued that the U.S. has affronted God by failing to execute abortion providers.

Newman says that he was not actually arguing for the execution of abortion providers but was rather building up an Old Testament case that he then superseded with a New Testament message of mercy and redemption, an argument that he made again in an interview with Alan Colmes yesterday.

Newman, however, struggled to explain to Colmes his case that he doesn’t want a legal punishment for women who have abortions — whom he refers to in his book as “contract killers” — but does want abortion providers to be tried for murder.

“Yes, abortion is murder,” he told Colmes. “You punish the murderers. You punish the murderers, Alan, who are the abortionists.”

“If you’re hiring the murderer, wouldn’t you also be punished?” Colmes asked.

“No, traditionally in America, we’ve never punished a woman because she’s a secondary victim, the first victim is the innocent baby,” Newman responded. He later argued that it’s “more than likely” that a woman who has an abortion has been “coerced.”

When Colmes pressed further, Newman said that “you have to draw the line someplace” and that he draws the line at “punishing the abortionists” and “the likes of Planned Parenthood.”

“What should the punishment be for an abortion provider?” Colmes asked.

“Well, if it’s murder, then they should serve time,” Newman responded, “Whether it’s first, second, third degree, that’s for the courts to decide.”

He added that he was “against the death penalty” and that “life in prison” would be the proper punishment for an abortion provider.

Frank Pavone: Women Who Have Had Abortions 'Are Already In Prison'

Fr. Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life, sent out a press statement today seeking to “correct the record” on reports that Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump had blown off a planned conference call with a group of anti-choice activists he organized yesterday.

Pavone declined to go into details, but said that the Trump campaign did not “break any commitment, promise, appointment, or expectation” and that he has extended to Trump a “standing invitation to dialogue.”

Pavone also addressed Trump’s recent controversial comments that women who have abortions should face “some form of punishment,” which the candidate quickly retracted before taking several additional contradictory positions on abortion rights over the course of a week.

Pavone said that his group believes that the legal punishment for abortion “should be for the abortionist, not the baby's mom,” but claimed that women who “have had abortions are already in prison.” (He meant this metaphorically, although it is also literally true.)

“We don't aim to imprison them, we aim to liberate them from the shame and guilt and wounds abortion brings,” he said.

He added that people like Trump who believe in punishing women for abortion are “much easier to bring to the right position” than those who are pro-choice:

Much has been made of his recent comments about who should be punished for abortion. As for punishing the woman, those who have had abortions are already in prison. As the Pastoral Director of the world's largest ministry of healing after abortion, Rachel's Vineyard, and also of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, by which those who have had abortions speak out about their experiences, I know this very well.

We don't aim to imprison them, we aim to liberate them from the shame and guilt and wounds abortion brings. The punishment should be for the abortionist, not the baby's mom. I have not spoken to Mr. Trump about this, but do look forward to doing so, and I am confident that he will listen to the voices and testimonies of women who suffer from abortion.

But Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have also made comments recently on abortion, including in a Town Hall on Fox News with Bret Baier. Sanders could name no circumstance, and Hillary hardly any, in which they thought it would be OK to make a single abortion illegal. That position is out of step with the American people. And neither of them has corrected or edited those comments.

Those who -- mistakenly -- think there should be a punishment for the women are much easier to bring to the right position than those who take the even more outrageous, offensive, and disastrous position -- like Sanders, Clinton, and the Democratic platform -- that the dismemberment and decapitation of children should continue in a practically unlimited way.

In the former position, there's an acknowledgment that society has to do something about the massive holocaust of children. In the latter position, there is a blatant disregard for the most fundamental right, the right to life.

Updated: Trump To Speak To Group That Threatens To Infiltrate Planned Parenthood

Update: Trump reportedly failed to call in to the Priests for Life conference, even further confusing his already confused place in the “pro-life” movement.

Update II: In a statement on Thursday, Pavone said that reports of Trump's snub were "incorrect" and that neither "Mr. Trump nor anyone associated with him or his campaign cancelled a meeting or phone call with pro-life leaders, nor did they break any commitment, promise, appointment, or expectation." 

Add this to the growing list of Donald Trump’s contradictory positions on reproductive rights: Trump, who has repeatedly said that Planned Parenthood does “very good work for millions of women,” is scheduled to speak today to an anti-choice organization that has been threatening to help infiltrate the women’s health provider in order to take it down.

Trump, facing an outcry from anti-abortion activists after taking several contradictory positions on abortion rights over the course of one week, will reportedly address a forum organized by Priests for Life tonight.

The director of Priests for Life, Fr. Frank Pavone, has been on the frontline of the anti-abortion movement for decades and is currently leading an “ongoing campaign of prayer and fasting with the specific intention of ending abortion in the United States and ending the evils perpetrated by Planned Parenthood.”

In January, Pavone helped organized a protest in front of a new Planned Parenthood clinic that is under construction in Washington. The most anticipated speaker at the event was David Daleiden, the activist behind the series of videos falsely smearing Planned Parenthood for supposedly “selling baby parts.” At the protest, Pavone boasted of the work of fellow anti-choice activist Mark Crutcher, who is hoping to train an “army” of activists like Daleiden to infiltrate Planned Parenthood clinics in an effort to dig up dirt about the organization … and to intimidate providers in the process.

“The troubles for Planned Parenthood have only just begun,” Pavone promised at the rally.

He added a “message to Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry”:

“Be on your toes because we are in your midst, we are behind your doors, we are in your secret meetings, we are working for you and with you though you know it not, but in His good time the God who reveals all secrets will reveal that too.”

Pavone, like Daleiden, has close ties to the “rescue” movement, the leaders of confrontational protests outside of abortion clinics. The protest that Pavone helped lead in front of the Washington Planned Parenthood clinic in January forced a nearby school to close for two days.

That Trump is attending Pavone’s event in an attempt to make peace with pro-lifers somewhat undermines his praise for Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion-related services.