Gov. Pawlenty and the Evangelicals: Where He Stands on Hot-Button Issues

Andy Birkey

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's evangelicalism has become one of the planks in pundit-class conventional wisdom about his chances of winding up John McCain's running mate. What has the governor said and done over the years on evangelicals' pet issues?

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s evangelicalism has
become one of the planks in pundit-class conventional wisdom about his
chances of winding up John McCain’s running mate.

Back home in Minnesota, ironically, Pawlenty’s religion is little known
and seldom discussed. The governor himself has rarely alluded to it
publicly. But its impact on his policies and actions has been
far-ranging. During the spring 2008 legislative session, to take a
recent example, Pawlenty effectively gave the arch-right Minnesota
Family Council a seat at the legislative bargaining table, informing
Democratic leaders at the Legislature that they needed to obtain the
Family Council’s approval on their comprehensive sex-ed bill if they
wanted to avoid a veto. (Democrats subsequently gave up on the bill;
details below.)

Below, I take a point-by-point look at what
Pawlenty has said and done through the years on a number of the
evangelical right’s perennial pet issues.


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Pawlenty pushed for the "Women’s Right to Know" bill as House majority
leader and signed it into law as governor. The statute mandates a
24-hour waiting period before an abortion can be performed, and also
stipulates that a physician must provide information about the risks of
abortion and pregnancy. Pawlenty’s former health commissioner, Dianne
Manderbach, came under fire for
providing inaccurate information about breast cancer risks supposedly
associated with abortion, a frequent talking point of the religious

His campaign literature says he opposes late-term abortion and public funding for abortion.

Eric Magnuson, a Pawlenty friend appointed by the governor as chief
justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, wrote a friend-of-the-court
brief for an anti-abortion group challenging the public financing of
abortion services.

Pawlenty has spoken at March for Life rallies. In 2006, he alluded to a desire to have Roe v. Wade overturned,
saying: "We have a dream today that someday soon this will not be an
anniversary of sadness, but an anniversary of justice restored."

This represents a sea change from Pawlenty’s early political career. "I
think we could move beyond the fundamental [abortion] question and
start talking about other aspects of family planning," he said in 1992,
[Eagan This Week, Nov. 8 1992]. Around the same time, he told the St.
Paul Pioneer Press that the abortion issue "isn’t a big deal" to him
[Oct. 7, 1992].

LGBT Rights

In 1993, Pawlenty was one of 11 House Republicans to vote for the Human
Rights Amendment that outlawed discrimination in housing and employment
based on sexual orientation. It was the first legislation in the nation
to offer protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
While he was running for governor in 2002, he called that vote the only
one he regretted from his days in the Legislature.

When labor unions asked for health benefits for same-sex partners in state labor contracts in 2001, he opposed those benefits.

In 2004, he signed a pledge
to support a constitutional anti-gay marriage amendment. "Traditional
marriage is itself a pledge, and I will take a pledge to defend it," he
said. "Some issues are too important to play the field with."

In 2006, he appeared in an anti-same-sex-marriage video produced by the Republican Party of Minnesota.

Despite all this, Pawlenty was criticized for "promotion of homosexual
agenda" in 2006 by the religious right group EdWatch. "Homosexual
advocacy groups are being funded by grants from the state Department of

Health under his authority," wrote EdWatch in a letter about Pawlenty.
"Additionally, under Governor Pawlenty’s supervision, his
administration is actively promoting the indoctrination of students
into a homosexual worldview and value system."

In 2007, Pawlenty vetoed legislation that would give control to local
municipalities in deciding who could receive domestic partner benefits.
He vetoed a similar bill in 2008.

A bill to allow government employees to use sick time to care for a
seriously ill family member came up in 2008. The bill would have
expanded current laws that allow for the use of sick time to care for
spouses and dependent children. The Minnesota Family Council, a group
affiliated with James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, painted the measure
as part of a strategy to facilitate same-sex marriage. "The end game in
all of this is a legal imposition of homosexual marriage upon the state
of Minnesota," said Tom Prichard, the group’s president. In the end,
the bill was changed to exclude domestic partners for fear of a veto.
The governor vetoed the measure anyway, saying it would cost too much
for employees to use their own earned sick time to care for loved ones.

Stem-cell research

In 2007, Pawlenty seemed supportive of stem-cell research, although
he’s walked a fine line on the issue. In a letter to legislators, the governor wrote that
stem-cell research "offers tremendous opportunities to improve human
health and well-being by addressing serious diseases such as diabetes
and Alzheimer’s. As a matter of public policy, stem-cell research
deserves careful consideration and bipartisan support."

But at the same time, he was telling the Minnesota Family Council that he supported restrictions on
the research. And he told Minnesota Public Radio that the federal
government should go further than the Bush executive order allowing
government-sponsored research only on existing lines.

There was no mixed message
in 2008 when a bill to loosen restrictions on stem-cell research landed
on the governor’s desk. The bill was fiercely opposed by Catholic
groups and the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). Pawlenty
vetoed the bill. In February, he sent a letter to all of Minnesota’s
legislators stating his opposition in terms that echoed MCCL’s public
position that the destruction of embryos is morally unacceptable.

Surrogate mothers

A bill to formalize the processes involved in surrogate motherhood
passed the Legislature in 2008. The James Dobson/FOTF-affiliated
Minnesota Family Council railed against it
as "baby-selling" and promoting "designer babies." Another concern?
"Nowhere in the legislation are the rights and interests of the born or
unborn child mentioned in regard to anything," the group wrote in a
policy briefing.

In vetoing the bill, Pawlenty parroted the Family Council’s main
talking point: "The bill also fails in any manner to recognize or
protect the life and rights of the unborn child."

Sex education

Comprehensive sexual health and family education has been perhaps the
closest point of collaboration between Pawlenty and the religious right
in 2008. As a condition of Pawlenty’s signing any sex-ed legislation,
he forced lawmakers to meet with representatives of the Minnesota
Family Council, a group that advocates for an abstinence-only
curriculum. "We were told by the governor’s staff that the Minnesota
Family Council would have had to sign off on whatever negotiated
agreement we have," Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, said at the end of
the session. "I was unaware that the Family Council had an election
certificate." Because legislators couldn’t reach a deal with the Family
Council, Pawlenty said he would veto the measure. DFL leaders dropped
the bill shortly thereafter.

Creationism/"Intelligent design"

Pawlenty has not articulated a position on the teaching of creationism
in public schools, but he did appoint someone who was quite vocal on
the issue. Cheri Pierson Yecke, his first commissioner of education,
became controversial when she expressed public support for what
advocates call "intelligent design." She attempted to put forward the
Teach the Controversy curriculum, a curriculum that opponents say is dishonest.

Pawlenty ultimately signed into law science standards that did not
contain intelligent design mandates, even though his fellow Republicans
pushed the idea.


In 2005, Pawlenty commissioned a report on the costs of illegal immigration to Minnesota, a report that was criticized by Catholic leaders and members of the media who found the economic model used to calculate the costs lacking.

In 2006, Pawlenty hit hard on the issue of illegal immigration, a hot topic for a contentious election year. The Star Tribune outlined his seven-point plan:

• Establish a 10-member Minnesota Illegal Immigration
Enforcement Team that would be federally trained and authorized to
question, detain and arrest suspected illegal immigrants.

Override city ordinances in Minneapolis and St. Paul that prohibit
police officers from taking action against illegal immigrants unless
they are arrested for a separate crime.

• Put
into law a 2002 state administrative rule that prominently marks
driver’s licenses of legal foreign visitors with their visa expiration

• Toughen and add penalties for possession, creation and sale of false IDs.

• Require officers to note the citizenship and immigration status of all arrestees at booking.

Increase felony penalties for human trafficking when minors are
exploited to up to 20 years in prison. In addition, a task force would
be set up to seek ways to combat human trafficking.

Add a state fine of as much as $5,000 to a current federal penalty of
$11,000 for employers who knowingly hire or recruit illegal immigrants.
In addition, state contracts would prohibit the use of illegal
immigrants to perform contracted services.

Pawlenty unsuccessfully offered a similar proposal in 2008. That
proposal also directed Minnesota law enforcement to work closely with
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

He has also railed against in-state tuition for children of
undocumented immigrants. And he authorized the Minnesota National Guard
to assist the Department of Homeland Security in patrolling the United
States-Mexico border.

Global Warming

Pawlenty believes that human are, in part, responsible for global
warming. "Our global climate is warming, at least in part due to the
energy sources we use," he said in 2007.

Also in 2007, Pawlenty signed a number DFL proposals to reduce carbon
emissions. He signed a bill requiring electrical utilities to obtain 25
percent of their energy from renewable resources by 2025. He also
signed the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007, which requires utilities
to increase energy efficiency to 1.5 percent per year and reduce global
warming emissions 80 percent by 2050.

He’s also a proponent of expanding nuclear energy and using clean coal technology.

His break from the GOP on the issue of global warming is influenced by
his evangelical faith. "I am a person of faith. I believe in the Bible,
God instructs us to take good care and be good stewards of what He has
given us, and that certainly includes our environment and natural
resources, he told Human Events. "And he expects us to act measured and responsible in that regard."

That shouldn’t be too surprising. Pawlenty’s pastor and head of the
National Association of Evangelicals, Rev. Leith Anderson, has written
and spoken adding global warming to the agenda of America’s evangelical

Commentary Politics

On Immigration, Major Political Parties Can’t Seem to Agree on What’s ‘Un-American’

Tina Vasquez

As far as immigration is concerned, neither the Democrats nor Republicans are without their faults, though positions taken at the conventions were clearly more extreme in one case than the other.

Read more of our coverage of the Democratic National Convention here.

Immigration has been one of the country’s most contentious political topics and, not surprisingly, is now a primary focus of this election. But no matter how you feel about the subject, this is a nation of immigrants in search of “el sueño Americano,” as Karla Ortiz reminded us on the first night of the Democratic National Convention (DNC). Ortiz, the 11-year-old daughter of two undocumented parents, appeared in a Hillary Clinton campaign ad earlier this year expressing fear that her parents would be deported. Standing next to her mother on the DNC stage, the young girl told the crowd that she is an American who wants to become a lawyer to help families like hers.

It was a powerful way to kick-start the week, suggesting to viewers Democrats were taking a radically different approach to immigration than the Republican National Convention (RNC). While the RNC made undocumented immigrants the scapegoats for a variety of social ills, from U.S. unemployment to terrorism, the DNC chose to highlight the contributions of immigrants: the U.S. citizen daughter of undocumented parents, the undocumented college graduate, the children of immigrants who went into politics. Yet, even the stories shared at the DNC were too tidy and palatable, focusing on “acceptable” immigrant narratives. There were no mixed-status families discussing their deported parents, for example.

As far as immigration is concerned, neither the Democrats nor Republicans are without their faults, though positions taken at the conventions were clearly more extreme in one case than the other. By the end of two weeks, viewers may not have known whether to blame immigrants for taking their jobs or to befriend their hardworking immigrant neighbors. For the undocumented immigrants watching the conventions, the message, however, was clear: Both parties have a lot of work to do when it comes to humanizing their communities.  

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“No Business Being in This Country”

For context, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence are the decidedly anti-immigrant ticket. From the beginning, Trump’s campaign has been overrun by anti-immigrant rhetoric, from calling Mexicans “rapists” and “killers” to calling for a ban on Muslim immigration. And as of July 24, Trump’s proposed ban now includes people from countries “compromised by terrorism” who will not be allowed to enter the United States, including anyone from France.

So, it should come as no surprise that the first night of the RNC, which had the theme of “Make America Safe Again,” preyed on American fears of the “other.” In this case: undocumented immigrants who, as Julianne Hing wrote for the Nation, “aren’t just drug dealers and rapists anymorenow they’re murderers, too.”

Night one of the RNC featured not one but three speakers whose children were killed by undocumented immigrants. “They’re just three brave representatives of many thousands who have suffered so gravely,” Trump said at the convention. “Of all my travels in this country, nothing has affected me more, nothing even close I have to tell you, than the time I have spent with the mothers and fathers who have lost their children to violence spilling across our borders, which we can solve. We have to solve it.”

Billed as “immigration reform advocates,” grieving parents like Mary Ann Mendoza called her son’s killer, who had resided in the United States for 20 years before the drunk driving accident that ended her police officer son’s life, an “illegal immigrant” who “had no business being in this country.”

It seemed exploitative and felt all too common. Drunk driving deaths are tragically common and have nothing to do with immigration, but it is easier to demonize undocumented immigrants than it is to address the nation’s broken immigration system and the conditions that are separating people from their countries of originconditions to which the United States has contributed. Trump has spent months intentionally and disingenuously pushing narratives that undocumented immigrants are hurting and exploiting the United States, rather than attempting to get to the root of these issues. This was hammered home by Mendoza, who finished her speech saying that we have a system that cares more about “illegals” than Americans, and that a vote for Hillary “puts all of our children’s lives at risk.”

There was also Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a notorious racist whose department made a practice of racially profiling Latinos and was recently found to be in civil contempt of court for “repeatedly and knowingly” disobeying orders to cease policing tactics against Latinos, NPR reported.

Like Mendoza, Arpaio told the RNC crowd that the immigration system “puts the needs of other nations ahead of ours” and that “we are more concerned with the rights of ‘illegal aliens’ and criminals than we are with protecting our own country.” The sheriff asserted that he was at the RNC because he was distinctly qualified to discuss the “dangers of illegal immigration,” as someone who has lived on both sides of the border.

“We have terrorists coming in over our border, infiltrating our communities, and causing massive destruction and mayhem,” Arpaio said. “We have criminals penetrating our weak border security systems and committing serious crimes.”

Broadly, the takeaway from the RNC and the GOP nominee himself is that undocumented immigrants are terrorists who are taking American jobs and lives. “Trump leaned on a tragic story of a young woman’s murder to prop up a generalized depiction of immigrants as menacing, homicidal animals ‘roaming freely to threaten peaceful citizens,’” Hing wrote for the Nation.

When accepting the nomination, Trump highlighted the story of Sarah Root of Nebraska, a 21-year-old who was killed in a drunk-driving accident by a 19-year-old undocumented immigrant.

“To this administration, [the Root family’s] amazing daughter was just one more American life that wasn’t worth protecting,” Trump said. “One more child to sacrifice on the altar of open borders.”

It should be noted that the information related to immigration that Trump provided in his RNC speech, which included the assertion that the federal government enables crime by not deporting more undocumented immigrants (despite deporting more undocumented immigrants than ever before in recent years), came from groups founded by John Tanton, a well-known nativist whom the Southern Poverty Law center referred to as “the racist architect of the modern anti-immigrant movement.”

“The Border Crossed Us”

From the get-go, it seemed the DNC set out to counter the dangerous, anti-immigrant rhetoric pushed at the RNC. Over and over again, Democrats like Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-CA) hit back hard against Trump, citing him by name and quoting him directly.

“Donald Trump believes that Mexican immigrants are murderers and rapists. But what about my parents, Donald?” Sánchez asked the crowd, standing next to her sister, Rep. Loretta Sánchez (D-CA). “They are the only parents in our nation’s 265-year history to send not one but two daughters to the United States Congress!”

Each speech from a Latino touched on immigration, glossing over the fact that immigration is not just a Latino issue. While the sentiments were positiveillustrating a community that is thriving, and providing a much-needed break from the RNC’s anti-immigrant rhetoricat the core of every speech were messages of assimilation and respectability politics.

Even in gutsier speeches from people like actress Eva Longoria, there was the need to assert that her family is American and that her father is a veteran. The actress said, “My family never crossed a border. The border crossed us.”

Whether intentional or not, the DNC divided immigrants into those who are acceptable, respectable, and worthy of citizenship, and those—invisible at the convention—who are not. “Border crossers” who do not identify as American, who do not learn English, who do not aspire to go to college or become an entrepreneur because basic survival is overwhelming enough, what about them? Do they deserve to be in detention? Do their families deserve to be ripped apart by deportation?

At the convention, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), a champion of immigration reform, said something seemingly innocuous that snapped into focus the problem with the Democrats’ immigration narrative.

“In her heart, Hillary Clinton’s dream for America is one where immigrants are allowed to come out of the shadows, get right with the law, pay their taxes, and not feel fear that their families are going to be ripped apart,” Gutiérrez said.

The Democratic Party is participating in an all-too-convenient erasure of the progress undocumented people have made through sheer force of will. Immigration has become a leading topic not because there are more people crossing the border (there aren’t) or because nativist Donald Trump decided to run for president, but because a segment of the population has been denied basic rights and has been fighting tooth and nail to save themselves, their families, and their communities.

Immigrants have been coming out of the shadows and as a result, are largely responsible for the few forms of relief undocumented communities now have, like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allows certain undocumented immigrants who meet specific qualifications to receive a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation. And “getting right with the law” is a joke at this point. The problem isn’t that immigrants are failing to adhere to immigration laws; the problem is immigration laws that are notoriously complicated and convoluted, and the system, which is so backlogged with cases that a judge sometimes has just seven minutes to determine an immigrant’s fate.

Becoming a U.S. citizen is also really expensive. There is a cap on how many people can immigrate from any given country in a year, and as Janell Ross explained at the Washington Post:

There are some countries, including Mexico, from where a worker with no special skills or a relative in the United States can apply and wait 23 years, according to the U.S. government’s own data. That’s right: There are people receiving visas right now in Mexico to immigrate to the United States who applied in 1993.

But getting back to Gutierrez’s quote: Undocumented immigrants do pay taxes, though their ability to contribute to our economy should not be the one point on which Democrats hang their hats in order to attract voters. And actually, undocumented people pay a lot of taxes—some $11.6 billion in state and local taxes last year, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy—while rarely benefiting from a majority of federal assistance programs since the administration of President Bill Clinton ended “welfare as we know it” in 1996.

If Democrats were being honest at their convention, we would have heard about their failure to end family detention, and they would have addressed that they too have a history of criminalizing undocumented immigrants.

The 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act and the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, enacted under former President Clinton, have had the combined effect of dramatically increasing the number of immigrants in detention and expanding mandatory or indefinite detention of noncitizens ordered to be removed to countries that will not accept them, as the American Civil Liberties Union notes on its site. Clinton also passed the North American Free Trade Agreement, which economically devastated Mexican farmers, leading to their mass migration to the United States in search of work.

In 1990, then-Sen. Joe Biden introduced the Violence Against Women Act, which passed in 1994 and specifically excluded undocumented women for the first 19 of the law’s 22 years, and even now is only helpful if the victim of intimate partner abuse is a child, parent, or current/former spouse of a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident.

In addition, President Obama is called by immigrant rights advocates “deporter in chief,” having put into place a “deportation machine” that has sent more than two million migrants back to their country of origin, more than any president in history. New arrivals to the United States, such as the Central American asylum seekers coming to our border escaping gender-based violence, are treated with the same level of prioritization for removal as threats to our national security. The country’s approach to this humanitarian crisis has been raiding homes in the middle of the night and placing migrants in detention centers, which despite being rife with allegations of human rights abuses, are making private prison corporations millions in revenue.

How Are We Defining “Un-American”?

When writing about the Democratic Party, community organizer Rosa Clemente, the 2008 Green Party vice president candidate, said that she is afraid of Trump, “but not enough to be distracted from what we must do, which is to break the two-party system for good.”

This is an election like we’ve never seen before, and it would be disingenuous to imply that the party advocating for the demise of the undocumented population is on equal footing with the party advocating for the rights of certain immigrants whose narratives it finds acceptable. But this is a country where Republicans loudly—and with no consequence—espouse racist, xenophobic, and nativist beliefs while Democrats publicly voice support of migrants while quietly standing by policies that criminalize undocumented communities and lead to record numbers of deportations.

During two weeks of conventions, both sides declared theirs was the party that encapsulated what America was supposed to be, adhering to morals and values handed down from our forefathers. But ours is a country comprised of stolen land and built by slave labor where today, undocumented immigrants, the population most affected by unjust immigration laws and violent anti-immigrant rhetoric, don’t have the right to vote. It is becoming increasingly hard to tell if that is indeed “un-American” or deeply American.

Analysis Politics

The 2016 Republican Platform Is Riddled With Conservative Abortion Myths

Ally Boguhn

Anti-choice activists and leaders have embraced the Republican platform, which relies on a series of falsehoods about reproductive health care.

Republicans voted to ratify their 2016 platform this week, codifying what many deem one of the most extreme platforms ever accepted by the party.

“Platforms are traditionally written by and for the party faithful and largely ignored by everyone else,” wrote the New York Times‘ editorial board Monday. “But this year, the Republicans are putting out an agenda that demands notice.”

“It is as though, rather than trying to reconcile Mr. Trump’s heretical views with conservative orthodoxy, the writers of the platform simply opted to go with the most extreme version of every position,” it continued. “Tailored to Mr. Trump’s impulsive bluster, this document lays bare just how much the G.O.P. is driven by a regressive, extremist inner core.”

Tucked away in the 66-page document accepted by Republicans as their official guide to “the Party’s principles and policies” are countless resolutions that seem to back up the Times‘ assertion that the platform is “the most extreme” ever put forth by the party, including: rolling back marriage equalitydeclaring pornography a “public health crisis”; and codifying the Hyde Amendment to permanently block federal funding for abortion.

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Anti-choice activists and leaders have embraced the platform, which the Susan B. Anthony List deemed the “Most Pro-life Platform Ever” in a press release upon the GOP’s Monday vote at the convention. “The Republican platform has always been strong when it comes to protecting unborn children, their mothers, and the conscience rights of pro-life Americans,” said the organization’s president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, in a statement. “The platform ratified today takes that stand from good to great.”  

Operation Rescue, an organization known for its radical tactics and links to violence, similarly declared the platform a “victory,” noting its inclusion of so-called personhood language, which could ban abortion and many forms of contraception. “We are celebrating today on the streets of Cleveland. We got everything we have asked for in the party platform,” said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, in a statement posted to the group’s website.

But what stands out most in the Republicans’ document is the series of falsehoods and myths relied upon to push their conservative agenda. Here are just a few of the most egregious pieces of misinformation about abortion to be found within the pages of the 2016 platform:

Myth #1: Planned Parenthood Profits From Fetal Tissue Donations

Featured in multiple sections of the Republican platform is the tired and repeatedly debunked claim that Planned Parenthood profits from fetal tissue donations. In the subsection on “protecting human life,” the platform says:

We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide healthcare. We urge all states and Congress to make it a crime to acquire, transfer, or sell fetal tissues from elective abortions for research, and we call on Congress to enact a ban on any sale of fetal body parts. In the meantime, we call on Congress to ban the practice of misleading women on so-called fetal harvesting consent forms, a fact revealed by a 2015 investigation. We will not fund or subsidize healthcare that includes abortion coverage.

Later in the document, under a section titled “Preserving Medicare and Medicaid,” the platform again asserts that abortion providers are selling “the body parts of aborted children”—presumably again referring to the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood:

We respect the states’ authority and flexibility to exclude abortion providers from federal programs such as Medicaid and other healthcare and family planning programs so long as they continue to perform or refer for elective abortions or sell the body parts of aborted children.

The platform appears to reference the widely discredited videos produced by anti-choice organization Center for Medical Progress (CMP) as part of its smear campaign against Planned Parenthood. The videos were deceptively edited, as Rewire has extensively reported. CMP’s leader David Daleiden is currently under federal indictment for tampering with government documents in connection with obtaining the footage. Republicans have nonetheless steadfastly clung to the group’s claims in an effort to block access to reproductive health care.

Since CMP began releasing its videos last year, 13 state and three congressional inquiries into allegations based on the videos have turned up no evidence of wrongdoing on behalf of Planned Parenthood.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund—which has endorsed Hillary Clinton—called the Republicans’ inclusion of CMP’s allegation in their platform “despicable” in a statement to the Huffington Post. “This isn’t just an attack on Planned Parenthood health centers,” said Laguens. “It’s an attack on the millions of patients who rely on Planned Parenthood each year for basic health care. It’s an attack on the brave doctors and nurses who have been facing down violent rhetoric and threats just to provide people with cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams.”

Myth #2: The Supreme Court Struck Down “Commonsense” Laws About “Basic Health and Safety” in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

In the section focusing on the party’s opposition to abortion, the GOP’s platform also reaffirms their commitment to targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws. According to the platform:

We salute the many states that now protect women and girls through laws requiring informed consent, parental consent, waiting periods, and clinic regulation. We condemn the Supreme Court’s activist decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt striking down commonsense Texas laws providing for basic health and safety standards in abortion clinics.

The idea that TRAP laws, such as those struck down by the recent Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health, are solely for protecting women and keeping them safe is just as common among conservatives as it is false. However, as Rewire explained when Paul Ryan agreed with a nearly identical claim last week about Texas’ clinic regulations, “the provisions of the law in question were not about keeping anybody safe”:

As Justice Stephen Breyer noted in the opinion declaring them unconstitutional, “When directly asked at oral argument whether Texas knew of a single instance in which the new requirement would have helped even one woman obtain better treatment, Texas admitted that there was no evidence in the record of such a case.”

All the provisions actually did, according to Breyer on behalf of the Court majority, was put “a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion,” and “constitute an undue burden on abortion access.”

Myth #3: 20-Week Abortion Bans Are Justified By “Current Medical Research” Suggesting That Is When a Fetus Can Feel Pain

The platform went on to point to Republicans’ Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a piece of anti-choice legislation already passed in several states that, if approved in Congress, would create a federal ban on abortion after 20 weeks based on junk science claiming fetuses can feel pain at that point in pregnancy:

Over a dozen states have passed Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Acts prohibiting abortion after twenty weeks, the point at which current medical research shows that unborn babies can feel excruciating pain during abortions, and we call on Congress to enact the federal version.

Major medical groups and experts, however, agree that a fetus has not developed to the point where it can feel pain until the third trimester. According to a 2013 letter from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “A rigorous 2005 scientific review of evidence published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concluded that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester,” which begins around the 28th week of pregnancy. A 2010 review of the scientific evidence on the issue conducted by the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists similarly found “that the fetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior” to 24 weeks’ gestation.

Doctors who testify otherwise often have a history of anti-choice activism. For example, a letter read aloud during a debate over West Virginia’s ultimately failed 20-week abortion ban was drafted by Dr. Byron Calhoun, who was caught lying about the number of abortion-related complications he saw in Charleston.

Myth #4: Abortion “Endangers the Health and Well-being of Women”

In an apparent effort to criticize the Affordable Care Act for promoting “the notion of abortion as healthcare,” the platform baselessly claimed that abortion “endangers the health and well-being” of those who receive care:

Through Obamacare, the current Administration has promoted the notion of abortion as healthcare. We, however, affirm the dignity of women by protecting the sanctity of human life. Numerous studies have shown that abortion endangers the health and well-being of women, and we stand firmly against it.

Scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that abortion is safe. Research shows that a first-trimester abortion carries less than 0.05 percent risk of major complications, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and “pose[s] virtually no long-term risk of problems such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or birth defect, and little or no risk of preterm or low-birth-weight deliveries.”

There is similarly no evidence to back up the GOP’s claim that abortion endangers the well-being of women. A 2008 study from the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, an expansive analysis on current research regarding the issue, found that while those who have an abortion may experience a variety of feelings, “no evidence sufficient to support the claim that an observed association between abortion history and mental health was caused by the abortion per se, as opposed to other factors.”

As is the case for many of the anti-abortion myths perpetuated within the platform, many of the so-called experts who claim there is a link between abortion and mental illness are discredited anti-choice activists.

Myth #5: Mifepristone, a Drug Used for Medical Abortions, Is “Dangerous”

Both anti-choice activists and conservative Republicans have been vocal opponents of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA’s) March update to the regulations for mifepristone, a drug also known as Mifeprex and RU-486 that is used in medication abortions. However, in this year’s platform, the GOP goes a step further to claim that both the drug and its general approval by the FDA are “dangerous”:

We believe the FDA’s approval of Mifeprex, a dangerous abortifacient formerly known as RU-486, threatens women’s health, as does the agency’s endorsement of over-the-counter sales of powerful contraceptives without a physician’s recommendation. We support cutting federal and state funding for entities that endanger women’s health by performing abortions in a manner inconsistent with federal or state law.

Studies, however, have overwhelmingly found mifepristone to be safe. In fact, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals says mifepristone “is safer than acetaminophen,” aspirin, and Viagra. When the FDA conducted a 2011 post-market study of those who have used the drug since it was approved by the agency, they found that more than 1.5 million women in the U.S. had used it to end a pregnancy, only 2,200 of whom had experienced an “adverse event” after.

The platform also appears to reference the FDA’s approval of making emergency contraception such as Plan B available over the counter, claiming that it too is a threat to women’s health. However, studies show that emergency contraception is safe and effective at preventing pregnancy. According to the World Health Organization, side effects are “uncommon and generally mild.”